Tank Williams Q&A, 5/28

Veteran defensive back Tank Williams spoke with the media at the end of today’s passing camp workout at Gillette Stadium. Here is a portion of his Q&A with the media.

On how it’s gone so far with the Patriots…
It’s gone pretty well. It’s all a process when you switch to a new team. You’re trying to learn the terminology, learn the defense and get all your calls right and basically take it from there.

On first impressions…
It’s similar right now. Whenever you switch a team or come on to a new team, it’s kind of like a whirlwind. It’s like learning a new language. You just have to go in there, get into your playbook and try and be as perfect as you can on the field, because the more mistakes you make, the less opportunity you get on the field.

Has it been more difficult to try and learn this defense as opposed to past defenses?
Not really. You just have to apply yourself. You have to take the extra time to get inside your playbook, make sure you know all the little nuances. If you put enough effort into it, it’s going to come around, as you get more reps. It’s not something you’re going to get overnight — you have to put the work into it to try and perfect it.

Have you have much of a chance to talk to Rodney [Harrison]? Has that helped?
Definitely. When those guys were out there last week with us, just watching him and seeing his reactions and moves and calls he makes in certain defense, it definitely helps to try and take the edge off the learning curve.

On any preconceived ideas he may have had about the Patriots…
None whatsoever. After you’ve been in the league for awhile, you know that one perception you might get from TV and all that is not necessarily how it is in the locker room, so I just try and keep an open mind and come up in here with the mindset that none of that affects me anyway, I just have to learn my plays, get inside my playbook, and just try and perform on the field. That’s the only thing that affects me in this organization.

Where did the name come from?
When I was a baby growing up, my sister told my Mom they should give me a tank of milk because I used to drink so much, so many bottles of milk. So, the name kind of stuck around after that.

Have you worked out a ‘got milk?’ ad out because of it?
No, but I need to get one. Y’all need to get that out there for me [laughter]. That’s what y’all’s job is for.

You like the name?
Yes. I’ve had it growing up, and I’ve been able to kind of mold it into being a tank on the football field. I like to think so. I like the nickname. I’ve had it since I was a baby. It works.

Do you kind of play up to the nickname?

This is your seventh season in the NFL, and you’re out here with rookies. What is that like for you? Is it just part of the process?
It’s part of the process. It’s an extra opportunity to get up in here and learn the plays and get a head start, you know what I’m saying? I’m ready to use every opportunity, every avenue I can get just to get more reps, get more opportunities and get inside the playbook and get my mindset to where the veterans are so when they come back there’s not a dropoff from when they’re on the field to where I’m on the field. So this is a good way to show the coaches you know what you’re doing and perform out here on the field for them.

On what he thinks his role with the team will be…
Just helping this team any way I can. I really don’t know what my role is. I just know that wherever they put me at, I need to be on top of my game and try and make plays when I’m out there. And usually, when you do that, they’ll find a role for you.

Coming here, did you see it as a place where veterans come in and find roles, like Junior Seau and Roman Phifer were able to do?
They’ve had a lot of veterans come in, but most importantly, wherever you go in the league, you perform, you’re going to be there. You don’t perform, you’re not going to be there, whether you’re a veteran or a rookie coming in. So, the mindset you have to have is that whether you’re a second-year player or seventh-year player, you have to come up in here, make plays and catch the coaches eye so they will put you out there on the field.

Chad Jackson Q&A, 5/20

Wide receiver Chad Jackson spoke with the media shortly after the end of today’s passing camp workouts at Gillette Stadium. Here’s the transcript of his Q&A with the media:

Excited to be a part of things from the start this year?
It feels good to be out here with the guys — finally. Last year, I was going through the injury and stuff. This year is a different year for me. A more controlled year. A ‘settle-down’ year. Everything is coming along easy for me right now. All I’m doing right now is concentrating, trying to get the plays down and trying to work with the quarterbacks and coaches.

There’s a position open at wide receiver — are you looking to grab the moment, grab the spot and solidify your position on the team?
Right now, I’m just trying to go out there and help the team, staying in my playbook, and, like I said, getting on the same page with the quarterbacks and try and help them any way I can.

How important a year is this for you?
It’s an important year for me — this is what they drafted me for. I want to come out there and show the coaches what I can do and show the fans what I can do and help this team any way I can.

What do you feel you can do?
I feel I can do a lot. I feel like I can catch the ball, I feel like I can run after the catch. I feel like I can do a lot of things with the ball. I’m sure these coaches are going to give me the plays and give me the opportunity to make that happen.

They’ve told you that?
They haven’t told me anything right now. I’m just learning my playbook, and once I do that, then everything else will come along.

With Donte [Stallworth] not being here, do you look at this as a big opportunity, or do you just kind of let things come and see how it all works?
How can you not? Donte is gone, so there’s a big spot open, like everybody says. Right now, I’m just trying to work hard, learn everything in my playbook and do what I need to do to get that spot.

Do you feel more comfortable on the outside?
I feel comfortable anywhere. I feel like I’ve played both positions. Anywhere they put me, I’ll try and take advantage of the opportunity.

On what he did during the offseason…
I was up here the whole time. Just getting the rehab back together. Making sure the hamstring is right. Different techniques with the strength and conditioning coaches.

Was there a lot of homework?
We did that also. We did the filmwork and the plays and everything. We’re continuing to do that now, so hopefully, when camp is over with, we’ll continue with that also.

How frustrating was it last year?
It was frustrating. You could see it in my face all the time. I just want to come out this year and make something happen and get the opportunity to go out there and play.

Matt Cassel Q&A, 5/20

Matt Cassel spoke with the media this afternoon at Gillette Stadium at the conclusion of passing camp workouts. Here’s a transcript of his Q&A with the media:

On the Patriots bringing in another quarterback…
It doesn’t really affect me — I just have to go out and do my job. It’s one of those things where there’s competition everywhere you go. You just have to step up and perform and do what you do.

How big a year is this for you?
It’s the same as every other year. You have to be ready to play and you have to execute the offense if called upon. It’s just one of those years that … I approach every year the same. You have to go out with the same intensity, the same enthusiasm and try and play to the best of my abilities.

Are you more comfortable this year?
Every year, I think you become a little more comfortable, but there’s a lot of things you want to work on, whether it be mechanics, whether it be learning more about defenses. So you try and each and every day, get better.

On Spygate, and how — reportedly — the backup quarterbacks may have been a part of the signal stealing system…
I don’t even know what went on in the past, or what went on with the whole Spygate thing, other than what’s been said in the media.

Where were you when you found out they had drafted a quarterback and what was your reaction?
I was just at home. The draft is the draft — you figure they’re going to bring people in, and it was one of those things where I just accepted it and said, ‘There’s a little bit more competition here, and you have to go out and do your job.’

Is this a make or break year for you?
I don’t put any added pressure on myself. I just go out and try to play to the best of my abilities and try and get better each and every day and show that I’m the second best quarterback on my team behind Tom, and prove that to the coaches and my teammates. I approach each and every day with the same approach.

What can the quarterbacks get out of a passing camp?
The quarterbacks, we work on mechanics and timing and trying to get back into a rhythm with the receivers and there’s a lot of new guys out here, so you try and get into a rhythm with them as well. That’s really what our main focus is.

How much throwing are you doing up until a passing camp like this?
It’s limited. It’s not as much as you’d probably like to, but then, when once we get all the team back here and all the receivers out and we’re really able to — from an organized standpoint — we’re able to get out here again.

Is this like, shaking off the rust a little bit? Getting back in the groove?
Everybody probably does that. Everybody out here is on their second day, so, we’re getting our feet back underneath us and knocking some of the rust off.

Jerod Mayo Q&A, 5/1

Here’s the transcript of the recently completed Q&A with Patriots’ first-round pick Jerod Mayo at Gillette Stadium:

On the most surprising thing about the process…
Just being able to come into a winning situation. I never thought I’d be on a team that lost only one game last year. I’m excited to learn from some of the great vets and become as good as those guys are.

On your first thoughts…
I’m just excited. I’m overwhelmed, really. Just sitting in Mr. Kraft’s office, sitting there talking with the owner of the team really overwhelmed me. I’m ready to get my playbook and start learning this defense.

What did you talk about?
Just about life in general, and how the process has been. Just being a Patriot now. The winning tradition here. I’m, just excited to be a part of it.

What were you thinking about while you were sitting in his office?
How far I’ve come, pretty much, from being a little boy in Hampton, Virginia, to here now. It’s just exciting.

Are you psyched to put your mark on this franchise?
I definitely am, whether it be this year, or years to come. I’m just going to sit back and learn from the greats. Guys who have been winning championships before me. Hopefully, they’ll be winning them with me. So I’m excited.

What do you want Patriots fans to know about you?
That I’m a hard worker and I’m going to come in here and contribute to this team in any way I can, whether it be on special teams or as a starter. I’m coming to make a contribution and help bring a championship here.

On what kind of player he is…
Hard-nosed, always trying to make a play. Downhill. A contact guy.

On comparisons to Al Wilson…
Al is a good friend of mine. I really don’t like comparing myself to other players, but he’s a Pro Bowler, so hopefully, I’ll be able to accomplish some of the things he did.

Have you talked to any of the other guys here yet?
No, not yet. Not yet. I just got here.

On first impressions of Gillette?
Like I said earlier, I’m just overwhelmed. It hasn’t really sunk in yet. It will tonight when I’m in the hotel room, so ask me that tomorrow.

Is it a little bit like the first day of school?
It definitely does. It feels like the first day of school. The day before the draft, it felt like the day before Christmas. I was trying to go to sleep at 7 o’clock. Waking up at three in the morning.

Why do you think you fit into the organization as far as philosophy and how they go about their business?
First and foremost, it’s all about business. It’s all about winning. They like to win games, and this organization is committed to winning games. Sitting down with Coach Belichick and him explaining how I fit in the system is really exciting to me. It had me excited. I’m just excited to get my playbook.

Are you ready for what’s ahead of you, the ribbing and all that stuff?
I’m definitely ready. I definitely am. I’m going to be a sponge here, just try to pick up things from each and every one of these veterans on the team, and hopefully, I’ll have a great career like a lot of them have.

You might be picking up their equipment too…
[laughter]. That’s no problem. You have to start somewhere. Same thing as a freshman at Tennessee.

What has the week been like since Saturday?
It’s been pretty good. My family is not really big, so I don’t have people tugging at me every way, which is fortunate for me. I’m just ready to get here and go to work.

What was your first reaction when you got the call from Coach Belichick?
I was suspicious, to be honest. You ask him, it was a little pause in the conversation. I couldn’t believe it. I’m just elated to be here.

Have you been to New England before?
On my visit. That was it. That was it.

Anyone recognize you at the airport?
No, not yet. Hopefully, in a couple of years. [laughter]

Have you spoken to any one of the other players? Has anyone called you up?
Not yet. I just got here. I just got here.

You were in the SEC — all these cameras and microphones, this is nothing for you…
It’s kind of overwhelming right now. I feel like a little boy again. At the same time, I’m just going to relish the moment and enjoy myself.

How did playing in the SEC prepare you for life in the NFL?
You hear so much about how the SEC is like the minor leagues of the NFL, but, if you come from college football in general, it’s still going to be a step to take, a transition period there, and I’m willing to take that step and work hard to make that transition a lot easier.

Do you know that Bill Belichick likes to serve his players large portions of humble pie?
[laughter] I’ve heard. I’ve heard. I’m sure I can take it. I’m sure I can take it.

What do you know about Coach Belichick?
He’s a great coach, a championship-winning coach. I’m not sure of his style yet, because I haven’t been on the field with him, but at the same time, I’ve had all sorts of different styles of coaches, so I think I’ll adjust pretty well.

On where he sees himself fitting in on this defense?
To be honest, I’m not sure. I feel like I can play either one of the positions. Until I get my playbook and sit down with my linebacker coach, then I won’t know until then.

Did any tell you what to expect?
Not really. They just want me to be a football player, pretty much.

Any thoughts on what you number is going to be?
I’m not sure yet. I’ll let you know soon.

Where did the No. 7 come from in college? Kind of a strange number for a linebacker…
It is. I started off with 53, and then 7 became available, and I wanted a single digit number. I was 10 in high school, and 7 was just available for me.

Any significance to No. 7?
No. It’s God’s number. [laughter]

Is this one of those first moments it hits you that you’re in the NFL?
It’s going to hit me once these cameras are out of my face. It definitely has hit me, walking out here with the Krafts. I’m just ready to put my pads on now and hit somebody.

Now that the whole pre-draft process is done, can you tell us which franchise was the one that asked you if you ever cheated on your girlfriend?
I knew I was going to get this. I don’t even remember, to be honest.

Can you compare this to anything else in your life?
You can’t. You can’t. There’s nothing … I’m trying to think of something eight now, but I really can’t think of anything.

Is this worse than a spring day at Tennessee with 100,000 fans watching?
I mean, I wouldn’t say it’s worse. I’m just excited and overwhelmed by all of this.