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Nick Caserio Press Conference Transcript

Patriots Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, July 31, 2011.

NC: Good morning. [It's] good to see everybody. I think it's been probably since the draft or the little the draft show or party that we do over there at the Hall of Fame. Just as far as the roster is concerned, we announced this a little bit late last night, but the only changes are the signings of Brandon McGowan and Tracy White and we released Anthony Leonard. I would say that the roster is constantly changing on a day-to-day basis. Things happen kind of quickly so we'll keep you up to date and abreast as best we can.

Q: Did you prepare yourself for what the past four days have been like? Could you have?

NC: Yeah, I think what you do is, you know, you spend some time after the draft, like you normally would. [You're] not really sure when the timing's going to be but you know there's going to be a period where you're going to sign undrafted period, you know there's going to be a period when there's going to be free agents that are signed. You're just not exactly sure when it's all going to happen, but the way it turned out, you basically had the night after the draft or that normal period of undrafted free agency, that Sunday night, and the beginning of free agency for all intents and purposes basically start on the same day. So you're dealing with a larger pool of players than you normally would, but I'd say as far as the process is concerned, how we prepared, it really hadn't changed. We went through the entire spring. We kind of had gone through the entire free agent process and kind of evaluated those players, we knew who was going to be available to a degree, and then as it related to the undrafted players, we knew that there was going to be a group of them as well. So you do the best you can, I think collectively as a staff we spent quite a bit of time on it, no different than we normally would. And then you're just sort of waiting and when the opportunity does arise, you put your plan into action. I would say, we're still, I mean, if you look at it from a free agency perspective, this is kind of like the first week or the first wave. If you look at that period on a normal basis, whether it begins in April or whenever it is, it goes April, May, June, July, all the way up until the beginning of season. So you're dealing with the same process, but it's just sort of a condensed period of time.

Q: How does a guy like Albert Haynesworth get on your radar? Is it something, like we have a need, let's explore?

NC: I think players always fall into different categories: there're the free agents, whether they're unrestricted, restricted or just street free agents, there're the undrafted players and there're players on other rosters who could be available. You sort of do some exploring along the way. And trades, they can take a little bit of time or they can happen quickly, so until you actually engage in any sort of conversations or you talk with another club, then you really don't know if it's even a possibility. I think there are always conversations with teams throughout the course of the year. Bill [Belichick], I know he mentioned this yesterday, he talked to Coach [Mike] Shanahan in Washington and they had some dialogue and we decided to pursue it. It happened pretty quickly, so here we are.

Q: Specific to Albert, has he been cleared to practice today?

NC: I think he'll be out there pretty soon. This morning's the walkthrough and we'll have the practice, the full practice, however you want to categorize this afternoon. I would expect him to be out there very soon.

Q: Today?

NC: We'll see. I mean, he should be ready to go here soon.

Q: How is he going to fit in?

NC: I think with any player, you're trying to identify their strengths and their weakness, what they do well. The reality is, any player we bring into this program, they're going to define what their role is going to be with their performance and what they do on the field. The more they can do and they can execute those assignments and those techniques, then they'll be put in that position. But the players are going to determine what their role ultimately is on the team. But Albert's been a good football player in this league, he's big, he's strong, he's athletic and he's a disruptive player. I think we've always taken the approach that if the guy's a good football player, we'll find a way to use him. In the end, it's up to the player to determine what his role is going to be moving forward.

Q: Are you frustrated that all the draft picks aren't in yet, especially considering the lockout and the time they missed?

NC: Yeah, I would say it's no different than any other year. Whenever the players get here, they get here. You can't control that. You want all your players here, you want them all under contract, you want them all working. We're a few days into camp here, so when they're here, the more they're here, the better off it is for them and the better off it is for us. When they're here, we'll be happy when they arrive. It's just part of the process that you go through, I would say, this time of the year. Obviously everything's sort of happening at once, so it's a little quicker in terms of the signings. When they're here, they're here and we'll deal with them when they're here.

Q: With the new rookie wage scale, are you surprised there's been so much haggling going on?

NC: I mean, the reality is we're in uncharted waters. This is the first time, so I think every team was trying to figure out what works for them, whatever the plan they have in place [is]. We're dealing with it as best we can and every team is going through the same thing. When the players get here, that's the most important.

Q: Can you even measure how much worse it is for a rookie without the benefit of camps and missing this time right now?

NC: Sure. I think the reality is - and that goes for any player. I mean, the rookies obviously, they haven't had the benefit of an offseason program, but even veteran players or players new to our team, the reality is, everybody is starting from the same baseline, which is nobody has had an offseason, nobody has had to go through the OTAs and the training and some of those things. So everybody comes in, to a degree, at the same level. Now, do you have some players who have some experience in your system that have played? Sure. The reality is, everybody starts from the same point and they're going to be judged on what they do moving forward. With all due respect, whatever anyone has done in the past whether it's in the NFL or in college or whatever team they were on, it really doesn't matter. The most important thing is what they do now from this point moving forward and they're going to be judged based on their performance. The players that haven't had experience in our system, sure, they haven't been here, but everybody has to get up to speed and the goal is to get prepared as best they can and put themselves in a position that they make a contribution to the team.

Q: The rules are so fluid right now, I was hoping to understand things a little a better. Bill said earlier that a player with a new contract couldn't practice until August 4th, would it be considered a new contract if a team inherited and extended it or restructured or added to a contract?

NC: I think the most basic way to look at it is any player that is on a practice field right now is under contract. That's the simplest way to look at it. The rules are changing on a day-to-day basis. Whatever the league tells us we can do, that's what we do. All the players that are on the field, they're under contract. So that's where we are.

Q: What's the plan going to be for Marcus Cannon?

NC: I think he's still kind of going through his process. He looks great. He's done everything he's been asked to do to this point. I think we're all optimistic. I don't think we're going to rush into anything. I think we're going to let that timetable sort of run its course. He's here. He'll be here. I think there are a few more steps along the way for him that he's going to have to take care of. Marcus has been great, he's doing great, he's in good spirits, so we're optimistic. Like I said, and I think we even talked about this around the draft or after we had picked him, the most important thing is for him to be healthy and that's of the utmost importance, so whenever we get to that point then when he's ready to go then we'll begin working with him. But it's good to have him here, it's good for him to be around the team, it's good for us to be around him here a little bit. He's moving in the right direction and certainly things look promising to this point. But you know, I don't want to jump ahead too far.

Q: Were you able to monitor him at all because of the lockout?

NC: The doctors could stay involved to a degree. We couldn't have any sort of direct contact but you could have contact through other means so we were somewhat aware of where he was, not exactly to a T, but we knew some of the things he had to go through and the medical procedures that had to take place on his end. To the best of our ability, we were kept up to speed and he's here now and now we're able to monitor him obviously a little more closely, have a little bit of a more definitive plan of where he's going to be and what the timetable potentially could be. But like I said, we're not going to rush into anything and whenever that is we're going to take it as it comes.

Q: You guys haven't done much with veteran free agents from other teams. Was that the plan or are you waiting for the market to set itself?

NC: I think there are so many players that are out there. We had a number of players on our team, on our club, that were under contract. In the end, we're always going to try to do what's best for the team. If that's add players now, if it's add players later, if it's add undrafted players, if it's add terminated players, if its add free agents, whenever that may be, we'll take it as it comes. We feel good about the team where we are right now, but the reality is, we're not playing a game for whatever it is, five, six weeks so where the team is now could be different by the time September 12th rolls around.

Q: How would you characterize where things stand between the Patriots and Matt Light at this time?

NC: I think with a lot of players, conversations are ongoing, we've had discussions with multiple players whether it be the rookies, whether it be some of our free agents. Matt's been a good player for us for a long time. I'd say there are discussions that are ongoing. I don't want to put a time table on it, but Matt's made a lot of contributions to this team. He's been a good player for us, so we'll see what happens.

Q: Does BenJarvus Green-Ellis fall into that category of guys you're having discussions with?

NC: Right, we're taking to Benny. I would think that at some point here during the week, I think he's going to be here. When the players that sign or are under contract are here, they'll be out there. But we're talking to a number of players and I'd say that's fair that Benny falls into that category, sure.

Q: How do you feel about the make-up of the tight end position right now? Without Alge Crumpler, it's extremely young. Do you feel comfortable with that youth?

NC: I think [Rob] Gronkowski played a lot of football for us last year even though he was a young player. So he's the most experienced of the group, if you will. The two tight ends that we brought in, Lee Smith was a productive player at Marshall, had a lot of experience playing but between him and [Will] Yeatman, they don't have a lot of experience in our system. We've been out there for three or four days so this is our first opportunity to evaluate them within our offense, but we like both of those players and then Aaron Hernandez is obviously a part of that mix as well. And Carson Butler is out there working as well. It's a young group, but anything can change from now until tomorrow but the guys that are here working at the position, we feel good about them right now.

Q: Are there any rules that prohibit Logan Mankins from practicing due to the franchise tender?

NC: There're some logistics that are involved, but he's here, he's under contract, but he can't practice. It's no different than Kevin Faulk and Sammy Morris and Tracy [White] and Brandon McGowan. Like I said, the rules are constantly changing and evolving. As of now, they're here, they're under contract, they're signed. When they're going to be available to practice is whenever they tell us they can practice. Believe me, we've heard multiple things on that front, when it is exactly that's going to be, so whenever that is, they'll be out there.

Q: As a point of clarification, could it be before August 4th? Or is it whenever everything is ratified?

NC: I don't know the exact details on all those logistics. We're just whenever they tell us, that's kind of all we have to go off of. You've probably heard as many things [as we have]. There's a lot of information out there, whatever they tell us, that's what we have to go off of.

Q: After the long layoff, how did the coaching staff feel the players responded to the first day in pads?

NC: I think we have a long way to go. Those first two days, you want to look at as sort of an acclimation period and then the first day with pads. I think the biggest thing is where we are right now. Once you put the pads, the focus is on the improvement and the individual techniques and the fundamentals. Those are the areas and those are things that if you don't work on them on a consistent basis, on a day-to-day basis from the end of the season up until training camp, those are the things that go quickly. The important thing is to have that fundamental baseline whether it's throwing and catching - we dropped a snap during one of the run periods yesterday - or getting in and out of breaks, safeties taking to get to their landmarks, taking the correct routes. The basic fundamentals as it applies to their positions, I think that's where we really have a lot of work to do We have a long way to go. I would say probably just the overall conditioning is probably not where it needs to be, but it's part of the process and we're going to work as hard as we can to get our players to that [level] and our expectations aren't going to change; we are going to demand the same things that we normally demand of them and they understand that. And it's their job to work on things on their own when they can. I think the fundamentals and the individual techniques and the communication, those are the things that I think we're a little bit of a ways off on right now and hopefully that will improve the more we're out there and the more the players are working with one another.

Q: How much have you slept in the past four days? And can you plug in your cell phone or has it been constant?

NC: Actually I plugged it in when I got home and it started ringing, luckily I didn't put the ringer on. Look, I mean everybody is working hard. There are a lot of people that are putting in a lot of time and a lot of effort on a coaching staff, on a personnel staff, there're a lot of people that have been involved. Everybody is working towards the same goal. We're excited to be here, we're excited for the season, and we're excited for the opportunities that are in front of us. At some point we'll worry about catching up on sleep, but I'd say we really caught up on sleep enough during the summer - we had enough time off. I think everybody is just happy to be here and we're ready to go.

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