Patriots defensive line coach Pepper Johnson had a few challenges entering this season. Not only did he have to get his group prepared for more four-man fronts, he had to mesh a group of veterans who played for a range of teams last season.
Johnson called the process "challenging but rewarding" today and said he is pleased with where the unit is going at this point in the season.
Here are a few highlights from his conference call with the media this afternoon.
Satisfied with the team's pass rush?: "I'm a little more than satisfied. I'm quite sure that the questions are from stats and not really detail and watching the game. I'm watching the guys do what we're asking them to do . We're actually hitting the quarterback -- a couple of times a little late -- but we're hitting the quarterback. ... I'm not much of a stat person, I know we have been affecting some throws and we've been getting as much pressure as we possibly can from the situation that we are in."
On Vince Wilfork's impact and interceptions: "It's not really a shocker, but I am happy for him. It just so happened that he was teasing me and getting on me a little bit in front of the fellas earlier this year during training camp about how I stole his interception a few years ago. Jarvis Green got a sack and the ball goes up in the air and Vince had an interception in the record books, but in reviewing the play it was ruled a sack, caused fumble, so Vince didn't get his interception. So I guess he's rubbing it in my face, now because he has two."
On play of D-line in general?: "We're getting a lot of good plays and productive plays from some guys that are playing some techniques and doing some things that they're not normally accustomed to doing. It's kind of hard teaching some old dogs new tricks, but we have some guys that are buying into the system and working at it and working hard to try to do some of the things that we ask them to do."
On if he or Albert Haynesworth are frustrated he hasn't been able to play: "I can't speak for Albert, but myself, Coach Belichick would punch me in the face if I got frustrated because I didn't have a particular player. My job is not to count on one person or something like that. My job is to coach whoever is out there on the field. Until Albert is out there on the field, this is what I have to play with and we have to try to win ballgames without him."