PIOLI: “It has been encouraging and productive. I think we had such a good off-season and productive off-season in a lot of ways. I think it has continued now. The players have practiced hard, worked hard and we have gotten good work in. There are a lot of things you try to get accomplished, you have a list of things you want to get accomplished in camp. Obviously you want to improve on all the little things you want to improve on. I have seen a lot of really good work go on here and so has Todd (Haley).”
Q: When it comes to evaluation, how important are the preseason games? Do you weigh heavier evaluation on the games than you do in camp?
PIOLI: “I don’t think there is a specific formula in terms of how you weight things. The games are important, every practice is important, every walk-through is important. There are a lot of things that you have to be careful of. If you see things that are just physical out there, some guys making great catches or you see guys having great runs, you also have to go back to the mental part of it and some of the meetings that we have. Do they know there assignment? Do they know what they are doing? So it is a combination of all the things. The game is very important to see how guys play under a different set of circumstances. It is an accumulation of all these different things.”
Q: There has been a buzz surrounding the rookies. After watching them, are you more encouraged?
PIOLI: “I don’t know if it has increased. I was encouraged when we picked them, I like the group of guys we’ve got. Until we start play against other people in real situations … Again, what they do here is important from a growth standpoint, but they now have to do it in a game. Doing it in one game doesn’t matter, it is not just three games, it is consistency. If we want to be a good football team that wins, they have to be able to do things consistently. “
Q: Do you like having camp in St. Joseph?
PIOLI: “This has been unbelievable. I don’t know how it has been for you all but it has been fabulous for us in terms of facilities, the closeness of everything, the energy from the fans. There is a different energy here that the players talk about on a daily basis. They are encouraged every single day that they are out here. We are encouraged. We are home, this is where we are supposed to be and I am glad we are here.”
Q: Did you think being so close to home there may be pitfalls because guys were able to go home?
PIOLI: “Knock on wood, but so far so good. If we do the right thing with the right kind of players and instruct them as to what some of the potential pitfalls are, they understand it. We have talked about it a number of times, it is not just the skill of the player, we want to make sure that we have guys with the right kind of make-up and that know how to be professionals, know what to do and take care of their bodies after practice and take care of their minds after practice, to learn their assignments. So far, it has been good. There is another element, being so close to home a lot of these young players have young families and this isn’t the old days, they get a couple minutes to spend time, to see their families and reconnect, which again, helps foster all the things we are trying to create with the team and the players as a whole.”
WRIGHT: How much do you think being a part of that 2001 Patriots team has formed the way you guys think about building a team, looking for the right 53, not necessarily the most skilled 53?
PIOLI: “I don’t know that I have articulated it clearly enough because I have made the statement of it not only being the best 53, but being the right 53. In those right 53, they have to be good football players, they have to be skilled and talented football players and it takes a combination. You can’t just bring a team out there that is a good bunch of guys and a hardworking bunch of guys and a tough bunch of guys and just expect that they are going to win. They have to have those elements. What we try to do, don’t always get it done, but to get good football players or very good football players that have the right make-up that are the right 53. Again, what we are trying to accomplish here is win championships. I have said it a number of times, individuals go to Pro Bowls, teams win championships. Our goal is to bring championships to Kansas City. Division championships, conference championships and whatever else is after that.”
Q: What are some of the things you are going to be looking for out of the team on Friday in Atlanta?
PIOLI: “There are a million things. Seeing who can execute, who knows their assignments. That is one of the biggest things this time of year. What is easy for everyone to see is the physical performance. You are not always able to see as a fan or in the media who is taking care of their assignments, who is doing the right things, who is in the right place at the right time, who is being dependable. This is a time now where there is a lot of pressure on these guys and they are trying to make the football team and we are going to see how they respond under pressure along with all the other things we are looking at on the field.”
Q: Are you trying to trade S
PIOLI: “I will only talk about the players that are here. Have you heard that line before? I appreciate the question, but we are only going to talk about the players on the field.”
Q: You don’t think it would be easier to set the issue to rest once?
PIOLI: “It doesn’t bother me to get asked about it, it doesn’t bother Todd. We are just going to talk about the players that are here. I understand and appreciate you all asking the question. I understand you guys are doing your job and I appreciate it.”