Morris and Meriweather Q&A, 12/15

Posted on December 15, 2008 
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Here’s the transcript of the conference calls with Sammy Morris and Brandon Meriweather from earlier this afternoon:

SAMMY MORRIS
Q: How rewarding is this season for you, what you’re doing right now after what you went through last year after getting on a role then having that freak injury? How rewarding is what you’ve been able to do the last few weeks?
SM: I think it’s always tough going into football, obviously knowing injuries are part of the game, but it always is rewarding when all the work that you put in the offseason, during the season, in practice and going through all the different things – it really is rewarding to see some production out of all the effort you put in.

Q: Most of your 100-yard rushing efforts have come the last couple of seasons here in New England. Is there anything specific that you can pinpoint for that or is it just a matter of getting the opportunities to carry the ball?
SM: I think it’s a lot of factors. Getting a chance to carry the ball more and obviously you factor in the offensive schemes. Then you have to factor in the passing threats we have with Randy [Moss], Wes [Welker] and Jabar [Gaffney]. It’s really a collection of things and basically I’m just happy to be here.

Q: Do you see you, LaMont [Jordan] and Kevin [Faulk] as a three-headed monster to opposing defenses right now?
SM: From my standpoint I see that there are a lot of different things that we can do from a running back standpoint and I think all the things we bring to the table help our offense out. In the grand scheme of things I think it helps our defense and special teams out.

Q: You guys are averaging 4.5 yards per rush as a team, there have been a lot of different backs that have had success in there, what does that say about the offensive line and the job that they’ve done blocking for you guys?
SM: I’m always quick to give the offensive line credit. Those guys, they’re big guys and they’re pretty agile. They’re able to get on their blocks and sustain them and it gets us into that second level of defenders. Once we get there I’ve always said the onus in on the backs after that.

Q: Where you guys doing any scoreboard watching yesterday did you know that both the Jets and Dolphins had won before you took the field?
SM: No, I didn’t per se. I didn’t see anything and I didn’t see any updates during the game. Me personally, I didn’t.

Q: Your club lost a very difficult overtime game against the Jets after the Jets won the coin toss to start the overtime. Do you have a problem with that rule or do you think it’s fair? It seems like you battled awfully hard to lose in a hurry?
SM: I don’t think I have a problem with the rule. It is what it is and from my standpoint we shouldn’t have got behind that far and had to go to overtime. I think the rule – it is what it is and I don’t see it changing anytime soon.

Q: Do you think it might be more fair to give each team at least one possession?
SM: I think it may be easy, in theory, to say that but if both teams score then what do you do? I think there’s a host of different ways that it could be approached after that.

Q: Do you think the idea of one back and one 1,000 yard rusher is in some ways overrated? You guys are going to top 2,000 yards and you probably won’t have anybody who comes within 200 yards of 1,000 yards.
SM: Personally speaking I’m really focused on winning and so however that plays out is most important to me. I’d much rather have 600 yards rushing, 700 yards rushing in a season and win then me have 1,500 [yards] and be 4-12.

Q: Can you describe how Ellis Hobbs’ 95-yard kickoff return unfolded from your vantage point on the kick return team?
SM: The first thing that I noticed, being the off returner, I saw Heath Evans. I forget who the player was but he came back and knocked somebody off their feet and that put me up on the safety and I was able to shield him from coming inside of me. Then Ellis ran right behind me, right off my block and again it’s kind of like [being] a running back, the onus is on him.

Q: How exhilarating a feeling is that for you as a blocker in that situation, knowing that you helped spring the guy and you’re watching him race down the field?
SM: It’s a great feeling. I was actually talking to Dave Thomas about it after the game because it’s good when you can see the play unfolding. You’ve got your block and you don’t know where the returner is but you can just hear the crowd and by the sound the crowd was making you know that a big play was coming. It’s a great feeling, especially at that point in the game where they were making moves to kind of gain the advantage and we were able to take that right back.

Q: Is that play a bigger thrill than rushing for 100 yards in a game?
SM: I don’t know. I think they obviously all feel good. Winning is the biggest factor. I think the win is a better feeling than the 100 yards or the kickoff return.

Q: Do you guys ever feel bad for the amount of punishment that Ellis has taken on returns this year?
SM: Yeah, I mean he understand that it’s the NFL and – especially on the kickoff return where you’ve got guys running at you full speed and you’re running at other guys full speed. There are a lot of big collisions on the kickoff and kickoff return team. This was actually my first time being back out there as an off returner. I try to approach each return and try not to let my guy make the tackle.

Q: When you look back at what you guys did yesterday as the running attack, the 277 yards, it seems like a lot of times after games you say ‘oh we watched the film and there are things we could have done better.’ Is there anything you could have done better yesterday?
SM: I’m sure there is. I haven’t seen the film.

Q: I don’t believe you.
SM: I will have at least two other things that we could have done better on Wednesday.

Q: You guys sent three offensive linemen to the Pro Bowl last year and part of that was obviously team recognition for the record. Do you think those guys might be having a better year than they did last year, at least from a run blocking standpoint?
SM: I don’t know. I guess they could be. Now being out for a lot of the season last year, not getting a chance to see the film… I broke down but I know those guys are playing well right now and we’re going to continue to ride their success to help us as a team.

Q: When you’re away from your family for a good stretch, 10 days or so and you get back early in the morning what’s today like for you, what’s tomorrow like, what will you do and how important is it for you to just recover from being away?
SM: It’s pretty tough. A lot of the guys were joking with me because I had this bag of kids stuff that I bought while I was in California and some stuff for my wife but it’s all in good fun. It’s tough to be away that long. Today I’m pretty much – as you can tell from my voice I’m still a wreck. My throats killing me, my body hurts but again it’s part of the game. I’m kind of lounging around the house right now and I’m getting ready to go pick up my kids in a second.

Q: Do you take tomorrow off? I know Tuesday is a day off but how do you get yourself recovered so when you get back in there on Wednesday you’re ready to go?
SM: I’ll lift weights tomorrow. I usually do it on Mondays but when you get in at four o’clock I just don’t have the energy for that today. I’ll lift tomorrow and then I’ll get in the cold tub, the steam room and try to revive my body as much as I can.

Q: When you look at the next few weeks and talk about December football it seems to come down to the running game quite a bit. How well positioned do you feel like you guys are, in that respect, to control the clock and do what you can to get this team into the playoffs?
SM: Honestly, as a team I think we feel most confident in that we’ve been able to run the ball effectively as well as thrown it. I think that kind of sets up a potent attack as an offense and obviously it helps out our whole team.

BRANDON MERIWEATHER
Q: How much does a weeklong trip like that take out of you? Not just coming back late Sunday night, but being on the West Coast all week?
BM: I actually think it kept a lot more in us since we didn’t make the flight back and forth [after the first game]. I kind of think that we as a team understood that back and forth, back and forth, probably would have taken more out of us. Me personally, I don’t think that it took that much [out of us].

Q: What’s your level of excitement, being in the thick of the playoff race where anything can happen?
BM: I’m very excited. I love the challenge. I love everything about the football game. As for me, I’m more excited than anything just to see how it’s all going to play out and see how well the team is going to play in the last couple games.

Q: How much are you scoreboard watching and watching other games?
BM: I’m not. I’m not. That’s something I would never do. I hate depending on other people to know if I’m going to make it to the playoffs or not. I’d rather take care of my own business and perform and make it on my own, so I’m really not concerning myself with other people just because that will stress you out and I’m trying not to be stressed at all.

Q: I know it’s early in the week, but what do you know about the Cardinals passing attack?
BM: They’re good. I think they’re probably one of the best teams that we’re going to play, as far as throwing the ball around. They’ve got Kurt Warner and Matt Leinart who they put at the helm. They’ve got great receivers and they’ve also got a good running game that compliments them well. As for everything else, that’s pretty much self-explanatory. We’ve got to come to play.

Q: What’s your comfort level at this point in the season compared to last year, your rookie year?
BM: My comfort level is pretty high right now. I’m having fun playing the game. Not just because I’m playing now—a lot more than I did last year—but I’m just enjoying being around my teammates and enjoying just having fun with them. Everything else is a bonus.

Q: Have your two West Coast road trips been bonding experiences?
BM: Yes and no. I kind of think our team was already tight. Like I said, we were already tight, so therefore all the other things that came with it, like I said, were just a bonus. We consider ourselves a tight-knit group; as for us getting any closer, I don’t think that’s possible.

Q: Is there a specific aspect of your game you can point to that you’ve improved in from last year?
BM: Yeah, catching the ball. I dropped what, 6 or 7 last year? I worked very hard on concentrating and looking the ball all the way in and trying to stay away from looking away too fast. That’s one part of my game that I think improved a lot.

Q: Is that something you were able to pinpoint in the offseason?
BM: Yes. Yes that is. That’s something I definitely, definitely focus and concentrate on. I’m happy I got a chance to help my team out with some takeaways.

Q: Can you talk a little about Ellis Hobbs’ kickoff return and how it kept the momentum on your side?
BM: Actually, I was on the sidelines sitting down, listening to my coaches make adjustments, so I really didn’t get to see it as I wanted to. But of course it was a big play. Any time you can answer a score with a score it takes a lot out of people.

Q: Have you done anything differently to condition yourself since Rodney Harrison’s injury? Obviously, you’re playing more since Rodney left and I’m curious if that has affected you at all physically.
BM: No, I haven’t. I’ve always tried to be one of the best conditioned guys on the team, so even when I wasn’t playing as much, I still liked to be one of the best conditioned guys on the team because you never know what’s going to happened. When something like Hot Rod’s [Rodney Harrison] injury happened, you never know when it’s going to happen, so I always tried to continue to practice and focus and do everything as if I was a starter and I was going to play the whole game.

Q: How would you describe how things went with Lewis Sanders in at safety?
BM: Lewis is a very athletic person. We already knew that he could play the position and we thought he was going to do well at it, so everything else that he was going to need help with, I took it upon myself to help him.

Q: Did you guys have any communication issues?
BM: No, no, no. Like I said, our team is a very tight-knit group. All of our communication issues we have we solve during the week.

Q: As far as communication and making the calls in the secondary, is that something you could have done last year or did you need to mature as a player a little?
BM: I think that’s something I needed to mature on. I could have done it last year but not to the extent that I am now.

Q: What’s changed?
BM: Just another year in the program, another year at making the calls. Anything you do for a year, you should do better the next year. I’m a year older and a year wiser.

Q: Is part of the closeness of the team a result of all the injuries you’ve had to overcome this year?
BM: Yes, that’s part of it. Everybody has to lean on each other because we knew once Tom [Brady], Hot Rod’s [Rodney Harrison] and all the other injuries happened, that everybody else was going to be against us and we had to pull together and carry each other.

Q: Have you given any thought to what might happen—even if you win out, you might not make the playoffs?
BM: No, I really haven’t even thought about it. I’m still focusing on wining one game at a time. Whatever happens after that just happens.

Q: I’ve never heard anyone else call Rodney Harrison “Hot Rod”. Is that your nickname for him?
BM: No, a lot of guys call him Hot Rod. I think I just kind of slipped and forgot I was talking to the media.

Q: With the Miami connection, do you keep in touch with Edgerrin James at all, even though you didn’t overlap with him?
BM: Yes, I do. I keep in touch with everybody from The U [University of Miami] that still plays, so yeah, I do.

Q: Do you feel for him at all since he’s had somewhat of a tough year? Have you talked to him about that at all?
BM: No, when I talk to Edgerrin it’s about family and friends; it’s trying to keep our job out of it. Whatever he’s willing to tell me, I’m willing to listen because he’s been in the league for a while. He’s a veteran and I’m still a young guy in the league, so whenever I can lean on somebody with a lot more experience than me, I do.

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