PATRIOTS CENTER DAVID ANDREWS
Q: How does it feel to be back out here healthy and able to string some consecutive practices together?
DA: It's good to get back out here. I had something I was dealing with. [I'm] a little bit behind. Kind of those first two days are really you kind of start knocking the rust off and those are kind of my days right now. I've got a lot of work to do to catch up, so just keep moving along, keep stringing them together here before we go down to Detroit.
Q: What is it like being coached by Dante Scarnecchia?
DA: It's such a blessing to get to work with Scar. It's tough. It's very tough. You've got to love this game. You've got to love the competition of it and you've got to love to come to work every day because it's not easy at times. That's how it's supposed to be. It's his job to hold us accountable and he kind of sets the tone, and then we hold each other accountable in that room. We take a lot of pride in what we do. But he's a great coach to work for. It's been great to work with him these last few years?
Q: Do you have some things you need to clean up offensively after missing a few days? Where are you in relation to being on the same page with the rest of the offense?
DA: No, I mean, it's training camp. Anything you did last season, you've got to start it over and rebuild it. We've got a lot to improve on, a lot of work we've got to do, clean up. A lot of times when you see the laps, you're hurting yourself. The defense isn't causing problems; it's you. So we've got to clean it up, hold each other accountable and just keep moving and improving.
Q: Is it frustrating or embarrassing when you have to run a lap?
DA: Well, I mean, yeah. It's frustrating because you know you messed up. Everyone's out here getting paid. They're going to get theirs sometimes. You're going to get beat. That happens. That's this game. That's the league. But those are the kind of things that we can control as a unit, whatever it is. It's kind of what you can control and those are the kinds of errors you don't want to make.
Q: Are you looking forward to practicing against a different team when you get to Detroit?
DA: Yeah, you know, it's always great to get to beat up on someone else, get to see some competition. Our defense does what our defense does. Their defense will do what their defense does and vice versa. It's always good to see some different looks. Some things maybe our defense doesn't do, compete against some different guys. I enjoy them. I think they're really good, especially when you've got a good group to work with that'll really go out there and compete, work together, try to improve in those two or three days, whatever it is.
Q: How can you help the new guys that are trying to fill the hole at left tackle when there is such continuity across the rest of the offensive line?
DA: It's different every year. It's the same thing – it's the NFL. We all have a lot of work to do, we all have a lot to improve on. Unfortunately, that's just part of this game. People move on. You can't keep a team together anymore. That's just part of it. It's part of the NFL. We all just have to buy in, keep improving, keep working together.
Q: What is so great about Coach Scarnecchia's teaching from a technique standpoint?
DA: I think it's really just the fundamentals of the game. He believes in his fundamentals and those key, essential fundamentals. I think we work on those, we buy into those fundamentals. We know that they work and we practice them every day, a lot, and we don't make up fancy drills. It's the same drills pretty much every day, so we're just building repetition, building conditioning and building good habits.
Q: Do those drills place an emphasis on situations you'll see in a game?
DA: Yeah, every drill correlates to a fundamental which will correlate to a block. We have different blocks that start with different fundamentals. It's not every day we just don't go out there and start running combination blocks. We build up first and the individual fundamentals and then you put it together and you build and you build and you build. Kind of like building a house – you've got to start with a good foundation.
Q: How important is it to have a short memory on the offensive line and not get too high or low emotionally?
DA: You don't want to forget about the bad. You want to remember that, in a sense. You don't want to let it paralyze you and the fear of messing up paralyze you, but you'll remember what you did wrong and then correct it. But you've got to go out there and play with kind of reckless abandon, so maybe mentally and emotionally forget about it, but mentally know it's there and keep it moving.
Q: Is it good to have a nice back-and-forth with the defense?
DA: Yeah, that's competition. If you love competition, that's what you're about and you want to compete every day. We want to compete in everything we do and that's what we try to do.
Q: Tom Brady was voted the top player from the NFL's Top 100 list last year, while Aaron Donald was voted No. 1 this year. You're in close proximity to both players – what are your thoughts on that?
DA: I think Aaron Donald's a great player. He's a hell of a football player. He can do some special things. What he did last year, I think he earned that. But, I'll always take No. 12.
PATRIOTS DEFENSIVE BACK DEVIN McCOURTY
Q: How far ahead is the secondary at this point, compared to where you've started in the past?
DM: I always think you've got to see. You know, you can feel a certain type of way, but we've got a lot of experienced guys, and competing against our offense, Tom [Brady's] very modest in completing some passes out there. But I think for us in the secondary, we just want to keep getting better. We want to cut down on any mental errors, any communication errors. We've got a whole group that's back, that's worked together. I think we try to hold ourselves to a higher standard. Different in years past, when we've had a new guy or two that we're trying to incorporate. This year we have a lot of familiar faces, so we've just tried not to be – I mean, be perfect. It doesn't come out that perfect, but we want to cut down on some of the self-inflicting things we've done in the past. I think we've done a good of that. We've just got to keep building.
Q: Are you guys at the point where you can just look at each other and know what you're each going to do, just based on the look of the offense?
DM: Yeah, certain things, but like always, our offense always comes out with something new. We had a seven-on-seven period where they came out with a bunch of new things, and it kind of caught us off guard. I think the good thing is having a veteran group. We don't have to wait until we go inside and watch it, we're talking about it on the sideline, what we want to do next, how we want to fix things, so I think that's football. I don't care how much experience you have and how well you played before, you still have to kind of prepare and get ready to go again. We're going through that process right now as a unit.
Q: What have you seen out of Jakobi Meyers so far this camp?
DM: He's made some really competitive catches. Again – him, N'Keal [Harry] – those guys have made some working their butts off. They've gotten a lot of reps out there from the spring even until now, and they've just been working. I think that's a good thing to see about all these young guys, is their ability and their want to come out here and try to outwork everybody. That's what it takes when you're a rookie. You're not going to forget everything, and you're not going to get most things right. You just have to come out here and play hard, and try to outwork everybody.
Q: You seem to take special pride in goal line defense. Can you speak to that and how you guys have improved as a unit in that part of the field?
DM: As a team, Bill [Belichick] always talks about sometimes football comes down to one yard. Offense has to gain a yard, and defense, we can't give away a yard, and that's what you see. Down there in that goal line period, it's, they've got a yard or two left, who's going to buck up and make a play. As you guys have seen through the years, a lot of our seasons have come down to that. So, anytime we get into those type of situations – whether it's goal line, whether it's a third-and-three where we have a mark and they're trying to get three-and-a-half and we're trying to hold them – that's probably one of our most competitive periods when we do that. So I think as a team, we all take a lot of pride in going out there, get whatever it is, a yard to two or three yards, and trying to make that. So when you're going against each other, it's good-on-good, and somebody has to win. And it's been good for us so far, but they got us on the first play with a little pop-pass, so it's always a back-and-forth fight with the offense.
Q: How would you grade Stephon Gilmore's play as a quarterback?
DM: We actually had some good plays drawn up. We had a couple guys who didn't believe in what we were doing, and that's all I'll say. That really hurt us as a group, but our first play was a touchdown. Bill makes it hard. We've got to go two-for-three. When we've got to score two touchdowns out of three, I mean, if we throw one bad pass it's – so, maybe next year.
Q: Do you feel like Bill is more involved with the defense this year than in year's past?
DM: I don't know. Since I've been here, Bill's always very heavily involved with offense, defense and special teams. He's never scared to let you know exactly how he feels on what's going on, so he's definitely been involved with all the things we've done. But I think it's been really a group of guys, whether it's [Jerod] Mayo, Mike [Pellegrino], Steve [Belichick], even [Bob] Fraser's a new guy coming. I think it's really been a group effort this year, going from Matty P [Matt Patricia] to Flo [Brian Flores] to now, it's everyone kind of being involved.
Q: Are you looking forward to joint practices in Detroit?
DM: Yeah, it's tough man, but I think for us as a team, it gives us the first chance to be together. We come out here every day; it's offense versus defense. We're going at each other and I think once you go to a joint practice, it's the first time you get to kind of unify as a team. You go down there and you're trying to win every period, whether it be special teams, offense, defense, we're cheering each other on. To me, it's all of the work we do here. We take that on the road now and see how it all measures up.
Q: How is it to see Jerod Mayo yelling and coaching people up?
DM: Oh, I make fun of him all day. I mean he's a rookie coach, so you get a rookie coach in here, so I ask him, "Does he have to clean the coaches' locker room?" All those little things, but he's been awesome. I think just having him out here, high energy as a player, even more energy as a coach, so it's been a pleasure for all of the players, just to have him around the locker room.