Camp Quotes: What They're Saying

Matt Cassel knows that making the team will require him to be more than a clipboard holder. Cassel weighs in on what it takes to be prepared. Heath Evans talks about the backs, Adalius Thomas talks defense and more quotes from players atfter practice.


FOXBORO - Some say the best job in football is the backup quarterback. Don't tell that to Patriots backup signal caller Matt Cassel, who rarely sees the playing field behind Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady.

The preseason is very important for Cassel, because it's the most playing time he may get all year.
"This is an important time for me to get the reps," said Cassel. "I know when the season gets started; I'll have to be ready at the drop of a hat. Any week I can be called on (to play) and I have to prepare like I'm a starter and be ready to go."

Cassel was drafted by the Patriots in the seventh round of the 2005 NFL Draft and has been taking a lot of the snaps this preseason, as well as been working as a holder in the kicking game.

"(Holding) is going great. I enjoy holding and being part of that unit and that group," said Cassel. "We had success last year and hopefully it will carry over into this year."

QB Matt cassel holds for K Stephen Gostkowski at Patriots training camp Aug. 5, 2007 (Photo Kevin Saleeba / PatriotsInsider.com)

Entering his third season with the Patriots, Cassel said he's feeling much more comfortable with running the offense.

"I feel great and feel a lot more comfortable obviously," Cassel said. "I've been in the system for three years. I know what I want out of the different plays and how to approach the game and how to prepare. There's definitely an accelerated learning curve from years one to three."

Although he may be more comfortable, Cassel said he still has a lot more work to do in order to be ready for the season.

"I'm always trying to work on something, whether it'd be physically or mentally," he said. "I'm just always trying to better myself one way or another, whether it'd be watching film or just staying after practice working on things. I'm just trying to work on timing with the receivers. There's always something to work on and there's always time to do it right now.

"Things are going well," he said. "The team is getting better each and everyday. There are a lot of things we're working on as a group. Everything is starting to progress like we want it to."

Young running backs making an impression on Evans

Running back Heath Evans, a seven year pro, likes what he sees from some of the rookie backs this training camp.

"This year there's not a lot of (rookies on the team)," said Evans, who is entering his third season with the Patriots. "At running back, we have Quadtrine Hill and you have Quintin (Smith) and both those guys are doing a good job… Both those guys have picked it up mentally more than most young guys do. When the coach asks them questions, they pretty much have good answers. There's something to be said about that. Most times it's mentally that gets the young guys, not necessarily that they can't play. If they couldn't play, they wouldn't be here. It's the mental aspect that kind of bogs them down, but they've done a good job."

Evans, who rushed for 309 yards in 78 carries in two seasons with New England, said he's also looking to fit in as well.

"I want to fit in with what (the offense) needs to fit that week," said Evans. "That's what we're coming prepared to do. But week to week, you know how things change around here."

RB Heath Evans (44) goes through a running play at Patriots training camp at Gillette Stadium, in Foxboro Aug. 5, 2007 (Photo Kevin Saleeba / PatriotsInsider.com)

Evans also said his approach to training camp has changed through the years.

"It has changed here. Some places are extremely physical. Some places are extremely mental," he said. The Patriots camp "is a little of both. For me, you've done the physical aspect for so many years and so it's kind of second nature and so you continue to push there, but as I hit on before, there's a mental aspect to really know this offense inside and out. So no matter what aspect they call on me to do, (it's important to) have it down pat and have it just be second nature."


Adalius Thomas is working hard to learn the Patriots defense

Adalius Thomas was signed by the Patriots as an unrestricted free agent in March 2007. He joins the Patriots as a veteran of seven NFL seasons.

Thomas said he's working hard to learn the Patriots defense. "You just got to come out here and work hard. I don't think you can learn this defense in a week. As far as where we're at, I'm getting more comfortable, but that comes from work and with reps and there's no shortcut to that…you know everything is brand new."

Thomas said studying hard in the classroom and listening to the coaches is the key to his adjustment to the Patriots defense.

"Same thing you do everyday in practice and everything you learn in the classroom, you come out here and you do it on the field," said Thomas. "The way you practice is the way you play… Whenever we get out there, we have to have our whole game. If not, whatever (Belichick) sees fit for us to do, we go out to get better."

Mankins says Koppen is the anchor to the offensive line

Offensive guard Logan Mankins praised the work of center Dan Koppan, a five year vet, on the offensive line after the team ran blocking drills against the Patriots defensive line in practice on Sunday.

Logan Mankins blocks defenders during a team practice at Patriots training camp Aug. 5, 2007 (Photo Kevin Saleeba / PatriotsInsider.com)

"It's very important (making the correct calls on the line)," said Mankins, the Patriots first round pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. "(Koppan) sets us up a lot of times. He makes the call that sets the whole line and he does a good job of it too. He makes all the right calls the majority of the time. Sometimes when it's loud and we can't hear what he's saying, we can't be robots out there and listen to Dan. We have to know what to do too. Everyone makes calls, but he usually sets everything up and so we look to him a lot."

Mankins said playing against his own defense is good preparation for the offensive line to learn their blocking assignments. "We work together a lot on all the blocks," he said. "The defense plays us a certain way and we have to read it on the run and trust the guy next to us that he's reading the same thing that you are."


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