Let's start with the guys who weren't able to work fully today -- Rudi Johnson, Caleb Miller, Ahmad Brooks, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Willie Anderson, and I think that's it. Stacy Andrews did partial work today. That's where we are injury wise. Everybody else seems to be functional and ready to go.
Q: Did you hold some guys out from practice today because of the rain?ML:
The surface is fine. It doesn't matter. T.J. and Willie should be fine. Stacy's fine. The other guys we'll see later in the week. Ahmad did some stuff early and then went in.
Q: What do you think about the Patriots?ML:
Right now, after three weeks, (they're) playing really well. Doing good things. Making, obviously, big plays. The quarterback is completing a high percentage of his passes. They've got a fine running back there in Maroney. Defensively, they're really playing well, and special teams, they've got a couple guys who are playing at a high level. They've returned a kickoff for a touchdown. They're making some plays.
Q: You have a real nice record on primetime home games:ML:
Let's just play football. It's good to have some of these things (Monday nighters). From a coach's standpoint, you wish you were playing every Sunday at 1, because it keeps the week consistent. But it is a Monday night. It's great for our fans. It's great for the city. It's going to be a fun time. We're playing a good football team, and we're going to have to play great football, and it's time to step up and do that.
Q: How do you rein in the emotions for a national game?ML:
It will be (emotional). We've always talked about that. I think that's been important, that we pre-discuss that all the time in everything. To go out and don't be like that deer in the headlights because you're so doggone excited that you don't do what you're supposed to do. So that's important. Let's take care of the football. Let's get our assignments done on offense, defense and special teams. And just play within ourselves. It's another football game. It just happens to be played Monday night at 8:40.
Q: How close are you to have a starting five on the offensive line?ML:
I can't tell that. If I could look forward, into a crystal ball, and say we're going to have five healthy guys, then I could probably answer that question for you.
Q: The Patriots have a bunch of 30-something's and have won three Super Bowls in six years. What does that say about maturity?ML:
What they're doing is helping other organizations look at that from a different perspective. That guys don't necessarily fall apart at 30. When you're a pro, and you take care of yourself, and your body and your livelihood like that, then you can play like that. By doing that, you add mentorship to younger players that you bring on, and you kind of keep that conveyor belt working a little bit. What they're doing is great. It's an inspiration there. You're able to see guys and what they're doing and how they do it, and it's good for other teams to look at.
Q: Does Tom Brady look even better after watching him on film?ML:
Tom Brady's been the same quarterback. He's been playing at a high level each and every year. He's got some receivers now that add something special to what they're doing, and they're taking great advantage of it.
Q: Is Brady better than last year, or is it the new receivers?ML:
It's what you do, and how you do it always helps you. You don't have to throw the ball in the dirt if you've got a guy open, if they're protecting it and so forth. A lot of times, completion percentage is not necessarily on the quarterback.
Q: What does Blue Adams bring to special teams?ML:
He has experience doing it. I've talked about guys understanding their role. He understands his role. The major part of him being here is the snaps he's going to get on those fourth-down plays. When you can add a guy that's from a skill position that understands it that way, that really helps uplift it.
Q: Blue said that it's about the only position he could come off the street and play:ML:
Well, he's not off the street, though, because he's been with us the entire offseason and all summer. When you can go back and get a guy like that, it's like us grabbing a guy that was maybe offensively in Pittsburgh's scheme where he would understand some of the nomenclature, or out of Pittsburgh or Baltimore defensively, where they would understand some things that you're doing because of words being the same. That helps. Him being with us here this offseason and summer, he comes back in and picks up where he left off. Things make sense to him already. The learning curve is much, much smaller.
Q: Is that the same for DeDe Dorsey?ML:
DeDe's a little different, being a younger guy, but he's basically learned two different systems in two years. It does help. He at least has some recall of things, and at least the way to associate things. He becomes comfortable with the coaches and their mechanisms, and words and verbiage and so forth.
Q: Was it tough to cut Keiwan Ratliff? ML:
It's always tough to let a player go, particularly a guy that's been here with us like that, and has done some good things for us."
Q: Are you confident about Monday night?ML:
I'm always confident about every football game -- Sunday, Monday, Saturday night, Thursday night. Let's go play. We've got to wait until Monday night, though. But it's going to be fun. Our guys will be excited to play, and we're going to go at it. We'll have a good time.
Q: Do you think John Thornton has taken on a little more since becoming co-captain?ML:
I think when you've been voted captain by your peers, that stands out to you and makes you understand; gives you a sense somewhat of accomplishment and entitlement. I have seen him step up that way. He's always been that way. That was part of why we brought him here. He's really taken it to a different level and he's playing at a very high level right now defensively, which is good. So he's backing it up both ways.
Q: Do you have a better feeling about Rudi today than you did on Tuesday?ML:
I feel better about it than I did Tuesday, yes. But we'll see.
Q: Have you gotten what you had hoped for out of Reggie Kelly and John Thornton's signings?ML:
I believe we did. They have given us great leadership. They added to the Jon Kitnas and the guys like that who were here and helped some of the other guys - the young guys that are still here playing - add to Willie and help some of the other guys help emerge them to where they're at right now ... showing you the right way.
Q: How confident are you in the defensive backfield for this Monday's game?ML:
There's a lot that goes into coverage. Coverage is not the back-end guys solely. You've got to give pass rush. You have to have underneath responsibilities and help, depending on what coverages you're playing snap to snap to snap. But I'm confident in our guys. It's a great challenge.
Q: The only time Brady struggles is when he's under duress:ML:
You need some pressure against any quarterback. That's an important component that you've got to have whether it be four-man rush or pressure or whatever it is. You want to get the quarterback out of sync if you can. When this guy's in sync, he's very, very effective.
Q: The last couple of games, a handful of plays have accounted for most of the yards:ML:
That's always true in a football game. A close football game. I think you can always go back and say 'Well if we take this play, this play, and that play out ...' If you take 22 plays out of last season, you know, you're 14-2.
Q: That shows the importance:ML:
The importance of every snap. The importance of every snap, the importance of limited explosive plays, the importance of opportunities to take the football away, giving your offense the chances to make big plays. The importance of keeping them from converting third downs, it puts the ball back into the hands of your people. It exposes the other team to more explosive plays. That's really what our defense is all about, and offense.
Q: Seems like New England does that well, too:ML:
They haven't given up, I don't believe, an explosive play this year, except for maybe one pass against San Diego. I think when you can limit those things and when you play well in the red zone and take care of the ball offensively, which obviously they have, you're going to be successful.
Q: Their offensive line is deep:ML:
The guys that they've added, year in year out, if you look at those guys, they're very similar, like Andrew Whitworth, or guys like that. They're good players. They're not necessarily flashy, big named guys, but they've added guys who are good consistent players. Many of them can play guard-center, guard-tackle, in all the up-front guys. The guys that they've added in the last five years, that I'm aware of, are guys that I've liked coming out. You like those guys. I've had a chance to be around them for a couple of things and you like them. They're tough guys, they show great leadership, they're the kind of guys you want to build your football team around.
Q: Does the rotation with Stacy Andrews and Andrew Whitworth give other guys a rest?ML:
As I said last week in this thing, we're going to work Levi (Jones) into the lineup, with Stacy's injury. Levi and Stacy were in there together, and I think the third play they're in there together, I think Stacy gets hurt. Stacy plays the next three plays, and then has to come out, so Andrew Whitworth comes back in, now it's Levi and Whit. So here we are.