Q: Are you looking forward to going back to Michigan? Will you get a chance to visit your alma mater?
TB: Yeah, I went back there a few years ago and had a great time. I'm not sure what the schedule is yet. I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to make it, but we're pretty close, so if I get a chance, maybe I can sneak over.
Q: If you have the opportunity to go back to Michigan, what does that opportunity and that place mean to you?
TB: Yeah, especially in the fall. Last year, I went back in September. And then two years before that, we had a preseason game. But yeah, it's just California to Michigan to here. I was telling my wife, it's almost 18 years here in Boston, so that's as long as I've spent in California growing up, with a little pit stop in Michigan. Any one of those three places, I feel pretty comfortable.
Q: What's it like to speak to the Michigan players? If you had the opportunity, what would be your message be to them?
TB: Yeah, it's always a great experience speaking to your alma mater, too. You have a lot invested in the school and have been cheering [for] them for a long time. I think they've got things on the right track. Coach [Jim] Harbaugh is doing a great job. I think they're supposed to have a pretty good year. So, it's just trying to relay some of the experiences, something they can really take and apply, and hopefully I'll have a chance to do it.
Q: To beat Michigan State or Ohio State?
TB: Both. Yeah, Michigan State has been rough. But Ohio State, man, we haven't gotten over the hump with those guys. We did when I was there, fortunately, so I don't have to hear from [Mike] Vrabel and all the Buckeyes that I've played with, but we've had a rough time as of late.
Q: Bill Belichick said this time of year is difficult for the coaches, balancing preseason and regular season preparation. From your perspective, what is this week like as you balance preparing for Detroit and preparing for the season opener?
TB: Yeah, it's a lot for the players, too. There's a lot of guys that, just based on the position we're in, everyone's fighting for spots and fighting for roles. Guys really don't know how they fit. But, at the same time, the season is right around the corner. You've really got to focus on, for me at least, a lot of communication with the guys that I think that I'm going to be out there with, like working hard after practice on things that have really come into really clear view. You know, it's been a lot of months that the team's kind of been together now, and you see kind of the things you're good at. You see the things that you're not so good at, and I think this is the time to really put emphasis on the things you've maybe not been as solid at over the course of a lot of practices, a lot of meetings and so forth. So, it's just really honing in on what we've got to do. Obviously, there's no game plan yet set for Kansas City. A lot of the work this week's been on Detroit where it should be because guys are going to get out there and you want to go out and play well, but it's just a lot of balls are in the air. There's getting ready for Detroit, which is really important. We'll see how it goes next week, but it's a quick turnaround. And then once you're into the season, I mean, there's no stopping. So, you've got to try to take advantage of the time when you can, maybe to rest and trying to get ahead on some things. But, yeah, I mean, we're in the thick of it right now.
Q: A couple of years ago you posted your college resume to Facebook. Do you think doing all those internships and jobs helped you transition to becoming a professional football player?
TB: Yeah, those were good experiences when I was in Michigan in the summer. You know, you work different jobs and you get a scholarship check, but you're trying to afford, like all of us were, our college experience. I worked in construction, worked at a golf course to play free golf, because that's what I like to do, worked at a festival at night, so I was working two jobs. It was good experiences. I mean, it really is hard work. You know, I've been so fortunate to do something I love to do. I've said for a long time, working out and training and being out on the practice field never feels like work to me, but that definitely felt like work when you're cleaning up industrial parks and scrubbing the tops of roofs and stuff like that. Man, I was pretty tired at the end of those days.
Q: What are you personally trying to get out of this week and this game at Detroit?
TB: Yeah, it's a short week, too, because we got back pretty late on Sunday morning. It's a quick turnaround. You know, we had a day off and then guys were in here yesterday. It's not like it's – obviously, the preparation is different than a regular season game because you're still really in training camp, but you're trying to go out there and perform the best you can. But, you're preparing at different levels. You want to play great, and you've got to put [in] everything you can mentally and physically, again, but I think there's a little bit of divided attention based on short-term goals, long-term goals and whatever is asked of us on a particular day. Like yesterday at practice, there was a lot of things against Detroit, but there was a lot of competitive periods against our defense. So, you're kind of going back and forth and you're seeing a lot of different looks. So, you've just got to take it really period by period throughout the day and really try to focus on executing a particular play, and if it's something that we've tried to correct a previous day, to make sure we get it right because you're just trying to build. You know, you're trying to build now so you can be better in September. And then, as the season goes on, we're trying to build in September to be better in October. And I think you have to keep improving, and the guys who have been out there in practice have been improving. It's just a matter of can we do it at a faster rate so we can be a better football team as fast as possible. I think that's the urgency that Coach puts on us every day.
Q: When it comes to the game itself, is there a checklist of things that you want to get accomplished or experience while you're in the game? Or do you just want to be out there for a certain period of time?
TB: Yeah, for me, it's just feeling the rhythm of the game, and it's different than practice. The rhythm of practice is very different, and the only way to simulate the game is to play. I can draw on a lot of experience, but it's nice to get out there and actually do it. I mean, it was fun being out there last week. It will be, obviously, fun being out there this week, but you're just trying to build up for one game, the start of the season in September. Everything is building toward that. Those snaps that you're taking with new players are really important. It was nice to get Rex [Burkhead] a touchdown pass, and just for him to feel what it's like for all us to look at another guy's eyes in the huddle during the course of a game and saying, 'Look, this is where we're at. This is football. This is exactly what we're going to be doing when the season kicks off on Thursday night.'
Q: When you see a guy like Dwayne Allen and how hard he's worked to get caught up and in sync with the offense, what's that like for you to try to get everybody on the same page for that one game?
TB: Yeah, it's really been fun working with him. I mean, he's come to work every day. I don't know if he's missed a day. He's been really durable. He's done everything the coaches have asked of him. I mean, it's challenging when you come into a new program – being in one place for a long period of time, getting used to the coaches and the schedule and the routine and the facilities and then to transition – and he's never made any excuses, he's never backed down from a challenge, and he's just gotten better, and I've certainly gained more trust in him. You know, he's done a lot of good things, and we're going to keep working on those things and get better at them because we're going to need him. That position has been really critical for us over the years. You know, tight ends that play opposite Rob [Gronkowski] get a lot of opportunity. He's going to need to take advantage of them, and it's going to be great for our team if he does.
Q: Is Jim Harbaugh the first of the great passing Michigan quarterbacks? Did he kind of change the offense there?
TB: That's a good question. I mean, Rick Leach was pretty great. But, I think those wing-tipped helmets and guys dropping back and passing the ball – you know, pass-first wasn't always the No. 1 thing at Michigan. But, he kind of transitioned it into a pro-style quarterback, and he was great for the program. After that, there were a lot of great pro quarterbacks that played there, a lot of passers, play-action passers, guys that could read the defenses and make the throws. You know, it's great to have him back in the program.