Q: ** When you do rub routes and picks and try to create confusion among defensive backs, how important is it to execute those well without getting a penalty?
TB: Certain teams do it a lot. We don't do it a ton because we tend to get penalties when we do it so it defeats the whole purpose. You kind of talk about it and you get excited to do it and you think it looks good and then the refs – we got called last game on a pass interference on Danny [Amendola] which was – anyway.
Q: You had one earlier with Rob Gronkowski and Brandon Bolden. Do you remember?
TB: Yeah, very well. Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don't. Certain games don't ever get called and we've gotten called. So you probably tend to do it less if you get called. It's more of a body presence thing and making sure that you don't get called for a penalty because it's an illegal play. You're not supposed to do it. You're not supposed to set picks, it's not basketball. But you can have body presence and make a guy bubble under or over, whatever you're depending on, what you really want to do.
Q: But you can do it within a yard of the line.
TB: Well, yeah if you're on the line of scrimmage you can do it because technically you're a blocker at that point. We had a play in the AFC Championship Game, at the end of the game I threw to Kevin Faulk in 2007, where we did pick them. I think Jabar [Gaffney] came in and actually picked the guy. We threw it and they were complaining [for] a flag but it was right on the line of scrimmage. It's on the line of scrimmage you can get away with it. It would be like a tackle blocking a defensive end, they don't know what to call. But if you're down the field… Defenders hold and they get away it and they get away with that all game, you don't get calls. It's just the way the NFL is now. They hold, we do things; it's just kind of you do business as business is being done.
Q: Can you talk about the Texans? They are 2-9 and struggling but they're still a good defense.
TB: They have a lot of the same guys they had last year. We're not even concerned about the record. You look at what they can do defensively and the kind of playmakers they have. They're the highest rated defense against the pass and one of the highest, if not the highest rated defense in the league. Defensively, they're playing pretty good. They have probably the best front we've faced all season and good linebackers and some playmakers in the secondary. We have a big challenge. I don't think we've really performed to our level of what we need to. We're still building and trying to figure out what kind of team we're going to be. This will be a good week to see if we can finally put together 60 good minutes.
Q: Is there anything you have to remind yourself of or guard your teammates against when you're facing a team on a long losing streak?
TB: They're hungry. We're hungry too. Like I said, anything that's happened for them this season doesn't matter and anything that's happened for us makes no difference either. They've lost some close games, we've pulled out some close games. I think that's the big difference. It could just as easily go the other way. We've found ways to win and we have to try to find a way to win this week. They present some different challenges for us. We were in here today, we had a good practice and that's a good way to start. Our whole season is ahead of us. I think that's the most important thing. No one really cares what's been done to this point. We have to go out there and try to finally play good for 60 minutes, if we can get to that.
Q: Aside from his physical skill set, what are some things that make J.J. Watt as good as he is?
TB: He's got all the tools and he's got the motor and he's got the attitude. He's got the skill set that's pretty remarkable to his power and his quickness. His ability to recognize run and pass; plays the run. If he's on the backside of the run, he runs things down. If he's on the front side, he powers through guys. He can rush the quarterback. He bats down balls. He's been pretty remarkable. That's a big test. He and Antonio Smith are really good players. They rush on the outside well. They have a lot of pressure. It's a very good defense and they're very well coached.
Q: What do you remember about the playing field and the experience you had down there in 2009? It became a talking point with what happened with Wes Welker that year?
TB: It's that grass field. We practice on it all the time. Like every grass field, [it] gets more chewed up as the season goes along. They don't look like they're slipping much or anything like that. When I watched the Jacksonville game last week, everyone looks like they're playing on their feet. It's not like turf; everyone plays on turf these days. It's actually nice to play on a grass field because it's a little bit easier on everybody.
Q: Do you remember anything about the patching and the seams?
TB: That's part of it but I can't change any of that. I don't think any of us can. We're just going to show up and figure out how to beat them. Bring a few different pairs of cleats down and see what works best and then go for it.
Q: Rob Gronkowski has been back for five games now and the offense is scoring more points with him. Where have you felt his impact most? How is he affecting the offense?
TB: Everywhere. He's a big presence for us. Red area and third down, made some big plays on first and second down so you really don't need to string together a bunch of good plays, you can kind of make some big plays. He's done a good job coming back. Really his mental toughness, this really was the last game where he played most of the game. He's getting his football legs back and it's been fun to have him out there. He's a big presence. He's tough to play against. Really, it helps the other guys get open and the other guys help him get open and the running game helps all the guys in the pass game get open. It has to be a complementary thing.
Q: How beneficial was it to guys like Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins to have so much on their plate when those other guys were out?
TB: That's just the situation we really ended up being in. You hate to throw everything on some young players that haven't really had the experience, but that was the situation and we hung in there. We had some really good things we did. We had some things we really learned from. Hopefully we're at a better place now than we were. We still have a lot of improvements we need to make. Even last week, it wasn't a great night offensively. It was decent. We made some plays when we needed to but it was more inconsistent than we need it to be. We have to start stringing together 60 good minutes and see how it turns out. Stop turning the ball over, start getting the ball in the red area all the time. Our third downs obviously have been better. Shane [Vereen] has been a big impact on that. We just have to try to keep getting better.
Q: Can you talk about the appreciation you have for the high school kids that will play on Thanksgiving Day and what that tradition means to this area?
TB: It's pretty cool. It's the end of the year and Thanksgiving is always the time – winter sports start taking over. I actually had the chance to come out and watch those games [High School Super Bowls] one year when I got hurt. In the stadium here, it's really cool that the kids, I'm sure it's the highlight of their young careers to come out and play in the Patriots' stadium. High school football is pretty cool. You have a lot of friends and it means everything. It means just as much to those kids as it does to us. No matter who you are, no matter what the competition is, you want to win and you want to give your best. It means a lot to the families and it's a great tradition.
Q: You were very excited after Rob Gronkowski's touchdown. Can you explain what goes through your mind in those moments?
TB: I don't really remember what I said. I was pretty fired up. He and I have a good relationship. We've played together in a lot of games. He gets excited and I get excited when he's out there because I have so much familiarity with him and he's a big part of why our offense goes. When he's making plays, it just helps other guys make plays. A score like that, it was a very emotional time in the game. I kind of lost my mind.
Q: During the celebration, were you speaking the same language? It seemed like you entered Gronk's world.
TB: [Laughs] Every language with Gronk is a little in Gronk's world isn't it? He's excitable, I'm excitable. We have fun. That's what football is all about. You're working hard, you're competing and most of all, you're having fun, especially when you do things good, you have to have fun. You compete against really good teams, they make it hard and you battle and you fight. There are times when people may think you want to cash it in but you fight back and good things happen.
Q: You said you lost your mind. Have you lost your mind like that before?
TB: Yeah, probably. It's hard to recount all those experiences. But we've been in some pretty big games and I get excited when we score. I always have.
Q: What about the Tuck Rule game? That was a good spike.
TB: And the tumble. No athleticism then either. That still hasn't improved.
Q: You guys are 45-6 since 2001 in the month of December. Does something change? What makes that mark so impressive?
TB: Well I think Coach [Bill] Belichick talks about September and October being about improvement. I think that's when that pays off, is November, December. There are really no days off. He keeps the pressure on us all the time. You may win a game early in September, you may be 3-0, feel good about yourself, you're still not really where you're going to be and you're not at the point where you need to be at. The importance of keeping the pressure on us as players, that helps to help us improve. Right now is when we say football season starts. But the mental toughness, the discipline, the attitude, the work ethic, this is when it starts to show up. Those are intangibles that you don't really see in September and August when things are fresh and everyone is hopeful. Now you really see where you're at and you see how you match up against other teams. You see where their mental toughness is at. You see if they're going to cash in, you see how hard they're going to play. I think the mark of our team is we've always tried to make that something that we've always felt is a real strength of ours. We have to go out there and prove it and earn it. We have to go down and play a team at home that we lost to last time [in Houston]. We've lost three in a row on the road. We have a lot to prove ourselves.
Q: What's your favorite part about Thanksgiving day traditions? Eating? Pie? What is it?
TB: Eating, pie, all those things.
Q: What's your favorite pie?
TB: Anything that had lots of sugar as a kid; chocolate. Just like my kids. It's a great holiday. It's a great holiday for us. Christmas you have all the stress with things. Certainly we have a lot to be thankful for as athletes, as players on this team. It will be a fun day. Certainly wining the game before makes everyone feel a lot better. But we still understand we have a job to do on Sunday. Everyone is going to enjoy the day and enjoy the time with their families and then get back to work.