PATRIOTS TE ROB GRONKOWSKI
(on if today's game was a good way to start out the 2012 NFL Season)
Oh yeah, definitely. You always want to start out with a win, that's always a great way to start and the Tennessee Titans are a good team—it was a good, hard fought battle out there.
(on using a lot of different offensive formations today)
Coaches — whatever they call, we've got to go out there and do our job. Whatever the coaches' call we're running the ball, we're passing the ball, we had a balanced attack and that's always good. You want to be able to have the run game, you want to be able to have the pass game and today we preformed pretty well in both.
(on how Patriots RB Stevan Ridley performed today)
He had a great game, he was running hard and the o-lineman were doing a great job — you have to give them credit too. Just overall, it was a good game and we have a lot to improve on still, a lot of mistakes and that's what this practice week is for to fix your errors and move forward.
(on his miscue on his touchdown spike)
The thing slipped right out, but I played it off pretty well.
(on the performance both he and TE Aaron Hernandez had today)
He's just a great player. I love playing with him. Overall, as an offense as a whole everyone is a great player and if everyone is doing their job and we're clicking we can accomplish everything. We just have to be out there with everyone doing their own job and having good chemistry.
PATRIOTS RB STEVAN RIDLEY
(on his performance today)
Personally, it was a blessing to be out there on a Sunday and I'm just very thankful to start the game off with a good game. The offensive line is doing a tremendous job up front, coach had the game plan and told us what it was going to be and how we were going to be able to run the ball effectively and we just kept it pretty simple during the week. He just told us to go out there and do our job, so that's what I did, I just did my job. If there was green grass to run to I just tried to hit it hard and get downhill.
(on if he was 'in the zone' today)
When you get days like today and you're running the ball well you can definitely feel it. There were some runs that were there and there were some that weren't. The coaches just did an exceptional job of finding the ones that were doing well and they just kept calling them until they stopped them. The offensive line was just blocking and getting on people and there were bodies on bodies and I just had to hit my creases and run. I didn't do anything out of the ordinary, I was just the player that I was and went out there and played ball.
(on the offense being able to pass the ball effectively out of obvious run formations)
Yeah, Coach (Offensive Coordinator Josh) McDaniels did a good job of mixing that up. We don't want to be out there and be predictable, so all of our backs can run and all of our backs can catch so if they're going to try and game plan it that way they might have a long year ahead of them. We're going to do a good job of changing it up and just trying to be a well-rounded offense.
(on it being a while since he's shouldered the load as a running back)
Of course, it's a dream come true to be out there playing on Sunday — like I said, I'm very blessed. To just get out there and play is all I want to do. 25 carries is more than I was expecting, but I'm okay and I came out of the game injury free so that's all I can ask for — I'm just grateful my teammates were out there doing a great job for me.
PATRIOTS TE AARON HERNANDEZ
(on how they opened the 2012 regular season)
I thought we started better than the past two years that I've been here. Good start, a lot to learn from and we have to get better every week.
(on the Patriots passing game today)
I felt like we did a great job, and like I said we have to keep improving — run game, pass game and get more dangerous every week.
(on how the team's success running the ball helped the passing game today)
A lot because it's a lot more the defense has to worry about. When you have no running game all they're worried about is the pass. (Patriots RB Stevan) Ridley did a good job today and hopefully he keeps playing like that, and the line keeps doing what they're doing so we can have an effective year.
(on how offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels did calling plays today)
He's a great OC and I love playing for him and it's going to be a good year with him.
(on if he gave Rob Gronkowski any grief over botching his touchdown spike)
No, that will be something we laugh about, but it was a great catch, great throw and we have to keep making plays.
PATRIOTS LT NATE SOLDER
(on what happened on the sack that hurt Tom Brady's nose)
I think he got flushed and (Titans DE Kamerion Wimbley) ran him down from the back and I don't know exactly what else happened. I'll have to see on film.
(on the offensive line opening up some big holes for the Patriots run game)
I think there were some good things, definitely, and we can build off of that — and improve the bad things too.
I thought our run game was successful at times, and we were protecting pretty well most of the time, so as long as we keep getting better we'll be alright.
(on why the offensive line did such a better job today than they had done in the preseason)
It's hard to say, I don't know — you'll have to ask the coaches. I think it's a work in progress. We'll keep getting better and working to improve.
PATRIOTS QB TOM BRADY
It's not my usual look (laughs). Actually that was the only good one I really took so — I think the offensive line played really well. It was a relatively clean game in terms of penalties and turnovers and so forth. It wasn't perfect by any stretch, but it's always fun winning so that was a good feeling.
(on missing WR Brandon Lloyd on the first drive of the game when he was behind the Titans' defense)
Yeah, we were close — when they're that open you don't want to miss those ones. He made some really nice plays on the ball. Everyone really contributed, so it was a fun game and a great way to start the year.
(on the team playing well as a whole today)
I tell you, they've been playing like that all preseason — the defense, and we see them in practice every day, so they are very competitive. They are competitive on the outside, they rush the quarterback, get turnovers, they do a good job covering the backside of the backfield, so there was a lot of team defense out there and I thought the special teams really complimented what we were doing. It was very much a team win.
(on RB Stevan Ridley running the ball successfully today)
It was great, he ran the ball extremely well. We have to continue to do that — it was very balanced in terms of running and passing and that's what makes it tough to defend. Situationally, obviously there are some things we could have done better, but at least it is something to build on.
(on if he was prepared to come back out on the field right after injuring his nose had the Patriots defense not scored a touchdown)
(on if his nose is broken)
I don't know.
(on if he's ever broken his nose before)
In my life? No. In a previous life? I'm not sure.
(on if his nose feels like it is broken)
I have no idea what a broken nose feels like—not good (laughs). It'll be fine. I need some of that anyway.
(on the commitment to the running game today)
I think it's something we've been doing all season long. All through mini-camp, training camp, regular season games, you know we've made a commitment to running the football and you saw it today. It's a lot of carries by the backs; they have a lot of opportunity. When you can control the tempo of the game, it really helps out the rest of the team — it helps special teams, it helps defense. I'm not sure what the time of possession was, but it obviously helps that as well. You just can't drop back and throw it 50 times a game, right around 30 passes a game is where you want to be.
(on if running the ball successfully is more significant than people sometimes realize)
Sure, and the toughness of your team is built around running the ball and stopping the run. The critical games and the critical situations — that's the foundation of your team and that's what you're built on and that's what you've got to be able to do. You've got to run it when they know you're going to run it, and I say that all the time. I think with what we do in the run game and play-action game and you spread them out and you run screens, you run draws, you run traps, you spread the ball to all the different receivers it really makes it hard for the defense to just key in on something and say this is what we need to do. You really have to defend everything.
(on the team being comfortable offensively)
Coach always talks about us going out there for one reason, and that is to score points. He doesn't expect us to go out there and punt the ball. I thought there were times when we did a good job of that, and there were times when we really didn't do a good job of that and we had an opportunity to do that. Getting off to a good start on first down and third down situations which are shorter which you're obviously going to do a better job at, so we sustained drives — I don't think we had any three-and-outs, if any. We have to do a better job of sustaining over the course of the drive which is what we need to be able to do. Unless, of course, you hit a long play and when you call those you have to hit those.
(on the play his tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski)
They complement each other and I think Mike (Hoomanawanui), you guys probably pronounce his name better than I can, but he did a nice job filling in at that tight end position for us. That's a strong position for us, receiver position is strong, running back position is strong and the offensive line continues to build and play well. Like I said, it wasn't all perfect but it's good enough and it's good enough to get a win on the road.
(on the improvement of the offensive line today from their play in the presason)
Yeah, it's something we've been working on all preseason. It hadn't really come together until this week with Logan (Mankins) being in there a lot, Seabass (Sebastian Vollmer) coming back, there is quite a bit of depth at that position. It was a very competitive training camp. The guys that are in there really earned that spot. Nate (Solder) has been out there all camp, so he continues to improve. I am extremely comfortable and confident in those guys and they work their butt off. I just have to stand there and make those throws because that's what this team really counts on me for.
PATRIOTS DL VINCE WILFORK
(on his overall thoughts on the 34-13 win over the Titans)
We came in feeling good and happy with the way that we practiced. The way we prepared, I think everybody was confident. It showed today. This is a good team win. You are talking about three phases of your team — special teams, offense, defense — coming together and getting a team victory. It is great to have that, especially in your first game, on the road, against a tough environment. I think we responded very, very well. It's definitely something to build on. It wasn't perfect. It's the start of the season. There are some things that we still need to work on to get better. The key for us now is to go back, watch film, make corrections and move forward and get better as a team. I think everybody's mind frame is that is where we're at now.
(on holding Titans running back Chris Johnson to just four yards rushing and the play of the young Patriots defenders)
I think it is a mix of everything. I think when you put 11 guys together and you have goals, you don't want to let the guy beside you down. One of our goals every year is being able to stop the run and playing good third down defense. Today we responded well against the run. I think throughout the preseason we showed improvement each week. This is something that I think can be a backbone for us — if we can go into a game and just get teams one-dimensional. That will help us tremendously. That is what we are looking forward to. We are very excited about these guys, and very, very happy with the performance that these guys came out and had as a team and as a unit, especially being a defensive lineman and coming out and holding a great back to only four yards. That is just a good team defense. It is not just the guys up front. It is the backers, the secondary at times. We all play this game together. As long as we continue to play better and get better as a team, I think we will do some special things.
PATRIOTS CB DEVIN McCOURTY
(on getting off to a 1-0 start)
That is always the way that you want to come out. You want to try and get some things done, especially fundamentally, which is what we have been working on all preseason. I think from that standpoint we came out, we executed some things we wanted to do and most importantly you want to come out and get a win the first week of the season.
(on if the defense had anything new in place for Titans quarterback Jake Locker)
No, for us it was really don't make it easy for him. [We tried] to give him different looks and keep things moving on him. When you come in with a new quarterback, you don't know how he is going to adjust. You are not fully aware of what he can do. Just wanted to keep things moving, and for us, especially in the secondary, we wanted to be fundamentally sound and not let them take advantage of us trying to guess and do the wrong thing.
(on his impressions of Jake Locker)
I thought that he fought out there. He does a great job of keeping plays alive. Even on the touchdown, first he went left and he came back to the right and he was able to throw a pretty good pass out there. For us it was really just trying to stay on our guys and stay deep, especially once he started scrambling around back there.
(on the preparation for Titans running back Chris Johnson and the job the defense did holding him to only four yards)
A lot [of preparation]. He is a phenomenal player. The thing with Chris Johnson is that he goes anywhere on the field on any run. We just wanted to make sure that we bottled him up and for the most part we were able to do that today. Like I said, when you come out in week one you have certain things that you want to get done in a game, and that was certainly one of them. So to get that done, it really shows that we are working hard and coming out there and executing on Sundays.
PATRIOTS DE ROB NINKOVICH
(on forcing turnovers against the Titans offense)
Last year I think we did a good job of getting the ball for our offense and any time that Tom [Brady] has the ball in his hands it helps the whole team. As many turnovers as you can get and let the offense work – that is going to help us in the long run.
(on seeing rookie defenders Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower as playmakers)
That is why they are here. I think you don't get drafted in the first round if you are not.
(on adjustments made after the Titans opening drive)
Every team comes out and they are going to have their plays that they are going to run – their best plays against us. You just have to settle down and understand what they are trying to attack on us, and go from there. I think that we did a good job of taking the first drive for what it was, adjusting to it, and playing the rest of the game.
PATRIOTS DE CHANDLER JONES
(on limiting Titans running back Chris Johnson to four yards rushing)
It is everyone just taking care of their responsibilities. It's everyone doing their job.
(on if he could sense Chris Johnson getting frustrated)
I'm not sure. I was just focused on what was going on on our side of the ball.