Q: How did Day One go?
TB: It was good. Day Four for us, quarterbacks. We have been out here knocking our rust off. It's nice because everyone else comes in and we feel good, our arms feel good. We are just starting to get in to camp mode.
Q: You got a little bit of break in the weather too?
TB: Yeah, it held off, thank God. Last night I thought the thunderstorms were right on top of my house. The field was actually dry and the balls weren't too wet. It turned out nice.
Q: Does this seem like the first of a long stretch, or does this mean that the games come sooner?
TB: A little of both, a little of both. Going into my fourth training camp, you realize how fast these things go, and you really have to take advantage of every practice. Because you only have so many days to prepare, and everyday you don't practice is really a lost day. And you can't get that back. Over the course of a long season and a long training camp, the important thing is to just focus on the short-term goals, coming out prepared to practice and knowing your plays. Especially the guys who aren't as familiar with the system, that's really important so that they can come out and compete and try to execute as well as they can.
Q: How is being here help? Do you like it?
TB: Being at Foxborough? It's home. It's nice. I think it's good for the players because the facilities are as good as anywhere in the league. I think it's going to be fun for the fans. You saw the nice set up, they have the stands out here and I'm sure they will have popcorn machines and all kinds of stuff for the fans to enjoy.
Q: Do you miss the dormitories of Bryant College?
TB: It's a little different. You don't get that muggy, damp dorm room, but the way it is set up here is really nice. I think the players are enjoying it and hopefully we are able to take advantage and use it to our advantage that you get better rest. Maybe it is a little more accessible to the cafeteria and the rest areas. Hopefully it is good for us.
Q: What is John Hufnagel working with you on? And what are you asking him to help you with?
TB: It is nice to have a coach that is there everyday to work on your fine tune things, work on play action, work on specific drops, to be really heavily involved. It allows Charlie (Weis, Offensive Coordinator) to do some other things too. Huf is a perfectionist, so we are hearing a lot of tough critiquing and tough coaching. And that's what we like.
Q: Does it help that he's a former quarterback that has had some success in college and the CFL?
TB: I think it really does help. Quarterbacks understand other quarterbacks. You can watch film at night and from that video fifty feet high you can see everything, but as a quarterback sometimes you are looking through offensive lineman or looking through lots of bodies to find certain receivers that are open. That's the process of being a quarterback and he understands that process and understands what we are trying to do because he's done it before.
Q: What are your thoughts on the guys who didn't make the conditioning run? Is that very disappointing to you, as a player, or you don't concern yourself with that at all?
TB: Well that's really one of those things that you just let Coach take care of. We are going out to practice regardless and I know that I'll be out there with the pads on. Whoever is out there, is out there.
Q: But certainly there are guys who you would want to be working with right now and, as you said, you can't waste a day of practice?
TB: Yeah, but like I said, for me to worry about that is not really helpful. I try to work and be in the best condition I can be.
Q: Is the arm okay?
TB: Yeah, yeah, it felt good. Like I said, this was our fourth day, so our legs are starting to get into it and your arm starts…it feels good.
Q: Going into your third year as a starter, you followed up your first year statistically really well, 28 touchdowns, 14 picks, is there a temptation in you to try to find out what you can't do with the football? How you want to expand as a quarterback?
TB: You take your best assets as a quarterback and you try to apply them. I think some of mine are: being extremely efficient, and not making any bad plays, and making all the throws that are there, and being smart with the ball, and not turning it over and hitting open receivers. I think if you do that as a quarterback, you'll throw the ball very efficiently. You'll convert a lot of third downs. Not taking sacks, stuff like that. I think last year, a lot of it was maybe trying to do some things that, not that you can't do, but plays that aren't there, you have to throw the ball away.
Q: It seems that a lot of quarterbacks do at some point want to find out, 'Can I get away with this?' Guys want to find out what they can't do, which sometimes can get them in trouble. Can they squeeze it in there? That really hasn't been your motive, except maybe in the San Diego game. I remember, we talked a little about that. Do you try to return to the first year when you really were efficient? In some ways do you take some things you did in 2001 as being better than things you did in 2002?
TB: I think last year, overall, there was a lot of development. Certainly a lot of differences in our team. I think every year is going to be different. It's really difficult to compare year to year. I think this year, going in, you don't want to throw interceptions, you don't want to take sacks. I think one thing we are really trying to work on is hitting those open receivers and hitting the guys down field who are open. Getting my eyes in the right spot. And getting us into better plays. I think a lot of that comes with experience.
Q: I just want to ask about three players really quick. Deion Branch? And Daniel Graham? It's almost like getting two new players in a way with the leap they'll make in coming back from injuries? And Bethel Johnson?
TB: I think all three of those guys have to be big parts of the plan this year. Dan, I'll tell you from my first year to my second year, it was night and day difference. You come in and we go over the installation for the day. Coach slaps up the table of contents and there is forty new plays up there. Well your second year, it's like, 'Well, I know those forty.' But you first year, it's like, 'Holy…How am I going to figure all those out?' This year for Dan, he goes out and he knows all the plays. So now it's just about fine tuning the physical parts. You can go out and compete because you know what you are doing and you have confidence you know what you are doing. Then the physical abilities take over. And that's the same with Deion. Deion, for a rookie last year, I thought he was awesome and he really contributed a lot more than I ever thought. Hopefully Bethel can do the same thing, if he's committed and wants to come out and learn. There is a lot that we put on our receivers. There is a lot of plays for them to learn. We ask them to learn a lot of different spots and a lot of different route adjustments. It's not as easy as I think maybe some other places are. It remains to be seen how well Bethel is going to pick it up. And I know Deion and Daniel, and David Givens too is another one, that can really add to our group.
Q: Considering the way that last year ended, can you see a big sense of purpose in the offseason workout and then translated into coming into training camp?
TB: I think that about 95 percent of the guys were there everyday. There was a lot of excitement out there, running and catching. The mini-camps were good; I think we got a lot of work done. The commitment has been there. Now I think it is really about just the preparation and the competition. You got to go out and compete everyday. You have to compete in practice, you have to compete in the weight room, you have to compete in meeting rooms. And ultimately it transfers over to when we are playing those games.
Q: Are you disappointed that your center and running back weren't there Day One?
TB: As Coach said, some guys are in better shape than others. Really it does no good for me to worry about who is out there. I can get plenty of work with Kevin and J.R. No, it's Day One.
Q: Are you allowed to give those players crap for that? Are you allowed to tease them?
TB: Yeah. Oh yeah. They hear plenty of it from everybody. It's probably a lot easier from the players than what the coaches give them.
Q: Coach Belichick said in the press conference earlier that you are one of the big surprises that he has seen in his experience in training camp. The fact that you were number four at one point. What is your status as to where you are now as opposed to where you were two years ago?
TB: I would say it is quite a bit different, in a sense that I know my role. When I was fourth, I didn't know if I was going to be on the team or second string. I think this year my role is to really be a leader of the offense and to really take advantage of that role. There is a lot that our offense puts on its quarterback, and for me to really get us in a good place and lead the team and make the good plays and be as consistent of a player as there is. I think those are the things that I pride myself on. That's what gets you motivated for a fourth training camp. You try to eliminate a lot of bad plays. All the mistakes you have made in the last three years, you try to eliminate all those.
Q: Do you have any recollection of how you felt walking off the field after that first training camp practice, realizing that you were number four and looking toward the future?
TB: That was a lot of hits ago. I remember that the intensity…it was pretty intense. You are coming from a place in college and then you go through some of the mini-camps. You're like, 'Oh yeah, I kind of know what to expect.' Then you got through the first day and everyone is hitting. It's quite a bit different. You are getting under center for the first time. You are watching the linebackers fly around and the defensive backs fly around. The speed is a lot different. You get used to that. Even guys like Ted Bruschi today, he's flying around like it's his first training camp. It doesn't change. It hasn't changed for me in three years. It is still the way I feel. You get on the field and everyone wants to show what they've got.
Q: Will you comment on Belichick's extension? Did you already talk about that?
TB: He got extended?
Q: Yeah. He got extended. He's happy about it.
TB: Coach Belichick is the leader of this team. He sets the tone every time he comes into a meeting. He always has something good to say. He expects perfection out of us. I think you see that when we go out and play smart, tough, disciplined football. That's what he prides himself on and that's what he expects out of us. He is the best coach I have ever played for.
Q: Do you have a special place for him because he is the coach that gave you a shot?
TB: Yeah. I think as a player you respect a coach that is going to show up prepared and put you in great positions every weekend. When we come in after the games, he is the first person to say, 'Well I messed this up.' and 'This was bad coaching on our part.' And the players, we would normally sometimes want to take credit for bad plays too. It's like, 'No Coach, we messed that up.' So I think everyone really respects him. The other thing is he treats everyone the same way. He expects out of the first year guys the same thing he expects out of the ten year vets: that you come out and practice, you know what to do, you show up on time and you have a good attitude. As a player for him, in myself, it's nice to know that he expects that out of everybody and that you are going to get that same toughness out of every player you play with.
Q: It's important to get off to a fast start obviously. And you want to get your passing game clicking and your running game clicking. Is it frustrating to you, as a quarterback, to see five of the guys on the bikes?
TB: I think that's really part of football too. Injuries take part. Guys not being out there for one reason or another, they are going to try to be out there as soon as they can. They are going to be out there and be ready to compete. Hopefully it will be soon. Hopefully it will be tomorrow morning.
Q: Did you have any problems with the conditioning run?
TB: I've done it for the last three years, so I know what to expect and I know what it takes for me to get into shape to pass it. I'm not one of the fastest guys in the world and it's more of a sprint test, so I'm running hard to pass.
Q: What exactly do you have to do in it?
TB: We have 20 50-yard sprints, in under 7 seconds. You are running hard, you are running hard. It's a test. If you aren't in shape, you are not going to pass. Even if you're in shape…
Q: So you have some sympathy for the guys who didn't make it? Or no sympathy?
TB: It's tough when guys have been here all summer. And they have been running every day, and then for some reason they don't pass. I know you get anxious sometimes too and you don't get all your wind. For one reason or another you just don't have your day running. Hopefully they get out there and pass tomorrow morning.
Q: As you walk off the field today, good practice, bad practice, mediocre?
TB: I think it's a good start. It was a good start. Guys are moving around out there. You're completing balls. Really it doesn't seem like it was the first day. It seemed like guys were kind of in to stride. There wasn't a whole lot of rests. Quarterbacks, I thought we threw it okay. Receivers made some nice plays. The line is playing good. So…I could care less about the defense, how they play (laughter).
Q: Are you pleased with your receiving core? The way they were looking today?
TB: Yeah. I think those guys are going to be as fast a group as any one in the league. Troy Brown, as far as I'm concerned, is the best in the league. He is how our offense goes. David (Patten) is poised to have a great year. Deion (Branch) is coming along. David Givens is going to be good. Dedric (Ward) and hopefully Bethel (Johnson) are going to make some plays. It's going to be a good group.
Q: What did you do in the offseason? Any fun?
TB: Yeah. Whenever you aren't required to be somewhere every morning at seven o'clock, it's a little bit freedom. I got to do some things, go home.
Q: Obviously, you took care of the shoulder?
TB: Yep. Yep. The best I could.
Q: Were you here last night?
TB: For the concert? No. I was here for the last three days, so when he gave us the night off, I said, 'I'm going home.'
Q: How is your shoulder?
TB: It feels good. It feels good.
Q: As good as you can expect it? Does it feel perfectly healthy and right?
TB: Yeah. I would say it does. I've never really had to deal with any injuries. Last year was new to me and I really don't know how it is suppose to feel or people with similar injuries how they felt coming back. As far as I know, throwing and stuff, especially during training camp, it's going to get worn down and tired like everything else. Right now, I would say it is going as good as I would expect.
Q: Speaking of that, training camp gets to be long after awhile. What do you do to keep yourself motivated? Marking the days off the calendar? What do you do to keep yourself going through the dog days of training camp? Pranks? Jokes?
TB: There is a lot of that. They have some backgammon tables and Atari games in there. And I think a few Coors Light down in the end zone. (laughter) That's good for anything. Just trying to take advantage of the time you have off, no matter what you do.