Locker room chatter, 1/3

Posted on January 3, 2008 
Filed Under Uncategorized

Hey everyone … it was a good day in the Patriots’ locker room this morning — a bunch of players spent time with the media, moreso than usual. We’ve got the best of the Q&A with cornerback Ellis Hobbs, defensive lineman Richard Seymour and running back Kevin Faulk. We’ll have the transcript from Bill Belichick’s Q&A up later today:

Ellis Hobbs
On what they’re doing this week…
We’re just going back and reviewing the whole year individually as a team, offense, defense and special teams, and we’re moving on from there. Next week, when we know our opponent, we’ll start focusing more on that.

On the importance of having the bye…
It’s very important from the sense that there are so many teams that have to play this weekend that are banged up, that have guys that are not 100 percent. But this gives us an opportunity — because of the hard work we did during the seaso — to go out there and heal ourselves up as much as possible to get ready for the next week. It gives you a two-week advantage.

On watching the games this weekend…
You don’t get emotional. Just coming in here today, you know it’s a whole different level now. A whole different level of focus. Every moment, every second that you’re in here, you have to play it like it was your last, because it’s the playoffs. My third time around, I’ve been fortunate enough to go to the playoffs each year, I know what type of mindset you have to be in. You can feel it going all throughout the locker room.

Do you think the last game against the Giants did even more to prepare the team for that playoff atmosphere?
Most definitely. It carried us on in, as far as the fact that it was a close game, but to pull it out in the fashion that we did … you know, to have everyone behind us, the whole 16-0, and continuing the winning streak, it’s all about momentum. It kept the morale up, if not even higher, just moving us into the playoffs.

The way you’ve been getting everybody’s best shot, do you feel like it’s been playoff-level intensity for a while now?
Even Bill brought that up against the Giants, before the game. He said this will be a playoff-like atmosphere, as far as the crowd goes, us going to the stadium, how you feel about the game, the intensity of the game. Blow for blow, you’re getting their best shot every time. We’re talking about the Eagles, the Ravens, Pittsburgh, the Giants. We’ve been doing this for a while now, even in the regular season.

Is there more pressure now in the playoffs because you guys went 16-0?
The pressure is there if we allow it. Bill used a great example this morning. You can put a 2 X 4 on the ground and walk across it — it’s easy. It’s the same 2 X 4 if you’re in the sky. But you’re just looking at the sky, because you’re in the sky now. There’s more pressure. If we allow it to be there, then yes. But all we have to do is continue to go out there and continue to play football like we know how to and let the rest take care of itself.

What do you remember about your first playoff experience?
Just the vast difference, how different it was between the regular seasona nd postseason. The regular season, you get in that monotonous stage of day-in, day-out, every Sunday, whatever. But as the playoffs go, you understand that this is it. This could be it. You see every team’s best shot. Every individual’s best shot. It just feels different.

Richard Seymour
Is it hard to prepare not knowing who you’re playing?
I think we take this week and kind of look at ourselves and get better in a few areas that we need to, whether it’s the running game, running the football or stopping the run or pass defense. This is a time for us to look at ourselves and take care of our own business and get ourselves better. Obviously, we’re definitely going to need it.

On the veteran influence helping put the regular-season behind them…
I think all season long we’ve done a good job of just taking it one game at a time, and really not looking forward or at the things we’ve accomplished. It’s a cliché, but you can never get too high or too down in the dumps when we could have been down in the dumps — even though we won some games, we didn’t play as well as we would have liked. I just think now is just a great opportunity for us to keep that same mentality. It’s an exciting time of year. This is one of the reasons you play this game — to have an opportunity. And that’s what we have in front of us right now — an opportunity to do some great things, and we’re definitely excited to do it.

Is there more pressure to win the Super Bowl as a 16-0 team?
What we’ve done, that’s during the season. We look at it as a totally different year, because it is a different year. So I don’t feel pressure to go out and perform or keep a standard or a level. We just go out and take care of our responsibility and do our job. We have a lot of guys who have played in a lot of big games, and have won Super Bowls before, but each year is different. It brings on different challenges. You have different teammates. But it’s a fun time of year. I think some people crack under it and some people embrace it. We definitely have a lot of guys who have embraced that, that have loved to be in the spotlight and love to be playing for a championship.

What do you tell young guys about the difference between the regular season and postseason?
We definitely look at it like the preseason and the regular season. It goes up a notch. I thought it was really good to have that Giants game, because it was definitely a playoff atmosphere. It was good for this football team, good for the young guys to see the type of intensity, see the environment we’ll be up against week in and week out. I thought it was a good game for us, just from that standpoint. The stakes are high, and I think this is when you need your best players to play the best, and also need your solid players to play good, so that’s where it is right now.

Kevin Faulk
On not knowing who your opponent will be…
It’s an important time to work on things you haven’t done well during the course of the regular season. That’s one of the important things about this week.

Belichick will have a list of things…
Of course. You know that already [laughter]. You have a couple of days off and you rest and you’re just trying to think in your mind of the things he might bring up so you might have a heads up on what you need to work on every day.

Can you ever figure that out in advance, what he’s going to hit you with?
Never. Never [laughter]. It’s just a case of doing it.

On getting the running game going heading into the postseason…
It’s good for anyone when you get your running game going, but at the same time, you have to be consistent. Two weeks out of a year ain’t going to make it for you. Three weeks out of a year ain’t going to make it for you. You have to be consistent. We just have to keep working at it. That’s what a week like this week is for — to keep working at it.

On the veteran influence helping put the regular-season behind them…
I think it’s easy for us as veterans to say, ‘Yeah, we can do that.’ But at the same time, I give a lot of credit to our coaching staff for preparing us, letting us know exactly what’s at stake, letting us know what we have to do to win a game. Forget all the statistics and everything — just knowing what we have to do to win a game.

Is there more pressure to win the Super Bowl as a 16-0 team?
Pressure is what you put on yourself — that’s how I look at it. If you want to put that on yourself, that’s you. At the same time, we’re going out to try to win a football game.

What do you tell young guys about the difference between the regular season and postseason?
Everybody knows the intensity level picks up a little bit, and you ask yourself, ‘How and why?’ But at the same time, keep working hard. And if you really want to make yourself better for your teammates, work harder than you did during the regular season.

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