MATT CASSEL: “It was a great rivalry, it really was. I just remember being a part of that rivalry and every year the excitement amongst the players and amongst the coaches and knowing it was a big game. When I was a young player, being able to see that rivalry between Tom (Brady) and Peyton (Manning) was pretty cool. And also getting a chance to experience that and be a part of that rivalry when I stepped in and got to play there back in 2008 it was pretty cool then too. That is really what I remember and take away from it.”
Q: Did those games always have a playoff feel even though they weren’t in the playoffs?
CASSEL: “Absolutely, it was rockin’. The stadium was always very excited and fired up. I remember going into the Colts stadium and a lot of guys had to put in earplugs because it was so loud. It always had that playoff atmosphere and it was always an exciting game to be a part of.”
Q: What does this game feel like to you?
CASSEL: “It is a big game and I think it is a big game for us. This will be a game that really challenges us and this team is up for the challenge and we are working hard. We will see where we are at.”
Q: Do you see it as a take stock of where we are type game?
CASSEL: “I think every week we do and this is just the next big game on the schedule for us. The Colts have been a great team for a long time and they have a lot of great players led by an all-time great quarterback. For us it is going to be a great challenge. These guys are excited about it and I am excited about it, we will be ready to go come Sunday.”
Q: What improvement have you seen out of WR
CASSEL: “Dwayne has come in and worked tremendously hard this year and you can probably see it just with his physical look and what he brings. You go out there and you look at him, he is quick, he is fast, he is running around but at the same time, he is giving effort on every single play. You see him blocking on certain plays and he is doing everything that the coaches ask of him. I am excited about Dwayne and about him continuing to grow and make progress with the rest of us.”
Q: You have worked with a lot of receivers. Are a lot of them reluctant to block in general?
CASSEL: “I don’t know. I guess some receivers are a little bit more reluctant than others but at the same time I know that a lot of the good ones go in there and they put their nose in there and they get after it.”
Q: What kind of a challenge is it to face a 4-3 defense for the first time this season basically?
CASSEL: “I think that if you are facing a 4-3 team, especially a team like Indianapolis, you really have to take into account those two edge rushers, (Dwight) Freeney and (Robert) Mathis. They are both explosive players, they are great off the edge and there is always somebody you have to account for when you are throwing the ball. For us as an offensive unit, I think it is staying out of long distances, long passing yardage situations where they can pin their ears back and come. We have to create situations where we are in manageable third-down situations and second down situations.”
Q: Do they leave DE Dwight Freeney and DE Robert Mathis in the same spot or do they move them around?
CASSEL: “They do a little bit of the moving around from what I have seen on film but for most of the game they are predominately on the left and on the right.”
Q: In your time in New England, how many times were you trying to be Peyton Manning on the scout team during the week?
CASSEL: “Three out of the four years I was there. It was a lot of fun because there are a lot of gimmicks going on out there. He is a great player and it is always fun to watch him on film and see him. I remember being a young quarterback trying to emulate him.”
Q: Do you feel your level of play escalates going against a guy like that?
CASSEL: “Well it should. You try to get yourself up for the challenge there is no doubt about that because you know you are going up against one of the best and you have to embrace that challenge because that is what we are all here for is to play against the best.”
Q: Is it hard to not watch Manning during the game when you are on the sideline?
CASSEL: “That is interesting. I like to watch other people’s offense but at the same time during the game you come over as an offense and you start making adjustments and you try to get with your receivers, lineman and start saying, ‘hey, this is what we are going to do the next series.’ You are kind of concentrating on that and making your adjustments so it is hard to watch the other offense.”
Q: As a quarterback, what can you learn about watching Manning?
CASSEL: “I think the main thing I always take away is his consistency week in and week out. He is consistent, he knows where he wants to go with the ball, he makes good decisions and he is accurate and he wins. That is all you can ask for from a quarterback.”
Q: Some say this Colts team is a little more vulnerable this year. Do you see it that way?
CASSEL: “They are a good team and I think the one thing that we can’t do is get behind and be trying to play the catch up game. We have to be able to control the ball offensively and play a balanced game. It is going to take all the defense, offense and special teams to play together because this is a good team who is playing at home and they have historically been very good at home.”
Q: As a quarterback do you understand all the motions and signals Manning may be giving out at the line when he goes through his pre-snap checks?
CASSEL: “I don’t because I don’t know that offense too much but I am sure he is making a lot of checks and getting his guys in the right spot and making sure he is with the play that they want to be in.”
Q: Their secondary is really banged up. As a quarterback do you take notes on something like that?
CASSEL: “I think you always have to know what personnel are going to be in the game. I know S Melvin Bullitt unfortunately went down with a season ending injury and that is tough on anybody. We don’t really know who is going to be stepping in for him at the safety position but I definitely think that the coaches take that into consideration and understanding of who is going to be in the ball game and go from there in terms of a game plan.”