Here’s the latest:
Did Not Participate in Practice
RB Kevin Faulk (thigh)
Limited Participation in Practice
QB Tom Brady (right shoulder)
WR Wes Welker (team decision)
S Eugene Wilson (groin)
Rodney Harrison appeared on “The Drive” on the FOX Sports Radio Network yesterday afternoon with Chris Myers and Sean Farnham. Here are some of the highlights:
on “Spygate” and whether or not it’s passed…
RODNEY HARRISON: “It has nothing to do with our preparation, day to day, week by week. It’s something that the media loves to play with — the fans love. When we’re on the road trying to call us cheaters, different things, but from our perspective, it’s all about who we play that particular week. It’s about going out there preparing and just getting a victory, whether it’s a victory by 25 points or if it’s a victory by 3 points, a win is a win.”
CHRIS MYERS: “How would you describe Bill Belichick as a motivator, that part of him?”
RODNEY HARRISON: “Well, I mean, he has his way of motivating us, whether it’s through sarcasm or his serving up of humble pie or what have you, but I think a lot of guys in our locker room are self-motivated and that’s what happens, we get veterans that expect so much of themselves, as well as some of the young guys that actually caught on and understand what it takes to be a professional, so we have guys like Seau and Bruschi and Brady that are self-motivated guys that can take their game to the next level at any time.”
SEAN FARNHAM: “What is it like having Randy there this year, making the plays that he’s making, having the season that he’s having, but yet everybody we talk to says this guy’s one of the leaders in the locker room?”
RODNEY HARRISON: “Well, I mean, you lead by example. You go out there and you work hard and you do all the things that you have to do in the classroom as well as the weight room and it goes on into the field and Randy’s been a professional. That’s the word that I describe. He comes to work. He works extremely hard and he’s a very, very smart wide receiver and he’s a very smart person and that’s what people fail to realize. People always tend to try to pre-judge someone or label someone or stereotype them and Randy’s the complete opposite. You know, I’ve almost been in a situation where I signed with Oakland, so, he struggled out there because he didn’t really have the quarterback or the teammates around him to support him and for him to be able to put up great numbers, but Randy’s a hard-working guy that makes a lot of plays for us.”
Here’s the complete transcript of Bill Belichick’s Q&A with reporters this morning at Gillette Stadium:
BB: We’re moving along here on Baltimore. [This is our] situation day [when] we start to get into all the situations that — One-play type situations or shorter ones, like red area, third down, short yardage, goal line, all of those types of things. The Ravens defensively, as we know, lead the league in the red area. They’re real good in those third down situations and in short yardage they’re tough, so we have a lot to get ready for. We’re moving along. If we didn’t have to play them it would be fun to watch them play on defense, but we have to play them, so it’s not too much fun.
Q: Are they doing anything differently with Willis McGahee than the Bills did?
BB: Well, they run their offense, so their offense is their offense. Buffalo’s offense is Buffalo’s offense, which is, as you know, kind of the San Diego, a cousin of the San Diego offense. So they do it similar to what they did when Jamal Lewis was there. It’s those plays.
Q: All teams have good safeties and good players. What is it from your perspective that sets Ed Reed apart?
BB: He’s really good at everything. He has great speed and quickness, which is a good combination, [is] very smart, understands and anticipates plays well, reads the quarterback probably better than anybody that I’ve ever seen or that I can remember seeing, great hands, gets the ball [and] runs them back for touchdowns. He’s a hard guy to tackle, he’s a big-play guy but he turns those big plays into even bigger plays. He takes some chances, but they’re calculated and he’s usually right, so he’s a little bit of an unpredictable guy. That makes it hard, too, because you don’t know exactly what he’s seeing or where he’s going to be. But he’s usually in the right place. He does a lot of things well and he has so much range back there that I think he enables their defense to not really need to play a lot of split-safety coverage. They can just put him back there and he can handle the whole deep part of the field, which is rare to find a guy that can handle it as well as he can.
Q: Teams have their offense and their way of doing things. Is he the type of player that can alter your plan, or do you go ahead with it but have to be aware of where he is?
BB: You better know where he is. You better know where he is. Absolutely. When that ball leaves the quarterback’s hands, the quarterback better know where he is. I think to some degree you have to look at what your plays are and decide how you think they’ll affect him or not affect him, based on what defense they’re in. But whatever you play you call and whatever defense they happen to be in, when you let it go, you better know where he is.
Q: Yesterday you talked about Haloti Ngata playing linebacker. Is that a pre-snap thing or does he drop back? How does that work?
BB: No, they line him up off the ball, five, six yards deep. Last week they had him hiding behind the umpire. Haven’t seen that in awhile. But yeah, he lines up off the ball, moves around back there. You don’t see a lot of 350lb guys walking around five, six, seven yards off the line of scrimmage.
Q: Does it work?
BB: Well, you know, they bring him in different spots. You don’t know exactly where he’s going to come from and when he does come he’s got quite a bit of momentum and speed, so no matter who gets in front of him, he’s quite a load coming up in there. He can run some people over. It just forces you to handle your protections. You need to decide who’s going to block him, how you’re going to handle it. Is he a linebacker? Is he a lineman? Are you going to zone it? Are you going to man it? What are you going to do with it? It’s just another rock on the pile. It’s already a big pile anyway, and it’s just another rock on the pile.
Q: I know a couple years ago Rex Ryan said he was going to implement some of his father’s 46 defense. Do they still use that at all?
BB: Very little. Very little. [They] run it in short yardage a little bit, but they haven’t run a lot of it this year. Most of it’s been in short yardage. I mean, they have used it, but on a percentage basis of very low percentage – two percent, one percent. But it does show up in short yardage.
Q: Talking about Ngata a little bit again, are they able to use him on all three downs? Even at that size, can they use him on third down?
BB: He’ll be out there. You’ll be able to see him – you can’t miss him. You can’t miss him. He plays the three-technique in the regular defense. They kind of flip-flop their line. He usually plays the three-technique, [Kelly] Gregg plays on the nose or the one-technique and then on third down he lines up – They have a lot of different third down packages. They probably have, I don’t know, four or five different sub combinations and he’s in on some of them, he’s not in on some of them. Again, it’s, like I said, more rocks on the pile. They don’t always do it, but they sprinkle some of that stuff in there. So he’s not always in on third down, no, but he is in one third down in some of their packages.
Q: With he and Gregg, are they like five years ago when they had Sam Adams and Tony Siragusa in the middle?
BB: Different style players. Gregg is probably one of the best defensive line technique players that we’ve played against in several years. He’s quick, he’s strong, he has a real good motor and he’s a very good technique player. He uses his hands well, he’s got great balance, he plays laterally down the line of scrimmage extremely well. He’s a much bigger version of a guy like Jim Burt that we had at the Giants. He’s extremely hard to block, and if you block him it’s very hard to get to Lewis, who plays behind him. That’s a lot different than the way Goose and Sam played. Ngata is a mountain of a guy, but has good mobility and so he plays on the three-technique. Again, it’s the same thing – if you double him or if you spend too much time blocking him, then you can’t get up to the next level to get to [Ray] Lewis and [Bart] Scott. If you leave too quickly to get up to Lewis and Scott, then you leave him standing on the line of scrimmage and it’s hard to get by him. It’s the same thing with Gregg. So that’s the problem with those kinds of guys. You can get one of them, but it’s hard to get the other one. It’s like in the 70’s when you had Joe Greene and Jack Lambert. You could never leave Greene to get to Lambert. If you did, you’re leaving Greene there, plus they had [Ernie] “Fats” Holmes. But that was such a combination that it didn’t really matter what you did. It’s like Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks down at Tampa. Those two guys played behind each other. You couldn’t leave Sapp to get to Brooks; If you did, Brooks makes 30 tackles. Whichever one you choose is usually a bad choice, so it’s a good setup for them. If you gave half of every one of Ray Lewis’ tackles to Gregg, then that would give you an appreciation for what Gregg’s production is. He probably doesn’t make [as many tackles], but what he does to free up Lewis, or in some cases Scott, but probably more Lewis than Scott, if you gave half of those to him, then you’d get a sense of what – How many tackles does Lewis have? He must have 150 tackles. Whatever it is. So you can give a lot of those, an assist or whatever you want to give, to Gregg.
Q: How bad were those conditions the last time you guys played?
BB: About as bad as they can get. I’d say by the end of the first quarter it was a full-out mud bowl. I can’t think of – I mean, we haven’t had a game worse than that. I don’t even think we’ve had a game that I would compare to that. That was significantly worse than any other game that we’ve had here – and we’ve had some muddy games, but that was in a class by itself.
Q: Does it make it hard to look at the tape and get anything off that?
BB: Well, yeah, but a lot of things have changed since then. It gives you some perspective, but there’s a lot of things that are different. Just as a comparison, I think there was a lot more carry-over between the Eagles game, last week’s Philadelphia game and the Eagles game in ’04 than what there was in the Baltimore game. Didn’t we play them in ’04, too? Having watched them back-to-back, I would say there was more carry-over, if you want to call it that, from that match-up than this one.
Q: When you’re playing a team that presents the defensive challenge that Baltimore does, do you spend more time on your offense during that week in preparation?
BB: You only have so much time, so whatever time you have, you have the same time every week. That’s what the offense works on. The defense works on what the Ravens do, just like they worked on what the Eagles did. Are you talking about me, personally?
Q: As a coaching staff.
BB: No, I think, believe me, as a coaching staff the offense works on whoever they play against defensively the whole week, and so does the defensive staff. And so does the special teams. That’s what you do – you prepare all week for it. And really, that’s a full-time job. It really is. Again, when you get into a lot of situational football, especially at this point in the year, we have 11 games, not counting last year’s games or previous games where we might have played a team, things like that. You have 11 games just from this year. Like with the Ravens, there’s games that [Kyle] Boller played. He hasn’t played all that many this year, so you might want to go back and look at him from last year, or even preseason when he did play. [Todd] Heap’s another guy that has been in and out, so if you want to see Heap, if all you watch is the last four games, all you’re going to see him in is that first quarter against Cincinnati. The last five games, whatever it was. So if you want to see Heap, you have to go somewhere else to look at him. When you start adding all of that up, you don’t feel like, well, I’m just sitting here, I have a lot of extra time. You just don’t feel that way. The same thing with [Jonathan] Ogden. There’s another guy who really hasn’t played much this year, so you could watch him in the last couple of games. If you really want to see him, you go back to last year.
Q: Do the MIAA EMass Super Bowls at Gillette Stadium tomorrow interrupt you at all?
BB: We haven’t ever had that before, but as we look at it going forward, not really, no. We think it should be all right. We’ll stay on our own schedule. But we’ve never really been through that, so maybe that’s a good question for next week. We’ll see how it goes.
Q: Tom Brady joked yesterday that you want to adopt Ed Reed and maybe even kidnap him sneak him onto the plane with you on the way home Monday night. Should Ed be running?
BB: I think Tom’s stretching it a little bit there. We can’t do that. We can’t do that. I have tremendous respect for Ed as a football player, and as a person. He was a guy that I had an experience to coach for a week last year and it was a great experience. He’s everything that I had heard he was at Miami, in terms of the way he sees the game, his intelligence, his instinctiveness, just all of those kinds of things. He’s a great guy to coach. You tell him something out on the field, he understands it, he can give you feedback on it. He plays football at a high level intellectually and also athletically. We have some pretty good players here. We have some good safeties and all of that. I’m not taking anything away from Rodney [Harrison] or James [Sanders] or any of our players. I’m not saying that. I’m just saying I had an opportunity to spend some time with him and we competed against him in the past. I think he’s pretty good. I mean, real good. Not pretty good – real good. Like I said, I think he’s a special player because he allows their team to do some things that I’d say most teams in this league just aren’t able to do in the passing game.
Patriots linebacker Junior Seau was also holding court at his locker this morning at Gillette Stadium, and touched on a variety of topics, including trying to replace Rosevelt Colvin, how to stop Todd Heap and playing so many night games:
On replacing Rosey Colvin…
You just don’t replace a Rosey Colvin. It doesn’t matter where you are. He’s a linebacker where you always have to know where he is, No. 1, but he’s also a great athlete who goes out there and makes plays for us.
On facing a big-time tight end in Todd Heap…
Heap has always been one of the top tight ends in the game. I know him personally — he’s a great guy, and a great fishing guy, and a guy who loves the game of football. He has a great passion for it. You know, you just can’t underestimate what he does. He can be a decoy because he demands that type of attention, but whenever you’re one-on-one, look for him to win those battles. We have to mix it up pretty well.
Does it help that you’ve already faced some big tight ends in Witten and Gates in your preparation?
It only helps to gain more experience, but at the same time, every day brings a different challenge. Heap is one of the better tight ends in the league, and he’s going to be a big challenge for us.
On playing at night — does the approach change?
We just take more naps. It’s just a longer day and a shorter recovery week. We know that, and going into this game, it won’t be any different. It doesn’t change anything.
Have you ever been on a team that’s played six prime-time games?
Probably in Pop Warner [laughter]. That’s about it.
Good prime-time package for those Pop Warner games?
Yeah, but it was all local. Videocameras, what have you. [laughter] What we’re doing here is going to draw a lot of attention. We understand that. But it doesn’t change the way we prepare and how we go out there and play the game of football.
Lots of stuff going on today down here at Gillette Stadium, and we’ll transcribe everything we’ve got as the day goes on. First, for the first time since the death of Sean Taylor, Patriots’ rookie — and former University of Miami defensive back — Brandon Meriweather spoke publicly about Taylor and what he meant to his career this morning. Here’s a partial transcript of what he said:
On Sean Taylor…
Sean was a good friend of mine. He was the first safety I got to follow … He was one of the great ones to ever come through the U. … He was a good dude. … My condolences go out to his family and everything.
He helped me with everything. He helped me with taking my game [to another level]. He did everything for me. I didn’t know the playbook — he was the one who sat me down and helped me learn the playbook.
On the last time he had spoken with him…
Actually, the last time I spoke with him was the game before we played them.
On how he heard the news…
Kareem [Brown] came and told me at, like, 4 o’clock in the morning, that Sean had just passed.
How would you like people to remember him?
As a good dude. Not as a dude who always was into trouble, not as the dude that everybody tried to make him out to be, which he’s not. Everybody makes mistakes. I just hope that everybody, at the end of the day, everybody realizes what kind of person he really was.
A lot has been said about the program at Miami in general?
I think it’s a good program. Everybody looks at the city and the past and say we’re this and that, but at the same time, nobody looks at the good players that came out, like Ed Reed, who hasn’t been in any trouble. Bryant McKinnie … Jeremy Shockey – well, I can’t say Jeremy Shockey because he’s always in the media for something. [smiles and laughs] But guys like Andre Johnson and Reggie Wayne, all the good players that came out. Everybody always speaks about how we’re thugs and this and that, but they never say nothing about the good people.
On Ed Reed and what he did for him…
Basically, he just helped me learn how to read different formations and break down game film. He was just the first guy who was behind the scenes on everything.
Here’s the latest, just released by the team:
LB Rosevelt Colvin (placed on IR)
Did Not Participate in Practice
RB Kevin Faulk (thigh)
Limited Participation in Practice
QB Tom Brady (right shoulder)
CB Randall Gay (back)
G Stephen Neal (shoulder)
WR Wes Welker (team decision)
Here’s the complete transcript of Tom Brady’s Q-and-A with the media from this morning at Gillette Stadium:
Q: Are you happy to have Troy Brown back?
TB: It’s great. It’s great to see him. I know he’s excited. He’s been working very, very hard. [He’s] played a long time and it’s great to have him up and available. I sure hope he makes a big impact on the team. He always does, just with his leadership, his ability to bring people together and he always has positive words. He’s a great leader. He’s a great teammate and everybody loves having Troy Brown.
Q: Because Troy has been around so long and he knows what to expect, does that make it easier for him to come back and produce?
TB: Yeah, and he’s been in our offensive meetings however as long the season has been going on. Even though he hasn’t been out on the practice field, he’s been keeping up with the meetings and so forth. I know he’s excited and he can do a lot for us. He can play receiver. He can play DB. He contributes on special teams. He really does whatever this team needs.
Q: The Ravens are a team, like the Eagles, that you aren’t that familiar with. Talk a little bit about the Ravens.
TB: Yeah and I think you’re right. It’s a team that we haven’t played in a bunch of years. They’re very experienced and very battle-tested. They were one of the best teams in the AFC last year. We really have our work cut out for us. It should be a fun week. It’s a great defense that we’re facing, led by a bunch of great players on that defense in Ed Reed and Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs and they can all really play – Bart Scott. It’s a very challenging defense to face. I know that hopefully we can present those same challenges to them, but on a Monday night, that’s kind of what that teams live for.
Q: Tedy Bruschi said after Sunday night’s game that he anticipates more tough games like that this time of the year. Do you agree with that?
TB: I think you have anxiety before every game. You sit in a locker room just before you run out and really it’s the unknown. You just don’t know the way the games are going to go. You always hope for the best and you try to prepare for everything and, really, however they play out, whether you win 56-10 like in Buffalo, or this past weekend when it came down right to the end, you have to really be mentally tough and prepare for both. I think you always prepare for the tough ones and if it ends up not being as close as expected then you deal with that, too. That’s a good thing to deal with, but we’re always expecting whatever is the team’s best performance and what they’re capable of. Really, that’s what we expect.
Q: Bill Belichick raves about Ed Reed–
TB: He wants to adopt Ed Reed.
Q: Yeah, he does.
TB: It’s going to be Ed Belichick.
Q: How does [Ed Reed] change what you look at in terms of their defense?
TB: I know he coached him at the Pro Bowl last year and I think, as a defensive coach, you look at a player like that who’s such a game-changer. [Belichick] coached Lawrence Taylor and he knew what the impact on the game that Lawrence Taylor had when he was coaching. I think Ed Reed is similar, in different ways, but [he’s] really a game-changer. He’s a ballhawk. He covers so much ground back there. He’s really smart. He’s really aware. He loves football. He’s got all the great qualities of a great defensive player. I tell you, he better run after the game is over because Coach is going to try to bring him back on the plane with us if he could.
Q: Personally, do you like the games that are close as opposed to the games that are really out-of-whack like some of the games you’ve had?
TB: Yeah, we’ve had some games that in the fourth quarter haven’t been much of a game, not like this last one. I think we’ve showed some mental toughness in Dallas and in Indianapolis and [against] the Eagles, where we’ve been down the second half you have to find ways to make plays under pressure and I think this team has done a good job — Whether we’re up or down we’re focusing on doing our job. A lot of it is composure and poise and it’s tough environments you’re playing in. Two of those games were on the road with the crowd really into it and we found ways to pull it out in the end. Anyway, the goal is to win. That’s what we approach every week as and, whether you win by 30 or you win by three, you’re trying to win the game. Everyone was happy we won this last game and it’s really going to be a challenge for us to get to 12-0.
Q: Are you sick of all these night games?
TB: I’m tired of them. I look around at all these tired faces today and I think everyone is just dragging a little bit. You don’t get home until late and it feels like you’re always trying to get caught up throughout the week so I’m glad we’ve got the extra day. It’s not a Sunday night game so it’ll be a long week this week I’m sure. Four days of practice, we can use each and every day of that to get ready for this team and, hopefully, put our best out there.
Q: Is it a disadvantage for you guys because you’re like bats, you don’t the see light of day because you’re always playing at night–
TB: (Laughs.) That’s the first I’ve heard of that.
Q: And you’ve got so many in a row that it’s got to be tough.
TB: It is and you play when they tell you to play and I think most guys in the NFL, you love Monday night games. The fun part about Monday night is just before the game at 8:00 when you’re ready to go out there and the bad part is about 11:30 as soon as the game is over. It’s fun to play on Monday night, but I think most guys would love to play Sunday at 1:00, every single week. That gives you the most time to let your body rest and your mind to get focused on those weeks ahead. Coaches love it because they get – on the Monday night games they get the extra day to practice you, which a lot of the older players don’t like so much. But we play when they tell us to play.
Q: What are some of the particular challenges this defense poses to you?
TB: They challenge you in a lot of ways. I think they have very athletic pass-rushers. They have a bunch of different packages that they run with different types of D-lineman that have different abilities. Some rush the passer. Some play the run really well. They get you in a lot of long-yardage situations. I think they’re very creative with what they do up front and [you] just can’t go to sleep on them. If one guy isn’t focused and concentrating and their job, it’s going to be a negative play. A guy like Ed Reed, or Ray Lewis, or Bart Scott, or Chris McAlister, they’re all looking to make interceptions. Not only that, they’re trying to return it for a touchdown. They’ve got a bunch of play-makers and we’ve got to be able to focus on every play and make sure we’re really aware of what they’re doing so we can really stay on track.
Here’s the complete transcript of Bill Belichick’s Q-and-A with the media this morning at Gillette:
BB: First of all I’d like to on behalf of our team extend our condolences, thoughts and prayers to Sean Taylor’s family and his extended families with the Redskins and the University of Miami. Of course, we have a number of players from Miami on our team and some connections there. It’s a terrible tragedy. [There’s] no way to really explain it, obviously, it’s just our sympathies go out to them. On our end of it, we unfortunately had to put Rosie [Colvin] on injured reserve yesterday. He’s worked awfully hard this year, as he always does and I feel badly for him, as I do for the other players that are on IR – Sammy [Morris], Chad Scott, Dave Thomas and all of those guys. It’s unfortunate. [We] re-signed Chad Brown who, of course, has been with us and gives us some depth and experience at the position, as well as activated Troy [Brown] from the PUP roster. So we’ll as usual go into the game with the players that we feel like from the 53-man roster that give us the best chance to compete against the Ravens and we’ll make that decision at the end of the week. I don’t want to lead anybody in any direction other than that one and so that’s where we’re at, as far as the Ravens go. This is in a lot of ways similar to the Eagles that we talked about last week – veteran team, veteran coaches, a team that’s won, that’s played very well at home, that’s played in a lot of big games and won them, especially at this time of year, very good defensively, outstanding return game, good kicker, big play-makers on offense, especially at the skill positions, a lot of outstanding players, a lot of outstanding talent and a team that we have a lot of respect for. I know going down there playing Monday night it’s going to be a very energetic environment for us to go in to, so we’ll have to really be sharp on everything that we do, especially as it relates to snap counts and communication and things like that. We have a lot in front of us. [It’s] a team we haven’t played in a while. [There are] a lot of good players we have to get ready for, a lot of difficult schemes that they run. It’s probably good that we have the extra day. I’m sure we’ll be able to use it.
Q: You guys rarely see the sun. This is your third night game in a row.
BB: We’re so excited about that.
Q: Does it take some special preparation to play at night?
BB: I don’t think it’s [so] much the preparation for the night game. I think where it gets you is at the other end, is coming off the night game and you sort of lose more of Monday than you normally would on a 1:00 or 4:00 game. Then it kind of pushes you back into Tuesday, but at this point in the year I think everybody deals with short weeks and long weeks and all that. We’ve been through a lot of football and a lot of games and a lot of meetings and a lot of preparation, so you just make those adjustments and go on.
Q: Is it in any way better to have them back-to-back so that they are the same week, rather than having a long week and then a short week?
BB: I’m personally not that excited about it, but whatever. There’s things we don’t have any control over. I just don’t think there’s any sense in worrying about it. You just make whatever adjustments you make and move on. Everybody’s got to deal with something.
Q: Having five linebackers playing four spots has worked pretty well for you so far. Is there any concern of especially Junior Seau and Tedy Bruschi having to play more snaps than they had previously?
BB: Yeah, well, sure. We certainly didn’t want to lose Rosie, but that’s where we’re at so we’ll just move on with what we have. We’ve added Chad. Like I said, Chad gives us a level of depth and experience that [we’re] probably fortunate to be able to have at this time of year. He knows our system, he’s been here, he’s played here. [He] played in one regular season game, played in some preseason games, was with us for a lot of practices, so I think everybody has a lot of confidence in Chad, as we should, and our other players. Whatever we feel like is the best thing to do, we’ll use those combinations of people and – Yeah, it’s certainly not the optimum situation, but that’s what we have.
Q: Chad played a lot of inside here but was an outside guy primarily in his career before he got here. Do you see him better at one spot or is he a guy that has flexibility?
BB: Yeah, well he’s done both. He’s a pretty versatile guy. He’s played inside, he’s played outside, he’s played defensive end for us in passing situations in the sub, he’s played off-line, he’s played on the line. I think he definitely has versatility. Like I said, it’s a big advantage for us to have a player like that at this point in the year, who has that kind of flexibility, knows our system, who’s played in it. He’ll just have to work hard – I know he will – to get back up to speed with the different things that we’re doing since he was here last in the first Buffalo game and get caught up on some of that stuff, but it’s a lot further along than we would be with a player who was totally new to our system. Plus, he has a lot of experience in the league and he’s played here.
Q: Your kick coverage has been pretty strong all year, with Kelley Washington and guys mixing in with guys like Larry Izzo, the old core guys. Can you talk about the way that group has performed?
BB: I think our kickoff coverage is certainly improved over a year ago. That’s a combination of the kicking and the coverage. We’re up against another real good returner this week in [Yamon] Figurs – well, Ed [Reed]’s been back there some, too, but I assume it would be mostly Figurs doing the punt and kickoff returns – but another fast, quick, elusive guy with good running skills and good vision. Those guys work hard on that. Larry, of course, is our special teams captain and he gives us great leadership in the entire special teams unit. Those guys spend a lot of time watching film, meeting, talking together. Like I said, the coordination of those coverage units is so important – the proper lanes and leverage, and any time you’re doing something a little bit different whether it’s twisting players or changing coverage lanes or picking to try to get somebody else free to try to get a better release off the line of scrimmage on punts – all of those little things, there’s really a lot of teamwork and communication involved. It may not seem like that to the average fan, but there’s a game within a game going on there and they’ve done a good job with it. Overall, our force players have done a good job. One thing you don’t want to have happen on those returns is let the guy get the ball and run down the sideline. Then it’s just a lot of easy yardage. No one really has a shot of them if they get outside. There’s nobody left. At least if you can force them back inside, you have other people who have a chance to make the play. It was a big play last week on the last punt when [Brian] Westbrook was back there, which didn’t surprise me, that he was in there in that critical situation. Pierre [Woods] kind of had him, but I don’t think he was really down. I don’t think they called him down, and Kyle Eckel was kind of heads-up and came in there and made the tackle so he didn’t spin out of that one. [We’ve] been getting good hang time on the punts, and Steve [Gostkowski]’s done, on the balls that haven’t gone out of bounds, done basically a pretty good job of kicking off and our coverage units have been pretty solid, other than the long kickoff return against Dallas.
Q: Obviously you have great depth at wide receiver. What kind of a role do you envision Troy Brown in now that he’s back?
BB: We’ll determine that on a week-to-week basis, same as we always do. Troy is a versatile guy for us. He’s done a lot of different things around here. He’s played on offense, defense, special teams and obviously [is a] very experienced player, a guy that has done a lot of different things, and I think has the opportunity to fill different spots for us. We’ll see how that works out on a game-to-game basis and that’s the way it’s been here for a while. That’s the way it will be this week, that’s the way it will be next week.
Q: Is it possible he would see time in all of those areas, or would you rule out —
BB: No, I wouldn’t rule anything out. Anything is possible. We’ll do whatever we need to do. I’m not going to sit here and say we’re not going to do something we think will help us win. Whatever it is, we’ll do it. That’s what we’re here for.
Q: So it’s possible he could play defense as well?
BB: It’s possible he could do anything that we need him to do to help us win.
Q: Chris Hanson hasn’t had to punt much. How would you assess his performance? Is it tougher for a guy to get in a rhythm when he’s only punting twice a week? I know you don’t want him to be punting a lot.
BB: No, that’s right. We don’t want him to punt nine times. We’re trying to avoid that. You know, we’ve talked about it many times. Punting is a lot like golf. It’s not like standing on the driving range and hitting all drivers out there as far as you can hit them. I’d say probably well over 50 percent of a punter’s punts are situational punts, either based on what the return team is doing or based on field position or the game-situation that dictates do you want the punt directional, do you want it with hang time, they’re rushing, you have to kick it a certain way, you’re trying to kick away from – You have a key that they’re going to run right-return, you’re going to punt the ball to the left – Whatever it happens to be. A lot of it is situational punting, like using all of the clubs in your bag that a golfer would do. I think that Chris is a very good athlete. He handles the ball well, he’s got good hands and he does a good job of getting the ball off and placing it and doing the things that we ask him to do from a situational standpoint. He’s given us some real good kicks in clutch situations where we needed the ball down the field and changed field position a little bit. Like last week against Philadelphia, kicking out of the end zone, we had the false start penalty and we were backed up on the, whatever it was, four, five-yard line or whatever, and he gave us a great field position punt and Kelley gave us a big tackle on that for little or no return, whatever it was. That was a big play. Sometimes that’s what the situation calls for. Sometimes it’s getting the ball down inside the five, 10-yard line and Chris does a good job of that. Sometimes it’s, like I said, directionally kicking or utilizing some type of wind or return key or whatever it is to get the ball. I think he’s been effective for us. Is there room for improvement? Of course. But I think he’s been effective for us.
Q: A couple of years ago before you played the Ravens, I remember you saying that you felt Ed Reed was probably playing better defensively and was the defensive MVP at that point in the season. How is he playing now? Is there slippage?
BB: No. No, Ed Reed is an awesome football player. To me, he’s one of the best football players in the league. I think he’s the type of guy that allows the Ravens to do some things defensively that you wouldn’t ordinarily be able to do. I would say that in a lot of cases – in most cases – just common sense would tell you that you could protect the deep part of the field better with two deep safeties than with one deep safety. I’m not sure that’s really the case. I think that probably Ed Reed by himself back there can control the deep part of the field better than any two guys can, because the other guy isn’t as good as Ed Reed, no matter who it is. So whichever side he’s on, whoever the other guy is doesn’t have the same kind of skill that Ed Reed has. To me, when he’s in the deep part of the field, it’s hard to throw in the deep part of the field with him being back there, and then that allows them to do whatever they want with the other 10 guys, which they have a lot of creative schemes and he’s a tremendous play-maker. Not only does he come up with a lot of balls, but as we’ve seen, when he has it in his hands he’s a threat to score, whether he runs it back or laterals it or does something creative to not only turn the ball over but have it find it’s way into the end zone on your end. He’s a tremendous football player. I really enjoyed working with him for a week in February and I got to spend a little more time with him on a person level and really talk to him a little bit about football and some of the things that we were doing. I mean, it was an all-star game, but still, he’s really, really good, as good as anybody I’ve ever seen.
Q: You had him and Champ Bailey together on that. How good was that secondary?
BB: Pretty good. Yeah, pretty good. Those two guys were real good – at different positions, so it’s an appreciation, but we had [Chris] McAlister out there, we had [Bart] Scott. I mean, they have a lot of good defensive players. Really, everybody’s good – their outside linebackers are, [Terrell] Suggs, we had him, he’s a tremendous pass-rusher, [Jarret] Johnson has done a great job for them, Scott and Ray Lewis inside. Their down-guys are good, [Dwan] Edwards has played well for them. [Haloti] Ngata blocks out the sun. He’s an enormous guy that plays linebacker a good part of the time, which is…You don’t often see 350 lb. guys playing linebacker, but he’s back there [and] plays it quite a bit. [Kelly] Gregg is one of the best defensive technique linemen in the league. He’s outstanding on the nose. They have great corners in [Samari] Rolle and McAlister. [Dawan] Landry has done a terrific job for them at safety, playing with Reed. I think that’s an excellent safety tandem. For a rookie, he came in and played great last year and he’s having a terrific year this year. Big kid, big hitter, but he’s got good coverage skills. I couldn’t say enough complimentary things about Ed Reed as a football player – his intelligence, his skill, his play-making ability, his ability to do things back there that…I mean, I’ve seen some good free safeties and they may have some elements of his game, but I think he pretty much has it all.
Q: A little off the subject – This weekend is the Army-Navy game. What makes that game so special for the people involved?
BB: It’s kind of a season within a season for those teams. I think no matter what the record is, that game means more than all the other ones put together, if that makes any sense, so in some respects it’s probably better to go 1-11 and win that game than to go 11-1 and lose that game. I’ve kind of seen that from both sides of it. One of the things they do, they have such esprit de corps with the brigade and the corps of cadets and the brigade of midshipmen, is a lot of times the team that wins that game, the superintendent gives all the other members of the brigade special privileges, like an extra night out or they knock off the demerits or whatever it is as kind of moral-booster thing. So a lot of times that game means a lot more than just what meets the eye. I know there’s a couple kids, Max Lane and Kyle Eckel and [Roger] Staubach, but those kids aren’t playing football to be professional football players. They’re playing football because they’ve chosen a career in the military and that’s what’s really important to them, so to compete against their rival military academy, it’s a tremendous tradition that goes back forever, even back into the great Army-Navy teams in the 40’s and 50’s and 60’s where they were ranked in the top 10 on a pretty regular basis and [had] Heisman trophy winners and all of that, as well as guys going on to be great leaders of this country. The tradition in that game just flows. It just drips with tradition. But really, there’s a lot at stake within the brigade, within the institution, that is a little bit special relative to just another college football game. You know, you walk around there in March or April or May or whatever and there’s signs all over of “261 days until we beat Army” or “173 days until we beat Army.” I mean, literally, a lot of times the calendar in that Navy football office is just reflected on how many days to the Army-Navy game. When my dad was there, there were a lot of years when he would scout the opponent that Navy was going to play next. So if they were going to play Pitt, he would go to Pitt. If they were going to play BC, he’d go to BC. But then there were other years when the only team he scouted was Army. He would watch them play all 11 games. So if that gives you any sense of what that game meant, that you just put one guy on it the whole year, that was not uncommon. And Army would do the same thing.
Chad Brown just wrapped up a Q-and-A with the media this morning at Gillette. Here’s a partial transcript of his exchange with reporters:
On being comfortable playing in New England…
I think you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but I think it’s definitely part of it. To go some other place, some new place, and start all over again, is more than I want to do.
On what he was doing when he got the call…
I was in the middle of a lower body workout.
They called Monday morning?
My agent said, ‘What are you doing?’ I said, ‘My lower body workout.’ He said, ‘Well, you might not want to go that hard, because you’ll be practicing on Wednesday.’
Do you feel like a boomerang at this point?
This has been an interesting year and it’s not over yet, so who knows what will come. But I was prepared for this type of experience.
Did you see the game Sunday night?
Some coaches come out right after the game and say, ‘So and so was injured with this ligament and that.’ That doesn’t happen here. I’m just as much in the dark as the rest of the country. But as I said earlier, I had talked to some other teams, so I was expecting some calls. But I got the call I was hoping for. Despite one of my comrades going down (motioning toward Colvin’s locker), you hope not but you hope for it at the same time.
I really couldn’t get a good look at it. I was watching the game — they didn’t show a good view, so I wasn’t really certain. But like I said, I was anticipating a call.
On moving inside…
You know, I have played pretty much all the possible linebacker spots around here in the time I’ve been here, so wherever coach needs me to play, that’s where I’ll play. If he needs me to punt, I’ll punt.
On coming back to New England…
As the season progresses, I think you need to view your options, but I think this was the one place I thought was the best fit.
Here’s the full text of the release that was just issued by the Patriots:
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots activated wide receiver Troy Brown to the active roster from the reserve/physically unable to perform list and re-signed linebacker Chad Brown today. Additionally, the Patriots placed linebacker Rosevelt Colvin on the reserve/injured list and released rookie defensive lineman Kareem Brown. Colvin will miss the rest of the 2007 season with a foot injury.
Troy Brown, 36, has spent his entire pro career with the Patriots after being drafted in the eighth round (198th overall) of the 1993 NFL Draft. In his 14 professional seasons, the 5-foot-10-inch, 196-pound receiver has played in 191 games, placing him tied for fourth on the franchise’s all-time games played list. He has been the longest-tenured player on the team since 2002 and was voted an offensive captain for five seasons (2002-06). Brown is the team’s all-time leading receiver with 557 career catches and places second in team history with 6,366 receiving yards. He is also the Patriots’ all-time leading punt returner with 246 career returns for 2,570 yards and is tied with Irving Fryar for the team mark with three punt returns for touchdowns. In 2004, he added defense to his resume as he saw significant action in the defensive backfield and finished second on the team with three interceptions. The Marshall University product was named to the Pro Bowl in 2001, a season in which he set the Patriots’ single-season franchise record with 101 receptions. That year, he recorded 1,199 receiving yards, placing him second on the team’s single-season list behind Stanley Morgan (1,491 yards in 1986). He followed up his record-setting campaign with a 97-catch season in 2002, a mark that ranks second in team history to his own 2001 total. Also that year, he recorded a team-record 16 catches in a game against Kansas City.
In 2006, Troy Brown played in all 16 games with nine starts and finished third on the team with 43 receptions for 384 yards and four touchdowns. The reception total was his highest since posting 97 in 2002. In November 2006, he passed Stanley Morgan for first place on the Patriots all-time receiving list. In the 2006 divisional playoffs, Brown continued his knack for making big plays, forcing a key fumble following an interception in the Patriots’ 24-21 victory over the San Diego Chargers.
The Blackville, S.C. native has been a key contributor to each of the Patriots’ three Super Bowl runs. In 2001, Brown led the team with 18 postseason receptions as New England won its first world championship in Super Bowl XXXVI. In that game against the St. Louis Rams, Brown led the team with six receptions and 89 yards, including a key 23-yard grab on the game-winning drive. Two years later, he tied for the team lead with 17 playoff receptions as the Patriots won Super Bowl XXXVIII over Carolina. He was again a key contributor in that game, finishing second on the team with eight receptions, including three grabs on the game-winning drive. In 2004, Brown played on offense, defense and special teams in all three playoff games, recording a total of five receptions and six tackles during New England’s Super Bowl XXXIX title run.
Troy Brown’s career statistics include 191 games played (with 70 starts), 557 receptions for 6,366 yards and 31 touchdowns, 246 punt returns for 2,570 yards and three touchdowns, 87 kickoff returns for 1,862 yards, 30 rushes for 178 yards, 18 defensive tackles (16 solo), three interceptions and five passes defensed.
Chad Brown, 36, is in his 15th NFL season and has played in one game for New England this season, appearing as a reserve against San Diego on Sept. 16 and recording two special teams tackles. Brown was a member of the team during 2007 training camp, but was released on Sept. 1, 2007 and re-signed on Sept. 12 before being released again on Oct. 10. He has been a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers (1993-96, 2006), Seattle Seahawks (1997-2004) and New England Patriots (2005, 2007). In 2006, he appeared in eight games for the Pittsburgh Steelers and totaled seven tackles, including a sack. The 6-foot-2-inch, 245-pound linebacker first signed with the Patriots as a free agent on May 10, 2005. He was credited with 54 defensive tackles and three special teams stops in 15 games with the Patriots in 2005. Brown was originally selected by the Steelers in the second round of the 1993 NFL Draft (44th overall). The Colorado product was a starter for all four of his seasons with the Steelers and earned his first of three trips to the Pro Bowl in 1996 after finishing fourth in the NFL with a career-high 13 sacks. He signed with Seattle as a free agent the following year and spent the next eight seasons starting for the Seahawks. During his stint with Seattle, Brown averaged 93 tackles per season and had more tackles (744) than any other Seattle player over that span. In 15 NFL seasons, Brown has started 161 of 187 games played and has recorded 1,075 total tackles, including 79 career sacks. His career sack total ranks second among all active NFL linebackers. He also has notched 41 career passes defensed, including six interceptions. He has forced 19 career fumbles and recovered 13, returning three of those for touchdowns.
Rosevelt Colvin, 30, is a nine-year NFL veteran and has played in 117 career games with 75 starts for the Chicago Bears (1999-2002) and the Patriots (2003-07). The 6-foot-3-inch, 250-pound linebacker was signed by the Patriots as an unrestricted free agent on March 11, 2003.
In five seasons with New England, Colvin has played in 61 games with 39 starts and has totaled 203 tackles, including 26.5 sacks, one interception, six forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries. This season, he played in 11 games with 10 starts, recording 28 tackles (17 solo) and four sacks, a total tied for second on the team. He also recorded one interception, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries this season. Colvin scored his first career touchdown on Oct. 28 when he returned a fumble 16 yards against Washington. The Indianapolis native led the Patriots with 8.5 sacks in 2006 and also paced the team with 7.0 sacks in 2005. Last season, Colvin started 15 of 16 games and totaled 26 quarterback hits, a total that was double the next highest on the team. In 2005, he played in every game and started the final 11 contests while finishing fourth on the team with 73 tackles, the second highest total of his career. He played in all 16 games in 2004 and totaled 38 tackles (20 solo), including five sacks. In his first season in New England in 2003, he started the first two games and had two sacks before suffering a season-ending hip injury at Philadelphia on Sept. 14.
Kareem Brown, 23, was drafted by the Patriots in the fourth round (127th overall) of the 2007 NFL Draft from the University of Miami. He has been listed as a day-of-game inactive for each of the Patriots’ 11 games this season. The 6-foot-4-inch, 295-pound defensive lineman started 10 games for the Hurricanes as a senior in 2006 and was credited with 60 tackles, including 11 sacks. His 11 sacks ranked second in the conference and 14th in the nation. He was named Miami’s defensive lineman of the year and earned second-team All-ACC honors as a senior. In four seasons at Miami, he started 13 of 48 games played and accumulated 157 career tackles, including 20.5 sacks.