QUARTERBACK TOM BRADY
(on making improvements when playing a team for a second time in a season)
"Over the course of the season, whether it was from one Denver game to the second Denver game, or the first game of the year to the last game of the year, we've always tried to make improvement. I think that's really been the hallmark of a Coach Belichick-coached team. He really keeps the pressure on us from the first meeting of the season to the last meeting of the season. Maybe early in the year you try out some combinations of players and plays and so forth, and then you realize that they don't work so you don't use them anymore and you go to the stuff that does work and you try to do those things more consistently. I think that's where we're at the point now. We're doing the things that we do a decent job of and we just try to improve those things so we're at our best for this particular game."
(on managing the high expectations for his own level of performance)
"I feel like when I played a game like I did a couple of weeks ago, quarterbacks never try to turn the ball over, and if there's one thing that correlates to winning games, it's turnovers. To turn the ball over two times like I did, I didn't feel like that was certainly my best performance. I said yesterday and I wish I didn't say it because I didn't want to take away from what the team had accomplished, and certainly we had accomplished a lot to get to this point in the season and to be a very good team in the AFC Championship Game, to fight back like we did - we were down in that game - I think we've proven that we're a pretty mentally tough team. We're trying to put our best out there this weekend. It's nice to be here Wednesday and get back to work and really settle into the week. This will really feel like a solid week of preparation so we can go out there and play on Sunday."
(on the leadership of Vince Wilfork on defense)
"Vince has been a great leader on this team. He sets the example, he sets the tone in practice. He's an extremely consistent player. He plays at a very high level every week. You feed off guys like that. When you look across at the other side of the ball and you see guys like Vince who is always holding himself to a very high expectation, ultimately he plays at a Pro Bowl level every year, it's great to see. He's been a great leader for this team since he got here. When he first got here as a young guy and he was surrounded by a lot of veteran players that brought some great leadership qualities to him, and he's really taken that over."
(on Deion Branch's penchant for coming up big in big games and whether he can repeat that on Sunday)
"Deion is a big part of what we do. As you saw in the Denver game, when he makes those big plays down the field - and he's made some big ones in AFC Championship Games and Super Bowls - he's a very clutch player. He always seems to show up for the big games. I've always enjoyed working with him. For him to come back last season - he told my last week on the bye week how excited he was to be back in this game and how grateful he was and that he went away from our team and didn't really experience what he wanted to experience at the other place - now he's back and we have this opportunity again. He just kept telling me, 'Tom, you don't know how happy I am to be back playing for this team and in this game. It's great for all of us.'"
(on the importance of bringing Wes Welker back in 2012 and the possibility of this being their last game together)
"We haven't talked about that. I would never want to think about that. Wes is one of my great friends. I hope he's back. He certainly deserves it. He's done a great job since he's gotten here. He led the league this year in catches and in yards. Really as an underdog he has continued to show his character. Every year he seems to get better and have an understanding of our offense and what he does. He's a great player on this team."
(on the support of his father - Tom Brady, Sr. - over the years)
"It's one of my favorite topics, talking about my Dad and my relationship with him. He was my role model growing up. I really enjoyed spending time with him. I had three older sisters, so when you're the youngest, the baby boy and the only boy, you get spoiled by your Mom and your Dad, which I certainly did. My Dad would always take me on trips together. We always enjoyed playing golf together and doing things one-on-one. When I was in high school and I really started enjoying the game and understanding the game we went to some camps at some different colleges. We went to the University of Arizona one year, UCLA one year and Arizona State one year.
*(on the support of his father - Tom Brady, Sr. - over the years
- "He was always there to support me. He's been there every step of the way. Then I went to school a long ways from home (University of Michigan)
and he and my Mom were there at every home football game that they could possibly be at and a lot of road games, too. And even when I started my pro career, he traveled to Buffalo. I don't know if you guys have ever been to the hotels in Buffalo - they're not the nicest places in the world - but he would still travel to those. It was just great to grow up in a house like that and feel so supported by your Mom and Dad. I've always had that great support at home. I certainly wouldn't be standing here if I didn't have the love and support of my parents and my sisters and my family."
(on being back in the Super Bowl)
"It's great. This is everything that you ask for as an athlete and as competitors. I said yesterday when you're not playing in this game it sucks to turn on the TV these days. Every channel you turn on is talking about this game and the players in this game. As a competitor you want to be here, you need to be here. This is why we've worked so hard over the years - high school, college, pros - to prepare for games like this. It's a fun game. I've had an opportunity to be in a few of them, and it's hard to imagine the football season ends in five days for us, but it does. It's been a great season for us, and hopefully we can make it extra special with a win on Sunday."
(on whether he can be rattled after his knee surgery when defenders are around his legs)
"You hear that every week from teams that you play that they want to get to the quarterback and hit the quarterback. In our team meetings, Coach Belichick talks about getting to the opposing team's quarterback and hitting the quarterback. That's just what defensive football is all about. It wouldn't be the Super Bowl if they weren't talking about coming to knock me down and trying to knock me out. That's what I expect, and you know what, our offensive line gets paid to keep those guys out of there. This team (Giants)
has a very good pass rush. I've seen it game after game this year. They can get to the quarterback. They can hit the quarterback. They can force the quarterback into some bad decisions and some bad throws. We're going to try to eliminate those. We really can't afford too many of those on Sunday. We had too many of those the last time we played them, and we're not going to be able to win the game making mistakes."
(on when he started using the wristband for play calls on reading the small print)
"It's really a means of backup communication if the headsets go down. It has all of the plays on there. If for some reason the coach-to-quarterback system doesn't work, then we can go to the wristbands. It's pretty small print, but I have decent eyes. Maybe when I get a little bit older I won't be able to see it and I may have to go with two wristbands, but right now I'm pretty good with one."
(on whether he's seen Chad Ochocinco getting more comfortable in the offense and what his trust level is with him)
"Chad has worked hard every day. I've really loved having Chad on this team and being able to play with him. I met him a while ago at my second Pro Bowl, I think he was there. His still has that childlike quality in terms of his enthusiasm for the game and practice and competition. I was excited to get him this year. I wished that he would have had a bigger role on this team. We've just had other guys who have played more snaps with Deion (Branch), Wes (Welker), Rob* (Gronkowski) and Aaron *(Hernandez), who are obviously so hard to take off of the field. Chad's done a great job. He comes to work every day and he's willing to do whatever it takes to win. I think he's enjoying this experience this week, too. To play in this game for the first time, he's been telling me how excited he is. I'm excited for him."
(on what longtime family friend and mentor Tom Martinez meant to his development as a quarterback)
"He's obviously a great friend of mine and a great friend of my family's, and has been for a long time. He taught me how to throw the football at a young age. I'm forever indebted to him. We've worked together for over 20 years trying to work on my mechanics and nail those down. He's had a great commitment to me. He's always calling and texting and saying, 'Get your shoulder down and get your arm up and close your left side and take a shorter stride.' Talk about a perfectionist, he's a perfectionist and he doesn't let anything slide with me. I owe so much to him. I love him. I love his family. He's got a great family and I enjoy being with him and working with him. He's hopefully going to get a kidney pretty soon. He's been looking for a kidney transplant for a long time, and I'm sure hoping he gets one."
WIDE RECEIVER JULIAN EDELMAN
(on how his movement from the offense to the defense took place)
"Coach *(Bill Belichick) *told me that I would be in a defensive meeting that day and that's what we did. You're not going to say no to an opportunity to help the team win."
(on the versatility of the Patriots' offense)
"We definitely have a lot of weapons and we have a mastermind at quarterback. We have an offensive line that does their job. If we all do our job, we're pretty dangerous. That's what we try to do."
(on the Patriots' offense breading swagger in the huddle)
"Yeah, I guess there is a swagger, but you're not really thinking about that kind of stuff during the game or during the week of preparation. You're more thinking about what you can do to prepare for the Giants, do your job and practice hard."
(on the message from the veterans on staying focused)
"You have to try to keep the same routine. We have an hour of this (media session)
and after this, we get back in the routine of regular day-to-day life of a football player."
(on having fun during the Super Bowl week)
"It's fun and you definitely have to try and take in the experience. For me individually, this is a business trip. I'm here for one thing and that's football. I'll enjoy afterwards."
(on the strength of the Patriots' offense)
"We have great tight ends, some of the best receivers, probably the best quarterback and we have great offensive linemen. You can put that together and do what you want with that. They are pretty good guys."
(on playing in several different positions)
"It's definitely been a roller coaster. But, with an opportunity to help the team win, you're not going to complain. I'm excited to be a part of this team."
(on how approachable QB Tom Brady is)
"He's just like every other guy. He's definitely a great teammate and great leader. I would say he's approachable. He's one of the guys and I joke around with him. Like I said, he's a good teammate."
(on how much a Super Bowl win would mean for him)
"That's the ultimate goal and it would be a dream. Right now, we're thinking about the preparation and what we have to put in this week like any other week."
(on what he sees in the Giants' defense)
"They're playing great as a unit. Their defensive line is getting to the quarterback and they are making plays in the secondary. We definitely have a tough task ahead of us."
RUNNING BACK BENJARVUS GREEN-ELLIS
(on this season)
"It's been a long ride. It's been an up and down season for us and we're just excited to be here and just blessed with the opportunity to still be playing ball. We're all excited for that. We're just enjoying the experience, but most importantly we just want to go out there and get something good out of our practices and make sure we prepare for the Giants, which is the most important thing that we're here for."
(on who he is most happy will be watching him play in the Super Bowl)
"There are so many people. Just not one person, but it starts with my grandmother and my mother and my father and my grandfather, my whole support system that I had growing up. My family first. I'm just thankful that God gave me this opportunity to be playing. A lot of people sacrificed a lot for me to get here. Starting with my family and my friends, I wasn't able to spend as much time with them as I would like, but it's all for a good cause."
(on the most difficult hardship he's been through and words of support for Japan)
"I don't know exactly what Japan is going through, but I went through something similar with Hurricane Katrina and I would have to say that has probably been the most devastating thing in my life. Just to have everything gone that you grew up with and no pictures and no trophies. No birth certificate, no social security card, anything that shows you're an American citizen. I know exactly how they feel because I've lost everything I have from socks to drawers, to t-shirts, everything, so my heart goes out to those guys."
(on making his name in Ind. in his true freshman season and coming back to play the biggest game of his life here)
"I don't know. Like the names and all of the stuff like that, I just try to go out and play ball. It is interesting that I started here as a true freshman. At 17 I had no facial hair or anything and now I'm coming back more like a grown man. Once in a while I started and my family used to drive 12 hours to Ind. to see these games and stuff and now they are making that same trip back again to see me play on a much larger stage is great. It's just like unreal."
(on if he takes it personally that all the focus is on the Patriots passing game)
"No sir. We have an excellent passing game and rightly so that they're getting all the credit that they deserve. They put us in a position to be where we are today and they do a great job of knowing what everybody has to do, what they have to do and that's a part of our job as a team. We go out there to score points. It doesn't matter whether we're passing or running. We just want to go out there and score points and win games."
(on what it means to have his mom at his games)
"It's a good support system to know that she's always behind me. We've kind of been separated since she moved up to Minn. when I was in third grade, so for her to always fly back to catch my high school games and all of my college games, it meant a lot to me."
(on his grandparents influence on him)
"My grandparents raised me. My grandmother and my grandfather they raised me. Everything that you see today is because of those guys."
(on the key to beating the Giants defensive front)
"We just have to go out and be assignment sound and execute. That's about it. It's nothing that difficult, we just have to go out and be able to really execute on all cylinders and make sure we can handle whatever they throw."
(on how his role will change with TE Rob Gronkowski not being 100-percent)
"I'm not sure if he's going to be 100- percent or not. Today is only Wednesday. I'm not sure where he is today. I'm not sure where he's going to be come Sunday. We're just taking it day by day and whatever our situation is, it is."
(on if the passing game will be more prominent than the running game)
"Hopefully whatever it takes for us to win. That's what we're focused on. Not what whether we're running or passing. We're doing whatever it takes to win. That's all we're focused on is getting a 'W'."
(on what they can expect from hiM this game)
"You just can expect all that I have. It's the last game of the season, it's the Super Bowl. You're going to get 110 percent of whatever I have."
(on his production being down this season but still playing in the Super Bowl)
"That once again comes back to show you how much football is a team sport. It doesn't matter how much one guy does or two guys do, you need a whole team to get to this point. I think that's the thing that you will see from both teams. It's really been a team effort. Offense, defense and special teams have both been coming through for both teams that are here to this point. That's one of the things you can take from that."
(on the Giants linebackers)
"Their linebackers are real good. You've got (Mathias) Kiwanuka, you have (Michael) Boley, you have *(Chase) *Blackburn, all those guys. They have different styles. That's the thing that's all different about their linebackers. You have some guys that are speed guys. You have some guys that are big, physical guys. You have different styles that you always have to adjust to. For a running back, you put a different running back in there with a different style. You may be quicker, you may be smaller, you may be faster, you may be bigger. It's kind of the same thing with their linebackers. They have kind of different linebackers in there."
(on Coach Belichick)
"Coach doesn't let too much get by him. That's one of the things; he's always even keel about things and he's always business first and that's what makes him. I can't say because I haven't played for any other coaches since I've been in the NFL, but I can say from the difference I've had from other coaches in high school and college that Coach doesn't let anything slide. We practice situations and go through everything and he's hard on us. He makes practice hard on us, so therefore when we get in games it's just like practice. It becomes game reality."
(on stories of Coach Belichick not letting things slide)
"Coach is very hard on all of us players together, but something like you may think you had a good game or something and you might sit down with Coach and he'll say, 'Well I think you could got more here.' Then you really look at the film and you'll be like, 'Yeah, you know, you're right.' Sometimes you have to be your own worst critic and that's something that he instills in his players because he's so hard on us that now you're becoming your own worst critic because you don't want Coach to have to get on you, you want to have to get on yourself."
(on what he heard about Coach Belichick before he got to New England)
"That he was a hard coach to play for and the 'hooded monster' and all the stuff like that. When I got here I realized in our first meeting , he let it all out on the line right there. You are what you are when you get here. That was it. He let it all hang."
(on what the first thing Coach Belichick told him was)
"We need to learn all our teammates. First day, we need to learn everybody. There's 80 guys on the team and we have to learn and know everybody by name. That was one of the things that I knew he wasn't playing and if we didn't know we were up early doing extra laps and stuff. The funny thing about it is me, Jerod (Mayo), Gary Guyton, we came in together and I was a running back and of course they were linebackers and he would have us working every day after practice. Even when guys were inside, we would still be working on our one-on-one routes and blitz pick up and stuff like that and you think about it four years later, all that stuff comes into play now that we need it. Running routes and picking up blitzes, we didn't really understand when we were rookies that we had to do it every day and everybody else would be going in from practice and we would be the only three guys out there still working on stuff. So that's why he is hard on us, so we do things in our first couple years so later on down the line, year four, year five and stuff like that, it just becomes second nature to us."
(on if he is now one of the guys that gets to go inside)
"Yeah, but he still finds something for us to do, still."
TIGHT END ROB GRONKOWSKI
(on if he plans to practice today)
"I have no clue. I'll see what the trainers say. I'll meet up with them right after this, once we start our day after the media (session). We'll see how it goes."
(on if his ankle feels better today)
"Definitely. I feel better every day. That's the goal. That's the positive direction you want to be going. You want to be moving forward every single day. If you are going backwards, that's not good at all. I am feeling good every day. The rehab is going well. Everything is moving forward and we're on pace of just feeling better every day."
(on what he was able to do yesterday)
"Rehab with the training staff. Whatever they have me do, I just do. It felt better yesterday and every day I do a little bit more. It's going good."
(on what rehab they are doing)
"Moving forward every day. Like I said, we are making positive strides and every single day we do something more. We add on a new rehab. We add a new pressure point or something, so I can move better. Overall, we are moving ahead, making progress strides moving forward."
(on if he has been able to run yet)
"Whatever the training staff has me do. I am not going to disclose information about what I am doing."
(on what they have seen that is different now from when they faced the Giants during the regular season)
"We haven't seen much difference, because they have such great players. They have a great front four. They have a great secondary. They have great linebackers. Basically, they are playing the same football they have been all year, but they are playing at a higher level now. They are all working together. They are all playing hard. They are all playing fast. We just have to be ready for their whole defense."
(on the similarities between this game and when they faced the Giants in Super Bowl XLII)
"I wasn't part of the team here. It's a whole different time now. I wasn't on that team. It is just about this year. I love being on the team here. We have great teammates, great coaches. I love playing with everyone. It's a huge game this week, obviously, it's the Super Bowl. I am excited for it and can't wait."
(on if he emerged as a top tight end because of the system or because of the things he has done)
"I would say overall both. It's listening to the coaches, listening to the players around me, having other great players, having other tight ends, having other great receivers, having a good o-line. It's just everyone going out there and working together as a team. It's everyone working hard and opportunities just come up. It's attributed to my teammates and everyone working together. It just happened that I have been making some plays and stuff. I give all the credit to my teammates and coaches. "
(on being able to share this moment with his family)
"It's awesome. My brother (Chris) *was on the Colts this year, so he has a house about 20 minutes away. The last three nights I got to hang out with him for about two or three hours at the end of the day. We are just having a blast, catching up with my brothers. My other brother *(Dan) just got in town, so we are hanging out, having a good time, catching up about our football lives. Because we really don't get to see each other during the season, so it's just a blast to be out here and an honor to have my brother out here with a house that we can chill at."
(on if he has bragging rights over his brother because he got to a Super Bowl before them)
"Obviously, every once in a while we brag to each other like I'd say something to them. But, it's all fun and games. We are just having a good time."
(on if he expects to play)
"I am just taking it day-by-day. Obviously, I want to be out there. I am anxious to be out there. I want to help the team out as much as possible. It's the Super Bowl, obviously I want to be out there. I am trying everything I can do to be out there."
(on how much of an asset it is to have big hands)
"I guess it's good to have big hands. The ball fits in easier, you can get a better grip. In blocking you can get your hands on the opponent to drive them out. That's not what brings you success - having big hands - I'd say it helps a little bit. In the end, it's your form in the passing game and your form in the blocking game. It's practicing hard and doing extra reps so you get everything down."
(on if he is amazed at all the attention his ankle is getting)
"It's the Super Bowl, that's why it's all going on. If it was a regular season game, it really wouldn't matter. It's the biggest game in sports history every year. It is what it is. You have just got to put your blinders on and you have got to be focusing every single day on the playbook and the Giants. So, when it comes to game time, you are not distracted and you are just ready for the game."
(on if his ankle is better than it was yesterday)
"Yes, definitely. Every single day I am improving. It's feeling way better than it was a week ago. It's feeling better then yesterday, so it's just making positive strides every single day."
(on if it is possible that he doesn't practice all week and still plays)
"Anything is possible. I could be practicing the next three days or I could be not practicing at all. Anything is possible."
(on where his cardio level is now)
"That's what I am wondering too, but the training staff has us doing things to keep it up - eating healthy every single day, making sure you are not eating trash, just staying at your weight and doing what you possibly can do, so you can stay in shape."
(on if he has done running in the last week)
"Not really. The training staff proposes things to me that I can do, and what we can do together. We'll see what we do today. I am excited, I am anxious to be out there and see what we can do."
(on if they have to worry about pass protection against the Giants more than normal)
"Every single week the blocking game is just as huge as the passing game. It's actually bigger. You have got to be able to run the ball to be able to pass the ball. You have got to make some holes open for our running backs, so they can run the ball and get some yardage."
TIGHT END AARON HERNANDEZ
(on what this week has been like)
"A lot of talking, but it's not bad. I know there are a lot of questions and a lot of people want to hear about what's going through our minds and what we're planning for the game, so it's not that bad."
(on if he thinks Bill Belichick and the team are in lighter spirits than usual)
"I don't know how much fun Bill Belichick has, but I'd say he seems a little lightened up and has a smile on his face. I think he's confident with us and the way we are preparing. Things are going pretty well."
(on how fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski's injury has affected his own mindset)
"I think he'll play and I think he'll be fine, but say that, for instance, he isn't 100% prepared to play then everybody, not just me, needs to step it up because that is a big loss."
(on how he and Gronkowski complement each other)
"Just defenses when we are next to each other (need to plan) how to cover us because we've also got Wes Welker on the other side and Deion Branch. We just have so many weapons. Not just me and (Gronkowski), but all of us complement each other and make it easy on each other. Rob draws so much attention and it leaves me open, or Wes draws so much attention and it leaves me and *(Gronkowski) *open."
(on how much the two tight end set has changed the Patriots offense)
"Well this offense has always been good, so it's not like we just completely changed it. But knowing that you have two people who can be in there where you can run the ball a little bit and get into that spread offense that the Patriots are known for, it just expands the offense."
(on if his family members are Giants fans)
"A few of my family members are Giants fans. I was a Patriots fan."
(on how Gronkowski's injury might affect the team)
"I'd say that everybody needs to step up if Rob isn't 100% because he draws so much attention and is such a threat on the field that everybody needs to step up to fill his space. But, I'm sure he'll be fine … I think he'll play. I think he'll be a big impact in this game."
(on his and Gronkowski's friendship)
"I met him at the combine and we didn't really know if we should be friends or not be friends, but we still talked and laughed and had a good time … I did (wonder how this was going to work with both of us on the same team). I was wondering, 'Am I going to play? Is he going to play? How are we going to do this?' It ended up working out perfect."
(on if there is friendly competition between he and Gronkowski)
"Not really at all. We actually don't compete at all or look at numbers or think, 'Oh I need more passes or I need more touchdowns.' We just play. We are actually very close, and we both love each other and love playing with each other."
(on if he appreciates Brian Waters positive comments about him as a tight end)
"Some things he did say is that having two tight ends that can go down the field and block obviously better than receivers, he said it just expands his offense so much and he's never been around an offense like that. He is a great player and a huge addition to this offense."
(on how important the tight ends are for the Patriots' pass rush this Sunday)
"Everybody in the league knows that they are going to be up the field and they are going to be after that quarterback. Any way we can slow them down, it will be huge because if you can give Tom Brady some time, the whole world knows he will tear your defense apart. So, the first thing we have to do is slow down their men and I'm sure our (offensive line) is pretty experienced and they will be ready for the game. I think we'll be alright."
(on if he thinks Gronkowski will be practicing with him sometime this week)
"Whatever he feels… If he feels like he is ready to come out there, I will definitely be happy, because he brings excitement and makes practice fun. If he isn't out there, then me and *(tight end coach Brian) *Ferentz will be having some fun."
(on what he has seen from the Giants defense later in the season)
"Their front four. They put a lot of pressure on the quarterback. You can see it in their Green Bay game. They were moving (Aaron) Rodgers out of the pocket so much that he couldn't really get comfortable. And when Aaron Rodgers is comfortable, the whole world knows he will tear your defense apart. So, we just have to slow down their defensive line and I'm sure we'll be fine."
(on if the fact that he is at the Super Bowl has set in yet)
"I was with *(Brandon) *Spikes the other day and we were just sitting there in the car and we were like, 'Wow, we are really playing in the Super Bowl.' I know it will really hit me when we walk into the game and all those cameras will be flashing and we'll notice this is the Super Bowl. This is a dream come true. I never thought I would be in this position or have this experience, but I'll definitely take it all in and hold this for the rest of my life."
(on if it surprised him when Tom Brady said, 'I sucked,' after the AFC Championship game)
"Tom is a humble person and he is a realist. He's not going to go up there and act like he played in his best game when he didn't. I think that's how it should be. He is accountable to how he played and what he does. I feel like that is great that he did that. I don't think he sucked in that game because he also is a reason we stayed in the game and won the game. He wants to play *(at the level of) *the best quarterback of all time, in every game, and he is probably the best quarterback to play the game."
(on if Brady will tell them when they aren't playing well)
"100 percent. He is a very optimistic guy. He's not going to be doubting us or saying we *(aren't good) *or we're horrible. He'll just say, 'I expect more out of you; you better pick it up. It is a big game.'"
(on if he and Gronkowski compete with each other)
"Honestly, no. I am surprised that we don't, but we don't compete that much because we're actually very close. We have a great bond. We always chill together. We are not really competing. Maybe when we first got there we might have competed a little bit because we didn't really know if we were supposed to be friends (or if) we are supposed to be laughing with each other when we are both trying to get a starting job. But when we both started working together and as one, we really took it as one. The thing that we maybe do talk about is stats, (but)
together, and both of our stats added up (and how) they compare to other two-tight end sets. But we never really compete with each other."
(on the matchups that the Patriots are trying to create in their two tight end set)
"With Rob Gronkowski, the defense has to decide if they are going to put a linebacker on him. If they put a linebacker on him, we're going to go to him until they put somebody else. If they put a safety on him over the top with a linebacker underneath, that's two guys on him now so someone has a one-on-one mismatch. If you want to put a safety on him, he's too big for a safety, so (Brady) *can just put it in the right spot. Basically, it starts with *(Gronkowski)
and who they are going to double-team. You can only double-team two people. If you are going to double (Gronkowski) and (Welker), then it leaves me open. If you are going to double me and (Gronkowski), then it leaves (Welker) one-on-one, so there are a lot of problems."
(on having more responsibility with the possibility of playing in the backfield)
"Everyone has a lot of responsibilities and everyone does a whole bunch of things on this team. Look at Julian Edelman *(playing) *both ways. We practice all week and coach tells you what he wants you to do. Especially in these big games like this, you just have to come to play."
GUARD LOGAN MANKINS
(on if he is having nightmares about the Giants defensive front)
"Not yet, but you never know. They're very good. We've been working on them the last two weeks, trying to get the best plan that we can for them."
(on the Giants saying Tom Brady can be rattled)
"Our job is to block them, and if we do that, we have a good chance to win. We know it's going to be tough to block them, so we need to have our best game out there."
(on what the Giants do to rattle other teams)
"They're good, to start with. They have multiple guys that are good; it's just not one guy. At any time they can have four guys out there that are very good football players. They've got a lot of speed. They play hard, good scheme, well-coached. You add all that up, and you'll get good players."
(on Brady criticizing himself after the AFC Championship Game)
"It's a little different. Usually you don't get to hear that, but Tom, that's how he felt he played that day. He's not afraid to say if he's had a bad day or not."
(on if the team expects perfection)
"Yeah. It starts with our head coach and falls down through the team that everyone expects perfection around there. We've had games where we won, and we came in the next day and everyone has the attitude that we lost because we didn't play as well as we wanted to. We strive for perfection."
(on the burden on Brady being expected to be perfect)
"I don't know. I think a lot of guys throughout the league go through that, where every little mistake gets blown out of proportion. I know for an offensive lineman, you can make the block the whole game, and then you miss one block and you've had a horrible game. It's making the right plays in key situations."
(on how many questions he has had about Super Bowl XLII)
"Too many. A lot of people want to keep talking about that. A lot of us have moved on."
(on how much emphasis they're putting on preparation for New York's 'NASCAR' defensive package)
"A lot. I think their front four is the strength of their defense. If you're not concentrating on that, you might be looking at the wrong thing, especially for the offensive line. That's who we're dealing with 99 percent of the time. We have to focus on them a great deal."
(on how much he appreciates being at the Super Bowl)
"Definitely, it's great to be back. It's our goal every year to get here. When it doesn't happen, you're pretty disappointed. When you do get here, you hope to take advantage of it."
(on the cleanliness of Brady's jersey being the deciding factor in the game)
"It usually does. The better job you do protecting him, the better chance you have to win. Hopefully, he doesn't need much laundry work on his jersey."
(on what he thought of assistant head coach/offensive line Dante Scarnecchia when he first arrived)
"You never know what to expect when you first meet up with a coach, but Dante is a fiery guy. He's a hard worker. He demands a lot, but on the other side of that, he's the nicest guy you'll ever meet. He cares about his players. He would go to bat for us any time we needed him to, and I don't think you're going to find a better coach anywhere."
(on if they have thought about the historical significance for Tom Brady if they win this game)
"We've thought about it, I guess. It's hard not to when people keep bringing it up all the time, but that's not our main concern right now. Our main concern is to win the game, and then that stuff will fall into place."
(on Brady's status as one of the game's all-time greatest quarterbacks)
"He's got to be right there at the top. I think there's only a couple quarterbacks that have won more Super Bowls than he has. He's still playing, and they're not. I think he's got a shot to go all the way to the top."
(on how the team has evolved and how that has contributed to its success)
"Yeah, we've been able to change up our schemes throughout the year. I think a lot of that goes to the personnel that we have. We have a lot of versatile guys that can do many different things—that helps a lot."
(on instilling the 'Patriot Way' to the younger players)
"The main way is to lead by example. Let them see how you handle yourself, how you go to work, what time you get there in the morning, the way you lift and train, and the way you study. I think that's the best way to rub off on people. You just can't tell them and then you do it a different way. You have to set that example."
(on using the running game as a way to protect Brady)
"That's kind of a forgotten thing right now, the running game. We go into every game wanting to run the ball. Some days it goes good, and some days it doesn't. It's all in what the coaches call. If they call a run, we're going to try to block it the best way we can and the running backs are going to run as hard as they can."
(on Matt Light's sickness)
"Well, the good part is he was sick a week before the game. He's got all week to recover and feel the best that he can. He had those two days off to rest. We'll give him all the time he needs so that he's at full strength on Sunday."
(on the challenges of facing the Giants defensive line)
"They're probably the No. 1 defensive line in the NFL. They ranked third in the league in sacks, and that was with most of their guys injured. They've got them all healthy now, and they're playing good football. They'll present challenges to anyone."
(on what makes the Giants defensive linemen so good)
"They have good pass rushers who know how to pass rush. They're good athletes, and they play hard. They've got a good scheme and good coaches. They do a lot of different things very well."
(on the mental aspects of facing the Giants defensive line in addition to the physical aspects)
"It's a little of both. The key with these guys is knowing who's lined up against you and reading your keys to what pressures they can bring from that. You've got to know each one of these guys' strengths because they all have a different one. Whether their 'NASCAR' package is in there, where I'm going against a defensive end, or their normal packages, where I'm going against one of their tackles, I have to know that guy's strengths and weaknesses."
(on Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul)
"The main thing is, you watch him and his speed, and then you watch him bull rush someone and just knock him back five yards. You're just like, 'Man, what do you set for, the speed or the power?' He does all of it. He's got great quickness, and he's got those long arms. He just sticks them in people's chest, and they can't reach him with their arms. He's got the total package. If you don't do everything right, you're in trouble."
(on comparisons to Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck in 2007)
"I think he's a different kind of athlete than Justin. The main thing with both of those guys is they play hard. They give a lot of effort, and every play you've got to be ready for their best."
(on if he has been trying to stay away from his sick teammates, Light and Sebastian Vollmer)
"Definitely. I stay away from those guys as much as possible anyway. It's made it even easier. I'm just joking."
OFFENSIVE TACKLE MATT LIGHT
(on his health)
"I'm doing well. It's a good morning."
(on missing media day)
"I tell you what, I feel horrible about that. I do. And I love spending time with you guys. Not having the opportunity to be around so many of you in such a wonderful setting was very disheartening, but I'm pulling through."
(on practicing today)
"I'm excited about practicing today. We have a good game plan here. We are ready to go."
(on if he watched media day on television)
"I didn't. I heard there was a lot going on. (Rob) Gronkowski said he got the same question over and over. And he gave the same answer. He is a well-trained animal. That's what he is. He is a good man."
(on if his status is day-to-day)
"No. I'm just today, just today. That's all I care about."
(on the season)
"It's been an awesome ride. I think any guy that plays this game wants to go out and play with guys that are passionate, they love what they do and they are professionals. I have been fortunate to be around a group of guys that have always shown up each and every week."
(on being at the Super Bowl with the Patriots)
"There is a reason for everything, without getting too far into it. I think back to the offseason and all of the things that came along with it. It seems like it's been a longer season than any of those in my past as far as all of the things that we dealt with and we worked through. It has been an awesome ride. It's one that I would like to see all the way through. There were a lot of memories. It's been awesome. It's hard to believe."
(on if there is a rivalry with him and Giants DE Osi Umenyiora)
"Can you have an individual rivalry? I thought rivalries were between teams in general. But, I'm ready to go out there and play whatever game I have to play. We'll have fun doing it. I'm not sure that comes at a personal level."
(on his on-field relationship with Umenyiora)
"I mean we play football against each other. I'm not sure how you categorize that. I wouldn't say it's something more than anyone else I have ever faced."
(on Umenyiora wishing him well)
"He said that? Wow. I'm feeling better."
(on if he feels like Tom Brady's guardian angel)
"I'm not sure how he categorizes me, but I'm pretty sure guardian angel is a far cry from that."
(on if the Giants defense is doing anything really complex)
"They are going to switch some things up and I'm sure they will have a few new wrinkles for us. It's not easy to have so many good pass rushers on one defensive line. They have amassed a number of them. Even the guys that rotate in there are good at what they do. They bought into that system, obviously. They work hard at everything."
(on the shifts on the Giants defensive line)
"It really doesn't change what we do, but the recognition as to who it is and what they are good at is big. The things that they can do off of that personnel group or particular look, you have to study it. You have to know what they do."
(on if he ever thinks this may be his last go-around at the Super Bowl)
"Every game could be your last go-around, that's why you embrace it all. This is an awesome week for everybody. You want to play this one like it is your last."
(on being one of the three remaining from the 2007 Super Bowl)
"It's hard to believe that in one career you can go to this thing five times. It never gets old and is always a lot of fun. To have guys that have been with you the whole time is something you never forget."
(on protecting Brady)
"We are going to do what we have done all season. We are going to have a great week of preparation. We are going to go out there and be technically sound at what we do and we're going to go all out."
(on if he still has a stomach bug)
"No, I'm feeling better. I was a little under the weather. We are ready to rock-and-roll for Sunday."
(on if tackle Sebastian Vollmer caught the bug too)
"I'm not sure that I can speak for him but I think he is doing alright too."
(on his responsibility of blocking for Brady)
"Every guy upfront has a job to do. We just go out there and play the game that we learned. Keeping [Brady] upright is a big part of that."
(on his memory from Super Bowl XLII in 2007)
"Right afterwards, it was horrible. By the time offseason conditioning started, we were back in action doing what we always do."
WIDE RECEIVER CHAD OCHOCINCO
(on what it means to him to make it to the Super Bowl)
"This playoff run, this Super Bowl is very meaningful. Many would say it didn't go the way I would like it, not up to my expectations. Everybody can see that, but I don't think this season negates a career of what I consider greatness, worth of fun. To get to this point quietly, most people call it bittersweet, but it's a blessing. People will play this game for years, for years and many names, many greats without having a chance to sniff the Super Bowl. To be able to be here, regardless of how this season went is a blessing, period. Especially where I've come from, what I've been through. To get to this, not just this stage, but the NFL in general. I'm happy, it could be my last one. There's no reason to hang my head, there's no reason to be upset. It is what it is and I'm still smiling. I've been smiling all year."
(on if he can have fun with this Super Bowl week)
"Yeah, most definitely. I can still have fun. I sort of have to feel my way through it first. This season's been, it's more of a feel my way through it. It's a learning process. You just can't come into something new and just bust the door down and say, 'Hey, I'm here.'"
(on if he followed the Bengals this year)
"I followed the receivers."
(on if he was surprised at what A.J. Green did as a rookie)
"Surprised? No. No reason to be surprised that somebody that I've watched, somebody that I've studied, knowing what he's done in college and knowing what he's capable of doing in the league. What he did this year was no surprise."
(on what he thinks Green does best)
"He's really good. He's still raw. That's the scary part. He's still raw, but he's a great talent and he's only going to get better. Especially the tools he has, he's only going to get better as time goes on. You don't drop off."
(on if he has talked to Mike Brown since he was traded)
"No man. I think if they haven't mentioned it, I sent everyone a letter, a 'thank you' note. I think that's the best I can do. Everybody who had anything to do with me being there, I hope they have it framed."
(on if he is surprised Mike Brown traded him)
"No. It's a business. That's just the way it goes. Mike was good to me. The city was good to me. The media we had our ups and downs. I made it fun. The fans were epic for 10 straight years. Of course, I had my riffs and raffs. Like any human being I'm not perfect. Other than that, there's nothing bad I can actually say, period."
(on what it's like that he is finally at the Super Bowl)
"It's cool. Again, I just explained to somebody early that it's a blessing to be on this stage. So many players play this game for such a long time, some of the greats. The Marinos, Barry Sanders, I don't think he was ever able to grace this stage, so many. So just to be able to be here is a blessing to me. What I do is I think back to all I've been through just to get to the NFL in general. Everybody, of course myself also, is emphasizing individual statistics this year about me not having a great season, me not producing in my normal way. But for some reason it's just so odd that I changed my ways, I approach the situation a lot differently and all the sudden I finally get to that stage. What is it? What do you want to take? One hundred catches, 1,000 yards and be at home enjoying watching from home or not have the same numbers and have a chance of playing on the biggest stage of your life. What do you want? There's one of them I've already done already. This is something I've never done. And I'm actually doing it. I'm not playing a video game."
(on if it will be hard for him if they win the Super Bowl on Sunday but he doesn't play)
"Why would it be hard? When you're part of a team, I mean there's nothing hard about it at all."
RUNNING BACK STEVAN RIDLEY
(on what Bill O'Brien is like)
"He's a great coach. The way this whole system has been run is they strive on perfection and he accepts nothing less than that. He's one of those coaches that expects his offense to be run fluidly. If you mess up, you're going to know about it because he's calling you out on the spot and it's probably a few unkind words following that. Besides that, you go talk to him by yourself or you get a chance to be alone with him, he'll tell you whatever you need to know. He's a great guy to play for. He knows what he likes. He's about his business and he expects his players to go out there and do the same."
(on if Bill O'Brien is an intense guy)
"Very, he's a very intense guy. That's the thing. If you can keep him cool and level-headed, you're all good, but as soon as you go to messing up or you cross it, you're going to hear about it pretty fast. It's like a bottle of fire in there just waiting to break out. So, I just try to stay out of his way and do everything I can to do it the right way the first time."
(on if he thinks Bill O'Brien will do well as a head coach)
"I think he'll do great. He's one of those coaches that has no tolerance for doing the wrong things, so he's going to run a tight ship over there. If they just do what he says, they'll be a very successful program."
(on how exciting it is to be in the Super Bowl)
"It's a blessing. It's an honor, no doubt about it. I'm very excited about it. It's an opportunity that I've dreamed about ever since I was a little kid. For me, it's just really kind of taking it all in right now and trying to just realize where I am and how lucky I am to be here. For me to go out there and just play a great game would really put the icing on the cake if we can finish this thing strong and that's what we're going to try to go out there and do."
(on what it's like to not know when he's going to get put into the game)
"It changes every day, not any given day. It changes every day. Like I said, this is my first year here with the Patriots as a rookie and the way they run the system is a lot like where I come from at LSU. It was a bunch of backs in that backfield and so what I think it does for us is it keeps us fresh. It keeps you on your toes because you never know which back is going into the game. I would say that it really works to our advantage. As much as everyone wants to be the only back or be that guy, it helps you to stay fresh. It helps you in the long run that you're not taking that beating and to know that you have teammates that can go in there and contribute to the offense and give them a different look. It helps you the next time you get in the game that you might go in there and break one because they're having to look at so many different backs running the game that they really don't know what to expect."
(on if his experience with multiple running backs at LSU has helped him in the NFL)
"Most definitely. I've been prepared to be in this situation. Like I said, at LSU running those four or five backs in the backfield and I get here and it's the same thing as four or five backs in the backfield and we never know who's going to get the call, who's going to be up or down or whatever, but you have to go out there and you have to prepare. It causes you to work hard. You have to go out there and push every day to get your carries and put that emphasis on the coach's mind that you're ready to go out there and play."
(on if fumbles are tough to overcome)
"You have to put it behind you quickly or you're going to find yourself on the bench and sitting down. For me, like you said, it was like I was building momentum and the carries were going up, had a fumble in the playoff game and you're sat down and on the bench, but you have to learn from it and go on. That's the game of football and if you were going to be perfect every game, every play, everybody would be playing this sport. I can't sulk on it too much or get down about it. I just have to learn from it, realize my mistake and move forward from this point."
(on if Bill O'Brien works on techniques with him after he fumbles)
"We're all pros here. We've been doing it long enough that we know when we mess up and what we need to do to correct that. It's more about concentration. He doesn't really have to coach me up that much. He's going to say a few things at practice about holding the ball and things like that, but it's really just concentration to be aware that you have to grip the ball tight and put two hands on it when you're going into contact."
(on if he was inactive last game because of his fumble in the game prior)
"Probably, most likely. Without a doubt is what I would say. He didn't have to say it. The coaches hadn't said anything about it, to be honest, but I know as a player there's a reason why. I know what I did. When you go back and look at your game film and you look over yourself, you can find your mistakes if you're a good player. That's part of it, that you have to admit to yourself when you're wrong or messed up and you just learn from it and build on it and move forward."
(on if he will play in the Super Bowl)
"I'm planning on being out there. Everybody's going to be suited up and ready to go. I'll be out there and ready and if the coaches call my number, I'll be ready to go."
(on if it's tough not knowing how many carries he's going to get each week)
"Not really tough. It's kind of how things are run around here. It's called being a fluid offense. What you said is it's a game plan team. We look at each team and we look at their strong points and their weak points and they plug us into the offense on how they think we would benefit accordingly. Some weeks I might have 15, 16 carries. Some weeks I might have five. Some weeks I might not even be dressed from what I've learned in the past few games. You really can't get caught up in that. You have to go back to the basics and the basics are when they call your number, you have to go out there and make a play as a player. I try not to get caught up in all the other things. I just try to focus on my mistakes and where I mess up and try not to repeat the same mistakes and go forward from there. I think that's when you'll see the playing time or the carries increase when you can prove that you can do it over and over repeatedly."
(on if the pressure to not fumble is good or bad)
"It's not good or bad. It's part of my job. As a running back, you have to hold on to the football. That's what I'm saying. A lot of people are wondering if the coaches said anything or this, that or another. No, we're all grown men here. We've all been playing this game long enough to know that that's an elementary mistake. You cannot drop the football and have it on the ground. For me, you just have to learn from it. You can't sulk on it or get too low about it or beat yourself up about it. The next time that you touch it, you're going to have two hands on the ball and just continue to do what you've been blessed to do."
(on if it's been a tough transition to the NFL after getting more carries in college)
"Not really. The way I look at it, I'm just a guy that when they call my number, I'm trying to go out there and make a play. If I get one carry, if I get 15 carries, whenever I have my hands on the ball, I'm trying to make a play however it comes. It can come and I'll be ready. As long as I can hold on to this football, I think that things will go well. For me, it's not sulking on the past or looking too far ahead. It's just focused on this game and that Sunday and whatever they ask me to do whenever they call my number."
(on if he has family and friends asking him if he will be active on Sunday)
"The way I look at it, I think we're all going to be dressed out on the field and ready to go. That's how I'm preparing for this game, as if I'm going to be out there and going to play. I've got a good feeling that we'll be out there and ready to go."
(on the impact of Kevin Faulk on the younger players in the locker room)
"Faulk is really just a natural leader. He's a veteran and he's been around the Patriots for 13 years now. What Faulk has taught to us is just how to handle all the things that come along with this game. From being on the field, off the field, film room, as far as where to pay the bills in the town, it's just everything. He's a valuable piece to have as part of our team, he really is. He's a great guy all around, a family guy, a leader. He's helped us young guys to come in and it's made this load easier on us in the transition to becoming pros."
(on if he knew Kevin Faulk before this year)
"I did. Being from down there, he went to LSU. I've seen him once or twice down there in Baton Rouge, but I didn't really get to know him until I got up here and met him. He's really what everybody says that he is. He's a great guy, not just a football player."
TACKLE NATE SOLDER
(on if he knows if he'll start on Sunday)
"We just all prepare as if we're going to start, so we're all ready."
(on the differences between playing LT and RT)
"The nice thing is that it's been kind of that way all year, so I've had plenty of reps on either side, which is nice. It's an easy thing to do, but when you've had plenty of practice it's definitely doable. It's something you get used to."
(on whether he'll play multiple positions Sunday)
"All season they've kind of asked me to be at different spots and be prepared in several different areas, and that's kind of the role I've taken on. I embrace it."
(on having periods of dominance and also periods of inconsistency)
"Like I said before, it's a learning process. It's my rookie year and everyone kind of gets humbled in this league from what I understand. I'm just learning and trying to get better every week."
(on always being ready for any role)
"That's kind of the Patriot way that I've learned. You always need to be ready and prepared for any situation that may arise."
(on whether he went up against Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul earlier this year)
"I can't say that I did. I don't remember exactly, but I've been watching all those guys on film. I saw him for a week preparing for that game and I've seen him for two weeks now preparing for this game."
(on what he sees in Pierre-Paul)
"He's a long-armed guy, quick. He's a great competitor, a great athlete. He knows what he's doing, so it's going to be tough competition."
(on how to stop Pierre-Paul)
"Well, it's a battle. It's in our preparation, it's in our technique, it's in our schemes. My strategy going into this is to listen to everything our coaches say and try to execute that at a high level."
(on where Pierre-Paul lines up in different alignments)
"You're going to see him at 'D-End', you're going to see him at (defensive)
tackle. You're going to see him where they move him around to try to create matchup problems."
(on preparing for each of the Giants pass rushers)
"Yeah, we're overly prepared for who we're going to face, the personnel we're going to match up against."
(on the Super Bowl experience so far)
"It's been awesome. I kind of stepped into something here with a great team. I just feel so fortunate to be a part of it."
(on the Patriots running game)
"I think the run game is of crucial importance. You have to be able to move the ball and run it on the ground or else everything gets shut down. That's something we focus on. That's something that's important to us, is to be a balanced offense."
(on the Patriots running backs)
"Yeah, we've got great running backs. It's great to have that as an 'O-Lineman', where they're reading your blocks, following your blocks and creating yards off that."
(on whether the huddle is ever chaotic)
"No, he's (QB Tom Brady)
the only voice. Everyone else is quiet, and that's kind of the way it's run. I think that's one of the ways that makes him so good."
(on the biggest adjustment he faced last year at the Senior Bowl)
"It was great competition. It was a long time ago. There was a lot of pressure on us to perform at a high level because we were getting looked at by all those scouts."
(on the biggest adjustment going from tight end his first two years at Colorado to offensive line and how he relates to the Patriots tight ends)
"The reason I moved from tight end to tackle was because I was kind of a jack of all trades, master of none and it takes a real special guy to be a good blocker and a good receiver like Gronk (TE Rob Gronkowski)
, so that's where I kind of wanted to focus more on blocking. That's an adjustment for me, but it's nice having a little experience at college coming here where I've been playing both roles."
(on his development process in New England)
"Well, I have great coaches with (Dante)
Scarnecchia and coach (Bill)
Belichick and that's been a huge part of it. Another huge part of it is having great teammates that have helped me along this process, both on the offense and the defense, who's been giving me practice reps against them."
(on the help of T Matt Light and G Logan Mankins)
"Those guys know what they're doing. They've both been Pro Bowlers. They're both great teammates, both good leaders and it's of the utmost importance to have guys like that to really help me be a part of that group."
(on whether they've ever used him in a three-tight end set)
"Well, there's been some of that. My role has kind of expanded here and there. Whatever it takes to win games and have a successful offense, I'm just going to fill a role."
(on when he knew he could play at the NFL level)
"I've felt that every week, where I've had those kind of moments where it's like 'Oh, wow, I really can do this.' I just have to keep working to get better and this is a doable process."
(on working with QB Tom Brady)
"Well, he's fantastic. All of my teammates are fantastic. To be a part of this group, to step into this group and contribute where I can has been a blessing."
(on the first things he worked on with offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia)
"Well, there weren't one or two things. It's been a whole renovation, a whole process. He's a great coach. He's put in tons of work for me watching film, watching my technique and improving my technique. It's been a whole process."
(on who has been his biggest challenge to face in the NFL)
"Well, there's been so many. I think that was the biggest shock from college to the pros, is how every week there's such a good pass rusher."
(on the challenges of facing a number of different defensive alignments)
"I think that's all part of our preparation. It's why we work so hard during the week to get prepared for who we're going to face, how we're going to face them, those sorts of things."
(on the importance of keeping QB Tom Brady protected on Sunday)
"I think that's always important. It's going to be an all three phases of the game type of deal, because they're so good in all ways. It's going to take a team effort to beat these guys, definitely."
(on the challenges of the Giants' four defensive ends package)
"It's going to come down to our preparation, how well we know them, how well we can adjust to what they're doing and be prepared, execute and perform at a high level."
(on the anonymity of the Patriots' offensive line)
"I don't think anyone's worried about that. It's all about winning the game. No one worries about who's in there. It's just a matter of doing your job."