OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR JOSH MCDANIELS
(on quarterback Tom Brady's relationship with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo)
"Big brother. Jimmy came in and really didn't have-like most rookies-no background and understanding of how the NFL works. Here's a guy (Brady) that is when you look at it, he's competing with him. Tom and Jimmy are competing together for the same role on our team. Jimmy's had a great attitude and tried to digest as much information as he can, and Tom's been incredibly available for Jimmy. To watch a guy in his 15th year prepare to be the best player he could be-but also care enough about a young player to try and help him improve every day-it's really an unselfish thing to watch happen. Jimmy's a sponge, and Tom's not afraid to tell him as much as he can. The one thing Tom knows is that if something happens to Tom, he needs Jimmy to be ready. There's no selfishness at all on that front. I mean, he knows that if something were to happen to him he wants our team to still have a chance to win. So, if he can help Jimmy prepare each week or during the course of the season to be a better player if and when that would occur, that's what Tom's goal has been."
(on what he saw in Garoppolo to draft him)
"I think Jimmy's a smart player. He's got a quick release. He's been accurate. He's won a lot of games and played a lot of football. He demonstrated some of the traits that we like to see in a quarterback coming out of college and at the same time, most importantly, what he demonstrated was the ability to learn. We spent a lot of time with him and he learned and pick things up pretty quickly. We knew that no matter what you get as a rookie quarterback, you're going to have to develop the player anyway. So, that we needed really to see from him is… Yeah, he has talents and he has abilities, but we felt pretty confident about his ability to pick things up and try to progress and improve, because over the first year or two as a rookie quarterback in the NFL you're going to have to make a lot of strides. We needed to see some evidence of that and he provided it."
(on going for touchdowns rather than settling for field goals in the red zone)
"Yeah, (Head Coach) Bill (Belichick) would make that call. I mean, our goal every single time we go out on the field Sunday will be to score touchdowns. So, we don't have any other motive in mind or any other motivation offensively. We're going to go out there, and we're going to try to drive it down the field get first downs and ultimately score touchdowns. Hopefully we don't put ourselves in that situation. We're certainly going to try and get it in as quickly as we can if we get down there. If we get into a situation like that, then Bill will make that call. We will be ready to go for it. All offensive players and coaches want to go for it on fourth down. We'll have a plan and be ready. Bill will make those calls, but we'll try to make his life a little easier by scoring on first, second or third down."
(on Seattle's defensive success in the red zone)
"This is as good of a group as we've played all year in a lot of areas. They're no different on the goal line or in the red zone or on third down. They're going to make life hard. We're going to have to execute from the first play of the game until the last one. We know we're in for a long day in terms of being patient. It's not going to come easy. They're not going to provide any easy yards for us. We're going to have to have a strong will and a strong mindset, be mentally tough enough to continue to grind it out. When we get down there close again, that yard will be as hard as or harder than all of the rest of them that it took us to get down there. So, we're going to have a great mindset and be prepared. Then when we make our calls, we're going to need to execute them."
(on going against the Seattle secondary)
"They're guys that are big, strong, fast. Players that play in their scheme very well. They play hard. They're well-coached and we're definitely going to have to bring our A game to compete against them."
(on having Tom Brady as his quarterback)
"I wouldn't want any other guy. I've been fortunate enough to just play here and have him only as my quarterback, so that's been a blessing. When you have a guy that constantly has a chip on his shoulder, regardless of the circumstances or what he's done in the past, the future, this, that, what he has in his life. That really shows guys like me – seventh-round draft pick, guys that are undrafted – he was a sixth-round draft pick that, 'Hey, if you work really hard at something, you really dedicate to your craft you can have the chance to do something."
(on what makes Brady special)
"He's special in the way he prepares. He's a three-time Super Bowl champ that has everything, this, that, and you would think he would go through the motions and this and that, but no. Tom flies out a guy to come quarterback coach him up and work on his fundamentals. He's constantly trying to improve, and that's why he is where he's at."
(on how to avoid allowing Seattle to set the tone in the game like they did last year)
"You have to play within the scheme that your coaches give you. You have to do your job. The job for a receiver is to get open and catch the ball."
(on how practice went)
"It was great. Any time you get to go out there in 70 degree weather, your bones and your muscles feel a lot better than when you're in -2 degree weather when we're in Foxborough (Ma.). It's nice."
(on if he feels mentally prepared)
"Mentally, I feel like personally I'm on the right track. We're in a routine. We're putting our work in. We're looking forward to today's practice to go out there and improve and get ready for the next day's practice."
(on if the team is on pace for where they want to be going into today's practice)
"I would say we look sharp. We're practicing hard. Everyone's doing the best that they can to get themselves ready. I'd say we're on track to go into Thursday's practice."
(on if he thinks this is the toughest secondary they have played so far)
"Definitely. This is the best team that we've played this year. They wouldn't be in the Super Bowl for the second year in a row if they weren't, so I would say yes."
(on growing up in a football family and how that shaped him)
"A lot. I wouldn't just say a football family, I would say a blue-collar (family). My dad's a small business owner, my mom's a homemaker. (She) always had the house clean, brought me home, brought me to any sport I was going to, had a lunch every day. I grew up very fortunate to have those two in my life. I definitely wouldn't be here without them."
(on how his upbringing prepared him for Head Coach Bill Belichick's 'do your job environment')
"It's definitely a different beast when you come here with Coach Belichick, but I would say it gave me a head start."
(on what the expression 'do your job' means to him)
"Doing your job means, just like someone who's working in a coal mine or on a construction site. You bring your hard hat and your lunch to work and just shut up and do your job. You go in there, you go in the meetings and take in the coaching. You execute in the walk-thru. You take the walk-thru to practice and the drills and you execute that. In practice, execution becomes game reality, so that's what do your job – I feel – means."
(on if how he was raised helped him prepare for this type of work)
"My father kept me away from that whole thing as much as he could. He really focused on school and sports. Whether it was baseball season, we would take ground balls, take in-field, batting practice every day. Vacations he'd bring the bat and balls. He'd have my sister shag the balls, have my brother be at first. When it was football season he'd have the rocks lined up in the street. Do a little bit of four-hole, five-hole, one-hole, catch drills, throwing drills. Then for basketball if it was raining, we'd go to this little Gym West and he would rent out a half-court gym and he'd sit and feed me and shoot all day, so I think it would come from that."
(on if he ever worked at his dad's auto shop when he was growing up)
"I did. I was parts boy in the summer. I'd go pick up the parts. I would clean the windows and vacuum the cars after they were serviced and make sure there were no oil prints on the side of the cars. I'd go shuttle the customers, go pick them up at work or at their home and drop them off and I would also pick up the parts. That was my job."
(on if he liked that job)
"I liked it. I got to be around my dad. At the time, I got my license so I was around the shop. I'd get to clean my car and keep my car in tip-top shape, all those kinds of things, hang out with the mechanics. I grew up with them my whole life, so it's definitely a special place."
(on the offense's struggles early in the season and when things clicked for him)
"I can't really answer that, I don't know. At the beginning of the season, you're still getting your feet wet. You're still developing your team. You're still seeing what works and what doesn't work. This team had the mental toughness to just kind of ignore what everyone said and then just to worry about improving each week. We're still trying to do that."
(on for New England wide receiver Randy Moss and his influence on him )
"I was a young buck when Randy was in the locker room. I kind of just sat back and watched him. I'd always ask him questions. Randy was particular in how he delivered things. He may not have said something, but he was showing you. I learned a lot from Randy on everything. How to prepare. Just watching the guy play, he was so smart. That's what a lot of people don't realize, Randy Moss is a ridiculously smart football player. The way he could read coverage. He was very slick with his routes and how he would dictate certain routes with other routes and this and that. I learned a lot from him. It was definitely great to have him at the beginning of my career."
KICKER STEPHEN GOSTKOWSKI
(on how he will prepare in the final 48 hours before the Super Bowl) "It's nice to get all of this stuff out of the way early. I think the hardest part about being here is the circus that is surrounding everything is such a big deal, but at the end of the day, we're still playing a game. Our families come in today, we got back to practice yesterday and we're starting to feel a little more sense of normalcy. I'm not going home and watching the TV and all of the coverage or reading a bunch of stories and stuff like that, my focus is on the game and how well I'm going to perform. It will be nice to see my wife and my kids and to get the support from my family. It's very exciting to get the game here. I think the hardest part about the Super Bowl is that it's two weeks to wait for the most important game of the year, where you're playing week after week and you get a routine. I think it's just healthy to turn your mind off from the game and you get a little sense of normalcy before you've got to get ready to go."
(on what he likes to do the night before the Super Bowl in order get himself relaxed)
"We'll have meetings and stuff and I'll just hangout and watch a movie with my guys, the (long) snapper and the punter, we usually watch a movie the night before the game and try to keep it light and keep it fun. I'll just make sure I get a good night's sleep and be ready to go." (on what movies he watches before a game) "Just whatever is on the hotel (TV). But sometimes we watch like a really sweet movie and then we have a good game and now we have to find one that's really good."
(on how the team will get ready for Sunday)
"Our jobs are kind of odd from the what everyone else's is, but this team is together and we all kind of pull for each other and people get excited when I make kicks, people get excited when we block kicks, people get excited when Matthew Slater is running down and making a big play on special teams. This team is all for each other and it's not one of those teams where people are quick to point the fingers if someone else screws up. This is a true team and it's a pleasure to be on and I think it's a great approach to have where everyone deems everyone's job as important. We're all professionals and we're all getting paid to do a job and everyone has respect for each other. It's not like high school where it's like isolation if you play special teams or something like that, it's the best of the best to be in the NFL and guys have a lot of respect for how much hard work it takes to get there."
(on what goes through his mind before attempting a game-winning field goal)
"It's just like any other field goal, I just try to go out there and work on my technique and worry about the process and not the result." (on if he thinks about previous kicks before he attempts his next try) "I've probably have kicked hundreds of thousands, if not a million kicks before in my life and you just try to – anytime you go out there and kick, you want to see the ball going through and mentally visualize it and that's what I try to do on every kick."
(on if he is prepared for the game to come down to him making a field goal)
"You're always ready for a close game, I just expect to make every kick that I'm sent out to do because that's my job. I'm going to try and make the kicks in the first and second quarter, the third quarter and the fourth quarter and that's what I'm going to try and do."
(on how became a kicker in the NFL)
"It's a unique position and sometimes you just have to luck into the right opportunity and that has definitely seemed to happen to me in this sport, just being in the right place at the right time. I was at (University of) Memphis when Memphis had been notoriously bad and then we get players like DeAngelo Williams and Danny Wimprine and we were one of the highest scoring offenses in the country for three-out-of-the-four years that I was there, I'm kicking tons of field goals and getting tons of exposure that you would probably never get playing on a 2-10 team in college and then to get drafted by the Patriots, a notoriously good team and have continued to be good and be situations where I've made the playoffs almost every year and have gotten to play in a bunch of big games and being on good offenses. I think the hardest part about kicking is games where you're just sitting around doing nothing and then just get thrown out there, here we're kicking kickoffs all of the time and we're scoring touchdowns all the time, we're kicking field goals all of the time and once you get out there and make a bunch of kicks, it's easy to develop confidence and it just carries over. Kicking has a lot to do with confidence and getting to go out there and play a lot makes it a lot easier. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time."
(on going out and kicking a field goal late in the game after not kicking any prior to that)
"We've got to kick about five-six hundred kicks a week just to get ready to kick two-three kicks in a game. it's a lot of monotonous work. I don't think the actual act of kicking is nerve-wracking, but waiting around for your chance to do it can be nerve-wracking. It's like waiting to get that first kick out early in the game or something like that, but that hasn't happened too much for me with the Patriots. but there have been games where I don't touch the field until the second half, and that's happened maybe twice in my career, but those are the games where you're like, 'Man, I've been sitting around all day thinking about the game, and I haven't done anything,' and that's the hardest part about kicking. Part of the job is you have to get yourself mentally prepared, but you might not have to be called upon to make a kick until late in the game and you have to be ready for any situation. That's what I strive to do is be ready is to make kicks in all situations."
(on how New England Head Coach Bill Belichick has made him a better player)
"Coach Belichick expects and demands a lot of his players, but I've come to realize that after a lot of soul searching that I don't think a coach is hard on you unless they expect a lot out of you, they obviously have faith. Now, it's a lot different since I've been in the league for a long time, but early in your career they would comment on every little misstep you take in practice and in the game and stuff like that like, 'Why is this guy all over me?' but he's like that because he expects a lot out of you, and he's very demanding. If you want to be the best, then you should expect the best out of yourself and he has a way of pushing everyone's buttons to make them want to work harder and play better, and he's not going to tip-toe around any position just because he thinks that he might get their feelings hurt. If you're not tough enough to take Coach Belichick's ripping, then you're not tough enough to play in the game. I can attest to this. Earlier in my career I would be more nervous to kick in practice than I would in a game just because I could feel him watching me over my shoulder. It's hard to argue with success of knowing that he's always had a good kicker like (Adam) Vinatieri where he's got the most out of him, and I'm not going to argue with the way he does things. Put your head down, be quiet and work hard."
(on why kicking in practice is harder than kicking in a game under Belichick)
"His presence alone is just intimidating. I came in the league and everybody that I played with was just two-three times Super Bowl Champions and just the confidence that they walked around with and the way they carried themselves, you could tell why they were champions and you had to work, fight, scratch, pull teeth and do whatever it took to become accepted by those guys and there was no forcing it. You had to prove yourself by playing well, carrying yourself like a pro, and that's why I learned from guys like Lonny Baxter, Josh Miller, Ken Walter, Mike Vrabel, Tedy Bruschi, and just seeing guys like that and the way they worked, you just understand why people do things and why they are successful and you try to emulate that."
(on why he struggled his senior year in high school)
"I don't know, I played three sports year-round and it was time in my life where I put a lot of pressure on myself to get a scholarship because my parents didn't have any money, and I thought that was my only way to get to college and get a full scholarship. I had a couple of bad games and it just started snowballing, but it was a really good experience because I promised myself that I would never get done on myself after failures like that again, and I don't think you can learn to have any mental toughness without going through some adversity. But that was the hardest I had ever been on myself in sports because I always had a lot of success with every sport that I played, and that was the first time that I had really failed to live up to my expectations. It was a great experience because things worked out. I think there was a reason why I didn't get a football scholarship, and there's a reason why I played two sports in college, and I think there is a reason why I ended being better at football than baseball probably because I didn't put as much pressure on myself to be good at it. You live and learn, you're young and you don't really know what's going on, you think you do, and I just rolled with the punches and things worked out for me."
(on his first field goal in the NFL)
"It was very nerve-wracking, but I made it and that's the good thing."
(on if the Cincinnati game started their momentum this season)
"I think, if anything, after the Kansas City game before the Cincinnati game was when we really started to get momentum. Our offensive coordinator (Josh McDaniels) came in that day after we lost the game, the day after and was like, 'These are our guys right here. We're not going to ship you guys out. We're not going to bring a bunch of new guys in. We're not going to point fingers. We're going to coach you harder and we're going to expect more out of you.' I think the leaders on the team responded well to something like that. I think mentally the offense responded well to that. We went out and played well against Cincinnati and we took that to Buffalo. Then we went to Chicago and played them pretty well. So that was the momentum, the catalyst to help us get going."
(on Super Bowl week)
"Monday I was sitting in my hotel room and I was just like, 'Wow I just got to Super Bowl week.' It's crazy and never in a million years. I think that this is God's plan for me to be part of something like this. It's really special for me because where I've come from and how hard it's been for me to get to the League. Everybody has a story of how they get it."
(on how many New England players had a story of how they got to this level)
"Exactly. It's the Patriots' way. They get you in there and they teach you how to work. You learn from the leaders of the team. You learn from guys like Tom (Brady) and Matthew Slater. You just follow their lead and the next thing you know, you're here at the Super Bowl."
(on what he's learned since leaving college)
"I learned a lot. First has an NFL pro, you are going to experience things each season that you have never experienced before. I know with Tom Brady we were 2-2 and people were saying he was washed up and it's time to go in with a new guy. I know he's never experienced anything like that before. So I think a lot of times you're going to experience stuff that you haven't seen before. You have to learn from it and you have to become a better pro from it."
(on New England's versatility with running backs and how important is it for him and others to be ready)
"I think that's a good thing about our team in terms of game planning. You never know who's going to get the opportunity to play. It's hard for the defense. In terms of preparation from the individual standpoint, you prepare like you do any week. You know the stakes are high in a game like this, obviously your attention to detail is a little bit different, the way you practice is a little bit different. You really are trying to empty the tank. It's cool but you just prepare like any other week but knowing in the back of your mind this is the biggest game of your life."
TIGHT END ROB GRONKOWSKI
(on having more fun with football than most players)
"I mean, I just go out there and do my thing and do what I do. If that's the case, if that's what it's looking like, then it's a good thing, obviously. I mean, I definitely do love going out and playing on the football field. Half the practices I usually don't even want them to end. Gameday, I don't even want it to end. Gameday is such a good feeling. You just look forward to it all week, and it's just an honor to be out there on Sundays. You're just having a blast out there in front of everyone and playing in front of everyone with your teammates running up and down the field. I just feel like the game of football takes away all your – if you have anxiety, stress that week – it just takes away everything because it's such a great game, and you just think about what you have to do out on the field in the moment."
(on quarterback Tom Brady saying he didn't think Gronkowski has ever had a bad day in his life and if he has had a bad day)
"Oh, yeah, I mean I definitely have, no doubt. But I mean, when I come into work I don't like it to affect anyone if you're having a bad day. Who hasn't? If you go to work you want it to always want it to be clean, always want it to be a positive atmosphere in there, for sure."
(on if it's a relief to not have to talk to the media after today)
"We've been talking all week. This is the third day in a row. How much more is there to talk about after three days in a row for 45 minutes? It is a relief actually because now we just get to concentrate on the game for a few days and just worry about that, and we'll worry about what we have to do on Sunday."
(on how many times this year he was asked about his ankle)
"Just a few times. Just once or twice about what's it feel like to not be getting questions about your ankle. It's a lot better experience. Last time it was just 24/7 every minute about my ankle. This time around it's a lot better not having to answer health questions and just getting to prepare on the Seahawks."
(if he's a stronger person now after going through his injuries)
"When anyone goes through adversity it all depends on how they react to it and how they handle it, and I definitely feel like everything I've been through definitely made me a stronger person, for sure."
(on what he's like on a normal gameday and how that compares to how he was in his first Super Bowl)
"We try to do everything the same throughout the whole week – prepare the same, practice the same, just because it's a bigger game on a different level. You don't want to lose your routine. You want to be doing the same routine if it's a Sunday night game, if it's a 1:00 game, if it's a Super Bowl, or a playoff game. You just want to maintain that routine so you know how your body's going to react on gameday. Going into the Super Bowl is going to be just like any other game – any other game how I prepare, and any other game I get up for."
(on if he'll have any nerves or anxiety before the Super Bowl)
"I mean, we'll see about this one for sure, but I feel like just doing my normal routine will help me get to where I need to be on gameday."
(on the 'Gronk Spike' and what emotions are going through his head while doing it)
"Oh, the Gronk Spike? I always actually just wanted to do it in high school and college after a touchdown, and it was always a flag, so I had really never done it in college or high school, but when I got to the NFL I finally got my opportunity, and I just always wanted to spike the ball. I just felt like that trait just went with me, so I did it and it caught on. It's just a good feeling when you get that score and you do your little touchdown celebration to get your team going."
(on if there's a certain technique to his Gronk Spike)
"There's not really a certain technique. You kind of wind up like a pitcher and you just spike it to the ground. Sometimes there are good spikes and sometimes there are bad ones. It all depends on how the ball hits the ground."
(on how much he looks forward to the physical nature of this game)
"Oh, yeah, of course. That's what makes this game so great, the game of football. You've got two sides of the ball just wanting to go at each other and just wanting to collide with each other and get the extra yards, push the guy out of the way. We know it's going to be a physical game, and we have to go out and we have to be just as tough and we have to be just as physical."
(on this Super Bowl leaving an impact on the legacy of New England and its players)
"Oh, no doubt. This game's huge. It's just based legacies on this game for a lot of players – for Tom (Brady), for Vince (Wilfork), for the whole organization, and I feel like it bases the legacy of myself. Having a Super Bowl is huge. It's a lot different than being the MVP or having an award for being the Outstanding Player. Being a Super Bowl champion, I feel like if it occurs, no doubt it'll be one of the greatest things to happen."
(on what it was like getting back to practice and if it feels like things are starting to feel like they're getting ready for a game)
"Yes, it feels more like a game atmosphere now that we're back at practice instead of waiting around for two days just doing media, just getting used to the surroundings around us. It feels like we're more at home now and just practicing and getting ready for the game, and it feels like there's going to be a game Sunday now that we're back at practice. It feels good."
(on if he's chomping at the bit to get ready for the game and if he wants to play today)
"Yeah, I just wish the game was today. I've been saying that for like the last week ever since Monday hit of last week. We just have to stay patient and stay calm we've just got to keep doing what we're doing and focusing. The game will come in no time."
(on how it feels to play the whole season without an injury)
"It feels good to play the whole season. That was my goal in the very beginning in training camp to play all the games. It just feels good to go throughout the whole season, playoffs feeling good and having this little extra time off here going to the Super Bowl and having the two weeks. It feels good to go out there and do what I've got to do to help out the team."
(on if he wondered if he would ever be the same after all of his previous injuries)
"Definitely. There are times where you think like that when you're down and out, but when you start the rehab processes you're going through, you're getting stronger every day, you have the training staff that's motivating you, you talk to the other players that have been through situations that you've been through that are successful now again. Once you hit a point where you feel like you're gaining, you're getting gains, you're getting back at it, that's when you gain all the positive energy and all the positive thoughts. You just think in your head that I can be back better than ever and better and stronger. In that case, I feel like I have, for sure."
(on how he would describe Tom Brady's competitive nature)
"Second to none. If you shoot in basketball with him, playing a game of PIG, he's going full-out – full-out trying, full-out trying to win that game. He doesn't care who it's versus. He's maybe one of the top competitors I've ever met, and it just bring it out in everyone when it comes to game time."
(on if he thinks being a student of the game is part of his repertoire that's underrated)
"I mean, I would say it's a little underrated, for sure. People sometimes I feel like just look at me like I just go out 24/7. It's pretty funny. I just laugh it off, but really, at the same time, throughout the whole week many times during the season I don't even step foot out of my house. I just chill and make sure I'm taking care of my body and making sure I'm doing what's right to get ready for the next day at practice because I always put that No. 1 in front of me, because if I'm doing what I've got to do and I'm going out preparing, practicing hard, and we're getting things done on the field, all that fun stuff's going to come, especially if you're killing it out there on the field. If you're doing your job, you're with your team, you're winning games throughout the whole year – if you're doing that you can wait until the offseason to have all that fun and all that if you're putting your job first. I truly believe just going hard, studying the film – I love the game of football, and as I grow, and as I'm getting older, and as I'm maturing more in this league, I feel like football just keeps getting more and more important to me."
LINEBACKER DONT'A HIGHTOWER
(on who came up wit the idea of the 'turnover bag')
"(Linebackers Coach) Pat Graham."
(on how did the 'turnover bag' come about)
"I think it might've really came down to right before the season. Pat (Graham) was real big in talking about the hunt. What he meant by the hunt was any hunt for the ball. Every time we got a turnover whether it be a pick or a strip sack or a fumble recovery or something like that we always got the balls. You take them back, drop them off and we keep in them that bag and we try to fill that bag as big as possible. Try to move from one bag to another and then keep it going. I feel like it was pretty successful. I think this was the first year that we've tried it since I've been here (New England)."
(on if there is a competition between the defensive backs and the linebackers to fill up more 'turnover bags')
"I wouldn't say it was a competition. Obviously, secretly it might be a competition, but I think it was really more of somebody made a play and then that kind of made everybody else want to make a play. I'm pretty sure that was probably the bigger part of the competition."
(on practice yesterday)
"It felt good to be out and running around. We had a couple days off, but it felt good to get back out there. Everybody moved well everybody looked like they were going pretty well. Just good to actually finally get a sweat back going other than having to wear eight layers of clothing. It felt good to be back out there."
(on the focus of having good practices this week)
"I feel that's the probably the biggest part of execution is kind of getting all the knots and wrinkles out now. Come Sunday everybody knows the game plan, they know every check. So, everybody's playing two or three steps faster than what they're used to. These next couple practices are going to be key to us."
(on if the team is fatigued)
"I don't know it might be the bed, time difference that a lot of us haven't gotten used. I don't know a lot of guys are a little tired. It might just be jetlag or whatever. It's not nothing too serious."
(on why Head Coach Bill Belichick's 'do your job' philosophy has become the team's slogan for the season)
"I'm not really sure that might be something for Bill (Belichick). I have no idea."
(on if the 'do your job' philosophy helped gather the team after their loss to Kansas City)
"That might be, honestly I have no idea."
(on what 'do your job' means to him)
"It's kind of self-explanatory, you do your job. Everybody holding each other to accountability and I feel like everybody's kind of done that thus far. I feel like that's a big reason why we've had success is just everybody just kind of buying in to what we're trying to do. I feel like that's one of the bigger reasons why we've had so much success."
(on if he expects that by game time Sunday the team will be ready to play)
"I hope so, it's the damn Super Bowl."
(on if the team's fatigue is because of the anticipation leading up to the game)
"Honestly, it might be that. It might be that we're doing media two, three times a day. I think guys are just anxious to play. We're tired of the schedules, but I mean for the most part whenever practice rolls around we're ready to go. So, we're getting better we're not being complacent. Might start out slow to start the day, but everything picks up sooner or later."
(on Seattle's running scheme)
"I feel like they'll pretty much do what they do. I don't feel like they really change anything. I feel like they're like a lot of the west coast teams out here. They are what they are. They're the alpha. They're not going to change anything they've had so much success with over the past two years. Whether it's the zone read or two backs running downhill or one back or an option or whatever it is. They kind of do what they do."
(on Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch being so difficult to defend)
"He's an all-around great back. He's got great feet, great balance (and) great vision. I feel like he does a great job of keeping his legs moving all the time. A lot of people think that he's a big, aggressive back runner, which he is, I'm not taking that away from him. I've seen another side of him to where he's not necessarily looking to run guys over, but he's looking to take that 10-yard play and break it to a 50- or 60-yard play. He does a real good job of extending plays, making everybody have to be at the point of attack."
(on what it will take for the New England defense to contain Lynch)
"I feel like we've had a really good practice. I feel like everybody kind of understands the game plan and what we want to do and how they operate and how they want to attack us. If things happen, we have adjustments and things that we can do. I feel like the better grip that everybody has a hold on that, I feel like the more successful we'll have the opportunity of being because everybody will know what we want to do and how we want to do it. If they change something, then we'll be able to correct it on the sideline."
(on if stopping Lynch is first priority in defending against the Seattle offense)
"Most definitely. I feel like Green Bay did a really good job of that in the NFC Championship in the first quarter or two. They really slowed him down. They forced Seattle to throw the ball a lot earlier, more than they wanted to. I feel like they had the right idea, they just didn't finish the way they wanted to, obviously. Couldn't close the deal, but I feel like they had the right idea."
(on the similarities between Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban and Head Coach Bill Belichick)
"I literally think that they're exactly the same. From the way that they run their meetings to the way that we run practice, just the way they address the team. You can definitely tell that Nick learned something from Bill whenever they were at Cleveland and I mean they're still pretty close friends. So, I can only imagine how much more they're alike than what I think. I literally think they are two peas in a pod."
(on if Saban offered him any advice after New England drafted him regarding transitioning from college to the professional level)
"I mean just good luck and just do everything that I did when I was at 'Bama,' (University of Alabama) which was just be a sponge, find an older guy and just to tailpipe him. I followed (linebacker Jerod) Mayo. I did whatever Mayo did and I feel like I went about it the right way."
(on being at the Super Bowl)
"Just excited, this is something I've always wanted to do since I was younger. These are the goals that are set for everybody in offseason workouts and stuff. So, I'm just excited."
(on the challenges of facing the Seattle offense)
"Obviously, they've got a lot of great players. They've got a good run game. They've got a great quarterback. We've got to be able to contain both of those guys."
DEFENSIVE END CHANDLER JONES
(on preparing for a mobile quarterback like Russell Wilson)
"It's not different steps. I feel like we've faced a few scrambling quarterbacks. We've faced Geno Smith, we faced Andrew Luck, both quarterbacks that are very mobile. I feel like it's my job and Rob Ninkovich's job and the rest of the defensive line's job just to contain him. So hopefully we can do that on Sunday. (on Wilson in comparison to other scrambling quarterbacks)
"I don't see a lot of weaknesses in Russell Wilson's game. Even watching him on film, he makes a lot of plays inside the pocket and he makes a lot of plays outside the pocket, as well. He doesn't have a lot of weaknesses as a quarterback. You know, some people say young quarterback, but I don't see him as a young quarterback at all."
(on capitalizing on weaknesses Seattle showed in the NFC Championship Game)
"It's not really what they do when it comes to certain things like that. It's really what we do. I feel like if everyone's just in their right spot, play assignment football, then we should be OK."
(on the best way to shut down a scrambling quarterback)
"Yeah, that's a good question, actually. I feel like according to what the defense has called, depending on what happens, if it's pressure or if it's containing them, depending on what defense is called."
(on the attention the Seattle defense gets)
"I feel like we've got to show up. That's what I feel like. If everyone shows up, you know, everyone does talk about Seattle's defense. They have a good defense, even from just watching them on TV. But if we just show up, hopefully they'll know what New England's defense is like on Sunday."
(on facing a pocket passer or a scrambling quarterback as a defensive player)
"It doesn't matter. It really doesn't matter. But I feel like it's a lot more challenging to face someone that can run the ball more as a quarterback because I feel like there are more challenges. You have a challenge to actually beat the guy that's blocking you and then you have the challenge to actually take down a squirming guy like Russell Wilson."
(on Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich)
"Rob Ninkovich was there since day one, the day I got to New England. And he's put me under his wing since day one, along with a guy like Vince Wilfork. He plays defensive end like me and we're like brothers. There are certain times that I just give him a look and he knows certain things. We just have that camaraderie."
(on how to make it to the NFL)
"Well, I feel like a lot of people tell other people their dreams. There are also instant doubters, always instant doubters. When I was a kid, I would say I wanted to be a football player. There were always instant doubters. I feel like kids at certain ages, it's OK to say what you want to be, but always drown out instant doubters. If you can do that, you should be fine. I was always criticized – you're too skinny or no one makes it to the NFL. So just never listen to doubters and keep that your task at hand and keep your nose to the ground and you'll be alright."
(on the importance of learning the fundamentals of the game)
"It was very important. There was one time in my career where I was kind of just getting by on athleticism, on my athletic ability. But when I became a pro athlete, even a little bit at the collegiate level, I feel like that athleticism only gets by so much. So the fundamentals became key at a certain point in my career."
(on the transition from college to the NFL)
"A lot of different teams worked me out. A lot of teams worked me out as an outside linebacker, and a lot of teams worked me out as a defensive end. The Patriots, they kind of had me doing everything. I remember, I met with Coach Belichick and the D-line coach actually flew out to see me and worked me out. But it's been a journey and I loved it. It kind of made my options wider."
(on his relationship with his brothers)
"We're very close, very close. I mean, we grew up together. We grew up in the same room. We went to high school together. We were all we had, so we're very close."
(on which brother is best athlete)
"I feel like we all have our own strong points, but as far as the basic and the generic athletic fundamentals like catching, jumping and throwing, I think I am."
(on defending the read option)
"We've played a few zone read teams. And we've played a few athletic quarterbacks. We've had Ryan Tannehill, we've had Andrew Luck, we've had Geno Smith. I'm not comparing those guys but comparing them to a point where they can run the ball. I feel like as a defense, if everyone's in their right spot, if everyone plays assignment football, we should be fine."
(on the biggest challenge of a combination of a running quarterback and a good running back)
"Just pushing out reads. You have a guy like that actually run 100-plus yards as a quarterback and another guy that can go 100-plus yards as a running back. That's very dangerous. That's very dangerous. With someone like that and an offense like that, it goes back to everyone doing their part."
(on waiting for these final days to pass before the Super Bowl)
"It will be easy for me. It will be easy. I'll probably just sleep. I think just getting rest, watching film, movies. My hotel movies, my room movies, I can't tell you how many movies I've ordered. Every night, I probably watch two or three movies. I've been trying to get my mind off it. But when it's time, I'll watch my film. But at night when I'm trying to go to sleep, I just watch movies and try to get my mind off it."
(on the idea of having a motivational speaker before the game)
"A lot of guys are different. A lot of guys get more pumped up in certain ways. Speeches might work for some guys. In another instance, maybe a song or maybe watching a movie. So maybe a motivational speaker would be helpful. For me, I'd like it. Who would I like to hear? Probably the greatest of any sport. It would be cool to see them come talk to our team. But I mean, Coach (Bill) Belichick, right?"
(on the Seattle Seahawks' strengths)
"They have a running back that can run the ball for probably 100-plus yards. They also have a quarterback that can run the ball 100-plus yards. So that's very dangerous for a defense. We have to worry about the quarterback and the running back. Our job as a defense is hopefully just to contain those two."
(on receiving praise from Belichick)
"As a player, even if it wasn't Coach Belichick, as any player, if you hear any praises from your coach, your natural response is a joyful feeling. He's your boss. If you make your boss happy, I know you'd smile. But even from Coach Belichick being one of the greatest coaches, in my opinion, it's just great. For him to even talk to me, just being in his presence is one of the greatest things. I enjoy being one of his players."
(on watching the Patriots' defense evolve throughout the season)
"Unfortunately, I wasn't on the field for the defense the whole season. I was out with an injury. Even watching from a fan perspective, I became more of a student of the game. Just seeing guys just gel together has been great. It's been great watching our defense."
(on the lack of media attention on what the Patriots' defense did in the AFC Championship Game)
"My biggest focus is the Seattle Seahawks, so who cares about the whole ball pressure thing. I just want to play."
WIDE RECEIVER BRANDON LaFELL
(on what is the best medicine for New England quarterback Tom Brady)
"Just win. That's the best medicine for him right now. This time of year nobody's healthy. Somebody's going to get sick with all the traveling, but just win. That will cure everything."
(on New England head coach Bill Belichick saying practice is to recap and fine tune)
"Definitely. The game is Sunday. It's Thursday. We're making great steps towards what we want to be but we are just not there yet."
(on how does sickness impact a football player)
"The only impact it really has—for me personally when I'm under the weather is just sleeping. You just need to get a good night sleep, resting through the day. But once you're on the football field it's just like any other problem. Once you cross those white lines you black it out and you just deal with it once you get off the field."
(on if they can afford Seattle's secondary to affect them like Denver's wide receivers last Super Bowl)
"Just go out there and play our style of football. We can't let those guys come up to the line of scrimmage and jam us up every snap. We got to be able to get out from the jam, get into our routes and get open for Tom (Brady)."
(on if Seattle's defense intimidates wide receivers out of games)
"Any defense can take a receiver out of the game if you play solid defense. It's not about being intimidated, it's playing good coverage."
(on Seattle's physicality)
"We're physical, too. We are not going to go out there and let these guys push us around and back down. We're going to go out there and play physical with them."
(on getting closer to the Super Bowl)
"It's real exciting. As we get closer all you can do whenever we have free time, whenever you're doing anything our mind go straight to the game. You go thinking about plays you're going to make, you think about this and that. It's getting real exciting but we're not there yet. I just can't wait for that game to come."
(on the mental grind of the game and how he prepares for it)
"You got to stay loose. One of my guys yesterday was telling me from the moment we run out the tunnel to when we actually kickoff is about 20 minutes. I was like that doesn't make sense at all. He was also like halftime is going to be an extra 30 minutes. I really got to stay loose for that long? But stay loose, stay in the playbook, don't be on your phone and be texting anybody for all that halftime. Just stay in the game."
"Practice has been very well. We pretty much just recap some stuff we put in the redzone earlier and went over some the things we went over last week. We're not there yet but we just need to take the final steps to get there to where we need to be Sunday."
(on practicing in warmer weather)
"It was great not to have to wear suit hoodies, sweatpants, thermal tights and all that. It felt good to go out there being in your uniform without the extra layers."
(on what gameday will be like for him)
"It'll be normal. Get my pregame meal, take a nap, get dressed, go over. I won't do anything different than I haven't been doing."
(on if the New England receivers will try to push back against Seattle defense)
"We're not going to go out there and get into arguments or going to be talking back against these guys. We're going to go play our style of football. Just get open, make plays, be physical when we have the ball in our hands. They come by and they want to be physical, you just have to match it. We can't do nothing crazy and get penalties at the play trying to prove how tough we are against these guys. We just have to go out there and play them as this offense."
(on the Seattle secondary's nickname 'Legion of boom')
"It's a nickname. They earned it."
(on how the Seattle defense receives praise)
"I feel like they get everybody to talk about those guys because they deserve it. They've played good play for the last two years consistently every week. They deserve to get all the praise they've been getting, but everybody's been forgetting about us. We've been making plays all year just like their receivers and their DBs have been making plays all year. We're not going to worry about not getting the praise. We're going to do what we've been doing all day."
(on if he is up for the task to get physical against Seattle's defense)
"This won't be the first team that we've met that has physical corners that want to get up there, press you. Denver has physical corners. Colts, they have guys that want to get up in your face. Detroit, they have guys that want to get up in your face. This won't be the first group that we've played that has real physical corners."
(on New England's journey and his own success this season)
"It means a lot. The way we started the first four games, I thought sooner or later I was never going to get the football. We started the season without (Shane) Vereen, we started rolling throughout the year, started with the Kansas City game but it just picked up from there. To look back from how we started and how everybody was counting us out to how we are finish the season and how we're in the Super Bowl, it's a really good feeling."
(on how New England's quarterback Tom Brady and wide receiver Danny Amendola are under the weather)
"Whatever is going around, they need to move my locker away from Tom and away from D.A. so I won't be the next guy sick."
(on the respect between New England and Seattle and very little trash talk)
"At the end of the day, you respect the football. Those guys have a lot of talent over there and are defending Super Bowl champs. They're proven. They played good ball last year. They played good ball this year so you can't really talk bad about those guys. They play good football. They won. They made it here just like we did."
(on New England wide receiver Julian Edelman)
"One of the toughest guys I've been around. Makes a lot of plays. Works his tail off every day, catches 1,000 balls. When I say 1,000, he probably catches 1,000 balls before practice. Probably before 7 a.m. Works his butt off every day. Makes a lot of plays for us. Great punt returner. A guy that when he gets the balls in his hands, he's hard to bring down by one person. He's a tough guy."
(on how New England Head Coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady make each other better)
"Like you said, they're both great, but I think they make each other better with being able to sit down and talk with each other and have dialogue. Tom being able to take coaching from Bill and Bill being able to listen to Tom about different situations in the game. They can learn from each other and they can talk about that and get the whole team better."
(on if he expected to be here in the beginning of the season)
"I still can't believe I'm playing in the Super Bowl. The way we started the season to where we are now is unbelievable. We started off real slow. We picked it up in the middle of the year. We finished the year off right. Got into the playoffs. Had some tough games but we hung on. I'm really excited and I'm happy for my teammates."
(on how New England turned the season around)
"I think that's when people started to do their job. I think everybody was trying to do more than what was expected of each other and started focusing on doing their job and making sure we had 11 guys doing one thing right. That is when it started picking up."
DEFENSIVE END ROB NINKOVICH
(on the challenges of defending Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson)
"Yeah, when you're playing a quarterback that can move in the pocket, there are always challenges to that as a defensive lineman. I've said it before; it's not just one guy. It's everybody doing their job working together. When you have guys like that, quarterbacks that can extend plays and run for first downs, that's always a challenge up front, but that's something that we've done before, seen before. You just have to be under control, but also still pushing the pocket."
(on how you defend the zone read game)
"It's all about reading your keys and doing your job. If your job is to be on the quarterback, then you've got to read your keys and do just that. Again, on that particular play people get in trouble when they become overly aggressive and try and go for the dive when that's not their responsibility and the quarterback pulls it and makes a play."
(on if Wilson executes it better than most with his ability to fake)
"Again, it's all about your vision. As a defensive end, I've seen that particular play many, many times in the past. Really that play is all technique. It's all about reading your keys and where you're eyes are looking and how you play that play really goes back to the fundamentals of football."
(on how Head Coach Bill Belichick has changed throughout the time he's been in New England)
"I think Bill has been very consistent, and that's trying to put the best team out on the field and win as many football games as possible and put us in the best position possible."
(on hearing the expression 'do your job' a lot)
"When I got here in 2009, I could remember the first thing he said. He doesn't care where you're from, where you're drafted, what your salary is, if you can help us win games, you're going to be on this football team, and I think that all comes from doing your job. Whatever role you had – at that particular time it was a special teams role – you embrace that. You execute, and when everyone is doing that, understanding their roles and executing at a high level, that's when you win football games."
(on what the key is to getting Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch on the ground)
"Guys that are powerful runners and bigger running backs, you're not going to tackle them just with your arms. Also as a defense, you're not going to tackle them just with your arms, and also as a defense, you really have to get every hat to the ball and body tackle that guy. You can't expect to take him down with just your arms because he's powerful in how he's pulling his legs through and runs with good pad level. They say all the time running backs with good pad level, he's definitely one of those guys who runs with his pads over his knees."
(on how it feels to finally be getting back to football after all the events going on over the last two weeks)
"It was awesome. I was looking forward to getting out there and running around and breaking a sweat. It was definitely a long couple of days not being able to go out there and practice. It's here now, so just really putting in a lot of effort to have productive practices and get ready for this game."
(on if it feels different now that the game is only a couple of days away)
Yeah, it's exciting. We're all anticipating playing fast and having a great time out there. Football is a game of flying around with your buddies. It goes back to when you were in high school and you were having a good time just as a kid. Now it's our jobs, but you're still a tight unit with your guys out there, and your guys have fun and fly around and make plays. That's what football is all about."
(on having Croatian heritage)
"Yeah, I'm 100-percent."
(on how big this game is back in his home country)
"I think back there they're more into the soccer thing, but I'm sure we have a pretty good fan base."
(on if he's talked to any reporters from Croatia this week)
"I have not."
(on being done with media after today and how he'll spend the next few days preparing himself)
"Yeah, you do some film study. At this point, you've watched a lot of tape. You have an understanding of the concepts and things that they like to do. Now it's just fine tuning some things, watching some cutups on different situations and just give yourself the best opportunity to play fast. That's really what it's all about is playing smart and playing fast and relaxing your mind the days before the game."
(on if there's anything he does to get up for a game like this)
"I get up for every game, so for me, I try to really get up when the ball is kicked off. I don't do the whole crazy music. I don't get nuts right before the game because that can tire you out almost towards the end of the game. I try and just pace myself and be really relaxed and calm all the way up until I'm about to jump on the field."
(on if he likes to spend time with the team or if he likes to be by himself before the game)
"I like to be by myself. I like to just relax and gather my thoughts."
(on how quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has done on the scout team this week mimicking Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson)
"Yeah, Jimmy has done a great job for us. In college he was a very good quarterback as far as moving in the pocket and standing in plays. He's a very good look for us, and I'm happy he's able to do that."
(on if it's tough to mimic a guy like Wilson who has such a unique skill set)
"Yeah, definitely. He's very talented. Again, there are a lot of things that he does really, really well. You're not going to get the exact Russell Wilson look because there's only one Russell Wilson. So again, I think Jimmy has done a great job for us and he's going to continue to do his best to help our team."
(on the challenge of stopping a player like Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch)
"Very strong, very physical running back, so it's not just one guy that's going to be able to take that type of runner down. You've got to have everyone doing their job, everyone rallying to the football and body-to-body tackling with a guy who runs as hard as he does."
(on what quarterback Tom Brady means to their team and if he thinks Brady is one of the all-time greats)
"Definitely. I've said for many years, it's a privilege to play with a quarterback like that. They don't come around often. He's been doing it for a very long time now and been very consistent. It's an honor to play with him. He's a great leader, great competitor. He's competing in the offseason. He's trying to run extra sprints. He's competing and conditioning, so that's just the way that he is. That's his competitive nature, so it's exciting because it makes everyone better."
(on what it's like working with the son of Head Coach Bill Belichick, Steve Belichick and how he's helped the team)
"Steve is great. He's running around and doing everything he can to help us win. This year he's staying up late doing all the dirty work and putting in all the hours that the coaches do. He's probably putting in more hours because he's getting everything ready for the coaches. He's been awesome. He's fun to be around, and it's great to see him following his dad."
(on if he treats this game like any other game)
"When it comes down to it, it's another football game, and you've got to go out there and play one play at a time. You've got to execute, so for me, mentally I just look at it as another football game. I'm ready to go out there and take it one play at a time and play as fast as I possibly can and play smart."
(on if he is really able to block out the fact that it's not just any other game)
"Yeah, I can. I'm pretty good at stuff like that. It really doesn't affect me. I'm just excited to go play football. It feels like it's been too long. It's been two weeks."