PATRIOTS DIRECTOR OF PLAYER PERSONNEL NICK CASERIO
July 27, 2019
NC: Good morning. Just a couple of quick things relative to practice and a couple of other comments and then we’ll take some questions. Roster-wise, no real change. We’re at 90. We’ve had a few transactions here during the course of the week. We added J.J. Dielman to the roster yesterday, put him right into practice, so that kind of gives us a full complement of players to work with right now. Sony [Michel] will start practicing here this morning, so that’s an adjustment relative to where he’s been. Really, this is a great opportunity for our team to kind of get started with what Bill [Belichick], I would say, calls real football. It’s an opportunity for us to put the pads on and really establish our foundation relative to fundamentals, techniques, playing with our pads. We haven’t put the pads on and we haven’t played football really for real in about six months, so it’s a slow process. This will be the start of a big week for us. We essentially have, call it, seven, eight days here before we get on a plane a week from Sunday and head out to Detroit and practice with them. The emphasis in practice today as we put the pads on will be in the running game – the techniques and fundamentals that are associated with that. It’s always exciting. I think the temperature goes up a little bit with the players, a little bit more energy, a little more competitive spirits, which is good. It’s good for your football team but our players have always done a great job working with one another in practice like this. And then just quickly, this is a big couple of weeks for a couple of former Patriot defensive backs. I know Rodney [Harrison] was around yesterday. I think you guys had an opportunity to speak with him in his honor and then Ty [Law] in a few weeks relative to his enshrinement. Obviously, not to shortchange Leon Gray, but Leon was playing before I was even born. But relative to Rodney and Ty, I can kind of speak on both of those players just having been around them. What we try to do is we try to put together a smart, tough football team that plays well under pressure, and those two players really embodied, I’d say, what this program was about on a lot of levels. Both players played 15 years at pretty demanding positions with Ty especially. Ty was probably one of the most competitive, confident players that we’ve had on this team, in this program. To play corner for 15 years in this league – I know he played a couple of different positions there at the end – but he was a corner. He was very instinctive, really good ball skills. I mean, when you look at this production over the course of history relative to other defensive backs, I mean, his ability to come up with big plays when it mattered most was something that he had an opportunity to do. You talk to Ty, look, you guys have all talked to Ty – he’s a very confident person, right? He didn’t think anybody could catch a pass on him and if somebody did it was probably somebody else’s fault. Ty’s personality – that type of confidence, that type of demeanor – is what you want to have on your football team and he played big when it mattered most and to be recognized the way that he is certainly a credit to him and it’s a tremendous honor. And then Rodney, so Rodney I would say left an impression on me personally when I was a young coach, a young person in this program. Here’s a player that had been in the league however many years and he came here. The thing about Rodney is this guy loved to practice. You guys get to see what goes on on Sundays, how they play, their performance, but what this guy did on a day-to-day basis in terms of practice, in terms of his preparation, that’s why he was great. I mean, we know he was tough as hell and he played that well and he played to his personality, and he’s a straight shooter and he tells the truth which he does in his current job. When we go out to practice, you guys see we do the work with one another, right? We have a red team working on kickoff or kickoff return and Rodney would kick on a kickoff – the scout team kickoff team – and bust his hump getting down the field. That type of effort, that type of mentality, that type of mindset permeates your football team when you see somebody like that. It left an impression on me. I had been here for a couple of years and you see somebody like that, and what it says is really that it shows you that your job and your responsibility, while you’re here, is to do whatever you can to help the team in whatever capacity that is. You’re talking about a Hall of Fame player and he’s going down on kickoff coverage making it hard on our kickoff return team in order to prepare them for the game in front of them. We’ve had a lot of great players around here who love to practice. I mean, [Tom] Brady loves to practice, [Tedy] Bruschi loved to practice, [Mike] Vrabel, Harrison, Patrick Chung – those guys love to practice and to be recognized the way Rodney is, it’s very well-deserved and it certainly left an impression on me personally. So, a tip of the hat to those two guys specifically. Congratulations are in order for them. It should be a fun couple of weeks here for both of those individuals. Rodney will be around here today. He was here yesterday and Monday I believe is his enshrinement in the Patriots Hall of Fame, so it’s a pretty cool honor. With that, we’ll take some questions and we’ll get ready to go.
Q: What went into the decision to keep Tom Brady out of practice on just the second day of camp yesterday?
NC: Yeah, I mean, every day we do what we think is best. Tom’s fine. I wouldn’t put too much stock in that.
Q: Have you received any clarity on what Josh Gordon would have to do to come back or when he could come back?
NC: Really, it’s a league matter so we’ll let the league handle that. So, when we’re notified accordingly, whatever that process entails, we’ll follow the rules accordingly so that’s a league matter.
Q: Is there an appropriate level of communication between the team and the league on the Josh Gordon situation or are you guys in the dark on it as much as we in the media are?
NC: No, we’ll just take it day to day and whatever information that we have, if there’s anything new then we’ll be informed. If there’s nothing new, then we’ll just kind of keep moving forward.
Q: How do you feel about how the situation with the Houston Texans unfolded with their pursuit of you as General Manager?
NC: Yeah, look, I’d say I’m pretty honored and privileged to be in the position I’m in, to work for this organization. It’s a great organization with a lot of great people. I’m thankful for the opportunity that I have each day to come to work and come into this building. We’ve got a lot of great people. I’m fortunate and honored to work with Bill [Belichick] on a day-to-day basis and a lot of other people in this organization. My job is really just to serve the people that are in this building and we’ve got a lot of great people. My focus is in trying to do the best that I can every day and be the best version of myself for this team and this organization and that’s what the focus is.
Q: I believe it’s now twice that the team has blocked you form interviewing for this job. Does that make it hard for you to put aside feelings and do your job to the best of your ability here?
NC: I love being here, and right now we’re focused on trying to get the team ready for this season. I’m happy to be here and I love what I do on a day-to-day basis.
Q: What makes this organization so unique from your perspective?
NC: Well, I think number one, it starts with people, right? We’ve got a lot of great people that we’ve had in this building for a long time. I think everybody understands the expectations of what’s expected of them on a day-to-day basis and we’re all here to help and serve one another, and the one thing about the NFL which we know – change is constant, right? The only thing that’s consistent in the NFL is change. What we try to do is really start from scratch each year and try to establish our level of performance on a day-to-day basis. I think the most important thing – and I’ve been blessed and fortunate to work with a lot of great people in a lot of different areas – whether that’s on the coaching staff, whether it’s on the personnel side, on the scouting side or with the players. It starts with the people, and we’ve been blessed and fortunate to have a lot of great people. Ultimately, it’s about the players and what they do on Sunday. All of us have a small part in that somewhere along the way, but ultimately it’s about what the players do on Sunday and our job is to help serve them and to get them ready to go. Whatever resources, whatever we can do to help the players in that capacity, that’s what ultimately our responsibility and job is to do.
Q: How disappointed were you to not have the opportunity to at least sit down with the Texans?
NC: Yeah, right now Tom [Curran], my focus is on this football team and that’s where it’s always going to be.
Q: In our coverage of the team, being able to have clarity on our end and being able to understand the dynamics of that situation is important and surely you understand why that topic is still important to the landscape for us in the media?
NC: Sure. Look, I’m in a great position. I’ve got a great opportunity each day to come in here and serve this team and this organization and I enjoy doing that and that’s what I’m excited to do. I’m going to continue to do that to the best of my ability.
Q: Perhaps down the line when your contract is up here, would being a G.M. with sole decision-making responsibilities be something you’d be interested in.
NC: I would say, I mean, I’m not really focused on the hypotheticals. I’m focused on today, and honestly, I’m focused on trying to be the best version of myself each and every day. Honestly, it’s more important for me – I mean, you guys see me after practice – to try and be the best husband, the best father to my kids. I get more joy out of that than anything else. Ultimately, that’s going to matter more than anything else. I’m blessed to be here. I enjoy every day. Each day is a new opportunity to try and improve and get better, and that’s what I’m focused on trying to do.
Q: Can you provide some insight into what’s going on with the absences of Michael Bennett and David Andrews?
NC: Yeah, I would say we have different players that are in different categories or situations. Michael was excused for personal reasons. Michael’s been great to work with, so we’ll leave it at that. I really don’t want to get into it any further. David is day-to-day. Each day we’ll kind of come in here, see where everybody is and we’ll go out there. Ultimately, we’re going to do what we think is best for our team and our players.
Q: How do you guys feel about Julian Edelman and his missed time with the thumb injury?
NC: Yeah, as I said, everybody is in different categories in different positions, so the most important thing is that the players come in here and do whatever they can relative to their situation and that’s what we’re focused on.
Q: How would you describe your job and role here with the team?
NC: Yeah, I would say there’s a lot of people in this building that wear a lot of hats, right? My job is to serve and do whatever I can to help the team in whatever capacity that is. If it’s to help with a drill, it’s to help with a drill. If it’s to help the equipment staff with something, it’s to help with the equipment staff. It’s not about one person. It’s not about one individual. We’ve got a lot of great people that have a lot of responsibility in this building and they do their job well, so I’m just fortunate and blessed to play a small part in that. I just try to do whatever I can to help serve the players, serve Bill and the staff and serve this organization.
Q: Have your responsibilities changed at all heading into this season?
NC: No, I think, look, each day is different. There are some things that over the course of the day might come across your desk that might be different. I think we just try to come in each day, figure out where we are as a team, what are our needs as a team, and then all of us, our responsibility is to chip in and serve the team and the players and the organization to the best of our ability. That’s all we ask of the players, so that’s all we ask of each other and ultimately that’s the most important thing.