Head Coach Hue Jackson addresses the media following Wednesday's practice. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
Q: You've got [Mike] Mitchell back who hasn't been here for almost a couple of months. Is he a guy - realistically, can he go this week? If he goes, will it be a couple of plays here and there or does he need a week?
Coach Jackson: Well, we'll see. He's one of the toughest competitors I've ever been around. I know he likes to play football and he was out there today. It was great to have him out there and see that 34 running around and making plays. But, we'll be smart. We'll see where he is and we just kind of have to monitor it as we go through the week.
Q: [Jacoby] Ford – how do you like him his first day back?
Coach Jackson: Good. I mean, again, we're going to be limited; just kind of cautious with those guys their first day back. But, he caught some balls, ran around, and did some good things. But again, we're just going to take it day by day with these guys and see where they are towards the end of the week.
Q: Ford, when he gets back, is he going to go back to returning kicks full time?
Coach Jackson: We'll see. You know, again, we've just got to see where his body is. Again, my whole thing is to put these players in the best situation so they can contribute to the team and have success and not put them in a situation where something could go bad for them or our football team.
Q: What's the philosophy behind practicing in the mornings? Is that permanent?
Coach Jackson: Yes it is. This is our schedule; what we're doing now is what we're going to do for the rest of the year. We have some East Coast games and normally, those games are about 1:00 and that's what time practice starts here. We'll be prepared whether we're playing on the East Coast or whether we're playing on the West Coast. We'll be ready to go.
Q: Do you think you get more out of them by practicing in the morning?
Coach Jackson: I do. I think they get more rest on the back end of it. I think the coaches get an opportunity to do a little bit more in the evening time as opposed to feeling rushed and trying to rush through things. I just think it flows better for our football team this year.
Q: It sounded like you guys were preparing for a road game with the variety of music, just from hearing in the parking lot…
Coach Jackson: Some of our defensive players are always on me about during a game, sometimes they can't hear. They like to communicate, so they made a pact with me. 'Coach, let us leave a little music out there when the defense is out' so that they can communicate better – so they can hear each other better. So I bought into it like a dummy, okay. Right now, I'm going with it but no, they've done a good job with it. I think they like – it brings a little different flavor to practice so it's been good thus far.
Q: So far the talk has been about New England's offense. What do they like to do on defense and what challenges do they have for you there?
Coach Jackson: They're good. I mean, they have a lot of good players. [Vince] Wilfork, to name one of them – [Albert] Haynesworth, if he's playing – [Jerod] Mayo, the linebacker, I mean this team is stocked. This is a New England Patriots defensive football team that's always been one of the better defensive teams in football. I anticipate these guys to play as hard and as well as they've played all year. We've got to be up to the challenge offensively. We have a lot of work to do; it's early in the week but again, we're playing against a really good defensive football team.
Q: Do you see a different look in Richard Seymour's eyes this week going up against the Patriots?
Coach Jackson: I hope so, you know. It's going to be week 4 going up against one of his old teams but I think Richard's a pro. I don't think he's going to approach this one physically any different but emotionally, I won't say that he wouldn't. I think I'd be kidding myself just because that's where he played and had a lot of success. He's going to see a lot of people there he knows and as I said the other day – anytime you leave an organization, go to a new one and you're playing against them, you want to play well. I think from an emotional standpoint, I'm sure he'd be a little different but he'd have to tell you that.
Q: What are the issues the Pats have had stopping opponents? They're giving up 500 yards a game…
Coach Jackson: I'm going to say this again; they are one of the best defensive football teams there is. All that statistical stuff don't mean anything to me. When I look at the tape, I see a good defensive football team that's solid in every area that wish, probably just like we did, they had some plays back here or there. You take away a play here, take a play away there, they wouldn't be what you say they are statistically. They are a good team led by a heck of a football coach and it's going to be a heck of a challenge for myself and the rest of this team and we're looking forward to it.
Q: What kind of challenges does Wes Welker present?
Coach Jackson: Oh my God. He's uncoverable! He's uncoverable – the guy caught 16 balls last week, are you kidding me? Man! Can we get him not to show up this week? I mean then, maybe we'll be okay. But no, this guy is a good player. He's very good at what he does – he catches the ball, runs with the ball, he's one of the catalysts for their football team. We have got to get this guy slowed down, I mean, he's as good as there is. The numbers prove it, they way he plays proves it - I mean that's the truth. He's as good as there is. He's not a big guy, but he plays big and I respect that.
Q: You know [Chad] Ochocinco probably better than anybody. Why is he not getting his number called more often and is this kind of a stage he would relish here?
Coach Jackson: Yes I do. [Laughs] He relishes any stage, truth be told. I can't answer that because I'm not there, but if I know him, he's working at it and my hope is that he continues on the path that he's on because I don't want him to start getting off on us on Sunday. So, let's let him wait for another week to find himself, okay. I have a lot of respect for him, always will, he's fun to coach and what tremendous competitor. But, I just don't want him to play well against us coming up this week.
Q: What's been a key thing Bob Wylie has done with the offensive line? Why has it clicked so fast?
Coach Jackson: I think the players trust him. I think the players understand what he's selling and on top of that, I think they're very motivated to want to be good and I think Steve Wisniewski plays a part in that too. I think anytime you have an older, veteran coach who has been around the league but you have another young, ambitious coach as very good as Steve is, I think they work together in bringing that group together and then you take some very talented players who are motivated, want to be good and you come up with something great and that's what those guys have done.
Q: Is that why you were so confident in the preseason? At camp, you weren't really worried about that with the linemen…
Coach Jackson: Absolutely, I wasn't because I trust the men that coach them. I trust that they understood where my vision was and how we wanted that group to progress. I just could see it – I could see it everyday and I could see them getting better. We're still not where we need to be, but we're working at it and we're going to get better and we're going to continue to get better.
Q: You have several former players who are now coaches on this team, including Steve Wisniewski. How have they taken to becoming coaches and does that help their credibility with the players?
Coach Jackson: No question that it does. I mean some of them would tell you you'd probably be shocked at the hours that we keep because this is probably a little different for them. We don't worry about time; we don't care how late we have to stay, how early we have to get here, we just have to get the job done. But they all, every last one of them, they've all done a great job. From [Greg] Biekert to [Steve] Wisniewski to [Rod] Woodson, I'm very happy with our staff. They work and that's all I can say. The proof is in the pudding and we've jut got to continue to keep working hard, keep these players growing and keep getting better and that's all you can do.