Q: Is it interesting to you that you'll be playing against a quarterback in Drew Brees that you faced in the Big Ten in college all these years later?
TB: Yeah, that's pretty cool. Obviously, it's pretty unique for both of us. I've been very blessed over the course of my career and to still be with the same team in my 18th year has just been a great blessing for me. I have so much respect for Drew and what he's accomplished. Playing against him for a long time, I know the challenges a Drew Brees-led team presents. We've got our work cut out for us. It's going to be a tough game and a tough environment. Hopefully we do a better job than the last time we were down there.
Q: What about playing with Brandin Cooks has surprised you since you've been together?
TB: Well, I've just loved the time I've had with him. He's been so much fun to play with and to work with. He's got great talent but he's even a better person. He's young. He's professional. He's diligent. He's very competitive. I just have nothing but great things to say about him.
Q: Which receivers that you've played with in the past is he most similar to?
TB: I think he's pretty unique. I don't think there's many that I've played with that are like him. Like I said, his maturity is probably what surprised me the most for a 23 year old athlete to be so - he's just on it. Every day he shows up. He works his butt off. He wants to do extra. He wants to know what I'm thinking. He just wants to do the right thing all of the time. It's fun to see.
Q: Do you reflect at all on your first appearance down at the Superdome for Super Bowl XXXVI?
TB: You know, I don't reflect much; no. Obviously, I had such a great experience there but that was a long time ago. Our last experience there wasn't very good, so hopefully we can do a lot better than the last time.
Q: Obviously your focus is on the Saints defense, but when you face a quarterback as talented as a Drew Brees or a Peyton Manning does it add to your competition level at all?
TB: Well, you're right. I am focused on that defense. I know they didn't get off to the start that they wanted to in Minnesota, which means they're going to be really ready to go against us. They've got a lot of different looks. They've got some really talented players, some young up-and-coming players. Right - that's really where my attention is.
Q: What do you remember thinking of Drew Brees back in 1999 when you were opponents in the Big Ten?
TB: Yeah, he was really in a fun offense to watch. Joe Tiller was a great player. My roommate actually played with Drew. He played at Purdue - Dave Nugent - when I first got to the Patriots and he had so many great things to say about him. I just loved watching Drew play even back then and what he's done in the NFL and how prolific he's been and how incredible their offenses have been is really incredible. I have so much respect for him and everything he's accomplished, everything that he brings to the table at the quarterback position. [Inaudible] He always seems like they're on the same page.
Q: What are your thoughts on Drew Brees' connection with Sean Payton?
TB: I don't know much about them. I don't know much about their relationship, but I'm sure it must be great because of the success they've had. They must really see things eye-to-eye, and it looks like they have a great working relationship. I mean, I think that explains how prolific they've been is just their ability to work together and see things the same way. I have that, in so many ways, with Josh [McDaniels]. We've been together for so long. It's a great feeling to have that type of continuity.
Q: The Saints opened the season with seven new defensive starters. How tough is it to prepare for them with such limited exposure to their defense?
TB: Yeah, that's one of the challenges about early in the year. There's not much tape to watch, especially on, like you said, a whole new group of guys that are playing together for the first time. I'm sure they'll get a lot better over the course of the season. They got off to a great start in the preseason and are playing well. We're expecting to play a great defense, the same one that really dominated all preseason. They're talented, they've got a lot of speed, a lot of athletic ability. I think Coach [Dennis] Allen does a great job getting those guys ready to go. It's a tough test.
Q: Why do you think you and your team have historically been so good coming off of a loss?
TB: I'm not sure. Someone asked me that earlier today. I don't know. You know, I don't think about that too much. I'm not sure. I really don't [know]. I mean, playing winning football is what our goal is every week. Obviously, we didn't accomplish it last week. We played very poorly in the fourth quarter of that game and lost a game at home that, obviously, we were all hoping we would have won and we didn't. So, we've got to have the same type of urgency that we had for the first three quarters of that game and play a lot better and go out and just get our job done, be the kind of players that our teammates can depend on and try to go get a win at a very tough place to play.
Q: As a quarterback, what is one aspect of Drew Brees' game that you really respect?
TB: Well, everything. I mean, he has ultimate control of the game. He's so savvy. I think he uses all the tools that he has at his disposal. He does a great job with the snap count, formations, motions, play-action. They do a great job of moving the pocket and moving him around. He can make all the throws. He knows how to look guys off. He knows how to throw guys open. He's got everything it takes. I think that's why he's thrown for 5,000 yards five times. That offense is one of the top offenses in the league since he got there. He pulls the trigger and his teammates have got a lot of confidence in him, and when they get it going, they're tough to slow down. They've got a great rhythm to their offense and especially at home.
Q: Do you figure that however many years you decide to play, Brees will match you or outlast you by one?
TB: It's possible. I mean, I know how much he loves the game and how committed he is. So, I mean, if anybody can do it, he can.
Q: How do you think your offense changes when you have Rob Gronkowski healthy?
TB: Well, Rob's been a huge part of our offense since we got him in 2010, and he continues to be. He's a great mismatch. It hurts not having him out there, and when he's out there for us, he's obviously someone they have to pay attention to. He can get a lot of other guys open just by his presence out there. I love playing with him. I mean, he's really a one-of-a-kind type of player. He's had so much production, and I'm sure he'll be fired up and ready to go this weekend.