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Patriots Locker Room Quotes - 1/20/2012

Members of the New England Patriots address the media during open locker room access on Friday, January 20, 2012.

PATRIOTS DE SHAUN ELLIS

(On the Baltimore Ravens)
"Overall, they are a great team and have an excellent defense.  They have a great running game.  They are well-rounded.  For us, we just have to go out and just handle our assignments and play tough-nosed football.  They are a very physical team and they like to play that style.  We just have to come out ready to play."

(On the challenges of facing Ray Rice)
"He is a great back and definitely one of the best backs in the league.  He's a hard-nosed guy that runs real hard.  For us, we just have to get as many guys around him as possible."

(On how important the start of the game is for momentum)
"Any time you take the field, you want to play for 60 minutes.  It's definitely important to get off to a fast start."

(On playing in big games and the difference to getting a victory)
"To just go out and execute and just try not to worry about winning and losing and just try to wait, just go out and play the game.  Don't get too ahead of yourself and thinking outside the box.  Just stay inside the box and play the game."

(On the week of preparation)
"It has been great man.  It's been a steady week.  You know how we always go about our business and I'm just ready to play."

(On the potential of family members looking ahead to the Super Bowl)
"I just try to block all of that out because it's the first thing they bring up is the Super Bowl.  They don't think about the game you have to play before you get there."

(On playing in big games and whether he gets nervous)
"Each has its own set of feelings.  This is definitely a tough task for us and we just have to go out and play and let our play speak for itself."

PATRIOTS TE ROB GRONKOWSKI

(On his feelings heading into the game)
"I'm definitely excited, the biggest game of my career, the AFC Championship Game, can't be a bigger stage this far into the season.  I'm really excited and I can't wait until Sunday."

(On the week of preparation)
"It is going good.  It is the same as always and just working hard studying up the defenses and coming together as a team and everything.  We are just executing all practice long and practicing hard."

(On the CBS Scene promotion for the best Gronkowski spike and whether he has any advice)
"I heard about that.  That is pretty funny.  Just spike it as hard as you can I guess."

(On what has led to the success of himself and Aaron Hernandez)
"It is just overall the whole team execution - everyone going out, everyone doing their job.  The O-linemen are playing great, pass-protecting and giving Tom [Brady] time so he can hit the open guy and sit back, see what the coverage is and fire it in to whoever is open.  So everyone is executing well, getting each other open, so that is how it goes."

(On if there is still work to do after the final practice)
"Preparation goes all the way up to game time.  Just because the physical part is basically all done with until the game doesn't mean the mental part is all ready.  You are just focusing all the way until Sunday, getting your mind right and getting mentally prepared, so when it comes to Sunday you are physically and mentally prepared."

(On facing a tough Ravens defense)
"It is a big challenge.  The best team we are playing so far all year.  They have a big front and they're all physical and we can't go out there and be soft.  You have to be physical and be able to play up with them."

(On if he gets nervous before games like this)
"I get nervous before every game.  That is a part of the game, going out there before so many fans, it's always nerve-wrecking.  We will just see how big it is on Sunday."

(On keeping calm and composed leading up to the game)
"You want to stay calm and you want to stay cool until game time so you are ready and everything, especially against these guys.  Their energy they bring with their defense and everything they are always going full speed and 100 percent.  You have to save up all of your energy so when it comes to the game you can match them and be out there with them."

PATRIOTS S JAMES IHEDIGBO

(On wanting to forge a new Patriots Championship identity)
"This year is different than any other year. It's our own identity, it's our own team. What was done in the past is in the past and all those guys that played before us we definitely pay homage and give our respects to them and everything that they've done but you know it's our time to do it and the opportunity is in front of us. It's all about seizing the opportunity. Playing in the AFC Championship doesn't come often. I'm lucky to have even played in it a couple times now, but it doesn't come often and you have to understand that and it's about seizing the opportunity ahead and executing and playing great team football."

(On if friends and family keep reminding him of how close the team is to the Super Bowl)
"Off course family, friends, [and] fans, everyone's excited about it, but right now we just have tunnel vision. Our number one goal is beat the Baltimore Ravens and that's where our focus is and everything else after that will come after we do our job. We're focused solely on playing our best game and executing and winning this football game."

(On thoughts that New York Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan predicted the Ravens to win)
"Who cares?"

(On what advice he can offer the younger players)
"I just tell them to enjoy it and just really enjoy it – lean on each other, focus and play the way you're capable of. It's nothing that you can just sit down and say, 'I'm going to do something extraordinary.' [If] a play comes your way, you make it otherwise you just do your job and play as a team and that's what we're going to do and play our best football."

(On why New England is a special place to play)
"We prepare and prepare harder than any place that I've played and it definitely gets you focused in on your opponent and knowing them and understanding their strengths and how they want to attack you so that's what we're keyed in on this week and really execution is everything. The team that executes the best will win on Sunday."

(On if the team is feeling confident like they did going into the game against Denver)
"We're confident in each other and knowing that and intrusting in each other to get the job done. That's where our confidence stems from. Just understanding the importance of this game and the level of play you have to bring to this game and just playing and leaning on each other. That's really going to carry us through. It's going to be a physical battle and we're mentally getting ready for it."

(On what his feelings are like right before kickoff)
"A lot of emotion. It's going to be electrifying in this place come Sunday. [There will] definitely be a lot of emotion and excitement to play in – itching for kickoff."

(On if he's superstitious on game days)
"The only one ritual that I have every year and I've done it every year since I was in college is that I'll call my mom up and we'll have a little prayer on the phone before the game. That's just something that I've done with my family but besides that it's just go time come game time."

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