Q: I know you focus on the Patriots obviously, but it definitely seems that you keep track of rosters around the league. The Bills are 2-0 and they've definitely gotten better since you played them the first time last year. Have you seen the overall talent on their roster improve as they've started winning? Can you look out on the field and see a dramatic difference?
NC: I think they've added some new players to their team this year. [Shawne] Merriman is playing. Nick Barnett, they signed him. But I think there are a lot of guys that have been really consistent and productive players for them over the past 'X' amount of years. Whether that's [Chris] Kelsay, who started a number of games and been a real consistent player, Kyle Williams went to the Pro Bowl last year [and] played at a high level last year. Their secondary, essentially has remained intact from last season with the exception of they added Aaron Williams in the draft. They were competitive against us throughout the course of the year in addition to some other teams. I think they've added to the mix of what they had on the roster last year, both defensively and offensively. Offensively, their skill players, it's essentially the same group that was very productive last year. It has kind of picked up where they left off. Fred Jackson has been as good a back as there's been in the league probably for the past couple of years. I think it's a combination of players that have been on the roster with the addition of some newer players, in addition to [Marcell] Dareus who I didn't mention yet, but he was the third overall pick, who [I] would say is one of their better defensive players. They have a lot of good football players, like a lot of teams do, and we're preparing to play a good football team on Sunday.
Q: If you're forced into a situation where you'll have to sign another punter. It's a little unique because of the specialty aspect of the job. What are you looking for if you're forced to do that?
NC: I think any position when you're looking for a player that can come in and help your football team in some capacity … as it relates specifically to the kicking position and the special teams position, there's elements, whether it's ball handling, ball placement, wind conditions, plus 50 punting, backed up, so there's things that we face on a week-to-week basis so we just have to figure out whoever that player may be, who gives us the best chance and who is able to handle those elements. I think there's a lot that goes into every decision, every week with your entire roster just in terms of every position of who is going to play. As it relates to a specific position, there are certain skills that that player is going to have to possess relative to others.
Q: So there's 32 punting jobs, most teams carry one punter I assume. How is the supply of available talent based on the fact that there are 32 jobs out there?
NC: It's really no different than any other position. There are 32 quarterbacks on every team. There's a pool of players that are on rosters, there's a pool of players that are available that aren't with teams. We'll evaluate that pool of players like we do every week, at every position, and figure out who makes the most sense for the Patriots. If there's an opportunity for us to add that player to the team, then we'll do it.
Q: With Aaron Hernandez likely out this week, how do you see that affecting the roster? Is that a position that can be filled by a receiver or would you look to add a tight end?
NC: I think it's really specific to the opponent that we're playing, that we look at the players that we have on our team and we figure out the best way to attack that particular team - whether it's multiple tight ends, multiple receivers, multiple running backs, whatever the case may be. We'll prepare like we do every week. I mean, the game plan isn't even in yet. We haven't even started practicing, so we don't even exactly know where we're going to be come Sunday, so we'll take it one day at a time. Once we have all the information at our expense, we'll do what we feel is best for the team.
Q: Can you talk about Marcell Dareus, obviously the third overall pick, everyone loved him. Do you think he's an instant impact type of guy as he's shown so far?
NC: That's a pretty formidable combination that they have on the interior of their defensive front with he and Kyle Williams. Kyle has been very steady, consistent, productive player that I mentioned earlier. Marcell has a unique combination of skills - he's big, he's strong, he's powerful and I would say for his size, he's athletic. He can rush the passer, he can play the run, he can play on his feet, he's a very disruptive player, which he was at Alabama. It's a good combination. They rotate a lot of players along that defensive front both on the interior of their defensive line and on the perimeter of their defensive line. [Torell] Troup, who they drafted last year, gives them some snaps [and] Spencer Johnson. They roll a lot of players through there but Dareus has given teams problems in the regular season and he gave teams problems in the preseason. I mean he's a good player - he's the third overall pick and he's certainly worthy of that status. He's been a good player for them, no question.
Q: What are your thoughts on the center, Eric Wood, who came out as a first round pick in the draft three years ago?
NC: They moved him to center. He's played guard over the past few years, at least when he's healthy. They had [Geoff] Hangartner playing center so they had bumped him over and he's been a consistent player. He's tough, he's smart, he's a good athlete, he has good playing strength [and] he has a good playing style. Their offensive line has played well over the past two games. They have some younger players like he and [Andy] Levitre, who if I remember correctly, I think they took them in the same year, might have been the year after. He started a number of games, basically since he's been in the league, he's been a three-year starter. Between Levitre and Wood on the interior, Kraig Urbik, who they acquired either on waivers or they signed as a free agent, is another younger player. And then [Demetrius] Bell has started there for a number of years. [Erik] Pears is playing right tackle; they have some other guys that work at that position. Collectively as a group they've played well. Eric is a good player - he's been able to make the transition over from guard to center.