PATRIOTS WIDE RECEIVER JULIAN EDELMAN
Q: What's it like for you to be back out on the field and practicing with your teammates?
JE: I mean, it's been good. Anytime you get to go out and see the fellas and play with them and talk with them and be in the huddle and look at guys and participate in drills - I mean, that's what you play the game for, ultimately. It was tough to watch it all on the sideline last year and to come out here and just to do little things, strap on the helmet, puts in perspective how lucky you are to get to play the game.
Q: How do you feel?
JE: I feel like I'm getting a day better than yesterday.
Q: What was it like to see Tom Brady back out there with the team today?
JE: It was great. Anytime you get the majority of the team, most of the team, out here, it's nice. So, I always like looking at [No.] 12.
Q: Was it hard to not push the process and rush the steps you needed to take to get back?
JE: Yeah, I mean, everyone's a competitor, so sometimes you're your worst own enemy when you're trying to do that. But, it is what it is and there's a big part of the process and I've got a lot of guys, training staff helping me out - TB12, all that stuff - to get to where I want to be.
Q: After spending last season in the training room together, Derek Rivers said that you're the most competitive person he has ever been around. Where does that level of competitiveness come from?
JE: I'll tell you right now, Rivers - he's a young guy, works extremely hard. He pushed me. I'm not as young as I once was, and to get to be around a guy as young, hungry as he is - we went to school in kind of the same area, he was Youngstown, I was Kent - along with Nate [Ebner], along with Cyrus [Jones], all those guys, I think you take the opportunity to go in there and you compete. Ultimately, that's what I am. I don't say I'm necessarily a professional football player. I'm a competitor. That's what was instilled in me as a young boy. So, I don't know.
Q: Was it strange being here for workouts and practice and not having Brady here?
JE: I'm more focused on what I have to do to improve myself on getting healthy and getting back to where I want to be. So, you can ask other people that question.
Q: When you're out here playing, is it hard to not think about the knee and what happened last year?
JE: No, I mean, your confidence is built through your preparation, your fundamentals, and so we've been working really hard at those things. It's one of those things where each step you take, you're prepared for that step, so that's how I feel.
Q: Will you be playing with a brace during the season?
JE: I can't answer that, but I don't have a brace on right now and I don't plan on wearing one.
Q: What's it like to not have Danny Amendola out there?
JE: Yeah, I mean, that's the nature of this beast, this business, is guys come and go. You make a lot of relationships that you'll cherish forever, but it's sad to see a guy like him go. But, I mean, that's in the past now, and now you're looking forward to molding and getting together with your new teammates. Because I could tell you right now, this isn't the first team to lose a guy like that and it won't be the last. So, I hope he does well, but I'm more focused on the guys in our room right now and helping our team.
Q: Is it a little louder out there with Brady on the field?
JE: It's always loud with [No.] 12 out there. He's an intimidating S.O.B.
PATRIOTS TIGHT END ROB GRONKOWSKI
Q: How did it feel to be out there with your teammates today?
RG: It felt good. It's awesome to see the guys again, be back out on the field with them just competing. It was good competition today. It was fast. Feels good to be back out there, seeing where I'm at, seeing how the body feels and everything. It's been a little bit. The most enjoyable part of it was just seeing the guys again, the camaraderie around the locker room, out on the field. It's just good.
*Q: You seemed like you had a little pep in your step out there. *
RG: Thank you.
Q: What was it like to get back out here?
RG: It was great. I feel good. A lot of excitement obviously. Obviously had some jitters coming in too, because first time when it's been awhile you get the jitters going out there. You just don't know. It's football. You've got to compete. You're competing versus really good players every time you step out on the field. It felt good.
Q: What went into the idea of not going to the OTAs?
RG: Just was training on my own. Just felt like that was the best thing for me and I wanted to take care of my body and take care of myself and see where I was at before I came out here. It went good. I think it was a good decision.
Q: Did you miss being out here with the guys?
RG: Yeah, I missed being with the guys.
Q: How much were those jitters related to just how the coaching staff would accept you back just knowing how much they even put into the voluntary workouts?
RG: I would say the jitters; it was for competing - competing-wise. Every time I would say no matter what year it is - from my rookie year, to my second year, to last year, to this year - when you step out on that field for the first time no matter what, if it was the first OTA a couple weeks ago, if it was this minicamp practice, whenever I step on the field for the first time you always get those jitters. It's just like for game one too. You get the little jitters going. It just felt good to be back out there, get some rust off, see what I've got to work on, what I can improve, what my strengths are to make them stronger. So it's just good to be out there competing in football.
Q: Was there a point this offseason that you thought you might retire?
RG: I was just seeing where I was at, at first. I mean obviously after long seasons - they're hauling seasons, long-hauling seasons - it definitely was in the mind but I had to do what I had to do. I felt where I felt good enough, get my body prepared, get my body right again, see where my body was at, see where my mind was at and I glad to be back out here. I feel like I definitely made the right decision coming back out.
Q: Are you on good terms with the team right now and with Bill Belichick?
RG: Yeah. Yeah. For sure.
Q: How did Tom Brady look today?
RG: Tom looked great. That guy, I don't think he's ever going to look bad. I mean he's always looking good. He's never tired. His arm strength is always up there so he's looking good.
Q: Are you re-doing your contract?
RG: I don't know. Trying to.
Q: Do you want to get something done before the season?
RG: Who wouldn't?
Q: After your first catch out there today you yelled out 'woo hoo.' Did that describe those jitters that you had and the excitement that you had to be back on the field?
RG: Yes, definitely. I'm just feeling good. There's times out there where you catch a ball and you don't feel that good. You feel like you're forcing it. You feel like you can't make plays and it's just one of those times. Just feeling good catching the ball. Just having fun out there with the ball in my hands running up and down the field.
Q: After the season ended, did you go through a real serious process in terms of whether you really wanted to play again?
RG: I'll just keep it simple. I just wanted to see where I was at. I was having all different thoughts. Do I need to see where my body was at and everything? To see if I really wanted to go through it again. To see if I could go through it again. I feel like I'm just going to do what's best for myself and take care of myself because if I can't take care of myself, I can't take care of anyone else and I can't help out the team.
Q: Do you have a thought about how long you want to keep doing this?
RG: No, I haven't. But I definitely know I want to keep going and play this year. Feeling good and just put all that rest behind me now about thinking about it and everything and just focus on getting better.
*Q: How excited are you for Gronk the horse this weekend? *
RG: I'm excited. It was supposed to race in the Kentucky Derby but it got sick so they didn't fly it across the country to it. It's pretty wild. I heard about the horse like a year ago and I saw it and I was like 'that's cool,' you know? Then all of a sudden it's like the horse is in the Kentucky Derby a year later. So it's pretty wild. It's a pretty cool scenario. Pretty cool situation. It just shows - name the horse my name and it's going to make it, baby.
Q: Will you be able to take it for a ride or anything?
RG: Hopefully. I like taking things for a ride.
Q: You've been to the White House several times. What are your thoughts on President Trump disinviting the Eagles?
RG: I'm just focusing on football, man. That has nothing to do with myself. It has nothing to do with preparing for the game of football. I've just got no comment on that. Thank you.
Q: From the outside looking in, it seemed like a very different type of offseason for the Patriots. Did it seem that way to you?
RG: I mean it was different for myself, for sure, in that aspect. But I mean coming back, definitely the same. It felt like I was never gone and it felt good to be back.
Q: Why did you miss the voluntary OTAs?
RG: I kind of already answered that a little bit. Just seeing where I was at with myself, with my body and my mind.
*Q: How do you feel like your relationship is with Bill Belichick right now? *
RG: It's good. Everything is good. It just felt really good to be back out on the field and that's what matters most. I enjoyed it a lot today. I love playing the game of football. The game of football is fun when you're feeling good and if you're not feeling good - I mean myself, I've asked many other players - you really don't like the game of football But if you're feeling good, your body feels good, your mind feels good, the joy of playing the game of football is off the charts. But at the same time, if you're not feeling good it can be awful. So I'm just making sure - I just want to be feeling good, keep my mind clear and keep on playing the game and enjoy it.
PATRIOTS DEFENSIVE BACK DEVIN MCCOURTY
Q: Does it take on a different feel collectively when everybody is out there now?
DM: No. Honestly it doesn't. We come out here and play. X's and O-wise, yeah. You put Gronk [Rob Gronkowski] out there, defensively we kind of want to know where he's at. Then with Tom [Brady] out there you know he's making right plays. He's always tough to go against defensively but maybe because I've been here for so long we're used to that. But it was a good day getting out here, guys competing and just continuing from what we've already started kind of with OTAs.
Q: With Tom Brady's voice and Rob Gronkowski's presence, is that something you can feel as a difference on the field?
DM: Maybe for the offense. Like I said, defensively we want to know where Gronk is. We always talk about that. A lot of the older guys we kind of try to think how Tom thinks but it doesn't work. We see that throughout the league. But other than that, no. We went over our same install, came out here, same goal. It doesn't change.
Q: You've been vocal before on the anthem protests. I'm curious of your thoughts on President Trump disinviting the Eagles when he says it was because they were taking a knee.
DM: It's hard because I don't know exactly what the situation was. I think I read something that some guys are going, some weren't. So I don't want to comment like not fully knowing it. But we're not surprised, are we?
Q: Legalized sports betting is going to be coming down the road -
DM: Can I get rich off it?
Q: Is that something that the NFL Players Association has had any discussions about and how you'll handle it when it arrives?
DM: I think we should keep that in house, right? I don't know. That's a tricky one. I mean we'll figure it out I'm sure.
Q: How did Tom Brady look?
DM: Is this like a throwback to the playoffs? I can only say that once. We're kind of on opposite teams right now so he looked bad.
Q: He obviously looked horrible and out of shape, right?
DM: Yeah. Not as good looking as before.
Q: Does it give a full practice feel when everybody is here?
DM: No, I mean because we still were doing the same situations, we were in the red area, we were in the field. Just got to know 87 is out there, know where he's at defensively. But I wouldn't say without those guys we can't play football. You know what I mean? Obviously they're really good players so it's always a difference having them out there to compete against, but I think as a team and how we practice that doesn't change.
Q: Do you think the anthem protests are going to be a continuation throughout the season where guys are going to do what they need to do to show how they feel?
DM: I think it'll be talked about and stuff all year. Like how could it not? I think every week you guys will probably be up in the press box with binoculars counting how many guys are on the field. I think that's just how it's going to be, like you're going to try to pay attention to it. Everyone is going to pay attention to it every week.
Q: How does your place of work turn into just your place of work and not this political kind of show?
DM: I think it's like that for everyone. I think no matter what you live in this country so you're going to have some opinions, some stance on it. I think it varies though across the board what you decide to do. Like you could decide to write about it and talk about it or you don't. So I think that varies for each person.
Transcripts are provided by the Patriots media relations department as a courtesy to the media and are edited for readability. All press conferences are posted and archived in their entirety at patriots.com.