Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel spoke at length to reporters this afternoon at Gillette Stadium. To read the entire transcript of his conversation, as provided by the Patriots media relations department, click "full entry" at the bottom of the post:
MC: Iím just going to start by saying, as it relates to the last week, when it comes to my personal life and everything Iíd rather answer questions about football today. If we could stick to football questions, Iíd appreciate it and thank you very much for being so respectful over the last week or so. With that being said, shoot away.
This might be sort of borderline so why donít you lead the way on this. Football-wise did you ever think about not playing in the game?
MC: No, I always felt like I was going to play. I took some time away last week and then came back and was able to get enough preparation in to go out there and play. I think thatís what my father would have wanted.
Did it help you being around your teammates, being in your job?
MC: It was a good distraction last week, thereís no doubt. Being around my teammates and having this secondary support factor with a family away from home definitely helped.
Where does that win rate on the satisfaction scale?
MC: It was a big win. It was a big win for the team. It was a big win for me, personally, and itís always good to go out there and win each and every week.
Can you talk about Arizona? Obviously, you hear about their offense, but can you talk a little bit about their defense?
MC Theyíre a very good defense. Theyíve got a lot of speed out there. They try to confuse you a little bit. Theyíll give you multiple fronts, multiple looks. Theyíll bring different blitzes from, like I said, multiple looks. Theyíre going to be a challenge for us and weíve got to be able to manage their blitz zones and get the ball downfield on them.
Did you target [Nnamdi] Asomugha? Usually, teams have stayed away from him, but you seemed to go at him right way and get some defensive holding calls and Randy [Moss] caught some passes against him.
MC: It was just kind of coverage based. We thought that Randy against anybody is a good matchup and Asomugha is a great player ó I hope I pronounced his name right. I donít want to disrespect him at all. Randy is a great player and anytime Randy is in one-on-one [coverage] it gives us an opportunity to get him the ball. We feel like Randy will be able to make a play.
What was your reaction to Wes Welker being named to the Pro Bowl?
MC: Iím excited for him. He is well deserving and heís a guy that, as Iíve said time and time again, gives 110 percent. Heís a guy that you root for each and every week because heís such a great team player. For him to get honored in that way, myself, as well as our team couldnít be happier for him.
Have you thrown a lot of passes in the snow?
MC: I did in practice. Not many going forward in a game so weíll see how it goes. I donít know what the weather is going to be Sunday, but in New England it could change in a heartbeat.
How productive was that practice yesterday? It was a little unusual because a lot of times with the elements you guys will go up to the [Dana Farber Field House] but you were outside.
MC: It was good. The last few weeks weíve really stayed outside, tried to get used to the cold weather and the environment. Weíve got to prepare for that going on the next few weeks and, hopefully, moving on after that. Itís always good to get out there and get to practice in those types of elements.
Do you feel any pressure to put points on the board especially early in the game knowing Arizonaís firepower?
MC: Weíre just going to go out and do what we do. Weíre going to run our offense and whatever the coaches see fit in how weíre going to move forward and try to attack this team. Thatís what weíre going to do.
What part of the offense do you feel has come a long way and do you feel most comfortable with now?
MC: I think we continue to progress each and every week. Weíve definitely made a lot of strides from the beginning of the season and where we are now. Hopefully, weíll continue to do that.
I know you guys are always focused on yourselves, but you donít live in a vacuum. How aware are you of scenarios in terms of playoffs? For instance, this Saturday night if Baltimore loses you guys control your own destiny.
MC: Iím not too aware of everything going on because I know the only thing that we can control is if we win. If we donít win, then all the other scenarios donít matter. Weíve got to take care of business on our end and then if things fall into place then they do.
In Oakland, it looked like you left the game with the game ball. I was just wondering if you kept that for yourself or if you passed it on to anybody?
MC: I did keep it for myself and for my family.
Itís been a while since youíve been a starter in 14 straight games. How are you doing physically, emotionally with the wear of the season?
MC: You just move along and from one week to the next. You try to take care of your body. I think you get stronger mentally because youíve been doing it for awhile. Whereas, in the beginning when you first become a starter, itís pretty stressful, especially in the situation that I came in under. Then, as we move forward, you start to get a little bit more control. You start to get comfortable in your position and you start to enjoy the game again and have fun playing it. Whereas, in the beginning, you feel like you have to achieve more than just going out and playing.
What are your impressions of Kurt Warner?
MC: I think heís a great quarterback and heís shown that year in and year out. Heís obviously had a tremendous amount of success in the league. [He is] a guy that I look up to, a guy that had to fight through some of his own adversities to get to where he is. Heís a great human being as well so Iíve got nothing but respect for Kurt Warner.
How difficult do you think itís been for Matt [Leinart] to handle that situation knowing that he was the quarterback there and then Kurt came in and won that job?
MC: I think, as a backup quarterback, as a competitor, anytime, you want to be out there. You want to be playing so that partís very difficult. But when youíre able to step back and learn from a guy like Kurt, because heís so good and because heís so established you can learn a lot of things. Then, when Matt is ready to go and he steps in to take over that team, heíll be ready and probably more prepared than what he was.
Do you talk to him much?
MC: I do. Weíve text messaged back and forth throughout the season. Weíve talked back and forth throughout the season. Heís one of my friends and, obviously, a guy that I went to school with so we keep in touch.
After an emotional week, how did that win in Oakland help get those emotions out on the football field? How did that win help you mentally?
MC: I think it helped the team and for me. I was just going to go out there and play my best. Thatís all I was going to do. It wasnít for me as much as it was for the team and everybody else. I knew thatís what my father would have wanted ó for me to go out and play. It was great to get a victory. And if we didnít get a victory, I still was out there giving 110 percent and thatís all I can do.
Wes is pretty remarkable when it comes to yards after the catch. Anquan Boldin is pretty good too on the other side. As a quarterback, obviously, it helps you, but could you elaborate what it means sometimes when you just throw a quick pass and then see a guy run with it?
MC: Thatís what we talk about all the time is getting the ball to the playmakers. Guys like Wes Welker and Anquan Boldin and those guys who are able to get the ball in their hands and then do something with it. When they do get the ball in their hands, they are special. As much as you can as a quarterback, you like to get the ball to those guys and let them work.
How would you asses Mark LeVoirís performance filling in for Matt Light?
MC: Itís always tough when you lose a guy like Matt, who is a leader on this team and who is obviously a great left tackle. But I thought Mark LeVoir came in and did a great job. He was steady. He knew the offense and executed for the most part.
Through the different challenges youíve faced this year, whether they were professional or personal, what have you learned about yourself?
MC: Iíve overcome a lot of adversity and I think itís [taught me] to keep pushing forward, and keep moving on, and donít listen to people who are negative and work against you. Just continue to surround yourself with people that are positive and can help you and things will turn around for you.
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