Seeing as there isn’tÂ a lot going on with the team traveling to Arizona today I figure’d I’d bring youÂ some bits and pieces from Patriots players after practice on Friday:
Patriots WR Wes Welker:
When you were on the Dolphins and looked at this organization from afar, was coming here what you expected?:
Yeah, absolutely, and probably more so. The organization has been great, the coaches, the players, everybody works together. Ultimately, it’s gotten us to this point and we just have to keep it going for one more.
What has it meant to you personally, the way you’ve emerged as a player with a new team here?:
It’s been great. Anytime you can come into a new team like this and be able to get the confidence of your teammates and go out there and make plays week in and week out, it’s been great. I feel like the offense really suits me, and having Tom Brady back there doesn’t hurt, either.
Was a season like this something you though you were capable of earlier in your career?:
I don’t think so. I was in my first year in my career in the NFL returning kicks and punts. That was it, so I didn’t even have a playbook or anything like that. It was get back there, return kicks and punts. I thought I’d do that for the rest of my career and then I just worked hard and tried to develop the rest of my receiving skills, and it’s kind of come to this.
Patriots LB Larry Izzo:
On advice that he’s given to players that haven’t been to a Super Bowl:
We get a lot of that sort of guidance from Bill [Belichick] and he does a great job and then, as veterans that have played in this game, whenever we can answer questions for some of the younger guys and just give them a little guidance, it’s better for everybody. We’ll continue to do that this week and I know Bill [Belichick] will continue to press on that. But I think everybody in the locker room understands what’s at stake here and this is a big opportunity for everybody whether you’ve been there or not. This is what we’ve worked so hard for all year and guys are going to make good decisions and be ready to play.
On the biggest challenge presented by going to the Super Bowl for the first time:
I think, looking back, that was ’01 and everything happened so fast. There was no bye week leading up to it and you didn’t have much time to even think, â€˜Hey, we’re in the Super Bowl.’ After Pittsburgh, we flew down to New Orleans on Monday and it was start working on the Rams, so we didn’t have much time for any distractions there.
On his favorite memory for his Super Bowl trips:
They’re all special. Just working through the season and accomplishing the goal that you set out to at the beginning of the year with some great teammates-it’s hard to pinpoint on thing in any of those games. I know that playing in Houston, my hometown, was somewhat special for me, but it would have been special if it was played in Iceland, too. Just to get to the game and to win it, that’s the goal you have every year and that’s our opportunity right now, and we just have to go and work this week and make things happen when we’re given the opportunity.
Patriots LB Tedy Bruschi:
On advice he’s given out to younger players about the Super Bowl:
A lot of guys have come up to me and ask questions or a lot of players who have already been there and sort of know the protocol of how we handle things and, “What’s Monday like? What’s Tuesday like? Wednesday?” so I think we can give them a little bit of advice in terms of how it was when I was there before.
On what the best piece of advice is:
I would just say to enjoy it, really. I think the first couple of days, you do have some time to enjoy it. We’ll arrive Sunday and guys are already planning to go out a little bit, have dinner together and enjoy each other’s company Monday, Tuesday – Media Day, that’s just a lot of fun – and realize that it is a game and a lot of stress can be built up for these games, but you still go down there to have a great time and realize you have a job to do still.
On completing an undefeated regular season:
I think we were able to soak in that moment before the last game of the regular season because we realized we were on the cusp of history and an undefeated regular season, but now that we’re in the postseason it’s really about advancing. We haven’t been thinking about 17-0, 18-0, or anything like that. It’s about beating the Jaguars to move on to the AFC Championship and then beating the Chargers and possibly moving on to the Super Bowl. I’d rather look at this game as if we prepare well and we beat the New York Giants, hopefully we’ll become World Champions. That’s what we have to look at. It’s a game that we have to win to achieve our goal, not some record, number, or something like that.
On what it’s like going back to Arizona where he played in college:
Yeah, this one’s a little bit more special for me than all the others in terms of where I’m going. I have fond memories of the state of Arizona where I played college football at the University, about an hour and a half south of where we’ll be. Coming back from the stroke that I had in 2005, there are a lot of things that I can sort of smile at and realize that I’m back in the Super Bowl and it feels really good to be here.
Patriots WR Kelley Washington:
On whether he’s excited for his first Super Bowl:
I am. I am very excited. Again, this is everyone’s dream, to play in a game such as this. There are 30 other teams at home watching us, so it is a gratifying feeling just to know that we have made it this far. All year long we came together and made it to this point so it is definitely a special feeling.
On dealing with so many off the field distractions:
We’ve been through the ups and the downs and we’ve been through it as a team and as an organization, together, so that makes us feel good that we stayed together through thick and thin and we’ve made it this far. Again, we know that the coaching staff and the veterans have really led us in the right direction to this point and letting us know that if we stay together, we can make it this far and we have.
On treating the Super Bowl as just another game:
I think once the game — Once the kickoff comes and all the emotions after the first couple of series, it is just a game. It’s just a lot of attention that comes with the Super Bowl, so we’re just trying to get adjusted to that. Once the week comes and we’re starting to practice leading up to the game, then we’ll understand that it’s just a game.
On whether there’s a moment to realize the magnitude of the Super Bowl:
I think, with me, it’ll probably happen with the first kickoff or the first kickoff return because [the veterans] say that you’re supposed to close your eyes the first second after you kick the ball off just because of all the cameras and lights, so that’ll be an experience. But I really feel that after kickoff and the first couple of series, all the adrenaline will start to wear off and we’ll just focus on our assignments.
Patriots LB Junior Seau:
On playing against Wes Welker when he was in Miami:
Pound for pound, Wes is probably the toughest football player in the league. The guy is a hard worker, number one. He has all the intangibles of being a great player, which he is, and he has a passion for the game and he needs — There are different types of players in the league: guys that want to be great and there are guys that need to be great. He’s one of the need guys, so I tip my hat off to him.
On his concern about the status of Tom Brady:
Tom’s been great. He’s been doing it for so many years. It makes for a great story. You guys can jump on that and blow it up and do whatever you need to do, but as far as getting between the lines and going out there and competing, there’s no better competitor out there than Tommy. He’s proven it.
On the biggest difference between the last time he was in the Super Bowl:
It is what it is. It’s a great game, and as time goes on and you find yourself 18-0 and the record plays a part in all the hype and what have you. We have to just minus all that and carry on with our day.
On if that is what makes this team special:
It’s only special if we can finish it. The 18-0 record is nothing without finishing.
On coming to New England and seeing the lack of selfishness:
Belichick doesn’t allow it, number one. And whenever you have a leader such as Belichick, you have enough veterans around that have been around his teaching, they breed it. And when they start breeding it in the locker room, it’ contagious. It’s not a big surprise.
On if he will play for a few more years:
I’m going to live one day at a time, just one day at a time. That’s all I can do.
Patriots S Rodney Harrison:
On being part of the kickoff team in the Super Bowl:
It’s intense, man, because I know Iâ€˜ve been a part of that, playing on the kickoff team. You just see a million flashes and you’re just like, “Wow,” as you’re running down and, “I’m actually part of this.” I’m the same kid who watched the Chicago Bears in ’85 win the Super Bowl and I always dreamt of something like that, and the opportunity to be able to go down there and be a part of that is special.
On if he will close his eyes to avoid the flashes:
No. If you close your eyes you’ll get your head knocked off.
On advice he gives to less experience teammates:
I say take care of your business here before we get on that plane and focus on one thing and that’s wining football games. You’re going to enjoy your time with your family, but parties and all the sideshows and events are not important. The only thing you want to do is focus. The worst part of the situation is going out there on Sunday and laying an egg and losing.
Patriots WR Donte Stallworth:
Thinking back to your rookie year, you mentioned your team was on the verge of making the playoffs and then lost five of the last six:
We started off the year 7-2 or 6-2 and we had to win one of our last four, and those lost four games were against – record-wise-against the worst teams, all the worst teams in the NFL, and we lost every game. I’ve always understood after that year taking it [the] one game at a time approach that Coach [Bill] Belichick preaches here so much, as it’s paid off for us up to now.
Seeing as how you studied psychology, can you define what pressure is or what psychologists would say pressure is?:
You know what? Bill made a great point about this about five, maybe six weeks ago. I’m trying to remember exactly how he described it. He said, “Put a 2×4 on the floor and walk across it. Do you feel any pressure? No, you don’t. You put it 300 feet up in the air [and] walk across the same 2×4, do you feel any pressure then? You shouldn’t, it’s the same 2×4, but your mind is letting you know, hey, if I slip or I fall, any miscalculation of a step, that’s it for you. You stay focused on walking across that 2×4 and then there’s no pressure.”
On Sunday you said you weren’t sure if you wanted to bring Nikko (his imaginary friend) with you to the Super Bowl. Have you made a decision on him yet?:
Yeah, I’m going to leave him here for awhile. He’s the one that goes out and plays in the game. I’m not really an overly aggressive person, but he is, so I’ll let him handle the game. I’ll take care of the preparation and let him play in the game.