On if Gillette Stadium is a tough place to kick because of all the wind: "This time of the year, as you know, the weather in New England can be somewhat unpredictable. The open end that [the stadium] has is a bit of a factor because the wind will be a little different on one end than the other. I think the thing that you do at this time of the year, at every stadium you play in north of the Mason Dixon Line, is you go figure it out the day of the game. You go out there in warm-ups and figure it out. Then you go play the game."
On what the team has been working on as far as the return game goes and if they are up to par to where they want to be: "We've got a ways to go yet. I think we're making good progress, like we have in all phases, the return game as well. We're working on getting each player better at what they do. The schemes will take care of themselves. I was encouraged by yesterday's practice, and we're going to go out and put another one on top of it today."
On if LB Brendon Ayanbadejo is playing as well on special teams as he is on the defense side of the ball: "He continues to be productive. You watch the San Diego game when he was really a factor for us in trying to shut down a very dangerous return game. I believe he had four tackles in that game. People know where Brendon is when they play us. Most teams will go in to the game making sure that they find him. He continues to do the things we want him to do on special teams. It's just a real attribute to him that he can go in there and play the way he can on defense and continue to take every rep on special teams. He won't come off of special teams. He won't do it."
On how has LB/DE Paul Kruger improved over the past week: "Paul really had a good practice yesterday. He was on our punt rush team. I'm seeing some things out of him now where he's coming off the ball and getting in creases and rushing the punt that are really encouraging to me."
On if OLB Antwan Barnes is better on special teams this year than last year: "Antwan has really widened his game as well. There are a lot of players that have done that but, as you know, Antwan is on the punt team this year where last year he was not on the punt team. That's a sign of trust from the coaches that we can put him out there, in the most important phase there is, and line him up and play him. So, yeah he has improved a great deal in that regard."
On if there is anything you can do to prepare K Steve Hauschka for the tough environment at New England: "I'm hoping the fact that he kicked in New England when he was in college up at Middlebury… [It was] a bit smaller stadium – same wind, same weather – the wind didn't knock the stands down at all at that college. (laughter) The thing that we preach to all of our specialists is that when you go out on the field to kick, or hold, or punt, or snap, you're really not concerned about all that other stuff. It's just about the ball. That's why you practice so many times of just situations. You call it situations, but it really doesn't matter. He's got to go kick the ball. It wouldn't matter if it were at Middlebury or Gillette Stadium. He's got to go out there and kick the ball. If he can stay in that frame of mind, he'll be fine. Steve is a strong young man, physically, and more importantly, he's a strong young man mentally. He knows what he's faced with. Going back home is going to be a thrill for him, but when he steps on the field it's all business."
On how much work they do in landing the ball inside the 10:"Every time we practice punt, we practice that. We practice it again on Friday. So, it's something that we do every day we practice punt. We don't practice just punt every day, but when we practice punt we work on that."
On if the offense will focus on holding on to the ball to keeping the Patriots' offense off the field:"It makes some sense, but I think anytime, in any game, we're trying to stay out there as long as we can. But, the most important thing you have to do anytime you go against [anybody] is try to score and take care of the football. That's our approach, is to do everything we can to put points on the board and take care of the football. And then time of possession [is important]. I saw a game a few weeks ago where a team only had the ball for 15 minutes, and they still outscored the opponent. Everybody's got all these theories about going after these kinds of guys, and the bottom line is you play three phases, everybody works together, and you try to score more than the other team."
On what New England does on defense that worries him:"They're physical up front. [They're] typical, from their perspective, the next guy steps up. They've got some injuries, next guy steps in. [They] play together, play hard, all those things."
On if the Patriots' system stays the same year after year or if they tweak it:"No. It changes not only year-to-year, [but] week-to-week, quarter-to-quarter. Adaptability is a big part of what we believe in, in all our phases, and obviously they believe the same thing and have for a long time. Most game plans and systems are forever evolving in the course of a week, a game, a season, and if you have smart players, you're able to stick to that."
On how they have changed the system:"They started out in 34 personnel, and they've had an injury. They've gone to some more 4-3 personnel. They've done that in the past. Basically, they do like you would think. You're going to get your best players out there. Your best player is a defensive lineman, you play defensive linemen. Your best player is a linebacker, you play linebackers. There have been times we've played them and their best players have been a nickel package. We're fortunate here that we see all that stuff every day. We're accustomed to basically realizing that there are 11 guys over there, and we better be able to figure out who they are."
On if it's different to look at their defense and not see some of the more recognizable names from past years:"Obviously, tremendous respect for all those guys, but that's the National Football League. These rosters change year-to-year, and the coaching staff hasn't changed a lot, at least defensively. They've got pretty much a lot of the same guys there. The guys they put out there are doing a nice job."
On if too much is being made of the Patriots' defense missing those veteran guys:"No, I don't think so. I don't think it's… It depends on how you look at it. I think it's out of respect for those guys. Those guys are… I was fortunate enough to be on a team with Rodney [Harrison] in San Diego, so you kind of know the kind of person he was, irrespective of where he played. So, I think it's out of respect a lot for those guys. That's how I view it at least."
On how creative Bill Belichick is with his schemes:"I think, obviously, very innovative in all phases. But, sometimes that gets talked about way too much. I know from our perspective, we're focusing on fundamentals. Bottom line is we've got to block people. If we don't block people, it really doesn't matter how… There's not a lot of innovation to blocking. There really isn't. It's maintaining your fundamentals and techniques, and that's what we're trying to do. There's no doubt in this game, for us it's going to be about blocking."
On what makes Patriots' NT Vince Wilfork so tough when he's healthy:"Just smart. He understands football. He's physical, and that's what you're looking for in a nose guard. If a guy's not smart, and he's physical, he's probably not going to play real well in there. He understands blocking schemes, but he's physical, and that's what a nose guard's primary responsibility is. He brings that to the table."
On it not looking like there was a drop-off when DL Myron Pryor has played for Wilfork:"No. they've got good players. That's the thing that sometimes… They've got good players, bottom line. I'm glad, the good news is, we've got a lot of good players, too."
On how much the Patriots will bring pressure:"You would anticipate them pressuring every down. To some degree, there's some kind of pressure on every down, and that's the approach we're going to take."
On what makes QB Joe Flacco so equipped for facing an opponent on the road:"I think it's just preparation. That's the key. We see it. We know the preparation that goes in, and it all started probably within a week after last year's season was over. The preparation for this year began. I think everything we do here is tied into our preparation. Not just Joe, everybody. Hopefully that gives you a chance in a game like this."
On how important it is to pressure QB Tom Brady:"Yeah, I think the better the quarterback, the more pressure you have to put on him. I think that's the key. The one thing about Tom is that he's a great quarterback and he throws so much on rhythm, that sometimes you have to be careful of pressuring just to pressure. You have to have a method, or you have to have a reason and know that you can get to him. Otherwise, it doesn't affect his throwing at all."
On whether he has to be mindful of what the Ravens show on defensive pre-snap: "Yeah, are you talking play-to-play? Definitely. And they've dealt with that for years and years. That's a big part of their scheme, is to try to get you to show what you're doing and then check out of it and check to the best play against it. So, when you play against a quarterback like that, you've got to have some personality. You've got to move around, and you've got to be a little bit abnormal at times. But it all comes down to – when you talk about Brady and this and that – it always is going to come down to, you've got to stop the run. When you start thinking about a quarterback like him, people start talking about, 'We've got to pressure him, we've got to do this, and this, and this.' But, if you noticed their last ball game, they ran the ball as much as they passed it. So, I think you have to always start out that way – stopping the run and then go from there."
On whether they formulate a unique game plan each week or if they look at what other team's defenses have done: "No, we always do it. And again, it wouldn't matter who you're playing. I think that's the beauty of having three, four, five games to look at that. We aren't inventing defenses, and I think that's a mistake some people do, is they go, 'I invented this defense.' No, defenses are being run by everybody. And what you have to do when you watch your tape is [say], 'What worked? Why did it work? Did it work because they had better players, or did it work because of the scheme?' And then, I know in our package, we have a lot to draw from. And that's what you do each game, is you say, 'All right, this is going to work, this is the thing we want to be able to do. Oh, and that team did this, so let's draw from that and use that one. This defense is up this week.' That kind of thing."
On how much the Patriots' defensive scheme changes:"What they do a great job of is, they find out what you're going to do, and then they're going to have their way of attacking it. Forever, I think, they've done a great job of trying to figure out what your weakness is, and going after that. And that's what makes them a great program. I think that's the same thing Cam [Cameron] does. That's why the offense is what it is. The same thing I mentioned with our defense, their offense will do the same thing, say, 'This is what you're going to do. OK, here's how we're going to attack that.' And then go from there."
On if the Patriots were blitzing every down in the Jets game:"I think a lot of times when people talk about blitzing teams, you see the one, two or three really good blitzes that hit them, and you say, 'Now you're a blitzing team.' If you chart the whole game, they don't blitz more than anybody else. It's again, the way they blitz and when they blitz, I think, that gives you a stereotype of what type of team you are."
On if the Jets overloaded one side:"The Jets doing that? That's always been Rex's [Ryan] style. That's always… He's done a great job over the years, and they've been the master of overload blitzes. But, they did a lot of others that weren't overloads, too."
On if the talent of New England's receiving corps compares to San Diego's: "Talent-wise, what I watch in them is they're really good. They're taller, so if that were the case, you'd say that they would match up with San Diego's [wide receivers]. I don't like to compare a wide receiver group with whom we played before until we've played them. I do know one thing: Our secondary has done a great job. I mentioned that to you guys after the San Diego game. It wasn't just them. The next game we happened to play was last week. I think you saw our secondary step up, and now the next game we play is this one. Everybody on our defense is expected to step up – secondary, D-line and linebackers. I have confidence, and had confidence, that that's what would happen."
On how big of a difference RB Fred Taylor makes in their offense: "Fred Taylor's been a great running back for a long time. Him running like the old Fred Taylor, that's what I mentioned earlier, [we've got] to stop the run. You go in there, and all of the sudden you worry about passing and passing. And now a guy like Fred Taylor will make it a real long afternoon for you because you're not sure what you can stop. Fred Taylor is very, very talented. Of course, he's a gator and I'm a little bit prejudice, but he's a great back."
On what LB Brendon Ayanbadejo brings in terms of defense: "A sack, an interception, a number of tackles…. What he brings, No. 1, is NFL experience, and No. 2, he plays extremely fast. If you watch, real closely, the defense, we talk a lot about cupping the ball and keeping it inside and in front. Well that's only good if you have defensive linemen and linebackers that believe that's going to happen, No. 1, so they won't run for no reason at all. Secondly, they have speed enough to go make plays. In the San Diego game, he made a great play going down there, and in the last game, he just keeps doing it. The reason is because he is playing faster, and the more he understands the defense, and the more experience you have, you always play faster. He's a great example of that."