Q: How’s camp been so far?
TB: It’s been a lot of fun. It’s been a lot of fun. We’ve got a lot of new faces out here between the younger players and the guys we brought in and everyone seems to be working hard. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but it’s fun to be out here on the field and really working towards the season.
Q: How has it been to work with some of the guys who had been here before like Donte’ Stallworth and Jabar Gaffney?
TB: Well, it’s been a lot of fun. There is so much familiarity with what they’re capable of and what they can do. It doesn’t seem like it’s taken long for them to kind of get re-acclimated to what we do. Both of them are making a lot of plays out there. And it’s exciting for a quarterback; there are obviously a lot of guys to throw the ball to. We’re really spreading it around out here and different guys are getting different opportunities and everyone is trying to compete pretty hard for a spot.
Q: Is it kind of crazy to you that this will be the 13th time you’ve celebrated a birthday during training camp?
TB: Yeah, it is. It is. I certainly don’t take it for granted. It’s the most fun I have, so I still feel like a young kid out here trying to earn a spot. I ‘m trying to be a good example and obviously I have more experience than most of the guys out here, but you still try to bring enthusiasm and leadership and try to go out and do your job.
Q: Do guys respond to you in a different way, whether they’re rookies or guys coming in as free agents, than they did even five or six years ago? Do you ever detect that?
TB: No. I mean, I try to be one of the guys, so I just throw myself in there like everybody else. It’s a lot of fun getting to know different guys and seeing guys go away like Jabar and Donte’ and then they come back like Deion [Branch] has. They had different experiences, so we have a lot of great teammates. We’ve built some great relationships over the years with my friends – I mean, they’re all on this team.
Q: Can you see Brandon Lloyd’s background in the offense just from practicing with him?
TB: Yeah, he knows what he’s doing out there. It’s not like there’s a lot of studying the playbook. He’s been in the offense now for a bunch of years. Now, like everybody, there are different words we’re using, different stuff we’re doing on offense, so every day we’re going in here with different things to learn and try to go out there and execute. But we meet about it, we walk through it, we talk about it again and then we come out here and try to execute at it at full speed. And then you get a defense in there and you kind of see how it plays out. And then the things that work, you build ion them, the things that don’t work, you try to get better at. It’s a lot of guys are working hard to learn the plays, learn the system and go out there and execute against our defense which is a challenge for us.
Q: With Jabar Gaffney, Donte’ Stallworth and Brandon Lloyd all having a background in the offense, does that make it easier to be productive now that you know these guys do know what they’re doing and they can hit the ground running?
TB: I think there’s just a certain level of trust you have and offensive football is about 11 guys doing their job. You can’t do anyone else’s job on offense, and if 11 guys aren’t doing the right thing, then it doesn’t end up being a very good play. You have guys who you play with who you’ve won games with that you really have a lot of trust in, then you can go out there early and execute at a relatively high level. I mean, we’re nowhere near where we need to be based on our game on September 9. We have a bunch of practices and a bunch of preseason games and I think every day we’re trying to come out here and see the things that we didn’t do well in the previous practice and go execute them in the next practice.
Q: When you look at the numbers, you have five, six, seven receivers that you’ve developed a good rapport with, but someone’s going to have to go. It’s kind of life or death for some of these guys that have had very good NFL careers and have been here.
TB: I think competition is good for all of us. I think it’s up to everyone to earn the spot. You have to earn it every year. I think the one thing about this place is there’s no entitlement to the positions out here. You do it based on what you earn and that’s why you come out here every day working hard to develop that trust from your coaches and your teammates so that they want you out there. And part of being a team player is doing what’s best for the team and if someone is better than you, then it’s better for the team for that person to play. So that’s why you come out here and you work hard. You work hard in the offseason to be prepared and you work hard in training camp to get an opportunity and then you work hard once you get an opportunity to take advantage of your opportunity. But the more good football players you have on the team, the better you’re going to be. It’s better to have guys competing for spots than hoping guys were better than what they are. It’s better to have a lot of good players than not have a lot of good players. We’ve got some depth at the receiver position; I don’t know how it’s going to sort out, but based on what we do out here on the field, that’s everybody’s opportunity: quarterback, running back, receiver, tight end. I mean, we’ve got a lot of competition at a lot of positions.
Q: Is Brandon Llyod still surprising you with the types of catches he’s able to make and you having to probably adjust to where he wants the ball?
TB: Yeah. And there’s adjustment with everybody every year. it feels like you come out here the first few days and your legs aren’t quite underneath you. No matter what you do in the offseason, it’s hard to duplicate the speed and the intensity that we’re doing. So, you come out here early; and you just feel lethargic and, ‘Uh, I don’t feel good out there yet,’ and I’m trying to get the ball to Brandon or Donte’ or Wes [Welker] and they’re running and I’m going ‘I just don’t feel like I’ve got my legs underneath me yet.’ I think a lot of us at this point are still working in to where we’re going to be, but those guys are off to – they’re working their butts off. You see the way guys come out here and work, and hot days – It wasn’t too hot today – but we do a lot of drills, we do a lot of one-on-ones, we do a lot of quarterback-receiver type drills, so that’s where you develop a lot of the trust and that’s where they begin to develop some accountability within our group.
Q: Do you allow yourself to even consider the potential of what you and Brandon Lloyd can do together?
TB: Well, it’s going to be up to us to decide that. It’s going to be the kind of work that we put in. He wants to be a big part of this offense. I obviously want to help him become a big part of this offense, so there’s constant communication between the two of us. There is always communication between the quarterback and the receivers. Without the receivers, there’s no passing game. So, you know, you’ve got to develop the trust with those guys. I’ve thrown the ball to a lot of the guys really, except Brandon, so he and I have some extra work that we’ve got to put in and a lot of talk and a lot of communication. ‘Hey, if they give us this coverage, this is what we’re thinking,’ or ‘This is what I’m expecting on this particular play.’ So from the time we walk in in the morning to the time we leave tonight, those are the things we talk about.
Q: Since you’ve been a starter, there’s been very little change on the offensive line, but this year there has been substantial change. How is it going so far and are you confident going forward?
TB: Yeah, I think there’s good competition at that spot, too, between the tackles and the guards and the centers. There’s a lot of confidence. We’ve always had a great offensive line here. Those guys work their tails off and there’re very high expectations from [Coach Scarnecchia] and from Coach Belichick. You have to have a good offensive line to win football games. We’ve had a great one since I got here and I have lot of confidence in those guys, whoever’s in there. When you’re a quarterback out here, you’re just kind of going in with whoever’s in there. I’m not worried about their job; I’m trying to go out there and really execute mine.
Q: You mentioned Dante [Scarnecchia], who is widely considered one of the best at his job. How much does that help you sleep better at night knowing you have him in charge of that group?
TB: He’s been coaching the line since I got here and like I said, his style is – he’s a great coach. He expects nothing but the best from those guys every single day. He coaches them hard. He coaches them hard in the spring, he coaches them hard in the summer [and] he coaches them hard in the fall. He’s a demanding coach and I think he gets the best out of every player that he’s got. That’s what it takes.
Q: You’ve celebrated your last 13 birthdays here in training camp.
TB: It’s been longer than that – I’ve been doing it since college and high school.
Q: But how much do appreciate having spent the last 13 in one place?
TB: I love playing quarterback for this team. It’s a great responsibility to have and I appreciate it every single day. There’s nothing I’d rather do than be out here being the quarterback for this team. My life is pretty much built around that. To come out here when practice starts and to be with your teammates, there’s nothing more fun than that. You have to work as hard as you can so you can be the best quarterback for this team that I can possibly be. That’s what I think about every single day when I get up.
Q: How much do you think it has helped you that you’ve been in one place for 13 years?
TB: It’s huge. To have the experience in the same offensive system with the same coaches, you build on your mistakes. I think being a good football player is not necessarily how many good plays you make but how many bad plays you don’t make. Anybody can make good plays. You wouldn’t be in this league if you weren’t capable of making good plays, but it’s a matter of making bad plays. I think that you have to make the bad plays and then you learn from them. I’ve made plenty of those over the course of my career. You make them and you learn from them and you try not to repeat them. To be in the same system where we’re running plays out here that I’ve run literally a thousand times, there’s not a lot of mistakes that you make on those plays. Some of the other ones that you’re trying new that you build on year after year, that’s why you’re out here practicing. I’m trying to eliminate mistakes just like everybody else. Quarterback is about decision making and throwing the ball accurately and that’s going out here and trying to do my job.
Q: The paparazzi noticed that you’ve graduated from water slides to rock jumping. Did you hit that landing?
TB: I was thinking about maybe the Olympic diving team but it’s hard not to make that splash. I’m glad I’m back playing football – that’s what I enjoy most.
Q: Is it ever amazing that there is no time in which you are able to not have a camera trained on you?
TB: I know. It’s hard to find places. It gets harder and harder.
Q: The Antarctic is pretty bare.
TB: Yeah, you could go up there and freeze your butt off. I don’t look at it as a big deal. It was a fun jump though, I’ll tell you that.
Q: Does anything different drive you now as opposed to maybe 11 or 12 years ago?
TB: It’s been the same thing since the day I got here – it’s to win. That’s the only thing that matters. That’s the only thing that matters with your training, practicing, nutrition, rehab – it’s to win. Everything that you do when you come out here is about winning and being the best that you can be for this team.
Q: How much do you remember about your first preseason game? I did a little research today.
TB: Against San Fran?
Q: Who was your first completion to?
TB: Sean Morey?
Q: Yup. Who was in the backfield?
TB: It was probably – I think I rolled out to the right –
Q: Harold Shaw was out there. Shockmain Davis was out there too.
TB:Yeah he was called him ‘Shock Diesel’. He was as fast as could be. That was fun day. Against the Niners, they inducted Joe Montana and Howie Long and I think Ronnie Lott that day into the Hall of Fame and Jerry Rice was on the other side of the field. That was a pretty special day.