FOXBOROUGH -- Safety John Lynch spoke with members of the media after participating in his first practice with the Patriots today.
"This was a place where it nearly happened four years ago when I went to Denver," he said. "I was extremely impressed and always have admired this organization from afar. You come out here, and you have star players all over -- Randy Moss to Tom Brady, to [Mike] Vrabel, [Tedy] Bruschi, Rodney [Harrison], you can go on and on, [Richard] Seymour, [Vince] Wilfork, but to me, the thing that has impressed me the most is the way they play the game. I think they play it the right way. They embody the sense of team as well as anyone. That's led to the success. I think everybody in the league wants to be a part of that. Never did I think ... I thought Denver would be my last stop, but things happen, and I'm happy to be here."
Some more of the Q&A:
Did anything surprise you today?
“I think I functioned well on such little sleep. I was out here early in the week, went home to discuss it with my family, felt good about the decision, came back and learned the playbook in one night, and got through it pretty good. That was a good first day.”
Do you still feel like you are an every-down player?
“We’ll see. I think you produce and things like that happen, so that’s what I’ll do. I’ll just try to come out here and be the best I can be and see where that leads us.”
In Denver, the word was that you left because it was a part-time role. You could be a part-time player here …
“I’m looking forward to being here. I think, as I said, for all the reasons, this is a place where they utilize veteran guys very well and when someone has a track record you’re interested in being a part of that. So I’m extremely excited about being here.”
You wouldn’t have any chance of playing on Sunday against another former team – the Buccaneers -- would you?
“Again, I studied hard last night, picking it up. We’ll see. If they want me out there, I’d love to be out there. I’d love the opportunity in my old stomping grounds.”
What was your first reaction to the playbook and scheme?
“You know, if you’ve played football long enough it’s all similar concepts, just different names for it. That can be hard because old habits die hard, and so you go through a translation. You see a defense and say ‘this is that’. But they did a great job getting me up to speed. As I said, I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep, but came out here and pulled it off for the first day. So it was good.”
How close did it actually get with the Patriots in 2004?
“It was very close. A lot of that experience, as I said, I never thought I’d … I thought Denver would be my last stop. But I was always said that if I had an opportunity to come back here, this would be a place where I’d love to play. I think that experience helped me make my decision, and hopefully helped them make their decision. I’m very excited about it.”
In your opinion, what is it about here – the coaches, the players -- that makes people want to come here?
“I think everything. People want to be involved with success. The fact that they’ve been very successful I think makes it a place where a lot of people want to be, but you also understand that what they’ve done in the past doesn’t really stand for a whole lot right now. We have to create another season by going out there every day and working our hardest. This week it’s Tampa. Looking forward to that test.”
Throughout your career, two of the hardest hitting safeties are you and Rodney Harrison. How much have you admired him from afar? How much are you looking forward to playing with him?
“Very much so. I’m from San Diego, so in offseasons and whatnot I’ve run into Rodney a couple times. We’ve always admired each other’s play. It will be great to be able to play with him.”
Did you ever measure yourself against him in the 90s and early 2000s?
“I think our careers – this is his 15th year, my 16th – so obviously when you’re in the game, I don’t think so much measure, but I studied him. You try to emulate guys that are the best, and take little parts of their game. I think he’s a guy I’ve always respected for the passion he plays with and the way he plays. It’s going to be fun to play with him.”
What did you learn from him?
“Hopefully we can both teach each other some things. Sometimes you learn things from young guys. That’s the great thing about this game. You’re never done learning. You never have it figured out. That’s the challenge that keeps guys going.”
You had a great following in Denver. Some fans were sad to see you go. What would you say to those fans who are having a tough time seeing you in a different uniform?
“It was a wonderful four years. Everybody treated me incredibly. I have no regrets. I gave it everything I could there. My only regret is that we didn’t get done the ultimate goal. Denver still may be home for us, so it’s nothing but positive thoughts there. Just thank you to the people there.”
What are your thoughts on Bill Belichick and your past dealings with him?
“I had the opportunity, as I said, to visit here a couple of years ago. I played for him over at the Pro Bowl. I have tremendous amount of respect for him and his knowledge of the game. I’ve been very fortunate. I played for the likes of Bill Walsh in college, and in the NFL, the Shanahans, the Grudens, the Tony Dungys. I’m excited for the opportunity to play under him.”
What did you have to do to get jersey No. 47? Vince Redd, a rookie, previously had that number.
“I didn’t even know someone else was in it, and they were giving the other guy a hard time. Seeing that he’s a rookie, I don’t think I have to do a whole lot. They took care of the dirty business. But I’ll take care of him – I’ll take him out to dinner or something.”