Q: What happened to some of those rookies with the haircuts?
TB: That's another part of [being a] rookie. They're pretty much done with their little rookie deal after they slide in the water and carry pads and stuff. But the last day of training camp you have to shave their heads. Some of them look really ugly. Logan [Mankins], I don't know if you guys saw Logan.
Q: What did they do to your hair when you were a rookie?
TB: I just shaved mine bald. They just took everything off. I'm sure most of them will go in and take it all down right now. But it was funny seeing some of those guys today.
Q: Who did it?
TB: Usually it's by position. Someone from your position.
Q: So did you get Matt [Cassel]?
TB: I got parts of Matt. I let the lineman like to do a lot of it. So I let [Matt] Light be the little creative person.
Q: Can you talk about playing in this game? What you're expecting?
TB: Yeah. I certainly expect to play, unlike last week. And I'm excited to get out there. It's been a while since we played a game. So hopefully we can go out there and just improve. I think at this time of year you're just trying to really improve a lot of the things you've been struggling on. I'm glad today --for the first time in a long time-- we scored on a two-minute drive. It didn't end with an interception. I was happy about that. We just have to continue to make progress. That's really what the next few weeks are all about.
Q: How do you gauge yourself in terms of what you want to accomplish this game and what you want to accomplish in the next exhibition game?
TB: I think there's just improvement that you continually try to make throughout the camp. I said this before, but you always want to be perfect out there. But the fact of the matter is it's rarely perfect for the quarterback position. In any position for that matter. It's about really improving all parts of the game and trying to be more proficient on offense. For some of these teams that have these great offenses... that score all these points, throw for all these yards and run the ball well. The Chiefs come to mind, the Colts come to mind... ultimately you like to be one of those very, very good offenses. We've been kind of inconsistent throughout camp and it's about just continuing to try to improve on those inconsistencies.
Q: Can you set the record straight on your physical condition?
TB: Yeah. I always sound like a broken record. But I feel good about where I'm at throwing the ball. Coach wants to get the other guys a look and at the same time it's nice to get a few days off from throwing. It's a long, long season. There's been a few years where my arm hasn't felt very good and I think a lot of it is the precaution of making sure it never gets to the point where you have to back off in the regular season because that is not really what you want to do. You try to take advantage of some of the rest while you can afford it, while giving the other guys a great look at the things they can do. It [has] kind of a dual purpose, which of course I'm happy about because my arm gets to rest.
Q: Is there anything [different] about going against a team in preseason that you're going to face in the regular season?
TB: I think you realize some of the matchup issues. I know for me you get a feel for the linebackers and the speed of the defense, the type of plays you want to run and the type of plays you think you could execute. I mean it's a very different game. I remember when we played Cincinnati last year and got killed by them and then played them in the regular season. And some of the things carry over to that week as well. But you'd always like to go out there and try and gain some confidence against the team you're going to play.
Q: Can you talk about resting your arm and how it's beneficial to do this now and the non-beneficial aspects of resting your arm?
TB: Yeah. We throw a lot. You guys see us, the quarterbacks, we throw very day and we throw hard everyday. Baseball, those guys throw hard and they get a few days off. It's a different throwing motion and different mechanics, but for the most part you're still throwing the ball hard, and it's nice for us quarterbacks to try to get a little bit of rest too. And a lot of other guys, some of the older guys, get a day off or an afternoon off -Troy gets an afternoon off every once in a while. Christian [Fauria] does. Willie [McGinest] does. You just try to make sure you're fresh, because the last thing you want is to start the regular season in Week 1 and miss Wednesday or Thursday practice because something is sore or because you're tired. You'd rather build into the year rather than have to work back later on.
Q: It seems this year -more so than ever- they're taking more precautions. They're trying to rest you more than they have.
TB: That could be that I'm more comfortable in the offense now. I'm more comfortable with the players. I don't have to do as many things as I used to do. Still, I have plenty to do and I've got plenty to work on, and in some way throwing may not benefit it as much. Like I said, in previous years my arm has gotten tired and gotten worn down toward the end up the year and I guess [we're] maybe trying to take some of the throws out earlier in the year and see how it works out later on.
Q: Is there any part of this GQ article that is your feeling? Is there a downside of being known as a nice guy?
TB: I guess part of it is- you know, I shouldn't have to apologize for that. I'm very proud of the way my parents have raised me, and I like the way I represent this team and this community, and unfortunately sometimes the bad apples get the attention and people always want to make you out to be that way. I've played on teams -and there's a lot of situations around the league-when it's a team sport you want to be a good teammate and you want to represent the owner of the team, the person that brought you here, and the guys that drafted you, the coach and the community as well as you can. You don't have to be an "individual" to do that. I am what I am and I like that about me and I don't want to feel like I have to apologize for that. But you sit down with someone and they always try to say, "Well there must be something." And you kind of go, "I don't know. Well which is that?" It's a little tricky.
Q: Matt [Cassel] talked about how at USC he learned a lot even though he didn't play. Do you remember stuff you learned at Michigan that you carried to the NFL?
TB: Oh yeah. I think I really learned to compete. In a lot of ways that's [college] where you set the foundation for your whole career. I remember in the two minute drills we used to do at Michigan, I was so nervous to go out to practice because I was competing every day. I swear, I would lose sleep. I'd wake up and check the weather to see how windy it was going to be, because I knew I was going out there and throwing. You learn valuable lessons about competition. For me, I approached every day at practice like it was really was a game, because [practice] was the only time I was playing early in my career. So when I finally did get a chance to play, it felt like some of those nerves were gone.
Q: And it's really paid off here.
TB: It sure has. And I still try to approach practice that way - as a competition. You compete against yourself every day. You compete against the defense you play against. If you don't do that, then you get out there and it's like you're flipping a coin to see how well you do on the weekend. I think if you can be very good throughout the week, the chances are you'll be pretty good when you go out and play on the weekend.
Q: Was it was more mental than physical at Michigan, or as much?
TB: Definitely as much. I would say more mental in a lot of ways. Physically you try to improve, but mentally where you take those repetitions when you're not in or you study the film even when you're not playing or you prepare to play even though you're not playing so that when you do play you kind of know what its all about. You don't want to feel like the first time you're going to actually play you have to learn how to prepare.
Q: Are you interested to see how the in-game play calling works now with Charlie not being here?
TB: Yeah. That's been different. In practice we've gone through a bunch of different scenarios. The thing for me is whatever play is called I have to go out and run it the best I can. If you worry too much about the play that's called- I would worry about sometimes with Charlie too much and he'd just say, "Shut up and let me call the plays. You worry about playing quarterback." That's usually what's worked best.
Q: Was it tough to sit out that first game? Were you getting stir crazy?
TB: It was. And that's something where as a player you don't like to see your guys take the field without you because it makes you feel like, "Man. Maybe they really don't need me out there," which is kind of humbling in a sense. You watch someone else play quarterback and... I like being out there taking the reps and making the plays and unfortunately I didn't get a chance to do that last weekend.
Q: Do you feel different than sitting out the preseason finale last year? That was sort of a day off for everyone.
TB: Yeah that was. It was a different situation.
Q: What did you make about all the concern and all the speculation about how you weren't playing?
TB: I think you try to answer the questions and address them. I know the reason why I'm not throwing and the coach does and in a lot of ways those are the only people that matter. So I try not to let anyone be concerned. Just go out there and try to get everything going.
Q: Do you know how much time you might play?
TB: You know [coach] hasn't told me and he usually doesn't tell us. He just says be prepared to play as long as... he doesn't want to say, "You'll play for ten plays," and then you stink it up for ten plays and he says, "You're staying out there." Which happened against Cincinnati last year when the defense played in the second half.
Q: Are you're expecting some rust [Thursday] night?
TB: We'll see. I'm not sure. I like the way that we've been practicing. I like the way that we've been feeling and we'd like to go out there and play well.
Q: When you're asked to do a photo shoot and they bring animals out -and you put yourself on the line a lot- do you think, "How is this going to play with my teammates?"
TB: Not at that time, no. I think when you get done and you see some of it you go, "Okay. They're going to have fun with this." I guess it was the theme of the whole thing and I said I don't want to explain it because then it just gets more complicated.
Q: How does it compare to the tighty-whitey thing from Saturday Night Live? [Laughter]
TB: I guess I put myself out there too many times with these guys this year.
Q: Cover of Sports Illustrated with no shirt.
TB: Yeah I had that one too. I don't know how I got talked into that.
Q: That's a lot of ammo [for your teammates].
TB: I know. Coach always says, "Just because they ask you to do something doesn't mean you have to do it," which he told us all again today, of course, referring to me.
Q: Will you stop doing it? Will you cut back?
Q: He doesn't learn.
TB: I guess I don't. I'm a slow learner.