RUNNING BACK LAURENCE MARONEY
*(On whether he'll watch this weekend's games) *
LM: I will watch it. I'll probably watch it at my house but I will watch it, just to try and figure out who we might play.
*(On whether being 16-0 matters going into the playoffs or if the team is just 0-0) *
LM: It doesn't, because we're all on the same level right now. We're all in the playoffs. Eleven other teams, they all had to be good to make it here so we all start out on the same level. We're all 0-0. Every game counts.
*(On the importance of getting the running game going before the playoffs) *
LM: I think [we're] going to need the running game in the playoffs to balance things. I don't think we're going to try to come in and overdo the run or overdo the pass. I think we're going to need both of them to come in and produce very well.
*(On whether there is added pressure in the playoffs because the team went 16-0) *
LM: I don't think there's pressure. We're just going to play Patriots football and just play our game.
*(On the high expectations placed on the team) *
LM: Everybody has their own expectations. We just expect to play well and just play our game and that's all we can worry about.
*(On what the team can use this week for despite not knowing its next opponent) *
LM: Basically what we are doing is getting ourselves better and focusing on what we can do to get better for the playoffs.
LINEBACKER JUNIOR SEAU
*(On how he helps prepare the players that haven't been to the playoffs for the postseason) *
JS: We just have to do what we've been doing the past 16 weeks. That's the goal, to come to work every day and mentally prepare, stay healthy, do the things that you need to do with treatment and what have you, now that the pressure of the playoffs is definitely at a higher level.
*(On whether he'll watch this weekend's games) *
JS: Oh, definitely. A number of us, we're fans of the game and it means something to us.
*(On whether or not the players can learn something from watching games on TV or if they'll have to wait for game film) *
JS: All we're trying to do just to learn about ourselves. We have a bye week. We'll try to get healthy, work on the things that we need to work on and obviously everything else will pan out.
*(On if it helps to play a team that you are seeing for a second time) *
JS: Everyday brings on a different challenge. There is never a same team coming with the same attitude. What we have to do is make sure that we take care of what we need to take care of one day at a time.
*(On whether being 16-0 means anything going into the playoffs or if the team is 0-0 now) *
JS: It shouldn't, because it doesn't. It doesn't mean anything. What we did in the past, last year, is now gone. It's history. What we have to do is go out and do the things that we need to do so we can better ourselves so we can position ourselves the day of the game comes and then obviously go out and perform.
*(On the much-needed rest the team got this week) *
JS: We're still resting. We are definitely still resting. It was a happy New Year.
*(On if this is a continuation of last year) *
JS: No, we've put everything away. A lot of the things that happened last year really haven't sunk in. Because of that what you have to do [is] just keep on pressing. Every day, keep on pressing, [get] everyone on the same page and with the same focus. It definitely is a different year. It's a different year and a different week. [A] different day and a different challenge, and if we are able to maintain what we did last year obviously it's going to help us. There aren't any guarantees. If we are able to do what we need to do next week then we afford ourselves another week of employment.
WIDE RECEIVER WES WELKER
*(On the importance of wide receivers blocking) *
WW: It's a big part of the game and if you can't block you won't play in the game. If you don't want to block your team's not going to be very successful, so every chance you get the opportunity to put the [hit] on somebody you make sure you take advantage of it.
*(On whether the team is 16-0 or 0-0 right now) *
WW: We're 0-0. It's all a clean slate from here so we just need to make sure we're hitting on all cylinders and doing what we need to do.
*(On going back to basics during the bye week) *
WW: It's an opportunity for us to get better and that's what we're going to do. We're going to go out there and try and improve on where we're at now and go forward.
*(On his late-game performances wearing down defenses) *
WW: I don't know if we've worn them down. I think we just executed better as the games [went] on and that's what you have got to do. Especially in those kinds of situations, you have to make sure that you're hitting on all cylinders.
*(On the game-to-game changes the team makes) *
WW: The coaches were quick to point all that stuff out and make sure that we're getting better at some of our deficiencies. We take a lot of pride in ourselves to make sure we're doing that.
*(On whether or not the Giants game helped the team prepare for the playoff atmosphere) *
WW: It's always a tough place to play, especially under the circumstances, but we just need to make sure we're ready to go in all sorts of situations going forward.
*(On if the team feels like it has been playing playoff games during the regular season because of the hype) *
WW: I don't think so. I haven't been in a playoff game so I really wouldn't know. I can let you know after our first one.
*(On if anyone compared the Giants game to a playoff game to help him prepare) *
WW: No, whatever it's going to be, it's going to be. I just have to make sure I'm prepared and ready to go for it.
*(On the advantage of playing a team that the Patriots have already played as opposed to one they haven't) *
WW: I don't think it's an advantage either way. I think it's all about your preparation going into the week and making sure that we're hitting on all cylinders going into it.
OFFENSIVE LINEMAN DAN KOPPEN
*(On what the Patriots will work on this week) *
DK: There's a lot to work on -- individual techniques, run fits, pass blocking, everything. There's not one guy in this locker room that doesn't think he can get better in some way. That's what the goal is for these next two days and we'll worry about next week when it comes.
*(On if the players talk about possible playoff scenarios or match-ups) *
DK: No, not really. I couldn't even tell you when the games are [or] who's playing. It really doesn't matter. What goes on in this locker room and what goes on [out on] that back field is what's important for this team, not anything anybody else does.
*(On it not being must-see TV this weekend) *
DK: Oh, I'm sure there'll be some fun [things] to watch but it really has no bearing on us. We're working to get better. We don't know who we're going to play and whoever we do play we know it's going to be a good football team.
*(On how long the team enjoyed 16-0 after Saturday's game) *
DK: I don't know, not that long. It's one of those things where you just try and rest up, you take the season for what it is and you want to get to the postseason and have a chance to get to that next level. That's what the goal is and that's the goal of every team. What we did from here back has no bearing on what goes on in the future.
*(On if he would be surprised if Tom Brady was not named MVP on Saturday) *
DK: That's not for me to decide. Whoever votes can determine that and whatever.
*(On whether there has ever been anyone more deserving of the MVP than Tom Brady) *
DK: Honestly, I don't even really pay attention to the post-season awards. Whatever goes on, goes on.
*(On whether or not the offensive line takes pride in the records the team set) *
DK: Oh, sure. You have to. Tom's one of those guys that goes out there and tries to perform and compete every week. He gives maximum effort on every play and every game. What he did was outstanding but I know he wants more than that. That's what you need in your quarterback.
*(On the play of the offensive line despite injuries) *
DK: That's a credit to [Russ Hochstein and Ryan O'Callaghan] because they step up every week. They come to practice and they prepare like they're going to play every snap. We know what we have in them. We know what to except from them and they know what to expect from themselves. To have those guys be able to step in every week is really helpful.
SAFETY RODNEY HARRISON
*(On how welcome the rest was) *
RH: It came right on time and [we] got the chance to spend some time with the family, get away from this place and just kind of meditate, relax with the kids and come back fresh and rejuvenated.
*(On the games this weekend and how intently he'll watch them) *
RH: You know we'll be watching. We'll be watching all the games - AFC, NFC - and relax and enjoy football instead of us being out on the field every time.
*(On what can be learned from the games when you watch them on television, or if you have to wait until you break down film) *
RH: No, you can always learn from it. There are a few different teams and scenarios we might have to play, but you can put yourself in the position of being a defensive player when whoever has the ball. You can definitely learn from it. We're familiar with these teams. We've played them in the past and we'll see what happens.
*(On if he is relaxed when watching those games) *
RH: You put yourself in different positions, but I'm relaxed. It's not stressed or anything like that; they're the ones out there playing. You can sit back and enjoy football and just wait, then become anxious about who you're going to play.
*(On Coach Belichick talking about improvement and what this team has to improve going forward) *
RH: There are a lot of different areas. I'm [not] going to point to all the specifics, but we can definitely get better at tackling, communication, doing our assignments and making sure that we're fundamentally sound. And that's what's important - moving forward throughout the season. A lot of times, you can get off track studying the opponents, but sometimes it's about you. It's about what you need to do to get better.
*(On if the level has to rise in the playoffs) *
RH: I think you don't really change what you're doing. You have to hone in your focus a little more and make sure that those mistakes that you made in the previous games that you don't continue to make them during the playoffs because if you lose, you go home and that's the bottom line.
DEFENSIVE LINEMAN RICHARD SEYMOUR
*(On if it is harder to prepare not knowing who you're playing) *
RS: I think we'll take this week and kind of look at ourselves, dissect ourselves and get better in a few areas where we need to, whether it's the running the football or stopping the run and our pass defense. I think this is a time for us to look at ourselves and take care of our own business and ourselves better. We're definitely going to need it.
(On whether or not the fact that there are so many veterans on this team that have been to Super Bowls or won Super Bowls helps this group forget about the regular-season and focus on what has to get done)
RS: You know, I think all season we've always done a good job of just taking it one game at a time and really not looking forward or at things that we've accomplished. As cliché as it is, but you never get too high or you never get down in the dumps and we could've been down in the dumps, even though we won some games but we didn't play as well as we would've liked. I just think now is a great opportunity to keep that same mentality and it's an exciting time of year. This is one of the reasons why you play this game, to have an opportunity, and that's what we have in front of us right now is an opportunity to do some great things and we're definitely excited to do it.
*(On if going 16-0 in the regular-season puts more pressure on you in the playoffs) *
RS: What we've done, that's during the season. Right now, we look at it as a totally different year because it is a different year. I don't feel pressure to go out and perform or to keep a standard or a level. We just go out and take care of our responsibility and do our job because we've had a lot of guys that have obviously been in a lot of big games and have won Super Bowls before. But each year is different. It brings on different challenges. You also have different teammates, but it's a fun time of year. I think some people crack under it and some people embrace it. We definitely have a lot of guys that have embraced it and just love to be in the spotlight and love to be playing for a championship.
*(On giving up 35 points last week and if there is a need to tighten up the defense heading into the playoffs) *
RS: Obviously, we want to do a better job defensively. We went into that football game having a good game plan and tried to execute. You have to look at it and give the Giants a lot of credit. They did a lot of good things. I think we take this week and look at the film and see what we need to get better at. Obviously, we're not perfect and we're not going out and trying to play perfect; we're just trying to do our jobs and try to play great. Some games it goes that way. Hopefully, we don't have any of those coming up soon.
*(On how you prepare for the playoffs) *
RS: We definitely look at it as just like the preseason. When you go into that first game, it goes up a notch and I though it was really good to have that Giants game because it was definitely a playoff atmosphere and it was definitely good for this team. It's good for the young guys to see the type of intensity, see the environment that we're going to be up against week-in and week-out. I thought it was a good game for us just from that standpoint. The stakes are high and I think this is when you need your best players to play the best and you also need your solid players to play good.
RUNNING BACK KEVIN FAULK
*(On going through this before, if it is different going through a week where you don't know who you're playing and if it is important trying to work on yourself) *
KF: It's an important time to work on things that you haven't done well in the course of the regular season. That's one of the important things about this week.
*(On if Coach Belichick had a list of things that need to be worked on) *
KF: Of course. You know that already. You have a couple of days off. You're resting. You're just trying to think in your mind all of the things that he might bring up so you can have a heads up on what you have to work on.
*(On figuring out in advance what Coach Belichick is going to hit you with) *
KF: Never. It's just a case of doing it. That's it.
*(On how good was it for this group of running backs getting the running game going over the last couple of games) *
KF: It's good for any team when you get your running game going a little bit, but at the same time, you just have to be consistent. Two weeks out of the year aren't going to make it for you. Three weeks out of the year aren't going to make it for you. You've got to be consistent. We've just got to keep working at it and that's what a week, like this week, is for - for us to keep working at it.
*(On whether or not the team considers itself a success if they don't go all the way and if that is really the goal) *
KF: When you set your goals at the beginning of the season, whatever happened at the beginning of the season happened. That's not your goal. Your goal was something else bigger than that so no matter how you finished the season, you've got to shoot yourself even higher to make those goals that you set at the beginning of the season.
*(On if it is easier to focus on what's ahead and put this historic season behind them) *
KF: I think it's easy for us as veterans to say, 'Yeah, we can do that.' But at the same time, I give a lot of credit to our coaching staff in preparing us, letting us know exactly what's at stake, knowing what we have to do in order to win the game - forget all the statistics and everything - just know what we've got to do to win the game.
*(On whether there is more pressure to win the Super Bowl because after going 16-0) *
KF: Pressure is what you want to put on yourself. That's how I look at it. If you want to put that pressure on yourself, that's you, but at the same time we're trying to go out there and win a football game. That's it.
*(On what he tells a younger player who might not have been to the postseason about the difference in the level of football) *
KF: Everybody knows the intensity level picks up a little bit and you ask yourself how and why. But at the same time when you step on the field you know the increase of the intensity from the guys on the field. You just keep working hard and if you really want to make yourself better for your teammates, work harder than you did during the regular-season.
*(On when it comes to getting on the field, if there is there a difference like between preseason and regular-season) *
KF: Not really. It's just the fact of knowing what's at stake at those times.
*(On how helpful is it to have those three days off and if he feels invigorated) *
KF: If you took advantage of it, yes. You can come back and feel rejuvenated, but if you went out and did crazy things you're going to be playing catch-up.
CORNERBACK ELLIS HOBBS III
*(On the way the last two seasons have ended for in the playoffs and if the team is hungry) *
EH: How can you bring up something like that with the season we're having and going into the playoffs? That's irrelevant. That has nothing to do with this season.
*(On if the team is hungry just to avoid that feeling) *
EH: No. It's not the same players. It's not the same team. It's not the same mentality. It's two totally different years coming from my rookie year and it has nothing to do with this year. You don't think about that stuff and use it as a motivation. All the motivation we need is here in this locker room and the present, 2008.
*(On if they would rather face a team that they have faced before or face a team that they haven't played this season) *
EH: That's a good question. Me, personally, if you know a team's tendencies, what they do, and you've played them before obviously it's to your advantage. It's to their advantage also. But I think it works both hands where if you haven't play them, they haven't played you either so you know it's a level playing field in that sense. The edge is gained throughout the week: Who can do the film work. Who can find the tendencies. Who can execute their scheme against one another.
*(On being 0-0) *
EH: You said it.
*(On how easy is it to switch into that mode once the season is over) *
EH: It's like nothing. It's like transferring from gear three to four. We've been doing it from the beginning. Every game is like 1-0, 1-0, 1-0, 1-0. So before you become 1-0 what are you: Zero and zero. It's just a smooth transition to understanding that this is the playoffs and it counts, in that this is it. That mentality is there as far as do-or-die situation now. You just play the games as if it's your last and everything will be fine. That's what we've been doing.