Q: How did it go on your first day?
TB: It's our fourth day for quarterbacks. Hopefully all of the rust is off and it's nice to be out here. It's nice to have all the veterans here, all the familiar faces. We're all working. It's going to be a hard camp. It sets the tone. It's going to be tough.
Q: Have you communicated with Deion Branch? What's the latest?
TB: I talk to him. You know, he's one of the favorite guys that I have on the team. I hope he gets here soon. It's not up to me, but I wish that it was.
Q: As a quarterback you must want him back, but as a player you understand what he's going through?
TB: That's exactly it. I'm there to listen to what he says. But he's a great guy. I love Deion. He's such a fun guy to be around and you definitely realize when he's not here. But like I said, it's out of my hands, it's out of my control. It's between the club and Deion. It's not like it doesn't happen so you just go with the flow and roll with the punches.
Q: Short a tight end, short a receiver, how much does that hurt what you're trying to do?
TB: You do what you can and you try to do your best with what you got. We did some good things today. Reche (Caldwell) did some good things. I'm glad he's here. He's an exciting player. And Ben (Watson) stepped it up and the younger tight ends have done good. We continue to build and I think it starts with the first practice today, second practice. You know we're all going through this "Groundhog Day" type of camp.
Q: $14,000 a day. Did you talk to him (Deion Branch) about that?
TB: I know. I know. They sprung that rule on the players like a week before camp. But like I said it's part of what we deal with as players and it's really only on the players and Deion and the club and that's what we'll leave it at.
Q: What about the new receivers learning the system?
TB: There's quite a bit of learning through the season. You learn all the way through the year. A guy like Deion (Branch) and Troy (Brown) have been here for years and they're still learning. You put in new offenses and you face new defenses, and there are new routes and techniques. You just try to get up to speed as fast as you can.
Q: Have you worked with Reche Caldwell or any of the other guys in the offseason?
TB: Yeah, we've been getting together for probably three months now. The only way to do it is to work at it. You communicate and watch the film and talk about what you did and what you are going to do.
Q: Tough offseason? Bitter taste from last year?
TB: Yeah it was. It was terrible. The goal is to play all the way through the end like we have and once you experience that, you're right, anything short of that is not very exciting, especially when you see other teams out there playing. This team has a great opportunity ahead. We have a tough division with a bunch of new coaches and players, and the nice part is that we're all starting at the same point. Whoever works the hardest, whoever sustains the high level of play that it takes to get to the playoffs and win a championship. We're trying to accomplish that.
Q: Is Deion Branch not being here hurting you?
TB: Well, Deion is a very unique player. When he shows up he'll be ready to go. I mean I'm not worried about him getting here and being ready. I'm sure Deion's further along than all of us. For the guys that are here, we just have to make improvements.
Q: If he's not here how do you do what you need to get ready?
TB: He's pretty good at picking that all up when he does get here. I mean there is learning but he can get up to speed pretty quick. I remember a few years ago in the Kansas City game he hurt his knee in the Arizona game, this was like two years ago, he came back and had nine catches for 100 yards and you were like it doesn't even look like he missed a day. Like I said, I wish it was up to me because he'd be here, but it's not.
Q: Lot of turnover on the roster?
TB: Yeah a lot of change. You know it's like that for every team. Every team there's a lot of movement and scheme changing. This year there are all new coordinators in our division. That's very unique for that to happen but its part of it. Since I've been here, guys come and go, but you do you're job and you play your role. That's really all you can worry about and you try to get everybody else to do that too. This team has a style of play, has a philosophy that we think is very important to championship football and the guys that come here to the program, they are part of that program to learn and assimilate to and that is what we're all trying to accomplish.
Q: Where was Troy Brown?
TB: Troy is country club like Willie (McGinest) was last year. I guess when you play like 27 years you can miss a practice. He'll be out here though. He'll be out here this afternoon.
Q: Talk to David Givens?
TB: We've missed each other a bunch of times. David was a big part of this team but he moved on and he's excited with his opportunity and we're excited for his opportunity. He's a great guy and a great friend and he always will be.
Q: When you saw #87 today how did it feel?
TB: When I walked out and saw #87 I flinched a little. But there's a new guy in that spot, and Reche can take advantage of that opportunity. He's very exciting and is going to be a really great playmaker for us this year.
Q: Young quarterbacks behind you. What is it like now to be the veteran?
TB: Yeah, we were joking the other day that we probably have the youngest quarterbacks room in the league with the players and the coach. We have had veteran players here, but I'm kind of the veteran now and I expect that responsibility. Hopefully the younger guys can come in and learn and work hard. They're expected when they go in to play well. That's what I expect of them and that's what the coaches expect of them. This offense really relies a lot on the quarterback and the decision making that we're a part of. If our fundamentals are lacking or our confidence is lacking, then that carries over to the whole offense.
Q: You said it was going to be a hard camp but aren't they all hard camps?
TB: They are. Coach seems like he's setting a different tone. They are no excuses, no breaks. Bare down and fight through it. Maybe that's something we lacked last year. I'm not saying that we don't have tough guys, I'm talking mental toughness.
Q: What's it like getting the new guys on to the high level that they're probably not used to?
TB: You come here and you get in shape and you shake the rust off from months of not having football pads on. You come here and you work hard. This is our job. This is what we do. We show up and there are 5,000 people cheering us on. I don't think that the UPS man has someone cheering him on. That's what makes it fun for us. It's work but it's still a lot of fun.
Q: What does Benjamin Watson bring to the offense?
TB: He's made significant improvement. In the last year, from last year at this time to now, he has so much more confidence in himself. He's been here and we've been throwing and he's just a different player. He's going to need to be because he is going to be relied on heavily to make plays. When you lose guys like Tim Dwight and David Givens and Andre (Davis) and Bethel (Johnson), guys that you're familiar with and Ben (Watson) is one of those guys. He's got to produce and I am very confident in him.
Q: How are Ben Watson's hands?
TB: Very good. Very smooth athlete. Very smooth runner. He's so big and strong. He's freakish.
Q: Still amazed by that play that he (Ben Watson) made in that playoff game?
TB: What play? I forgot about that play. What play is that?
Q: Anxious to see the faces that you will be throwing to most regularly come back?
TB: You'd love to be able to build continuity between us. Last year, we had a bunch of guys that were here one day and then they got a bunch of injuries and guys are out. In preseason games some guys didn't play and I didn't play in one preseason game so we just didn't build up that continuity between us. I think that is why we started off 2-2 and then 3-3 and 4-4, we couldn't recover toward the end of the year. This has to be the place where you build your foundation, you go through your learning curves and you talk through mistakes. Preseason games are warm-ups to the real things and if you don't make those mistakes and correct them then they're just going to keep popping up through the year.
Q: Is it then a measure of concern that you need to see those faces?
TB: Like I said, you love for everyone to be out here, you'd love for injuries not to be part of the game. I learned that you just need to deal with. You'd love to have everyone there every week but that's just not the reality. What do you do? You've got to change the scheme. I've got to learn my reads and go through my progression. I have to be that much better when I'm playing with guys that I'm not as familiar with. Maybe that helps me out too. With Deion not being here maybe other people get the ball too. Now you're forced to throw to other guys and really get to know them.
Q: Will it take long to get back on the same page when Deion Branch gets back?
TB: I don't think it will take long, I really don't. Like I said, I'd like for him to be here today. But when he gets back, he's going to be excited to be here and I'll be excited to have him here. He's a big part of our team, a big part of our success.
Q: He talked about getting Reggie Wayne money. Is he in that same category to you?
TB: I mean Deion is a terrific player. I can't compare him to those guys because I never played with them. I can only compare him to guys that I've played with. There are a lot of great receivers on this team, with Reche Caldwell and Troy Brown, Ben Watson, all these guys can play. When he comes in, he just adds another weapon for us. He does things that no one else can do. But that's a role that everyone has.
Q: Is the holdout justifiable?
TB: You do everything you can to come here and show up. Sometimes the circumstances, you make decisions that you don't ... I'm not in that situation. I've never been in that situation so it's hard for me to relate. When he gets here we'll all be excited to have him, and I mean he's just an awesome player. He adds a lot to this team. We'll love seeing him. It's going to be a great year for us.
Q: Is kicker a position that you're concerned about?
TB: Adam (Vinatieri) was a great player for such a long time. Who can come in and be Adam Vinatieri? I mean those are tough shoes to fill. Whoever it is, I hope not to leave it up to field goals. Hopefully we are winning by 30 at the end of these games. If it does come down to a kick we have to have confidence.
Q: Do you think that you may try to over compensate for not having Adam Vinatieri and force it in there a little bit more knowing that you don't have someone to kick a long field goal?
TB: I'm always trying to score. It's (Bill) Belichick that is pulling us off. If it were up to me, I'd pass on every play. He says 'we're going to run it here, we're going to run out the clock,' and I go out and run the play. Hopefully we're not leaving it up to a 48-yard field goal no matter who is kicking.
Q: How do you keep you concentration in the game with a lot of bodies flying around you?
TB: A lot of practice. A lot of praying. I guess that you practice it so much that it is almost easier in the game. When you're out here (at practice) there is so much going on, and when you're out there (in the game), you're just so focused. The focus from knowing exactly what it is that you have to do. The way I prepare is by becoming as confident as I can by preparing as hard as I can. I know I'm prepared and I know whatever the defense is going to do then I have a lot of confidence. I can be extremely focused, I can drop back in pressure, read the coverage, read my progression and make the throw.
Q: Reche Caldwell impress you out there?
TB: Yeah, he made a nice catch. He's been doing that all spring, so hopefully there is much more of that. I'd like to put it to him in stride so he can catch it and then run for a touchdown. He made me look good today.
Q: Any impressions of him (Reche Caldwell)?
TB: He's very athletic. He's smooth. He's fast. He's got good hands. He's quick. He's really going to be an asset for us this year.
Q: With 10 guys unable to perform, what's it like going into a season like that?
TB: When certain guys aren't out here, aren't practicing, other guys have to step up. That's why they're in meetings and part of this team, because if they couldn't help us then they wouldn't be part of this team. Those guys have to go out there and do what they do and hopefully it is good enough.
Q: What is step one with building a relationship with a receiver? Getting to know him personally or throwing with them?
TB: It is personal. A lot of it is that you have to build a rapport. You have to gain a level of respect. I talk to him and he talks to me. Respect in that he is doing his best to help and I'm doing my best to help the team. Because your goals are aligned, your working towards the communication of things and getting things right and there is never any hard feelings or hurt feelings. Then you come out here and you practice. You throw the ball and if it isn't right, Reche for example, I say 'Reche I need you to go to the 14-yard line if it's 13 yards then it's going to be behind you. When you're going on the post get your left arm up so I know where to throw it.' It's what we try to do. For him he might say hold on to it for a little longer. That's how you develop it.
Q: You turn into a receiver coach in a sense?
TB: Sure. The quarterback sees everyone and sees the whole play develop. One guy runs an under and the other guy runs deep, I know that we're trying to create a high-low on a certain player. If one guy is too deep and the other is too short, then you don't get that high-low. We're able to communicate because we know exactly what we want. It's like a coach. I hope I build enough credibility with those guys so they respect me.
Q: You ever use the line 'I'm Tom Brady?'"
TB: No, never. I don't think it would go very far.
Q: Have you got to the point where you know what routes he (Caldwell) runs particularly well?
TB: Yeah, it's like Deion (Branch), it's like Troy (Brown). You put them out there and watch them run routes and once you find routes that are good for them you say, 'hey these are your routes.' There are certain routes that we had for David Givens that we never ran before. Deion (Branch) the same thing. We've created probably 20 routes for Deion. They're all part of our terminology. If someone else comes in and can do them, then you do them, if not you don't run them. That's how you develop those strengths and weaknesses, and hopefully you develop an offense where everyone is doing something that they're good at.
Q: What did you do in your offseason?
TB: I tried to get some rest. Catch up with family and friends.
Q: Did you travel?
TB: Not much this year. I just stayed here and tried to stay in good shape and be as prepared as I could be for this year.
Q: What was your "welcome to the NFL moment"?
TB: I still feel like I'm in my first year.