Opponent Opinions: QB Matt Cassel

Matt Cassel became a hot name around the NFL on opening day after Patriots all-world quarterback Tom Brady went down with a season-ending knee injury. Cassel is coming off his first NFL start, a 19-10 victory over the New York Jets, and preparing to face the Dolphins on Sunday. He talked about his new role with the South Florida media on Wednesday.

On how his first NFL start went last week against the Jets: "It went well. We got the win so I couldn't be happier with that."

On how he handled the pressure of being the quarterback of the Patriots and how he prepared mentally for it: "I prepared like every other week, to be completely honest. There were just a few more reps to go around at practice this week. Mentally, it was the same focus. You go over the game plan; you learn what the defense does, and then you try to learn what you're going to do to try to attack that particular defense. You go out there and you try to execute."

On what he sees on tape of the Dolphins and if it opens his eyes a little bit in the fact that Cardinals quarterback had a perfect QB rating against the Dolphins last week: "The Miami Dolphins have a great defense. They have a lot of great players. Will Allen is probably one of the better cornerbacks we're going to play all year. The Cardinals came out and had a good game plan against then and played well. That's something that we hopefully can do as well."

On if he is more relaxed with his first NFL start behind him: "You definitely adapt a little bit. You get a little more used to what goes on in the process of the week as a starter. It's something that you kind of have to get used to a little bit. As you start to go on, this is now my second week doing it, it becomes a little bit easier."

On how his life has changed in terms of the responsibilities to the media: "There is definitely more attention from the media. There are a few more text messages and phone calls on my phone. I don't really let it become much of a distraction when it comes to the media. I don't really watch television. I don't watch the sports shows. I don't read any of the papers. That part of my life is pretty similar. But when you have to do a few more interviews, that's really the only thing that has changed."

On if he has received any advice from Tom Brady or Jeff Hostetler about stepping in as the starting quarterback: "I've had many conversations with Tom. He just says it's an opportunity and everybody gets an opportunity and you just have to be ready to seize it once it comes along. He's been a guy who I've really looked up to and a guy who I will continue to lean on during this time. He's been nothing but supportive. He just gives me advice and tells me how to go out there and be efficient. If I ever have a question in terms of the game, or any question at all, he's always there for me."

On if Tom Brady's poise is the pocket is something that he took from him: "I don't know if that's a trait. You just try to go out and do the best that you can. Things are going to go well in football, and things are going to go bad at times. You just have to take the good and the bad, and keep your composure and go out there and go to the next play."

On how much of a help WR Wes Welker is in the passing game form a receiving standpoint: "I think everybody is a huge help. Wes is an outstanding player; Randy (Moss) is an outstanding player. Jabar Gaffney is an outstanding player. We have a ton of them out on this team. We've got a great receiving corps, a great offensive line, and some great running backs in the backfield. We all try to complement each other together and go out and play well together."

On how tough it's been to be the backup QB in college and the NFL when all you want to do is be out there and play: "You know, it's difficult at times. I would be lying if I said it wasn't difficult, but at the same time, you keep things in perspective and I'm a realist. I've got my health and I'm in a great position, and when I look at my situation over the years, I've learned and played behind some other great quarterbacks, and just kept working hard; kept my nose on the grind, and kept going."

On if he believes this is his time to solidify his legacy: "I don't believe much in anything right now. I'm just trying to go out and win games from one week to the next. I really don't look ahead and try to think of legacy or history or anything like that. It's just for me, one game at a time right now with the Miami Dolphins."

On how he spent his Sunday evening after his first career NFL victory: "The plane ride home was kind of long; I'm not going to lie about it. Then I went home and just hung out and relaxed and took a deep breath, and definitely enjoyed it."

On if he had any text messages from former USC alumni like Carson Palmer or Matt Leinart: "I've talked to them a few times throughout this process and they've been very supportive. They've been through it before themselves so they definitely had some good advice for me, which I won't get into much. I've got a great support factor from my family and friends."

On if he's spoken to his former USC head coach Pete Carroll: "I got a chance to speak with him last week before their Ohio State game. He wished me good luck and I wished him good luck, and we had a nice conversation."

On if he has to pinch himself at any point that this is actually happening for him: "No, like I said, it is crazy because it comes about quickly. You never know when it's going to come about. It's my fourth season in the NFL and Tom has stayed healthy, fortunately, for everybody for the last three, and now it just happens at the drop of a hat. You just have to be prepared. I'm still trying to take it all in myself."

On if being a backup has prepared him more to be a starter: "I think it helps you mature. Any rookie quarterback that comes into the NFL, I think it's definitely a difficult time because there are so many different things you have to learn about the NFL game that's different then college, whether it be preparation, whether it be how to handle yourself professionally, how to handle yourself in the locker room. So the maturation process for me, from a rookie to now, has defiantly helped me mature and become a better player. Also being around a guy like Tom Brady who's obviously had a tremendous amount of success and there are a number of guys who have been instrumental, also Doug Flutie and Vinny Testaverde and these guys that have really helped me along the way."

On if he has heard from his high school coach: "I have, I've heard form a few of my high school coaches and I've also heard from a few of my college coaches. We definitely keep in touch."


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