HEAD COACH BRUCE ARIANS
(On signing K Ryan Succop and if it will be a competition between him and K Matt Gay this week)
"It's always a competition when there [are] two guys fighting for a job. Ryan's got a really good résumé – he was injured, [now] he's healthy. I think he [had] the consecutive [made] kick record there for a while. It will be a competition for the next few days."
(On TE Rob Gronkowski and expectations for his usage entering the regular season)
"He's had up and downs. The weather got him for a while, but he's in good shape. It's one of those things – play it by ear. If somebody's got a hot hand, you keep playing him. Same thing as a blocker – some guys handle some people, so it's just going to be a matter of matching up. If it's a situation where we're running the ball and he's our best guy, he'll play more. Same thing if he's the guy in the passing game. We haven't really put the final gameplan together, so it's hard to say."
(On if he is surprised with how Gronkowski re-adjusted to the NFL after sitting out last season)
"Yeah. That 16-play drive, he wasn't ready for that one – neither were a lot of guys. He said, 'I was only supposed to get 15 plays [and] I got 16 in a row.' I said, 'Well, you're going to get about 10 more, so suck it up.' He's fun to be around and he's done a good job."
(On if the team plans to carry three or four quarterbacks between the active roster and practice squad)
"It's just one of those things – we will probably keep three for sure and then wait and see whether or not we go to four, or if we bring somebody back in case of [injury or illness]. But, we'll wait and see."
(On if he plans to have three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster specifically)
"Probably three on the 53."
OFFENSIVE LINE COACH JOE GILBERT
(On the development of T Tristan Wirfs)
"I think Tristan – number one – you look at his physical abilities and he's got some great traits – size, length, those type of things obviously that get him ahead of the curve. Just talking to him the other day, his big concern was the amount of mental stuff – the playbook part. He's done an exceptional job as far as picking that up. I think that's always hard for any rookie, especially – like you mentioned – without having OTAs in the offseason. From a technique standpoint, I think the biggest adjustment for any kid coming out of college is the pass protection part of things because it's a lot different than in college and what they're being taught. Especially with the style of offenses and that type of thing. I think that those are probably the two big things he's had from a mental standpoint and then the pass [protection]. I think he's done a really good job with it."
(On G Alex Cappa's improvement and playing through an injury last season)
"I think, number one, Cap did a great job physically in the offseason of changing his body [and] getting stronger. You can see that, and I think the guys he's going against see that. The second thing, I think his confidence level has improved so much from last year of just playing. I think Cap was realistic with himself in the sense of what he had to do in the offseason from a strength standpoint. Now, having the knowledge of playing a season and coming in with his confidence, now he can really focus on playing with his technique and getting better at that. I think that's where he has improved. When you look at him from that standpoint, now he can play faster, he can play with more technique because he's not worried about the assignments and all that. That's when guys play a little slow. They're tentative, they're still making sure, 'Hey, am I doing this right?' Now, he's just playing and now we can focus in on his technique, get better with his hands, his feet – all those things. I think that's why we've seen such an improvement through camp with him."
(On how QB Tom Brady helps the offensive line)
"I think Tom can recognize things from a defensive standpoint and can make adjustments with protections, put us in certain runs, things like that. That is exceptional. You get so many different looks from defenses anymore in this league, and being able to have a guy who can see that – again, with his knowledge and as long as he's played, there's not a whole lot he hasn't seen. It's more of him being able to put us in the right situation so we can do our job to protect him, to run the ball efficiently. That's one thing I think he's done a really good job in learning the system and doing for us so far."
(On how he quantifies and measures success for the offensive line, and the areas in which they can most improve)
"Number one is being efficient in the run game. I think that's number one because if you can run the ball successfully, you're obviously going to take some pressure off the pass game, you set up the play action, all of those things. So, I think that's first and foremost. Second of all, obviously we have to protect Tom [Brady] from quarterback hurries, quarterback hits, sacks, all those things. It's not just hits and sacks – it's, 'Hey, how many times can we keep him clean in the pocket where he can deliver the football and have a chance to get a completion?' I think that's important. If he's back there and he's hurrying up and we're not protecting for him long enough to do that, then that's on us. It's not on anybody else. To me it's those two things – efficiency in the run game and overall protection in the pocket."
GUARD ALEX CAPPA
(On how much more comfortable he is going into his second season as a full-time starter at guard)
"I don't know if it slows down as much as you see things better. Nothing can really replicate playing in a game, so that's where you get the real experience. Obviously, [in] practice you replicate it the best you can, but really playing in a game helps you build confidence a lot."
(On T Tristan Wirfs' transition to the NFL level)
"He's really mature, and he's smart and he's obviously very physically talented, so he's going to have a much smoother transition than I did for sure. He's a guy that's really ready to go, understands things well and is obviously a good player. He's going to be good – you could see it early."
(On the relationship between QB Tom Brady and the offensive line)
"It's been great. He's great. He's always obviously prepared and he's leading us. He's just got a really great, confident presence that I think is pretty rare and he's obviously a special guy."
(On his training camp battles with DL Rakeem Nuñez-Roches)
"His energy has been unreal. He's having so much fun, he always brings energy [and] he's always talking. It's just fun, really. It's just fun to compete against a guy that if he's doing good or bad, he's talking. If he makes a play or not, he thinks he made the play. He's always having fun [and] he's always high energy, so it's fun to have a guy like that."
TIGHT END ROB GRONKOWSKI
(On what he expects to feel when he steps on the field Week 1)
"It's going to be a big game. We still have a long way to go – we're about to break camp here, we've been going at it versus each other. It's about to be time to start preparing for the Saints – that's how you can get ready, so all the jitters aren't totally there. If I prepare myself to the max that I can, I can go out there and be confident that I'm going into the game knowing what I need to do and knowing that I'm prepared to the best that I can be. It's going to probably be different, obviously, because there's going to be no fans and it's going to be my first game ever coming out of a year of not playing. But, I've been playing for nine years. I played in the NFL for nine years – it's just like practice. It just came back like that. I'm hoping that's how it is for the game. I'm going to prepare to the best that I can and hopefully right when I get out there it's just like any other game. Game on, baby – from the first play on."
(On the opportunity to scrimmage in Raymond James Stadium last week)
"It helped tremendously because it's a new team [and a] new organization, so you don't really have the feel of how they do things on gameday. Before the scrimmage started, we kind of went through things like how we would on gameday – how to warmup, routes on air, 7-on-7, team, all that type of stuff. Everyone does it different, so it's good just to have that feel so when game time comes, you're not scrambling around, running around, seeing where you need to be [and] not warming up properly. That's always good to get the little things out of the way, and that helped out big time in the scrimmage. On top of it, it was good to be in the stadium with a lot of noise, lots of substitutions, too, and to get all that down. In practice you're all over the place on the field – defense over there, offense over there – it's good to have that feel of the substitution in and out on the field. The only reps that are going on are out on the field right during that scrimmage. It's just good to go out there and get that feel of what it's going to be like before a game."
(On what he wants to accomplish between now and Week 1)
"What I want to accomplish until the game is gaining the trust of my teammates [and] gaining the respect of my teammates, so when I go out there on the field, the guy next to me trusts me and I can go out there on the field and trust the guy next to me, too. That's what it's all about in practice – gaining the trust of each other so when you go out there, you can perform as a team, perform as a player and do what I need to do. Go out there and do my job at a fast pace without thinking and just play the game of football without thinking about it. That's what it's all about – that's what you need to accomplish in practice. In order to go out there and play the game fast and physical and not be thinking [with] fast movements, you have to learn how to do that in practice. You have to learn all the plays, you have to learn your teammates, you have to learn where you are situated, you have to learn where other players are situated, where the ball is going to be, where the defender is going to be – that's all in practice. That's what it's all about. So, just gaining the trust of my teammates and showing that I can go out there and consistently do what I need to do so I can go out there and do what I need to do on gameday. That's what it's all about right now in training camp and preparing."