Q. I'm sure you've been in situations with Oregon or New Hampshire where your team has been a huge underdog. How do you handle that? How do you convince people that this is doable?**
COACH KELLY: I've honestly never talked to any team I've ever been on about being an underdog or point spreads or anything like that. I've never paid attention to them.
Q. How has LB Mychal Kendricks been in coverage this year and recently?
COACH KELLY: You know, he missed a coverage, obviously, on [Lions RB] Theo Riddick, who is a really good option route runner. But I think overall Mych has done a nice job.
Q. Are teams trying to isolate Kendricks on a running back out of the backfield?
COACH KELLY: No, I don't see that. I think we had on a certain play -- we had Connor [Eagles LB Connor Barwin] on [Riddick] on one play. Riddick hit us twice on that, but one time it was Connor on him and the other time in a zone blitz and then one time it was Mych, but I don't think people are scheming to do anything like that.
Q. In the Dolphins game they were flexing running backs out --
COACH KELLY: Yeah, they did that once. People have done it, but everybody does that. It's not an individual. If we get a running back that can get matched up on a linebacker, a lot of people are going to try to take a shot on that.
Q. You're about to face Patriots QB Tom Brady. Despite the way the defense has played in the last couple of games, if you guys can have success against Brady, what do you think that will do for the defense's confidence?
COACH KELLY: I'm not -- you're asking me to talk about an outcome of something that hasn't happened. We've just got to get ready to play against a really good quarterback. So I'm not trying to prepare for what our guys mindset is going to be like after they have success against a guy. That's not how I'm thinking.
Q. Have any of the backups made any push to supplant the starters this week based upon the practices?
COACH KELLY: Based upon the two days we've been out here? We have got some guys that are working very hard and we have another really big day today, but there's not anybody specific that I would say, 'Yeah, this guy is going to do this.'
Q. How significant is RB Ryan Mathews' concussion? We haven't seen him out here. Has he moved through the phases at all?
COACH KELLY: They just tell me when they are cleared. So, I don't know what grades -- I don't even know if there are grade. I know sometimes with a shoulder there's a Grade One, Grade Two or Grade Three. I just know he's in the concussion protocol and when they clear him to play, then he'll come back. But it is not any issue, especially with that type of injury, that will be a forced issue by any stretch of the imagination. You want to make sure that the health and safety of the player is first and foremost and when he's cleared to go, he is cleared to go.
Q. What has been the impact of not having Mathews in games and practices?
COACH KELLY: We have less depth there and I think when we have been successful, we have two big, physical backs in there and we are missing a key cog in that right now. We have got to kind of make up without it; although, I thought Kenjon [RB Kenjon Barner], when he got in for kind of his first playing time against Detroit, did a nice job. So we'll see if we can build upon that in terms of what he's doing and then we have Sprolesy [RB Darren Sproles]. [Mathews] has played really well for us this year and we hope at some point in time we can get him back, but again, it's in the medical hands, as it should be.
Q. What do you see out of New England's offense? They lose a guy every week and it doesn't seem like it affects them.
COACH KELLY: Did they lose Brady? [Laughter] Because that I think would really, truly affect them. And I think it really just speaks to how good of a football player Tom is and the fact that they have had a lot of moving pieces around him. For them, it's that next-man-up mentality, which it really helps when [Brady's] the guy pulling the trigger because he really is an orchestra leader out there in terms of directing protections, changing routes and changing everything. He's been in that offense since he's been in the league, so he's got an unbelievable command of it. And then they find a way to find players that kind of fit and they know what the individual player can do and they try to maximize that. It all starts and ends with [Brady]. He's a first-ballot Hall of Famer and it's a huge challenge for us to have to go up and defend him because he's running the whole show.
Q. University of New Hampshire Head Football Coach Sean McDonnell and UNH Athletic Director Marty Scarano have talked very fondly about how you would go off on your own dime and learn 'this' system and learn 'that' system. You would learn from coaches and I would assume that Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick was one of them. Were you able to take something tangible from these guys? What did you take from Belichick, specifically?
COACH KELLY: A lot of times, just specifically in talking to Bill, it was more philosophical. It's not -- I don't come out of there and say, 'I had a conversation with Bill seven years ago and I know that this blitz's name is 'this' and that they run it on third down,' because you know, when you look at the tape, he changes. They were a little bit more of a 3-4 team a couple of years ago, even when we trained with them they were more of a 3-4 team when they had [former Patriots and current Texans DT Vince] Wilfork as their big nose. They are more of a four-down team now with two defensive tackles. So, a lot of the conversations with Coach [Belichick], when I had time to spend with him, were more philosophical of, 'What do you think here? What are you doing here? What's your thought process here?' So it's not a game-plan specific thing that you can apply to what's going to go on this Sunday.
Q. Former Patriots and current Cowboys QB Matt Cassel obviously made him look pretty good in the year he filled in for Brady. Is that Belichick's magic or is that his --
COACH KELLY: Again, I think Tom is a first-ballot Hall of Famer; I think Bill is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and [he has an] ability to do it with a lot of different people. When he did lose Tom, everybody [first] said, 'Well, it's Tom.' But when he did lose Tom, he won 11 games with Matt Cassel. He's been on such a successful run, especially in this day of the salary cap. I think to be able to continue to manage and stay at the high level, he's done it as good as anybody.
Q. Have you noticed a difference in recently signed DB Jaylen Watkins between now and when he was here over the summer?
COACH KELLY: He's a little bit older. [Joking and laughter] But no, I think the one thing with Jaylen that was extremely impressive to every coach here, was No. 1, his recall in terms of what we did. He literally played corner, safety and nickel on the first day [back] and just ran out on the field. He got the call, lined up and he knew what he was. He wasn't misaligned and he was in the proper spots. The thing that really attracted us to him all along has been his versatility in that he can play all three positions. And when you're at a point now where you lost someone like Nolan [Eagles CB Nolan Carroll], the depth part of it becomes [important], because you're kind of [thinking about], 'If he moves here, what do we do if this happens?' [Watkins] has done that. He kind of picked up right where he left off. That was the one thing we knew about him all along, he's a really intelligent player. But to have the immediate recall when he jumped out on the field on Tuesday -- On Tuesday he played all three positions, because Walt [DB Walter Thurmond] wasn't going on Tuesday, so [Watkins] took some reps at corner, took a couple reps at safety and then took reps at the nickel spot. I think that's a real credit to him.
Q. When is Thurmond going to be able to go?
COACH KELLY: Walter should go today. You'll get a report fully after. We'll see exactly what he can do. So if he doesn't [go], please don't say I lied to you, okay? [Joking]
Q. When considering either benching or releasing a player, how do you balance giving the player confidence and sticking with him for a little longer versus waiting too long before you have to make the move to possibly make a statement in order to send a message to everybody else that maybe something needs to be done?
COACH KELLY: I don't think there are any statements or messages. I think everybody knows what's going on and we are trying to get the best players on the field to give us an opportunity to beat New England. But I don't sit there and say, 'Hey, let's do this,' and it will make a statement to everybody else that all of a sudden they are going to practice harder or prepare harder or study film harder or play harder because Joey Jones got let go. I never thought of that.
Q. Do you subscribe to the idea that you want to give the player confidence? That you don't all of a sudden sit him down because he made a mistake, etc., maybe let him work his way through it --
COACH KELLY: I think you look at everything -- and I think everybody makes mistakes. No one plays a perfect game and no one coaches a perfect game. No one does anything from a perfect standpoint. But you look at what you have. You also look and say, 'Okay, we are going to sit him down. Now, who are we going to play?' One of the big differences between college and the National Football League, your roster isn't very big, so your answer is 'Let's go get another guy.' Well, if you're on the street right now and you're not on one of the 32 other teams, there's probably a big discrepancy from guys that are playing and actually getting reps in National Football League games. The guys that are on the street, there's a reason that they are on the street.
Q. This is completely off topic but hover boards have become very popular in your locker room. I know it's not NASCAR racing but are you concern at all with the injury possibility with those things?
COACH KELLY: [S] Malcolm [Jenkins] started it. I think he teaches a class on it. [Joking] We haven't had any injuries and it hasn't been a big [issue] -- but there are, there's a lot of [the hover boards]. It's a little bit like 'Back to the Future' with guys flying around the hallways here. If we had an injury, we would address it, but they have been doing it I think since back in preseason camp, maybe even back to [OTAs] and we have not had any [knocking on wood] hover board injuries. I don't even know how you would put that on the injury report. [Joking] Would you have to list that as hover board, Grade One or Grade Two? We haven't had anything yet. [Laughter]
Q. It sounds like NFL referee Pete Morelli's crew got reassigned from the Sunday night game to the Eagles-Patriots game. Wonder how the league explained that to you?
COACH KELLY: They just sent an e-mail saying that we have a new crew assigned to our game.
Q. They don't have to get your permission?
COACH KELLY: No, they don't. [In the] NFL hierarchy, I'm under here [points at the floor] in terms of permission. [Joking and laughter]
Q. Do they provide an explanation of what happened?
COACH KELLY: There's 17 crews. I've never had a problem with any of them. They are all very professional. They all work extremely hard at what they do and I don't even know where he was before or what happened or why they got reassigned. But there's going to be a crew out there and I'm sure they are going to do whatever they can to prepare and get ready for us. It's not an issue for us. I know we haven't had their crew this year, but that's not any concern of ours in terms of who they are.
Q. How did QB Sam Bradford come out of yesterday?
COACH KELLY: He's alive. He's good. He threw yesterday. Did a nice job. Again, I think it's the residual part of it; is he any more sore? We've got another big day of throwing today so we'll see where he is and then kind of figure out what goes on on Friday and Saturday. It's not anything that we're like, 'Wow, that didn't go well.' He did a nice job, but again, we need to continue to see him progress and where that is in terms of him being able to sustain that, because that will give you a really good indication of him being able to go into a game and play against – obviously, we are not live in practice, so we are not hitting him and tackling him to the ground. He did a nice job in the last two days but today is another big test for him.
Q. On a week-to-week basis, the time you spend with defense, does that change, and if so, what dictates it?
COACH KELLY: No, it doesn't.
Q. What dictates how much time you spend with the defense?
COACH KELLY: I meet with [Defensive Coordinator] Billy [Davis] on a daily basis.
Q. You're not in the meeting room?
COACH KELLY: Not when we are game planning, but then when I'm done with the offensive game plan, I meet with Billy and go over with what they have done and why they are doing it and things here and then I can give my two cents from an offensive standpoint in terms of this is how we see this coverage. And there's a lot of great feedback from both sides. One of the great things about our staff is how much our guys spend time together. So if we have a coverage question about something, we may clip out four or five clips and – [Quarterbacks Coach] Ryan Day and [Wide Receivers Coach] Bob Bicknell will go sit down with [Defensive Backs Coach] Cory [Undlin] and say, 'This looks a little bit similar to what you guys do here. What do you think the corner is being told? Oh, okay, they are doing this and this and this.' There's a ton of interaction between our staff. We are here at 6 [am] and go home at 11 [pm], so it's not like we don't have enough time to be together.