PATRIOTS CENTER DAVID ANDREWS
Q: Can you shed any light on how Patriots QB Tom Brady hurt his hand in practice yesterday?
DA: I'm not a doctor or anything like that. I am just focused on what I have to do to get ready this week. I don't really remember.
*Q: I was just wondering what happened. *
DA: Like I said, I was doing my job. I don't know what really happened with that.
*Q: How did Brady look in practice today? *
DA: I'm not out there judging how he looks. I have a pretty tall task ahead of me trying to block this Jacksonville front. Like I said, that is what I am worried about. Ask him how he felt.
Q: Did Brady throw any footballs today?
DA: Like I said, I am worried about what I am doing. You can ask him how it went.
Q: What are your thoughts on Jacksonville's front four?
DA: Jacksonville has a great D line. Not just D line, they are good at every position - at linebacker and then obviously, the DBs. Those guys up front, they have been making a lot of plays this year. They have a great scheme that really exploits their strengths.
Q: Jaguars DL Calais Campbell lines up at end but also tends to move inside in pass-rush situations. What are your thoughts on Campbell?
DA: He has done it for a long time. He has great ability, athletic ability. He is a big man - 6'7", 300 pounds. He has great length. Like I said, he has been doing it a long time and really knows how to play the game.
Q: What are the defining characteristics of Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels?
DA: I think he is a great football coach. I have been fortunate to be under him and just seeing things that he does that are a lot of times over my head, but from what I can really pick up on, he is a great football coach, and it has been a pleasure getting to work with him.
Q: When you say 'over your head,' does the way he coaches and call plays bring you up a bit and force you to learn a little more?
DA: I am not out here drawing routes and putting things together like that. Like I said, he does a great job. Just seeing how he operates and just trying to learn from that and pick it up as much as I can.
Q: During the first part of the season, some teams ran the ball successfully against Jacksonville. Statistically, they really turned that around the second half of the year. What have you seen from them?
DA: They are a great defense. They are big up front and they have good speed up front. At the linebacker position, they have great speed with those guys flying around and with instinctiveness and things like that. It is always a challenge. It is going to be a challenge this week. It is the best defense we have played all year. They have caused a lot of people problems.
*Q: What has Jaguars DL Marcell Dareus meant to Jacksonville? *
DA: He is another veteran-type guy, a guy who has played a lot of football. He is definitely good in there. That is why he is there. He is good at stopping the run. He is going to be a challenge for that. He is a guy who they can throw in there and take up a lot of space.
Q: With the center-quarterback exchange, is there any difference when the quarterback is wearing a glove?
DA: Not from my [part]. My job is to get him the ball. I am going to do that no matter what the circumstances are. I can't tell the difference. I think it is the same. I wear a glove sometimes; sometimes I don't. I think that is really just on each other.
*Q: Did you snap the ball to Brady today? *
DA: I snap it to all the quarterbacks. Whoever is back there, I am going to snap it to.
*Q: Can you expand on how difficult it is to face Campbell, particularly with his length and trying to get leverage on him? *
DA: He has great length. That can be a challenge in run blocking and pass blocking. Pass blocking, he has great extension and the same thing in run blocking, too. He can get his hands up and deflected a lot of balls in the pass game. To stop his rush, it is going to be a challenge. Like I said, they have all of those guys up front that can do all things very well. He has definitely been doing a lot this year for them in his 10th year.
*Q: How confident are you that Brady will play on Sunday? *
DA: I know he is getting ready, and I am going to get ready and do my job. That is what I am focused on - my job and what I have to do. I know he will do his.
Q: The talk in Jacksonville is that the Patriots have a secret weapon, and it might be Patriots WR Danny Amendola. Do the Patriots have a secret weapon?
DA: Secret weapon? I don't know. I think secret weapons kind of don't really matter. I think our secret weapon is just going in, working hard, showing up each day and the work we put in. The rest falls into place.
*Q: Is this the fastest defensive front you have played this year? How does Jacksonville use their speed to its advantage? *
DA: They are definitely a fast front. I think it is all relative in a sense. They do a great job getting off the ball. You can see when they are teed up ready to go on a passing down they are getting great jumps off the ball, especially the guys on the edge. They are doing a good job. Obviously, you have Malik [Jackson] and Calais [Campbell] inside in situations. They are doing a great job and they cause a lot of havoc. It is going to be a challenge for us.
Q: You had an opportunity to go up against them in one-on-one drills during the joint training camp practices. Do you take notes and review them in preparation for Sunday?
DA: I don't think that is your end all - 'Oh, we joint practiced. This is what they do.' There are a lot of things we do now that we didn't do then and the same for them. It is definitely a supplemental tool you can use and kind of see things and see the genesis maybe of the things they are doing now and things like that. Like I said, it is supplemental and just another tool in your box you can use. They are a lot better players and we are a lot better players now over the course of 20-25 weeks, but I definitely think it is something you can use.
*Q: How comfortable are you with where the team is in respect to screen passes? It seems to be something the team has improved on during the year. *
DA: We have put a lot of work into that. As O-linemen, you take pride in that. There are still a lot of things we can do better. I wish I would have done something different on the screen last week, Dion [Lewis]'s big run. There is always room for improvement, but that is something we have tried to improve on, along with a lot of other things. It is definitely something that we can keep working on moving forward.
*Q: As an offensive lineman, how do you work on improving the screen passing game? *
DA: I think it is just like anything - fundamentals, timing and things like that and just practice. Practice reps make perfection. It is just anything like that - blitz pick-up. You see it one time, you do it one time and you have it. Well, probably not. You have to work on it a lot of times. It is the same with run blocking and things like that, even though you don't run 30 screens a game whereas you are running it 30 times and passing it 30 times. You just have to take your opportunities when you get them.
*Q: Are you growing out your hair for the playoffs? *
DA: I just haven't cut my hair in almost a year. I have other things to worry about than hair.
safety DEVIN MCCOURTY
Q: Can you shed any light on how Tom Brady injured his hand in practice?
DM: I don't know. I was playing defense.
Q: Can you say how Tom Brady looked at practice today?
DM: Tom looks excellent every day. One of the best-looking people I've ever met.
Q: Did he look like his hand was bothering him at all?
DM: When you look at Tom, the facial [region], it's hard to look at anything else. So, I really only saw his face.
Q: Did he take any snaps today, throw a football or participate in any plays?
DM: I was on defense. I didn't see what the offense did.
Q: Who was on the other side of the ball? When you were playing defense, did you see who was throwing the ball?
DM: For us on the look squad? [Brian] Hoyer was playing quarterback today.
Q: You didn't see Tom Brady throw any?
DM: I don't even remember. I wasn't paying attention.
Q: Tom Brady has missed a few practices this season to manage some injuries, but he was always there on Sunday. Do you think that will be the case this coming Sunday?
DM: I'll let Tom worry about that. But I think I said it earlier this year: The team always knows Tom is doing a ton of things to make sure he's always prepared and ready to be out there on the field. He's a guy that I think across the locker room none of us ever worry about him being ready to play football.
Q: There is discussion in Jacksonville that the Patriots have a secret weapon in Danny Amendola. Do the Patriots have a secret weapon?
DM: As in Amendola?
Q: Either Amendola or anything else? Do the Patriots have any kid of secret weapon?
DM: Oh, I don't know. I think all of those guys have been out there making plays. So, the thing is when you play here, anybody on the team in any game can step up and be that guy. Hopefully we've got a ton of secret weapons in there.
Q: In the course of the game, a lot of times there are like five or six plays, things the outcome hinges on. Things like the neutral zone play last week, or the Jags going for it on fourth-and-1 early in the game. Can you just kind of speak to how those plays happen and the importance of being prepared for situational football?
DM: Yeah, especially on fourth down plays, we kind of always treat that as a "got to have it" moment. Even if it's in the first quarter, or any time in the game, for us, we'll study that a little bit more, because like you said you don't know how it will affect the outcome. But, usually a team that goes for it, if they get it, that's a huge play for the offense. But if you get a stop defensively, that's huge momentum swing and the offense comes on. So, I think we do look at those plays and it's not just another play for us. Our situational play that we know, we take advantage and it can turn for us. So, I think the awareness and the time we spend on it, a lot of times it makes a difference in games. Like that punt thing, we've seen that over and over. We've talked about that since training camp, so when they come up and we execute them right, they help us out. If we don't, it usually hurts us.
Q: It seems like every year, especially during the offseason, there are off the field distractions. This week it is Tom Brady's hand. Why is this team so good at bottling that up, staying focused and not letting them be distractions?
DM: I think usually because it's just a distraction I think for you guys. I think it's like, 'Fine, we don't get to write about the running game and third down. We can write about something cool.' So it's like, 'Let's talk about Tom's nice hand or let's talk about whatever it was through the years.' A couple weeks ago it was, 'Let's talk about an article and ask them.' For us, we just stick to how do we win a football game? How do we study the film, find out how to execute offensively, defensively, special teams? And that's what makes us happy at the end of the day. You see it in our locker room. We come in there after the game and we win - the excitement, the hard work paying off, the preparation that we put in during the week. We just continue to do that. I think our families are usually distracted. They send text messages asking questions, but they can't even bother us.
Q: Can you just talk about the interest in Tom Brady, especially at this time of the year? Everybody wants to know something.
DM: Well, you missed it earlier Butch [Stearns], but we talked about when you're a good looking guy, a good quarterback, people want to know about you. I understand. My people want to know about him too. I get text messages and phone calls. When I first got here it was, 'Did you meet Tom? Are you and Tom friends?' I'm happy now. Eight years in, I consider us friends, so I'm kind of a big deal back home.
Q: What kind of similarities are there between Marcus Mariota and Derrick Henry last week and Blake Bortles and Leonard Fournette this week?
DM: I think the attention that both teams had on the run game, and obviously not just the running back. Both quarterbacks being able to make plays with their legs whether that's a called run play for the quarterback or the zone-read where they're reading it. And then also when you're talking about the drop back of having a big, bruising running back but also a quarterback that when he drops back, turns into a running back that isn't just going to run around you with speed. There were times you saw Mariota and Blake Bortles - guys wrap them up and they run through the tackle and get big first downs. There's definitely some similarities I think to how they attack the game. You talk about the backs - two big, strong, physical backs that will run through you. So not exactly the same, but definitely some similarities.
*Q: What makes Patrick Chung so versatile and valuable? *
DM: I think it starts a little bit with his athletic ability. Obviously good speed, very physical, able to stay up there at the line of scrimmage and play press against tight ends, against wide receivers. And then his knowledge of our defense - understanding when he's in different roles how he needs to play, what he needs to do - I think allows him to take on a lot for us defensively, and whatever different package it is he usually is playing a different role in every package we have. So, a lot on him. I think a good thing is we all try to figure it out together. Whether it's me, him. Or me, him and Duron [Harmon]. Or him and Duron [Harmon]. On whatever those roles are - making sure we all kind of play to our strengths.
Q: How have you seen Trey Flowers step up as a leader this season?
DM: To me, Trey is always a guy that he's always going to lead by example. If you guys talk to Trey you can see he doesn't talk a lot. He's not a man of many words, but he's usually the first guy in here and one of the last guys to leave in the facility putting in the work. And then I think that the thing I see from him is now when he feels like it's time to say something and he wants to say something, it usually makes a big impact on the team because guys know his work ethic. They know how much he cares about playing well individually and the success of the team. When he speaks, guys tend to listen.
DL MALCOM BROWN
(On what Jacksonville does well on offense)
"I guess everything that an offense is supposed to do. They run the ball, they pass the ball, good chemistry, physical, well-executing team."
(On whether he has any superstitions on game day)
"Not really. I don't really have a schedule for game day. I'll be where I'm supposed to be when I'm supposed to be there."
DL TREY FLOWERS
(On what he expects to see from the Jaguars this week)
"We're expecting them to play their hardest. You're talking about the AFC Championship Game so we expect them to come to play and we've got to prepare well for them. That's a great team that has done a lot of great things throughout the year. We're just preparing for them and hope to get a win."
(On whether the Patriots have a secret weapon)
"I think a lot of guys can make plays at any given time. You've got a lot of playmakers in this locker room so it's just one of those things you've got to deal with all of us. Once everybody prepares well and gets ready for the game and things like that, any given down somebody can make a play."
(On what is unique about Leonard Fournette)
"He's definitely a physical player. He's physical, he's got a lot of size on him but he also is fast. That's very rare in this league to have a big back that can run away from you. So he's physical and I think he's a lot shiftier than people may [think]. He's got a good spin move on him so it's going to be a tough guy to tackle and we've just got to, like I said, play with fundamentals, knock the line of scrimmage back, make them uncomfortable and get a lot of guys to the ball."
QB BRIAN HOYER
(On practice today)
"It was great. It was a great day to practice. With the cold weather that we've had [lately], having the sun out and 30 degrees, you can't ask for a better day to practice."
(On if he is getting more snaps than usual)
"Define what is 'usual'? I mean, since I've been here, there's been days when I've taken a lot of reps and there's been days when I haven't taken any. I just do what's asked of me, so however many amount of reps that is, whether it's on scout team or a few plays on offense, I do whatever they tell me to do."
(On the mindset of being a backup quarterback)
"I prepare every week like I'm going to play. Whether I do or I don't, that's not really up to me, so the one thing I can benefit from, since I was here as the backup last time, is that I've played a lot of football. I've been the starter for three different teams and I know how to prepare as a starter. Whether I'm getting those reps or not, each rep I'm not getting, I'm taking as a mental rep. I stand back there, I go through and I try to think where would I go with the football on this [play], and who would I make on make the middle inside linebacker on this play. So whether I get the reps or not, I'm always preparing to play because the reality is, you never know when your name is going to be called. If anything, having been a backup and having been a starter, and now being in the backup role, I know how to prepare like I'm going to play. And if I don't play, it's good for our team. And if I do play, I'll be ready to go."
OL TED KARRAS
(On Jacksonville's defense)
"You know they're a very good team with a lot of talented players. All we've got to do is come in here and work as hard as we can and prepare our hardest, because this is a really, really good defense."
(On if there's any concern about quarterback Tom Brady)
"I'm just here to do my job. I have to focus on myself and do what I've got to do to help the team win."
(On the focus it takes to beat Jacksonville)
"You have to be super focused. This is an exciting game against a really good team and it's going to take everyone's best effort so we have to work as hard as we can."
LB ELANDON ROBERTS
(On the Jaguars)
"They're an explosive team. Their running game is explosive, they've got explosive players, their QB is doing his thing and their O-line is physical. All around, they're coached well so it will definitely be a 60-minute game."
(On Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette)
"He's a physical back. He wants to get downhill. He's going to lower his shoulder. You have other backs that are doing the same things so it's a physical group, the whole offense. They're all physical. They'll line up and just run the ball right at you. Blake [Bortles] can throw it and he can run it, so their offense has a whole different style to it. They're smashmouth."
(On if there's any concern about Tom Brady and the offense)
"Right now, our job defensively is getting ready to play and stop the Jaguars offense. Our job is to stop the other team from scoring."
OL JOE THUNEY
(On the Jaguars defensive line)
"This is the best team we've seen all year. They've got a great defense. They're really fast and physical. They have a nice combination of size and speed so it's going to require a team effort. We've got to prepare and improve each day."
(On if there's any concern about Tom Brady)
"I'm just worried about my individual preparation for this team. I'm doing the best I can to study and am watching as much film as I can, so I'm focused on that."
(On how the team is able to deal with distractions)
"We just try to take it one day at a time. That's all you can do. We're just focused on what we can control. There's no point in worrying about anything else."
LB KYLE VAN NOY
(On what is needed to stop Jacksonville's offense)
"I think it's play Patriot football. I think what we've been doing as a team is playing complementary football on offense, defense and special teams, so if we keep doing that, we'll be successful."
(On how Tom Brady looked)
"Tom always looks good. He's handsome and he's good at football."
(On coming back from his injury)
"Anytime you have a significant injury, it's not fun to recover from, but you do things for the team and you do whatever it takes to win games. It hasn't been easy, but I feel like I've done a good job and the training staff and the strength program has done a good job to get me back on track to play at a high level."
(On Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette)
"Leonard Fournette is a good back. Their O-line is a great and we've got a big challenge on our hands, but I think we're going to be ready. We're going to play Patriot football. We're going to be ready to go and we're excited for the challenge."
RB JAMES WHITE
(On how he feels about this week)
"It's going to be a tough matchup for us. Those guys have been playing well all season. Good defense, they can score points and we've just got to be ready to go from the start."
(On the athleticism of the Jaguars linebackers)
"Those guys are athletic. Telvin Smith, Myles Jack - they're athletic, can change direction, make plays in the passing game and the run game. We've got to do a good job of blocking them, the quarterback doing a good job reading the coverage. They're a good defense. We've just got to be smart and drive the ball down the field and try to score touchdowns."
(On potentially getting Rex Burkhead back in the lineup)
"Rex [Burkhead] is a good football player. He's a difference-maker out there. I mean you'll find out on Sunday if he'll be out there, just like me. If he's out there it'll be great to have him, but if not the rest of us have to pick up the slack."
(On getting into space in the passing game)
"The ball gets in my hands, I just try to make a smart play and make the right play for the team. If it's a one-on-one situation just make the guy miss, get as many yards as possible. That's pretty much my motto."
(On Dion Lewis' performance this season)
"He's had a great season running the ball, catching the ball, blocking. That's my guy right there. He's always played well. When his number is called he always answers. He's definitely a difference maker. He runs with power. He can run with agility, run with speed, make guys miss. It's tough for defenses to try and tackle a guy like that."