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Transcripts: Patriots Media Access 7/27

Read the full transcripts from RB Sony Michel and TE Lance Kendricks' media availability on day 3 of Training Camp at Gillette Stadium on Saturday, July 27, 2019.


Q: How good did it feel to get out there today?

SM: It felt good. It's always great to come back out with the guys and play some football. 

Q: What's your off-season been like?

SM: It's all about preparing, getting bigger, faster, stronger. Just trying to work on your game, building up to the season and getting to this point of training camp. Once you get here, it's all about building day-by-day. 

Q: What personal goals do you have for this camp?

SM: Just try to get better every day. Try to learn something new every day, whether it's in a meeting room, whether it's on the field, or whether it's from one of these players out here. 

Q: How is this year different from last?

SM: It's a little different because it was new, but I've got to treat it similar to that way and be willing to learn all over again. Hitting that reset button and getting ready.

Q: How strong does your knee feel?

SM: Feels good, just working on getting it stronger. There's always room for improvement.

Q: Do you feel like you're able to go 100% on it?

SM: Yeah, I'm out here practicing. I'm ready to go. I'm learning, trying to get better, and that's what it's all about.

Q: How much did you have to deal with the knee at the end of last season?

SM: I had to maintain my entire body. In the sport of football, everybody knows it's a high-collision game and you've got to be able to just maintain your whole body throughout the season.

Q: What was your reaction when the Patriots drafted Damien Harris?

SM: I'm sure I was excited. You know, another piece to this team that can help this team probably win football games, and that's what it's all about. It's all about building.

Q: When was the last time that you felt like you were in great health on the field?

SM: I feel good. I'm out here today. It felt good to be out here with the boys. There's no better feeling.

Q: How did it feel to put pads on?

SM: It's always great to put the pads on. Coach [Bill Belichick] calls it "real football." It's time to put the pads on, and guys go out there and do what they love doing.

Q: Were you pleased with your cutting and explosion today?

SM: Yeah. There's always room for improvement, but it's one day at a time.

Q: What is the one thing you want to improve the most this year?

SM: There is no one thing. There's so much that you can improve on from all aspects of the game. I'm learning more, it's another year. I feel like there is more to be learned, and there's more to build on.

Q: Is it easier to learn given your familiarity with the team?

SM: I wouldn't say easy, but I know what to expect. I'm prepared, and I'm just ready to go for it.

Q: How much of a whirlwind was your off-season after winning the Super Bowl?

SM: It was good. It was good to enjoy it in the moment, put it behind us, and get back to it. It felt good to be back in football season, and I can't be more excited.

Q: What did it mean to you to have one-on-one time catching for Tom Brady today?

SM: It's just another opportunity for me to get better at another aspect of my game.

Q: How beneficial will it be to have a light practice schedule in August before the season?

SM: It could be very beneficial for me to be able to get these reps, get the repetitions I need in practice. That could help me translate it over to the game. It'll be very beneficial.

Q: Ivan Fears has said that your limited action in training camp last year was a possible cause for your struggles in the passing game. Could this be true, and could this year be different?

SM: I would say from all aspects of the game, not being in training camp – training camp plays a big part in development going into the season, and I'm thankful to be in this training camp and I'm excited to take it day-by-day.

Q: Has your experience made a big difference for you in year two so far?

SM: No. There's still much to be learned, still growth to be made. That's my biggest focus right now.

Q: Have you reflected on your first season accomplishments?

SM: It was exciting to be able to do that last year. As you all know, it's a new season, so right now it's about what we're going to be able to accomplish this year and right now it starts in training camp,

Q: Do you get recognized a lot more now as you walk around?

SM: I mean, I'm not Tom Brady, so it's not that big.

Q: Any more albums coming out?

SM: No.

Q: What would you tell yourself if you could go back and talk to yourself at this time last year?

SM: Just keep learning. That's what it's all about is just learning. 

Q: Do you set personal goals going into the season?

SM: Yes, I have personal goals. 

Q: What kind of goals are those?

SM: Goals that I look at myself that are personal to me. It's something that I remind myself that keeps me going every day.

Q: Are they ever statistical?

SM: No.


Q: What's it been like for you so far out there?

LK: It's been great. Just getting acclimated and learning the offense. I played with Josh [McDaniels] my rookie year. The offense is different, but I'm working on it.

Q: Does it feel like you're picking up more each day?

LK: I think my experience just being able to go out there and play football is helping me. I'm just kind of studying a little bit extra, trying to get with the coaches a little more.

Q: What kind of things have you learned through your experience that are helping you pick things up easier here?

LK: Just kind of knowing the game and talking and communicating; communicating in the huddle. Talking to the guy next to you or the receivers. If I don't know something or they don't know something just communicate so we're on the same page.

Q: Can you talk about the process of starting off with no pads the first few days and then ramping things up and being more physical over the weekend here?

LK: I think it just helps get us acclimated and kind of gets your feet on the ground and trying to avoid injuries. It's a process.

Q: What's it like working with Tom Brady?

LK: It's good. He's cool. He's super chill in the huddle. He definitely leads the pack. It's fun. I can't wait to get out there a little bit more with him.

Q: Did you have expectations of what it might be like working with him?

LK: I didn't have any expectations. I think, for me this year, it's kind of a fresh start, so I kind of want to come in and just put my head down and go to work and just see what I can do.

Q: When you did ultimately decided to come here right before training camp, what was that decision-making process like? Was it a late call?

LK: No, it kind of just timed up just right actually. New England was pretty much the only team that reached out. For me, it was an easy decision – play football or retire or whatever. I'm happy to be back out on the field. It feels good to be out here around a couple familiar faces, so it's fun.

Q: What led you to choose coming here over retiring?

LK: This is a special place, obviously. This is a championship team. They know how to play football. They know how to win games. They know how to do it the right way, so it's a no-brainer. 

Q: What was your impression of the team from the outside? What thoughts have been confirmed or what might be a little bit different than what you expected?

LK: There's not much different. I think it kind of confirms that they're obviously a championship team for a reason. On and off the field, the Patriots handle their business the right way.

Q: What are some of the things you see that make this team perform at a championship level?

LK: I think Coach Bill [Belichick] just sets the tone right away. Before we come out to practice he tells you what it is and what it should be and we come out here and we do it that way, and if it's not that way we've got to come out and fix it and we can't make a mistake more than once.

Q: Describe this step in the process of going from no pads the first two days to getting more physical with the pads on over the weekend here?

LK: Just getting your feet under you. I think it's important the first two days to just kind of get moving around and get fit, catch the ball, see the ball, just kind of get a feel for the game and the guys around you so you're not stepping over guys or folding over guys. I think today just kind of putting the pads on for the first time and doing run drills – I feel great. Everybody looks great. Everybody's in shape so it feels good to be out here.

Q: How has Josh McDaniels changed since the last time you worked with him?

LK: He still yells at you if you do the wrong thing, so he hasn't changed much. But the offense is a little bit different from what I remember. It's very complex. There's a lot of different things that go into it. So, I'm really just trying to study and make sure I know what I'm doing when I get out there.

Q: Does it help with the transition that you have some familiarity with him?

LK: It helps a little bit. I kind of know where his mind is at with plays. I kind of understand the dynamic of it, so that helps in that regard. I'm just learning. I've literally been here for three days now, so it's all new to me in a sense.

Q: What was that courtship like between you and the Patriots and have you wanted to be a Patriot for a while?

LK: I can't say I've wanted to be one forever, but I do admire the way they handle their business and the way they go out there and win games. I remember playing the Patriots, I think my third year, we were in London and we returned the opening kickoff and then we didn't score after that. They came out. They handled business and I do appreciate that part of it.

Q: How much pride do you take in run blocking?

LK: I take a ton of pride in run blocking. That's going to help you ultimately get on the field. We have some really great running backs here. I played with one of them in college, so just the dynamics they have, the versatility they have – it's going to take us a long way and it took them a long way last year.

Q: Is that one of the benefits of finally putting on pads, the fact that you as a tight end can now work on that aspect of your game?

LK: Yeah, you kind of get a feel of what the running backs are doing and where they are and the schemes and the plays – how they cut back and all of that. It's good to kind of get out here and do some walkthroughs and some runthroughs. Get to go against the defense and kind of just get a feel for things. We're going to go watch film and figure out things we need to correct and move from there.

Q: How do you view the competition at your position?

LK: I'm not putting any pressure on myself to perform or anything. I'm just trying to come to learn and see where I end up. I'm just trying to come in and get a role. Whatever that role is, that's what that role is.

Q: How do you guys at that position group approach things knowing you're stepping into a huge void filled by the retirement of Rob Gronkowski, but that you still have got to do what you've got to do?

LK: I think just as you said, we've got to do what we've got to do. If our number is called and we need to go out there and make a play, I think we can go out there and make a play.

Q: Have you stayed in touch with Josh McDaniels much?

LK: Not much. I've seen him here and there through games, but no.

Q: Does it bring back memories when you first re-united with him here?

LK: Yeah, it does bring back a few memories of getting yelled at as a rookie; all of those things. It's good to be here and good to be back with that coach.

Q: What are your memories of playing here last year with Green Bay?

LK: I can't even think back that far. I remember it was a tight game for a while. One thing that does stand out is we made a couple mistakes and the Patriots didn't make any mistakes, and that's kind of what the team is built off of – not beating themselves and winning games.

Q: What did you admire most about Rob Gronkowski and the way that he played the game?

LK: Just his versatility. Honestly, just his willingness to do whatever it took to win and just him being able to have fun out there. He made it fun and that's what made it cool to watch.

Q: When did the Patriots first contact you?

LK: About a week ago; not too long ago. I came out here right away, worked out and then went back home and got a couple of phone calls to try and get something done.

Q: Were there other teams that showed significant interest?

LK: Here and there, but not much. Just a little bit of interest. For the most part, the whole off-season I just keep working out and tried to stay in shape and make sure I was ready to go when my name was called.

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