Brandon Lloyd, Ryan Wendell & Sebastian Vollmer Press Conferences (January 16, 2013)

New England Patriots players Brandon Lloyd, Ryan Wendell and Sebastian Vollmer speak with the media Wednesday in advance of Sunday's AFC Championship Game vs. the Baltimore Ravens.

Brandon Lloyd, WR

Q: How much can you take from the first matchup with the Ravens in September?


BL: We can take a lot of the preparation. We can take away the good things we did in the game. We didn’t have any turnovers. We need to be more effective running the ball and more effective in the pass game.


Q: Regardless of where you are lined up, is Ed Reed the kind of guy you are always aware of before the play starts?


BL: You definitely keep an eye on him. There are not very many times in my responsibilities where I’m responsible for Ed, but he is a playmaker and he is one of those guys that always catches your eye on film because he has a nose for the ball. He is a great player. He and Ray Lewis are probably two of the most influential players in our era of football and so there impact on the game is enormous and you keep an eye on those guys when watching film.


Q: Now that you have experienced working with playoff Tom Brady, what makes him exceptional or special this time of year?


BL: It’s the same preparation, the same commitment, the same commitment to developing relationships with the pass catchers, with the offensive line. We still get our one-on-one time and routes and one-on-one time in film study. So he does that with all of the players and he spends a lot of time with us. You get that during the regular season and he is still doing that now. So it is the same.


Q: What is something about Tom that you didn’t know until you came to the Patriots?


BL: I think how detailed his work ethic is. We all work hard and we all say that we do work hard. We like to think that the best players are the hardest workers and Tom proved that when I got here.


Q: Can you talk about spending a lot of time working on the outside and it seems like the sideline is friendlier to the defensive players than to the offensive players?


BL: I can’t talk about that because I don’t agree with it.


Q: How does the sideline benefit a receiver then?


BL: I don’t know.


Q: Where I’m heading is that it seems like defensive players can kind of pinch people to the sideline.


BL: I’ll let you write it.


Q: Do you feel you have had success working on the outside this year?


BL: We have been moderately successful.


Q: How is the mentality different approaching a game? Is it the same every season? Is it still that one game at a time mentality?


BL: That is how I have been approaching it. It seems like ever since Thanksgiving there have been the biggest games of my career and it is not changing now in the playoffs. The approach that I’ve always taken in my career, regardless of the magnitude of the game, is to approach it like it is a regular game and that has been helpful for me.”


Q: How do you guys adjust offensively going forward without Rob Gronkowski?


BL: You have to ask coach.


Q: It was only one game, but do you feel any different now heading into your second playoff game? Do you feel like you have gotten rid of some jitters or nerves that were there before? Do you feel a little bit more comfortable?

BL: There were no nerves, no jitters.


Q: Do you feel any different this week?


BL: Nope, and playing in the playoff game was pretty much a regular game.


Ryan Wendell, OL

Q: Even though you guys haven’t put on the pads in a while, is there anything that you take from practicing against a guy like Vince Wilfork since the start of training camp that you can carry over to this weekend’s matchup?


RW: Absolutely. Vince is an excellent player. I think that is obvious by what he does on the field every week and he pushes the guys across from him to get better every day. So any chance I get to go against him makes me a better player.


Q: What about the challenges of the defensive line of the Ravens?


RW: I think it is clear. This team is a really good team. That is why they are in this game. Their defense in anchored by those big guys up front. They have [Haloti] Ngata and [Terrence] Cody and then behind them you have [Arthur] Jones coming in. I mean, they are solid all the way across the board. They are big human beings.


Q: What did you take away from your first time against Haloti Ngata?


RW: Ngata is everything that is advertised. He is a big, powerful guy, skillful, quick feet, good hands, knows how to get to the ball, understands football, knows how to beat offensive linemen’s blocks. He is a great defensive tackle and he is going to be a huge test for us.


Q: When you are going against a guy who has some size on you in opportunities when you are single blocking him, what are some of the techniques that you are relying on to overcome the size discrepancy?


RW: It is just that: it’s technique. There is nothing I can do about my size. I can’t work on getting any taller. It’s the things we have been working on our whole lives in football: basic fundamentals, using your feet, using your hands.


Q: I am sure it wasn’t perfect, but it seemed like the offensive line did a real stand up job against the Houston Texans. Do you take confidence in that going forward?


RW: That game and this game are two different games, two different teams. This team is going to present different challenges and with the kind of guys that they have on the defense of Baltimore, I’m sure they are going to do a great job of getting after Tom [Brady] and it’s going to be a test for us.


Q: Was some of what we saw last week from the offensive line as a whole related to the continuity that has come about over the past few games because you guys have all been out there together?


RW: It’s always good when you have guys out there week after week. But at the same time, you know injuries happen in football. Our team has injuries and their team has injuries too, so guys just need to be able to step up and play and I think our guys have done a good job of doing that.


Q: How important is that to a successful offensive line, in terms of building continuity and consistency and knowing tendencies with the guys on each side of you?


RW: It’s hugely important. On the offensive line there are no individuals. Every guy is only as good as the guys next to him. My job is made by the guys on each side of me: Dan Connolly and Logan Mankins. So the more you are out there on the field with those guys, the better you know and can expect what they are going to do in every situation. But like I said, the guys that have played behind us, Nick McDonald and Donald Thomas, those guys roll in and out with us at practice and we all know each other very well.


Q: Are you aware of the stats that were published last week about the number of plays NFL players took part in this season?


RW: Yeah, I am aware of it.


Q: You’re number one.


RW: Yeah. I think first it says a lot about the organization, our training staff heading by Jim Whalen and Joe Van Allen and our strength training coaches, Harold Nash and Moses Cabrera, that do everything they can all season and all off-season and during the spring to keep us healthy throughout the whole season. I think it says more about them then it does about me individually.”


Q: How are you feeling?


RW: How am I feeling? I am feeling excited about this game.


Q: Are their bumps and bruises after playing in 1,200-plus plays during the year?


RW: Everybody gets bumps and bruises. I don’t think I feel any different than the other guys. I have been spared big injuries and I think that is what has kept me on the field.


Q: It seems interesting for you because this is the first time you have been out here for every game and been a starter. Can you put all that together by getting the chance to start and not only proving yourself but leading the entire league in plays on the field?


RW: It’s been good, but the biggest thing I worry about is winning games. The fact that we have been able to win some this year and have a chance to be playing this Sunday and win another one, that is the biggest accomplishment for me and my team that I focus on.


Q: You are certainly not the first offensive linemen to come to the this program and have to work his way up from the practice squad, getting cut a few times and coming back. Was it frustrating for you at all to have to go through that waiting process before getting the opportunity this year?


RW: It wasn’t frustrating for me personally because college football was all I ever dreamed of and then after that, getting the opportunity to come to the New England Patriots and be on the practice squad was a great thing in my life. I thought of it as a huge event to be able to come here and take more time to develop and get better at my craft and to learn from Dante Scarnecchia and learn from the guys that were ahead of me. I think that is what has given me the opportunity to play now.


Q: Who were some of the guys that you learned from?


RW: They’re guys that are still here: Dan Connolly, Logan Mankins. Guys that have left: Steve Neal, Matt Light, Dan Koppen. These are all guys that I got to see their example on how to be a professional and get better every day.


Q: So when you were at Fresno State, you didn’t really have thoughts of playing in the NFL?


RW: When I was at Fresno I was more focused on playing Boise State and Nevada.


Q: I know you guys make a habit of not talking or speaking boastfully, but Anquan Boldin said that the difference between this year’s AFC Championship game and last year’s is that the Ravens are going to win. What is your response to that and why do you guys tend to keep your confidence inside the locker room and not out in the papers and in the media?


RW: The difference between this year’s AFC Championship and last year’s AFC Championship is that they are different teams. We’ve got new players and some of the same players that were in that game; they’ve got new players and some of the same players as well. Nothing matters that happened in the regular season. Nothing matters that happened last week. We’re two good teams that are going to squaring off in this game. All that really matters is who goes out and performs.


Q: Is there an internal memo in the locker room to not give anybody any material to grab on to. We know athletes use whatever little advantage they can take to build momentum or hatred for the opponent and you guys seem to keep all that stuff in house.


RW: I just think that guys on our team are just really focused on their job and the opponent across from us. I think that takes up enough time.

Sebastian Vollmer, OT

Q: What does Paul Kruger do well and what kinds of challenges does he present?


SV: I think he has done a really good job for them this year. I think he had nine sacks, or something like that. He’s done some good stuff in the playoffs too. I think he is a good pass rusher that can stop the run and he is all over the field, definitely.


Q: Ravens WR Anquan Boldin said the difference between this year’s game and last year’s game was that the Ravens were going to win. What is your reaction to that and how come you guys don’t tend to give other teams bulletin board material?


SV: I guess it is just the way we do things. We will see on Sunday what happens. I don’t think we take too much into consideration from what happened last year. It was a different team for both of us. I think both teams deserve to be in that game on Sunday and we will see what happens.


Q: Is there an internal memo to not say anything or is it that you know how difficult it is going to be and you don’t want to give them more material?


SV: Like we are saying, we think it is going to be a tough game and we respect Baltimore so we know how tough it is going to be. We still have to bring our best and just go from there I guess.


Q: How do you neutralize the lift that Ravens LB Ray Lewis gives to that defense?


SV: That guy has been meaning a lot to this game for [17] years now at the linebacker position. He is definitely one of their leaders, physically on the field and emotionally. He is kind of doing his thing out there and you have to minimize his impact as you do with a lot of other guys they have.


Q: Has OL Ryan Wendell been the centerpiece of the offensive line this year?


SV: Yeah, obviously there is a lot of communication going on up front and a lot of times he tells us certain things. I think he did a good job in camp and stuff like that. Like you said, I don’t think he has missed a play and that is always a good thing. He has been pretty steady in there.


Q: Kruger is lengthy. Is one way to counter that with your own length?


SV: It won’t hurt. It obviously depends on what they do. They change up what they do, it’s not just him, it’s every rusher. They change up what they do and they go to power moves and things like that. You kind of have to react to what they put out there.


Q: How is your back and what have you gone through the last 18 months to stay healthy?


SV: I feel good, and that is it I guess. I feel good.


Q: There have been no special drills for back issues they have put you through?


SV: Like I said, I feel pretty good.


Q: Can you talk about the importance of having some continuity on the line these last few weeks and what it means?


SV: I think it is good, you practice and the guys next to you are going to get a feel for each other. You work on certain things, certain problems the opponent gives you. So it is good when you have that continuity to get a feel for each other. The guys that stepped in for the guys that were hurt did a great job. We all practice together, so whenever someone misses a certain amount of time, you’ve played next to the replacement before so it isn’t something really new.  


Q: What have the backups meant to this team this season?


SV: A lot, both of them have played a while, so just stepping in and being expected to play with no drop off, I think they’ve done it well. During practice, they’ve given us a good look and given our defense a good look, they’ve stayed ready, because you never know when an injury happens to a guy.

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