New England Conference Calls

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Transcripts of conference calls between New England's Bill Belichick and Matt Cassel and reporters on Tuesday morning:

HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK

On the condensed practice week…

It's tight. We just have to cram a lot into these two days. Today is our biggest day, and then tomorrow we'll try to take care of a lot of the situational stuff and some of the leftovers. It's tight. I think it's probably good that both teams know each other pretty well. There are a lot of personnel things that are pretty much the same as the last time that we played each other. There are a couple changes, but for the most part it's the same.

We're familiar with our opponent and their schemes and all of that, even though they have a lot of them — we have a lot to prepare for. At least we don't have to start from scratch. It's a scramble, but we're gaining on it.

On the Jets' differences since Week 2…

I think they're the same quick-strike team that we've seen. They're capable of scoring on pretty much every play of the game.

Their return game — [Leon] Washington has more long returns than anybody. They've scored on defense, they've stripped the quarterback and intercepted passes and run them back. They have a good running game and they have a good passing game. Their tight ends, their receivers and their backs are all dangerous with the ball in their hands. They block kicks. They're a good punt-rush team. They're a good field-goal-rush team. They're dangerous — fake punts, onsides kicks. You have to be ready for everything.

They're a team that starts fast and jumps on top of their opponents in the first quarter and first half. They do a lot of things well.

On if he was interested in CB Ty Law before Law signed with the Jets…

I talked to Ty earlier in the season. That was a couple of months ago.

On playing against Law on Thursday…

He's a good player. We played against him with the Jets in 2005. We saw him last year. We were up on Kansas City this year, so we saw all of the Kansas City stuff and saw him play last year. We know Ty. He's very competitive with good ball skills. You have to be careful throwing around him.

On the Patriots' season…

Like it always is, it's challenging. We've faced a lot of good teams and a lot of good players. We try to get our team ready to go every week to meet those challenges. There's a good challenge every week. That's the way it always is in this league, and that's the way it has been this year.

We've played some games better than others. We've faced a lot of good football teams. We've been on the road, we've been at home. We've been in some big games — night games, close games and last-possession kind of games. Those are all challenging, and they're all very competitive.

On the development of QB Matt Cassel…

I think Matt, like any player with his experience, is more comfortable with the speed of the game and the quickness that he has to react with on different plays. He's quicker and he's always made pretty good decisions, but as you get more experience you just do it faster and generally make better decisions. I think that has happened.

He works hard. He prepares hard. He's a smart kid. He has good talent. He's gotten a little bit better, not only each game but every practice and every meeting he learns a little more and he understands a little bit better. He can apply it to game situations and actual game conditions, not just walkthroughs, blackboard talk and stuff like that. His playing time has given him more real game applications to add to a lot of those little coaching points.

On any changes in the way the Jets are using QB Brett Favre…

The Jets are a game-plan team. How they play week to week, offensively and defensively, depends on how they feel the matchups are against that team and what they want to try to do, whether it be a lot of empty formations like they were against San Diego in the second half or Oakland in the first half. They've used different personnel groupings.

I'm sure that even though Favre is a very experienced quarterback and a great quarterback, he's been in a new system, and some of the same things that will be said about Cassel, to a lesser degree, would apply to Brett going into a new system with new players, with whatever differences there are in the nomenclature and terminology and all of that. After doing it for a couple months, you just get a little bit more familiar with it. It's just a natural process.

On if they have looked at acquiring CB Justin Miller, just waived by the Jets…

That's news to me. I didn't know that. Thank you for the breaking news. No, we couldn't talk to a player until he clears waivers anyway.

On NT Kris Jenkins…

Kris is a good player. He's a strong, physical guy. He's tough to block. He does a good job. He's strong in the running game. He's a good inside pass rusher. He makes it tough for the quarterback to step up in the pocket and be able to really buy some extra time there, because it's collapsing. He does a lot of things well.

The bottom line is he's a hard guy to block. We have to do a good job on him. That's a challenge for the center and guards, or wherever he ends up, depending on your blocking scheme and what you're doing there. He's one of the tougher guys to block in this league at that position.

On TE Dustin Keller…

He's been productive. We were aware of him back in preseason. He started showing up in some of the preseason games. We played them early, of course, and he's had some big catches. He's a fast guy down the field. He made a nice play against us on third down in the first game. The Rams left him open on the middle read last week, for 50-something yards, whatever it was. He can run. He can catch. He has some quickness and he can get open. He's definitely a factor in the passing game.

On if BenJarvus Green-Ellis will start at RB…

We'll take a look at them this afternoon and see where we're at. That's where we were on Sunday, but it's been a couple more days and we'll see how LaMont [Jordan] and Sammy [Morris] are doing. We'll have a little bit better idea as we come off the field today.

On if Morris or Jordan will be healthy enough to play…

It's possible. We'll just have to see how they do today in practice and how they are tomorrow. It might even be a gametime decision. I'm not sure at this point. We haven't practiced since the game, so I can't really tell you whether their status has changed since the game or not.

They're better than they were on Sunday. Whether that's good enough to practice today or whether that's good enough to play on Thursday, we'll really just have to wait and see. We haven't done anything to evaluate that between Sunday and today.

QB MATT CASSEL

On what defensive changes has he seen from the Jets since Week 2…

There are not a lot of changes systematically. There're just playing very well right now. They're playing with a lot of aggression and energy. They've been very opportunistic. They continue to get turnover opportunities because they make those turnover opportunities — nine interceptions and nine fumble recoveries on the season, and four of them have been returned for touchdowns.

On how his play has changed over the weeks…

You continue to get more comfortable with the guys that you're playing with. You continue to understand, just from playing and getting used to that game speed, that you're never really ever prepared for it until you get out there and start to play.

On if he will be a free agent after the season…

Yes, I will.

On becoming a starter prior to becoming a free agent…

All you can ask for in this game is an opportunity. The fact that I got the opportunity is definitely a blessing. Unfortunately, it came at the expense of the MVP of last season [Tom Brady]. Nobody ever wants to see that happen to such a great guy who's a close friend of yours.

At the same time, it does happen in this game because it's a violent game. I feel very blessed and lucky to have the opportunity to get out there and play. That's all you can ask for as a young guy trying to make it in this league.

On if there are passes he would trust himself to make now that he would not have in Week 2…

As you go forward in the season you start to learn more about your team, you learn more about your offense. Collectively, we're playing better now than what we did earlier in the season. We just have to continue to grow and work on those things that we have to make improvements and build on those things that we've done well.

On why the Patriots are good plugging guys in and still having success…

Coach Belichick and the rest of the coaching staff do a great job week in and week out getting us prepared. I truly believe that everybody is as prepared as we can be going into that game because the coaching staff works so hard. They are diligent in what they do. They prepare us at all cost to be ready come gametime.

On how he feels about the running game…

We just have to continue to push forward. We've had some outstanding production from Kevin Faulk and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Those guys have stepped in and filled that role. We've definitely had some injuries at that position, but guys are stepping up. That's all you can ask for, when you get an opportunity to step up and try to continue to work hard and get that done.

On his chemistry with WR Randy Moss…

We're getting better as an offense and that's all I can ask for. With Randy, you always want to get him the ball as much as you can. There are a lot of guys getting opened right now. Wes [Welker] is doing a great job. Jabar [Gaffney] is doing a great job. Sam Aiken had a few catches last week. You just have to continue to distribute the ball based on your read.

On if he is getting more confident running the offense…

I've always been confident in what I'm doing out there. We continue to expand on the offense. When I first got in there we took it a little slow week in and week out as the game plan changes. There is definitely more of a comfort level. You grow into the role and you understand what your leadership role is and how you want to go and attack different defenses. You get a better understanding for what your output needs to be week in and week out.

On how he stayed prepared being a backup QB…

Every day that I go out there, I draw off of something that Tom has taught me through the last three years of playing with him. This is my fourth. He is such a great leader and the way that he works, his work ethic speaks for itself, obviously his performance speaks for itself. I try to come in as a young guy and try to emulate everything he did. Some of that has rubbed off.

There are characteristics of my game that are different from his. I am still growing as a quarterback and maturing. There are things that I take away from him all the time. I still talk to him all the time about things that he would have seen or done that I did differently in the game, that I can change and get better at.

On preparing for a short week…

You go out and approach the game. It's a short week. You have to cram. It's like cramming for a little midterm. You try to get the game plan in and get it ready. Then you have to go out there and perform on short notice. We'll be ready to go. Right now it's all about getting the game plan down.

On how Brady is feeling…

He's in great spirits. He's just healing and getting better. I don't know what his status is right now or what his plans are, but every time I talk to him he seems in good spirits.

On if Brady is still watching video…

I believe he is more into the rehab aspect of it and trying to get better.

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