Patriots Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday, August 10, 2010.
NC: I think we're off to a good start. That was a good practice this morning between the two clubs. I think both teams went at a good tempo. There was a lot of team work involved there, so I think we're off to a good start. We made a couple of roster transactions yesterday, signing Darnell Stapleton and DeAngelo Willingham. Darnell is somebody that we had worked out at a few different points. He has some experience; he started 14 games in 2008 with the Steelers. DeAngelo Willingham was a part of our club last year at one point. I think it's more a matter of just shuffling the roster around, as it is for other clubs this time of year. That keeps us at 80 [on the roster]. We're at 80 right now, so we'll keep moving forward with this group here today and we'll see how it goes.
Q: You guys have had some flux at the left guard position. Can you break down that competition. Is there any chance Steve Neal comes over or do you take the guys you've got?
NC: Right now, we're working with the guys we have. Dante [Scarnecchia] really moves those guys around quite a bit. Really, all the guys that play the inside spots end up playing all three inside spots in practice because you want to see who can player where [and] what kind of flexibility they have. So there are a number of players who have worked in that spot on a day-to-day basis, so I think that will continue moving forward.
Q: Are there similarities between Eric Ghiaciuc and Darnell Stapleton?
NC: In terms of both being interior players. They both have experience. They've both started games. Ghiaciuc has played more center than he has guard. Stapleton has played more guard than he has center. I'd say the similarities are that they both have experience starting games and they are both interior players. I think they've played two different spots, but like I just mentioned earlier, they'll work at all interior spots and we'll see how it goes
Q: How did you think you guys looked today on offense?
NC: I think it's hard to tell because you're still working at sort of a team pace. There's no live tackling or anything like that. What you're looking for is the timing and the execution. I think they made some plays. We made some plays. That's a good defense. They have a lot of active players. They have a good front four. Jonathan Vilma is hard to block. He's fast. He covers a lot of ground. So really, I think you're looking for the tempo and the execution and I think both teams made their fair share of plays, so it's good competition. I think that's kind of how you hoped it would be - that everybody has their share of success.
Q: It used to be that even when you had a set kicker or punter who you knew was going to be your starter, you still brought in another leg to push him or just so they didn't wear out the starter. It seems like teams aren't doing that any more. Is there a reason from that?
NC: I would say that - it's probably a team-to-team thing - but I think more than anything, it's just a matter of you have a roster spot and you have another kicker or punter occupying a roster spot, so you have one less player maybe at some other spot. If you have a player that you want to work with [and] you want to have a guy get some work - in this case with Zoltan [Mesko] - he needs to see some more live snaps and some game snaps to sort of get him ready if we feel that he is going to be the guy. We had David King in here in the spring who kicked with Zoltan and then we released him. So I would say it's probably a combination of just managing the roster, keeping that roster spot available in the event that there is another position player or somebody else out there that you want to add to your club.
Q: Where do you stand on the competition aspect of camp - even if a guy knows he's a starter, to have somebody come in there and push him?
NC: They have to go out there and perform. We're going to evaluate it on a day-to-day basis and if there is a point in time where we say, 'OK, we feel we need to have somebody else in here or bring somebody else into the mix,' then we'll go ahead and do that. Nobody is guaranteed anything. Obviously their performance is going to speak volumes about whatever position they play. We evaluate that like we do any position on a day-to-day basis and we will continue to do that.
Q: How different is it in terms of the evaluation when you see younger players going against a new system for the first time? Is the evaluation different now with these players than it is going against your own team?
NC: You get to see them against new players and a different club. I think whether it's any player, really, you're kind of measuring yourself. We're seeing how we stack up relative to some of the other clubs. New Orleans is here this week and we'll go on to Atlanta next week, so really it gives you just a team-wide barometer, sort of a gauge as to exactly where you are, whether it's a veteran player or a young player. Any time you can bring in a new team or some other players - I don't know if you [media] could tell, but definitely when you're up close you can see the increase in the pace, increase in the tempo. There was a little bit more competition. It's human nature when you bring another team in, there's a pride factor that comes into play as well. Our guys want to go out there and perform well, just as the Saints do. You want to go out there. You want to compete. You want to try to improve, and that's what we're looking to do.
Q: Any Derrick Burgess update?
NC: There's no change. We've stayed in contact with Derrick. That's something that we are continuing to monitor. There's been no change as of yet.
Q: Have you contacted Aaron Schobel as of yet?
NC: I'd say we've talked to a number of players this time of year. It's pretty commonplace, so we'll stay in contact with a lot of players this time of year just to keep ourselves prepared and ready.
Q: Who else have you talked to?
NC: We talked about this the other day, too: we bring in a number of guys. We've brought in guys to work out at different points. It's just part of our procedure and part of our process that we go through. There are a lot players out that that have experience and have played a lot of snaps who are good football players. You just have to look at the big picture and just figure out how they fit within the framework of your club. There are always a lot of moving parts. I wouldn't say anything is just cut and dry.
Q: Is there a point of no return where it doesn't make sense to bring another body in and you've got to start concentrating and getting your players ready for the season?
NC: Sure. I think the evaluation of players, from our perspective - at least, that's our department - is continually ongoing. I think the focus from a coaching perspective is on the players that are here and on preparing for the practice and for the upcoming game. The coaches concentrate on preparing the players as best they can. We're evaluating our players, and we'll look at it within the framework of what's available, who's available. This time of the year you have 80 players on 32 rosters. I'm not a mathematician, but there're over 2,000 players on other clubs. We have different procedures and processes that we go through as far as evaluating the preseason: who may or may not be released, who may be available, so we actually started that here. The first preseason game was played the other night with Cincinnati and Dallas, so we'll start to go through [those processes]. So you're juggling a lot of different things this time of year, at least from a personnel department's perspective.
Q: Obviously Ty Warren's status is kind of up in the air, and it seems the other defensive end spot is open, too. What options do you have there? Is the entire defensive line an option? Is a guy like Myron Pryor an option?
NC: There are a lot of guys that have worked there. Damione [Lewis] has worked at end. Gerard [Warren] has worked at end. So we have a lot of players who are working at that spot. Myron is probably more of an inside player. He's played nose tackle or played more three-technique. [He's] maybe a little bit more of an inside rusher. You have to be careful; sometimes an inside player or a zero-technique nose tackle, his skill set is a little bit different than playing on the edge as a five-technique. Myron has worked primarily at nose, but between Warren, between Lewis, between [Brandon] Deaderick, those guys have all sorts of… and Mike Wright's been in there, as well. There are a lot of guys who are shuffling through.
Q: How many receivers do you project keeping?
NC: However many we feel is best for the club. We've kept five. We've kept seven. It all depends and really, you look at your club and you figure out the offensive or defensive component and then the special teams component and the receivers are competing with the secondary players or the linebackers for particular spots. We talk about the more you can do, the more you can do, and that's important. That applies to the receiver position or a defensive back position. However many we keep, that's the number that we feel is best for our club and that's what we'll do.
Q: What are your thoughts on Torry Holt's performance so far in camp?
NC: Torry has a lot of experience. He hasn't been out there for a few days, but he's smart. He's a very instinctive receiver. He has good hands. He's a good route runner. When he's been out there, when he's had his opportunities, he's made some plays. I think his value comes into play off the field as well. He does a nice job working with our younger receivers. Torry has been a productive player in this league. He's done things on the field that have been good and also behind the scenes, some of the things that you don't see. I think he's been invaluable from that perspective. He's done a nice job for us.
Q: If the season goes to 18 games, do you think more of these joint practices will happen?
NC: It's hard to say. Whenever that's finally decided, we'll comply with the league on that. It's going to be at the team's discretion what they do moving forward. This is great for us to do. It's something that we haven't done since, I believe, 2000. I think if you find the right team and the right coaching staff and the right mix and you understand what the teams are trying to accomplish… they have some things they're trying to get done. We have things we're trying to get done. You want to try to work together as [much] as possible. It's hard to predict moving forward, but whatever it is, we'll deal with it.