[Brady, a Michigan alumnus, appears wearing a Notre Dame hat over his Patriots hat]
TB This one's for Charlie [Weis].
Q How painful is this? [Groaning and laughter]
TB I'm wearing it.
Q How does the lid feel?
TB It doesn't happen often [a Notre Dame win over Michigan]. I've got my true colors on underneath ... My Patriot colors. They got lucky.
Q Tom, how about facing this Carolina defense? Obviously very physical, very active.
TB It is. It's one of the best defenses we'll face all year. They're talented throughout their entire defense. The defensive line is very good. They have one of the best secondaries we'll face all year. The linebackers are quick and athletic. Playing this team as many times as we have in the last few years, we realize how physical they are and they're fast and they're disciplined. They're very well coached. It is going to be quite a challenge.
Q Without [Kris] Jenkins on that line, is there anything that they lose? Or is everyone else just as good?
TB Well, he's a great player and I'm sure they'd love to have him. But at the same time, he didn't play a lot last year after getting hurt and they still won a lot of games. They have some other guys that can fill in and they have some good depth. I think that the other veterans on that defense really make up for it. Julius Peppers and Mike Rucker and [Brentson] Buckner and [Dan] Morgan and [Will] Witherspoon, Brandon Short, those guys up front are excellent. We've got our work cut out for us. We're working hard to try to focus on ourselves. There were quite a few things that we didn't do as well as we would have liked to [against Oakland]. We've got to do them better this week.
Q Tom, how does Julius change what you can do offensively?
TB He's very athletic. He bodyslammed me last year in the preseason and Coach showed that this morning. It was like I was 150 pounds. He's strong, he runs well and he's very athletic. He plays draws well, he plays screens well, he rushes up the field and he powers the tackle. He can really do a lot of different things. It's challenging for the offense because he can kind of cover everything. You have to account for him. Hopefully he doesn't ruin the game for us this week, but he's very capable of doing that.
Q Are there things that you guys can go back and look at from Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston that you might find again and use this week?
TB I think there's some familiarity with them, but sometimes the schemes change and the players change. They're doing some different things and we're doing some different things. We've got new players out there. It's different. Like I said, the thing that you take from it is how tough it's going to be. They hit me all day. We got the ball off, but they were coming. They're very fast and physical. It's one of the toughest defenses we'll face.
Q The Panthers are coming off of an emotional loss to the Saints. How does that figure into your preparation?
TB It really doesn't affect this game a whole lot, but at the same time, Carolina is going to put a lot into this one, as we are. All of these games are tough. All of the games are difficult. The Saints are an excellent team and it took everything the Saints had to beat them. They won with three seconds left. Carolina was very capable of winning that game. They came up just a little bit short, but it wasn't from lack of talent on the field. We've really got to spend the next three days doing everything we can to prepare because they do a lot of things. It's going to be tough.
Q How much has the extra time to prepare helped you guys?
TB We'll see. It's still early in the week. I think that all plays out and it will be shown how we do on Sunday. It's not how well we do today. Hopefully we've taken advantage of the rest and we're going to need to put that to use.
Q When you went back and looked at the Oakland tape, was there anything that surprised you in that there was something that you did or did not do?
TB We wished we'd executed better in a lot of situations. The third quarter was very stagnant for us. We didn't do anything offensively. We couldn't gain any yards on third down, which was tough. One of the goals going into that game was trying to stay on the field on third down. We felt like we had a great advantage the longer we had them out there. We really didn't do a very good job of that. Passing the ball - missing throws. Running the ball - we wished we would have run the ball a little bit better. But, it's a team thing and it's an offense thing, an efficiency thing. We've got to be more efficient. We're working hard to try to get better at that and hopefully the stuff we're working on really carries over onto the field.
Q Facing the defense, is it good to know that you have the five metaphors of protection going into this game? [A reference to a commercial featuring Brady and the offensive line].
TB Those guys, too ... oh man.
Q How about that commercial, was that something that you guys enjoyed doing?
TB It was fun. Matt Light always keeps us on our toes. He's a comedian. He's the team comedian. It was a long day because working with those five guys, they'll never be actors. I don't think we'll win any Emmy awards for that thing, but we had a lot of fun doing it.
Q How about getting the offensive line a little national pub there ... That must have been pretty good for you.
TB Oh yeah. I love having them around. They did it themselves. They got asked to be in the commercial and I think that's always kind of flattering to be asked. Hopefully it put a few bucks in their pockets.
Q Seriously, they didn't pay?
TB Oh man, those guys never pay for anything. No, they don't.
Q Hey, how important is it for you guys this week to stay on the field and to try to tire those guys out? You talked about third down conversions against Oakland. I would think that especially this week that would be pretty important.
TB It's important every week, especially earlier in the year when everyone's conditioning it not up to the level that it is late in the year. You've only been on the field now once for an entire game. It's going to be challenging to stay on the field. Like I said, they're very, very strong in the secondary, they have a veteran group of linebackers who react and make a lot of plays, and they have a very strong defensive line, which means that we're going to be tested in every phase. We've really got to go out and put our best on the field.
Q I know you take it one game at a time and one week at a time, but when you saw the schedule and saw these guys on it in week two, did that kind of pique your interest for a second and may you say 'wow'? You probably had a pretty decent idea of what they had coming back.
TB Yeah, and I think we knew when we played them two years ago how good they are. They're one of the best teams in the NFC. Every week seems to be a challenge. Every week's going to be a challenge. We play in a tough division in the AFC East and we play those teams down the road. We play a lot of teams that are coming off of strong seasons. It's going to be a challenge every week. Every week is a challenge that we've really got to be ready for, or else it's going to be awfully tough to win a game.
Q Tom, can you explain what's resting on your head there [the Notre Dame hat]?
TB I can't tell. I lost it. I talked to [Charlie Weis] right after the game and he was really excited. I was excited for him. I hate to be wearing his hat, but that was the bet.
Q The bet was just to wear the hat? It didn't say whether it had to be forward or backward? [Brady has been wearing the hat backwards].
TB It just said to wear the hat. All of the Michigan coaches, I don't want them to disown me if they see me wearing this.
Q How do you stay calm during games?
TB Does it look like I'm that calm? It doesn't feel like I'm that calm all of the time.
Q It looks like it.
TB Well, I think I'm getting a little bit older and I've been in the situations quite a few more times. I'm getting more comfortable at being out there on the field and being out there with the players that I have. I think that I have a lot of confidence in the guys that I have. Because of that, maybe I can feel a little bit more calm.
Q What are your memories of the 2003 Super Bowl against the Panthers? When you look back on that game, what do you think of?
TB I think of how tired I was after the game, because that was such a great test. It's a game that you remember very well because you won and how exciting it was. But at the same time, I really realize how tough they are and how much respect I have for that team. They're very similar to us. We look at them and we have a lot of respect for the way they play because they're so well coached and they have tough, physical players. They play smart. They have a very solid offense. They have a defense that they really rely on. In a lot of ways, they are similar to us. That's why I think it's a tough game every time we play them.
Q Do you think they might use that loss as motivation for this week?
TB I'm not sure. It was a while ago and the teams are different. I'm sure that some of the guys that are still there want to get back at us, but it's a new year and we're out to prove different things. This team is out to establish our own identity, different from the 2003 team. We're going to go out there and take on one of the best teams we'll face all year.