PATRIOTS CENTER DAVID ANDREWS
Q: What do you think of the joint practices? Do you get much out of them?
DA: It's just a great opportunity to go compete. It's going to be a tough week down there. They're going to be ready to go. They've got a good football team. They're tough, they're physical, they're very disciplined, so it's going to be a big challenge for us. Two days to go compete and then go and play in the game.
Q: The Titans are one of those teams that has a 3-4 defense. What's it like facing that type of defense where you have a defender right over your face during each snap?
DA: Well, they do a lot of things to challenge you. First, they have a lot of great players. That's pretty obvious. One, they play very sound and they play tough and physical, like I said. Not a lot of weaknesses and you have to be at your best or else they'll exploit that.
Q: How much team bonding goes on during these weeks away?
DA: Well, I mean, you kind of put it together as a team when you go into these joint practices. You're not playing against your defense anymore. You're playing against their defense and it's more of that game rhythm. You come off the field, "Alright, here's what they did that last series." So, you get kind of in this game flow a little bit and start really bonding. We're cheering for our defense when they make plays, they're cheering for us when we make plays. That doesn't really happen when we're out here going against each other. It's always great to go to really start forming that team and that camaraderie.
Q: How important is communication during these joint practices?
DA: Yeah, we don't really game plan. We spend a week getting ready to play a game on Sunday and that's not really the case in the preseason at times. But I think that challenges you and that's good because that makes you rely on those base fundamentals and base techniques and schemes of the play. You have to know those to go out there and communicate and do it on the fly sometimes. I think that challenges you and makes you learn it.
Q: Can you see Isaiah Wynn's comfort level improve the more time he spends out there?
DA: It's great to get him out there. I know he's working hard to be the best he can, so it's just always good when you get guys healthy back out there working together.
Q: Is he someone that picks things up pretty quickly?
DA: He picks up his laundry pretty quickly. I don't know, we'll see.
Q: Jurrell Casey came off the PUP list for the Titans this week. What kind of a challenge does he present defensively?
DA: Yeah, Jurrell's a great player. I've competed against him a couple of times now. It'll be a big challenge for us. When you know you've got a guy like that, it's going to test you and you've got to be at your best every play with that kind of guy. He's a great football player, been doing it a long time. It shows with all of his accolades.
Q: Is it different going against a team in conference that you may potentially be playing later in the year as opposed to the Lions where you wouldn't see them until the Super Bowl?
DA: No, I mean, I don't think we're scheduled to play them so we don't know what's going to happen.
Q: But you could see the Titans in the playoffs.
DA: Yeah, we could play 32 teams, I guess. No, we're just going out there and trying to compete, be the best we can be. We're going to see different looks, see different things. There's going to be mistakes, but that way we can learn from them, correct them and try to move forward and not let those things happen again. It's just another great opportunity to compete and then also see some different things.
Q: How has it been going against Michael Bennett in practice?
DA: Mike's been a great addition. He does a lot of things well, can do a lot of different things. Anytime you get a chance to compete with a guy like that, one – you like it, it's fun. You kind of throw your stuff out there and see what you've got against someone who's been a great pass rusher in this league for a while. I'm excited to see what he can do and he's been a great teammate.
Q: Can you talk about the continuity you've built up with Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason on the offensive line?
DA: Yeah, I've been very fortunate to have those guys beside me. I played my rookie year with Shaq and then obviously Joe came in our second year. It's been great. They're tough guys, they stay out there. It's just a blessing to get to play with those guys. They help me out a lot and make me look a lot better than I am.
Q: What's it been like to play with Dan Skipper?
DA: It's been great. Skip [Dan Skipper] comes in every day, really tries to work hard, do the right things. I think that's kind of a tendency in our room and kind of this culture that's been passed down. It wasn't developed by us. It was more the guys like Joe Andruzzi, Matt Light, Logan Mankins, Dan Koppen. So, it's kind of something that's just kind of been passed down, but yeah, I think we've got a great group of guys.
Q: Is Skipper kind of a fiery guy? We saw a little battle between him and Bennett yesterday.
DA: I don't really remember, but I think we're all just a good group of guys.
Q: What can you tell us about the slip-and-slide at the start of practice?
DA: You've got to recover fumbles in the game of football.
Q: How are the rookie offensive linemen at recovering fumbles?
DA: They could use some work, so we'll see. We've just all got to get better at it.
PATRIOTS DEFENSIVE LINEMAN MICHAEL BENNETT
Q: What was it like to see Jerod Mayo and the rookies diving into water prior to practice?
MB: I'd never seen anything like that, so it was funny. But seeing Jerod do it, and knowing his reputation in the NFL and his first year being a coach, seeing him do that was funny. Him sliding and the rest of the guys, and Tom [Brady] was just having too good of a time.
Q: After being traded here, were you excited to see how you fit in Bill Belichick's scheme?
MB: Yeah, I was excited to work with Belichick and the rest of the guys on defense. Obviously, they've got a great pedigree, all of the great defensive linemen that have been here before me, so it's just a lot. Like I said before, just being in that locker room and seeing all the guys' jerseys. Growing up, Richard Seymour was my favorite player, him and John Abraham, so being here is just really unique, and the opportunity to play a lot of different fronts and do a lot of different things with a lot of these young guys is fun.
Q: Having been through joint practices and one pre-season game, do you feel more comfortable with the system and your role in it?
MB: I'm doing the best I can. I think that it's always changing. There's a lot of moving parts, so we take it day-by-day, really. Honestly, just a lot of figuring it out. That's it really.
Q: Do you have any preference between a 4-3 and 3-4 defensive front?
MB: I think it's all the same. I've played in all different defenses. It's just about your attitude really, and trying to make the best of each position and finding out how to dominate that position. It takes a little time, but once you figure it out, it's the best part of it. I think later in your career, being in the same position and doing the same things doesn't allow you to grow, so when you get into a position with a team that's pushing you to do different things and becoming uncomfortable in it, it kind of allows you to grow in your own craft. I think this is a good opportunity for me to grow in my own craft, learning new defenses, learning new terminology, learning new players – it's fun. I think it's easy when you're in the same defense for a long period of time to be great, but then to go to another defense and do it again, I think that's a great challenge and I look forward to those types of challenges, especially now.
Q: What's it been like to observe Jerod Mayo as a first year coach?
MB: I don't listen to Jerod – no, I'm joking. It's nice, you know, a guy that you came into the NFL with, and now he's a coach and he's doing his thing. It's great to see him. I think he was a great player, and also he's a great leader, and that continues onto the field. People trust him and he can connect with the young players because he's been in the locker room, and he doesn't disconnect from them. I think that's the greatest part about it because they resonate with everything he's been through. People listen to him and they trust his opinion, and they know he's got their best interest at heart.
Q: Yesterday, you got some tips from Dont'a Hightower on offensive line schemes. Have you enjoyed your collaboration with him?
MB: Oh, man. I love playing with Dont'a Hightower. I just think he's a very unique person in the NFL, as far as being able to play linebacker and rushing. He's just a really good player, so working with him and talking to him, and figuring it out has just been fun. Like I said, as a new guy, I've got the chance to play with some great linebackers, and he's one of the one's I feel like is one of the great ones, so it's a great opportunity to play with him.
Q: How do you feel like your skill set would work in a 3-4 scheme?
MB: Did you just see me out there right now? I think it's been going pretty good, it's always good. I look forward to a challenge. I've never been in a defense where I didn't play good, so I feel like I'm just going to go out there and just do the best I can really.
Q: How do you adapt to the difference, knowing what you do well and your responsibilities on the field maybe being different?
MB: No, I don't think so. I think they just want me to do what I do well, but do it in the scheme of what we're doing. That's the greatest thing about it, they're not asking me to do something I'm uncomfortable with. I've played four-technique before, I've played five-technique, I've played nine, I've played zero, I've played one, I've played two – all of that. It's all the same to me really. It's just lining up and dominating the person in front of you, and just having more will than he has, and just doing it play-in and play-out and doing it with your teammates.
Q: What have your interactions with Tom Brady been like?
MB: I think it's good because Tom is one of – Tom is the greatest player to play in the NFL. It's an opportunity to just talk life. I think Tom has a lot of experiences that I haven't experienced, and I have some experiences that he hasn't experienced. I think just being fathers and being husbands, and talking about life – I think that's the greatest thing you can do with your teammate, is to learn him as an individual. You know, you see people from the outside and you want to get to know them as a person, and I think Tom does a great job of connecting with his teammates every single day. Personally, I think that's been good for me, to be able to come in and have a guy like Tom telling a story and just having a good time. Football takes care of itself, but building that camaraderie with your teammates, that's the most important thing for me on this team, is to earn everybody's trust. From the top of the organization, to the media stuff, to the training stuff, just to let them know what type of individual I am and try to do that every single day. I think talking to Tom allows me to do that, and I take those days because you never know when you're going to get a chance to talk to guys like that. Just to have that type of time, it's cool. He takes time to get to know me as an individual, and I love that.
Q: How does your approach change when you're lined up over the center or guard versus out wide on the defensive line?
MB: It doesn't change really. I just try to beat the person in front of me the best way I can. I just try to out-will him every single time, and just let him know that I'm going to try to be the best every single time. I don't think it really changes, I think you just beat the person in front of you. That's really what football comes down to, just beating the person in front of you and getting to the quarterback.