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Transcript: Burkhead, Harmon, Van Noy Conference Calls 11/13

Patriots running back Rex Burkhead, defensive back Duron Harmon, and linebacker Kyle Van Noy address the media during their conference calls on Monday, November 30, 2017.



Q: What was it like after the game going to the hotel rather than getting on a plane and flying home? How does it feel this morning in comparison to a normal road trip?

RB: Definitely different not flying back after the game, just getting to the hotel right after the game last night. It was beneficial for sure - get a lot more rest and just time to unwind and recover from the game. 

Q: Can you give us a feel for what it's like there? Does it almost feel like a Saturday being at the hotel with the team?

RB: Yeah, it's different being out here all week preparing, but I think definitely beneficial for the team and something that will help us out for the week in preparation for Oakland.

Q: How long was the bus ride from the stadium to your hotel?

RB: I think it was like 30 to 45 minutes - not too bad. Yeah, we got to the hotel quick, had a little snack here and went straight to the room to get some rest, when normally I think when we have flights after a game, we don't get home - especially a Sunday night game - you don't get home until very early the next morning and don't really sleep on the plane or get much sleep. So, just trying to get as much rest as possible with this road trip going on. I think that's the critical thing for this team is to get as much recovery in as possible before we head down to Mexico.

Q: How did the fumble recovery on special teams help take the crowd out of the game last night? Could you feel that emotion on the sideline?

RB: Yeah, definitely. Denver, like you said, is a tough place to play and they're a great team, great defense, and so anything to change the momentum of the game we were trying to do and our special teams played great in all phases. Whenever you can have plays like that to really take the crowd out of the game, it helps. I remember early in the game, Tom [Brady] was really having to yell in the huddle to get those plays to us, and later on, he didn't have to do that so much just because it wasn't as loud. It was definitely beneficial for us.

Q: How would you describe Brady's awareness of the opposing team having 12 men on the field? Can you guys try to match up personnel and catch the defense or special teams in that position?

RB: Like you said, with Tom, that's why it kind of speaks to his greatness, just being able to recognize those things, as well as Josh [McDaniels] recognizing those things. Anytime we can take advantage of that, we're going to try to, whether that's on special teams or the offense is going fast and trying to get a play off before they can adjust. 

Q: As those situations arise, do you have a sense of when Tom is going to call everybody to the line immediately and try to snap the ball?

RB: Yeah, definitely. You get a sense for that, just how the feel of the drive is going or the play before. You'll see the defense kind of looking confused or wondering who should be in or where to line up or not, so it's something you can definitely feel when you're in the moment of the game. 

Q: Will you guys have the ability to venture off the Air Force Academy grounds and are you interested in seeing more of Colorado Springs?

RB: Yeah, you know, I'm not sure really our schedule yet, but if we get a chance to, I'd definitely like to. It's my first time here and I think for a lot of the guys. Maybe when we have some free time, [we will] just be able to go out, venture out, even take some more time at the Air Force Academy and just really kind of take in whatever they have to offer.

Q: Would you like to try to live like a cadet for one day?

RB: Yeah, that'd be pretty interesting, I'd say, for sure, just seeing about their training or anything of what they go through day-to-day. They have to get Joe Cardona to set that up for us. He's a Navy guy. No, it will be interested for him to be there, I'm sure. 

Q: Have you had to make any type of adjustments this year to get used to your increased snaps and increased role on the team?

RB: You know, I have, actually, just doing some things on the side just to make sure I'm in good shape and staying on top of the conditioning, just because you never know what your work load could be or how the game goes or whatnot, especially playing at high altitude last night. I'm just staying on top of that. Moses [Cabrera] does a great job with us in the strength and conditioning department here, so just making sure I'm on top of that, like I said, because you never know how many snaps you may play, so you've just got to be ready.

Q: Are you enjoying the increased responsibility you have on this team?

RB: Yeah, definitely. Whatever way the coaches see me fit and whatever role they want to put me in and gives our team the best chance to win, I'm more than happy to do that. So, yeah, whenever your number is called or whenever they feel like I should be or where I should be, I'm happy to do it.

Q: Was last night a statement win for your team?

RB: Yeah, I mean, I think we're never satisfied, though. Even though we may have played well last night, we're still not satisfied. We know we're not where we need to be yet. We have a lot of room for improvement and a long ways to go. It's still early in the season, so we've got to improve upon things if we really want to be where we want to be.

Q: In your time with the Bengals, have you ever had this experience before of being on the road for a week with the team?

RB: No, I haven't. Even when I played in London last year, we went the Thursday before, so we were only out there a few days before. Yeah, I never have. This is the first. So, this is kind of an adjustment, but we're enjoying it, also.


Q: What was it like last night after the game when you didn't have to jump on a plane to travel back home like you normally would?

DH: Well, it was a good time. We bussed to Colorado Springs, of course. Everybody was excited about the win, having a good time on the bus. We got here late. We kind of just sat around and talked and had a good time. We talked about the game, talked about what we have to do this week because we know we're going against a really good Raider team with an explosive offense. We kind of just sat back and relaxed. It was a good time to take a deep breath, have a little time to enjoy with your teammates and just enjoy the night.

Q: Can you contrast that to what it would be like if you had a normal trip home and how you would feel this morning?

DH: Well, you know, flying back from Denver is about a four hour flight so we probably wouldn't have gotten back until like five or six o'clock in the morning and nobody would have gotten any good sleep. It would have made the week a little bit harder because you would've just been trying to catch up on sleep since you weren't able to sleep after the game. Being able to stay out here has definitely helped from a rest standpoint, body standpoint, because we were able to get the rest immediately right after the game like we need to.

Q: What is it about this team that makes you so difficult to beat when you're playing on the road?

DH: I would say it has to do with - I really believe in not making it bigger than what it is. Having some type of mental toughness to be able to go into hostile environments and just be able to focus on the job. When you're able to do that and not get into the crowd or not get into all the other stuff and just do your job and play good football, play good complementary football, you're allowed to win on the road.

Q: Was last night a statement game and do you think it makes you guys the best team in the NFL?

DH: I wouldn't really say a statement game because the only thing we're worried about each and every week is being a better football team than we were the week before and I think progressively over the season we have been able to see that especially defensively. We didn't start out the way we wanted to but we've actually been making a lot of strides. It's not about being the best in the NFL right now. It's really about, like I said, just getting better, being better than you were the week before, trying to make constant improvement and being able to learn from the tape which allows you to be better next week. So we're going to watch the tape this week, watch it today, learn from it and then try and get better and improve on areas that we weren't as good at or where we want to be at.

Q: What is different defensively when it comes to playing in the red zone? How has the defensive unit been so good at limiting opponents to field goal attempts instead of touchdowns?

DH: Well, I would say the first thing is we talk about it each and every week. There's good offenses in this league and at some point they're going to be able to drive the ball and get into the red area and our focus is always just trying to make them get three. With the field being wider than it is in length, we do a good job of just knowing where quarterbacks and teams are going to attack us and we just try to take it away. We know stopping the run is probably the most important thing with that because a lot of teams if they can run the ball in then they'll just run it in. It's the easiest thing to do. So a real good job by our front because they've been able to really stop the run and make teams kind of one-dimensional in the red area. Our coverage has gotten a lot better over the year. We're just making constant improvements and we're going to continue to try and do the same because, like I said, everything won't be perfect. As long as we keep trying to improve, though, we're going to get better each and every week.

Q: How do you feel you performed in your role as a part of Rob Gronkowski's post-game press conference?

DH: You know what, when I saw it I wasn't assertive enough. I've got to bring a little bit more to the table. My question - it wasn't a good one. The next opportunity I get I'm going to make the most of it and be a little bit better.



Q: How different was it to end a victory on a bus to Colorado Springs and unwind there as opposed to taking a long flight home?

KV: I mean there's not really a big difference. It doesn't matter. After a win you're just feeling good and glad you won.

Q: Are you looking forward to spending the week there and preparing to play the Raiders? How will you use that experience to prepare and how different will that be?

KV: It draws the team closer. You're spending all day with them, you're eating every meal with them and so you get to know teammates better and have a better time.
Q: During the last season and a half, the team has been undefeated on the road. What preparations do you make other than regular game planning that makes team so tough on the road?

KV: That's a good question. I think it's just an attitude that we bring that we have as a team. We just want to be road warriors and it shows we're ready to play and we're focused and it's always fun to win in someone else's home.

Q: Have you ever done this before prior to joining the Patriots where after a game you don't fly right back?

KV: This is actually the first time I think. Yeah, this might be the first time for me.

Q: You probably don't hit often during practice but what do you seen when you watch James Develin? When you see some of those collisions, what's your thought and are you ever glad you're not on the other side of those?

KV: Well you're tripping to think we don't hit at practice. [James] Develin is a truck load. He works hard and does his job really good. Any time you see his effort from the practice field on to the game you're happy for him.

Q: Why has the defense been so good at adjusting to different personnel groups on the field at different times?

KV: You've got to give it up to our coaches. Our coaches put us in good positions to succeed. They have a system to where they put what they need out on the field at the right time and we just try to execute it as best as possible and the 11 guys we have on the field, it doesn't matter. They know what needs to be done to play at a high level.

Q: Do you think that can be of a lot of benefit later in the season because you guys have experienced so much together that it could become second nature?

KV: I mean it's always good to get guys that normally haven't played a lot more reps and gain confidence and when we're all doing our thing as a unit and as a defense to play at a high level you're always going to gain confidence in each other and play harder and harder.

Q: How much have you learned about situational football in the year-plus that you have been with the Patriots?

KV: Yeah, when you come here your awareness goes [up] a lot. I think on Madden everybody should have a pretty good awareness level from the team. But I think honestly it's jumped up a lot for me personally just because of the - I've been in so many situations since I've been here. I mean going deep in the playoffs last year and then playing all of the games this year. Just to see the different - each and every game there's different situations, different scenarios that come up so I would say that my awareness has gone up a lot since I've been here and I think every player can say that that's here or has been here.

Q: Do you think that makes you more of an effective communicator defensively?

KV: Yeah, I mean any time that you can be aware of situations - as a defense we're all aware to different situations and different scenarios. You're always going to be better if you know that.

Q: How prevalent was it on your previous teams for you to move around and play different roles? Do you like being able to allow the defense to do as much as it can with you?
KV: Yeah, I feel like in other systems they try to conform you into what they wanted and I think here they let me play to my strengths and love what I do. Any time that you can help out the team in a victory and get put in position to succeed makes you have confidence and I think the guys that are on the field have confidence in you as well. Any time you're in a position to succeed it always makes you happy and confident to play some football. It's just not me personally. I think everybody on the defense is put in a place to succeed and it's showing right now. 

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