QB Tom Brady
Q: How ready is this team heading into Saturday after a week of practice?
TB: We've still got 48 hours to go so I think everyone is still kind of in preparation mode; just have to try to bring everything together at this point. There's a lot to prepare for. They have a good defense and they do a lot of things that challenge you schematically, so it's going to be a tough fight.
Q: Is the type of week you have in practice ever evident in the general team mood when getting ready for a game, or have you ever noticed the opposite?
TB: Yeah, I mean we've had bad weeks of practice and won, we've had good weeks of practice and lost. I think it's just about - you'd always love to practice great, you'd always love to play great, but that's sports, so it doesn't always happen that way.
Q: Do you look at the game film from Week 3 any differently because you didn't play in the game?
TB: How so?
Q: Were plays run differently because Jacoby Brissett was the quarterback instead of you?
TB: I think like every week, our coaches put together a plan that they thought would be best for that particular week. We kind of did the same thing this week. There was a lot more film to study being that it was the end of the season. We studied all of those games and we're just trying to put together enough good things schematically to put us in a good position when we get out there to go out and execute them. Ultimately, we as players have to go out and do the right thing and execute well. That's what it comes down to.
Q: Have you ever come across situations where guys are playing a little more timid and afraid of making mistakes in a playoff game?
TB: I'm not sure. I just think there are sometimes you play well, there are sometimes you don't play well. You hope it's not in these particular weeks. There's a lot of focus and attention and you're putting a lot of concentration into each play because you're not promised next week. We have to go earn that. Our guys have been focused on that. Coach [Bill Belichick] talked a lot about that. It's going to be a big test for our offense.
Q: How would you as a leader talk to a player that you might see playing nervous or timid in a playoff game?
TB: I think our coaches do a pretty good job of talking to the mood of the team and so forth. We're going to go out there and try to play with the anticipation and confidence like we do every week, but it's all important. There's a heightened sense of urgency and we're going to go out and try to do the best we can.
Q: Do you ever listen to the MVP conversations and allow yourself to think about that kind of debate?
TB: I think for us it's about what this team can accomplish, and certainly not - those are very nice things to have, to win a certain award, but I think for me, the most important thing has always been what our team can achieve and our goals are still ahead of us. That's where my attention has been focused.
Q: Where do you see your preparation going into this game against the Texans?
TB: There's been some good and some bad, and we're going to have to play well for 60 minutes. I think that's what it comes down to for this game. There are going to be plays that we don't make, there are going to be plays that we make, and I think we just have to stay consistent for the entire game. There have been some ups this year, there have been some downs. You'd like to be, on every play, perfect, but that's not the way it always goes. We're going to go out there and try to do our best.
Q: Does your day-to-day routine change or intensify at all when you move from the regular season to the postseason?
TB: I'm pretty consistent I think with the preparation. I try to watch as much as I can film-wise, and try to get mentally and emotionally right and physically get the work in at practice. There's a lot to prepare for mentally, physically and emotionally. You're always trying to find the right balance, but I feel like I'm in a good place.
WR DANNY AMENDOLA
(On preparing for a team you have played earlier in the season)
"Well they're a good football team. They have a great defense. They're well coached. They fly around. We're excited for the opportunity."
(On what the team needs to improve on)
"We've just got to play good football across the board. It's a new week every week. Anything can happen and that's why we play. There's no question there's a good team coming in here and we've got to play good football."
(On the team staying on the same page)
"We don't really listen to anything outside this building, honestly. I couldn't have told you that we were the favorites. We have a good chance. If we play well, we can win and that's the only thing we're really focused on."
(On being from Texas and if he has any family or friends that are Texans fans)
"A couple, I think. I tried to convert all my friends back in Houston to Patriots fans, which was successful to a small degree. There's a definitely a buzz in the air amongst my family and friends having an opportunity to play the hometown team and it's cool."
LB ROB NINKOVICH
(On his level of excitement for Saturday's game)
"I'm very excited. You have to go through a lot and you have to win a lot of football games so it's exciting to have the opportunity to come out here and play a playoff game."
(On what makes Lamer Miller a unique running back)
"He's really fast. He's explosive. He has the ability to catch and run. He's an overall good running back. So when you have a guy like that you just have to be alert and aware of where he's at, at all times."
(On what he has seen from Brock Osweiler)
"I think he's a very big, tall quarterback. In the pocket he likes to stay in the pocket and look down the field. He's so big he can pretty much see everything. He can make every throw. He's a really good pocket quarterback but he can also get out and run. So as a defensive lineman you have to be aware of situations where he can pull the ball down and try and run and that's up to the front."
DE CHRIS LONG
(On preparing for Saturday night's game)
"We've tried to treat it just like every other game which is preparing with great intensity and attention to detail, and turning it up just a little bit, turning it up another notch. It's been a good week of practice."
(On if this is a strange atmosphere to him being in the playoffs for the first time)
"No, not at all, just like I said, keeping it like a normal week. If you prepare throughout the week like it's the most important week of the year then it always will be. For me it's just no different."
(On the progression of the Patriots defense)
"I feel like we've, throughout the year, figured each other out and have continued to just work towards that goal of being a real strength. As we've settled in and learned a lot about each other and what we do well, I think we've just continued to improve week in and week out. That's a great credit to the coaches and players buying in and everybody being unselfish."
(On if they take pride in finishing the regular season as the number one defense in terms of points allowed)
"I mean certainly that's a point of pride, but this week we're playing the Texans and it's a whole new ball game. It's been a long time since we've played them. They've improved and progressed as a team and they're playing their best football right now. All those accolades and that type of stuff, the statistics don't really mean anything at this point."
WR JULIAN EDELMAN
(On preparing for a team they last played much earlier in the season)
"You've got to prepare like you're playing a new team, which we pretty much are. When a team is going through September, it's usually a team trying to find its identity. Around the league, everyone is trying to find where they're at. Completely different teams - this will be the best team we've played all year. Any time you play a team that's won a playoff game already, it's most certainly going to be the best team you've played thus far. It's going to be a big battle. We know Billy O. [Bill O'Brien] He's going to have that team coming in here fighting hard. They're going to be well-coached; they have a lot of good players."
(On how players like Jadeveon Clowney make it incumbent for wide receivers to run even crisper routes and get open knowing that Tom Brady could be under a lot of pressure)
"My job is to get open and catch the ball, not worry about the pass rush. Our offensive line, they're working very hard to prepare as much as they can to take on that task. All I can worry about is what I can do to make the play succeed and that's what I'm going to try to do."
(On if there is anything about the Texans defense that intimidates him)
"They're definitely a challenging defense. Statistically, they lead the lot and are in the top rankings of pretty much everything. It's one of those things where we have another day to prepare, which we're going to do, and take advantage of that day to go out and play our best football on [Saturday]."
(On if he gets rattled anymore by the excitement of playoffs)
"Playoff football is playoff football. Everyone wants to talk about playoff experience but it's a new year and you can never really prepare for it. Once you get out there it's definitely a different speed, guys are playing hard, there's nothing to lose. No game is guaranteed. It's full-throttle, so that's kind of what you expect going into these kinds of games."
DL TREY FLOWERS
(On maintaining a calmness and focus despite being so heavily favored)
"We don't look into the favorites, we know that this is definitely playoff time and you're going to get everybody's best shot. We understand that no matter what the odds are against them, they're going to come out and give us their best shot. We've got to be prepared to take their best shot and hopefully get a win."
(On how he maintains that focus amongst the players)
"It's all about staying level-headed and understanding that our goal is not to go 14-2 and win the division. We have far more standards than that and our standard is to continue to win, continue to get better. I think that's what pretty much drives everyone each and every day, to just come in and get better and be better than yesterday.
(On if the team is aware of how heavily favored they are or if that's something they don't pay any mind to)
"No, I'm not one that is aware of it but obviously it's out there. Guys are going to do their jobs with predictions and stuff like that, but we just stay inside the locker room and make sure that we understand that it's still a game and this is still a dominant opponent that's going to come in here and play us, so we've got to be prepared for them."
WR CHRIS HOGAN
(On managing his emotions prior to the game)
"I've kind of picked a couple of guys brains here - Matt [Matthew Slater], Tom [Brady], Josh [McDaniels], Julian [Edelman]. You know, those guys that have been here before and just asked them how to approach this game and it's really the same thing from all of them - just another football game. It's going to be electric with the fans, everyone is going to be really into it. There's going to be a lot of energy but I've just got to approach it like another football game and not get too hyped up and just keep playing good football."
(On the unpredictability of playoff football)
"I mean, it's win or go home football. You want to go out there and put your best foot forward. Things are going to be up and down during the game. It's not always going to be perfect so you just have to go out there and learn from whatever adjustments we have to make and just keep playing good football."
QB JIMMY GAROPPOLO
(On practicing like you're going to play)
"I mean it's nothing really new for me. I've been doing it for three years now. But it's a good mindset to have for all these guys. You never know. In the NFL injuries happen, stuff happens on a day-to-day basis so you just always have to be ready."
(On whether or not his experience this year will be helpful if he is needed to play on Saturday)
"Yeah, no doubt. Whenever you get the real-life experience, game experiences, it's always going to help you going forward. We do a great job with practice reps trying to make them as game-like as we can."
(On what Josh McDaniels means to him and the offense)
"He has done a ton. He does a lot of things that go unseen - all these coaches do. They do a great job of getting us ready, preparing us and giving us looks that we expect to see on game day."
(On what he likes about Josh McDaniels as a coach)
"He's a good leader. He rallies the guys. He comes in every day [and] he's fired up, ready to roll. You can really tell he loves what he does. It's nice having a coach like that."