- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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Quick hits from conference calls with offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, director of player personnel Nick Caserio and head coach Bill Belichick:
1. Quick turnaround for coaches. The Patriots landed at 3 a.m. and coaches were back in the office at 6 a.m. Tough turn. These coaches really grind.
2. O'Brien's view of Broncos' approach on Gronkowski. Tight end Rob Gronkowski finished with four catches for 53 yards, and this is what O'Brien saw from the Broncos' defense in terms of attention: "They did a lot of different things to him. They hit him at the line of scrimmage, or they put two guys on him. Whenever that happens, there are 11 players on the field, so you can't double everybody. That's something where Aaron [Hernandez] benefitted from that, and the backs benefitted from that."
3. Offensive line gets kudos. O'Brien shared his view that left guard Logan Mankins and right guard Brian Waters graded out highly, while he also lauded the work of tackles Matt Light and Nate Solder against "two really good players." Center Ryan Wendell was "his usual tough, smart self." O'Brien called Solder ("Soldy") and Wendell ("Wendy") by their nicknames, giving the interview a hockey-like feel.
4. Jerod Mayo follow-up. Caserio answered a question on the five-year extension (through 2017) signed by linebacker Jerod Mayo, saying, "Jerod has been a good player since he's been here. He's done a lot of things to help our football team both on and off the field. The goal was to try to keep him here as long as we can. That's what we did."
5. Belichick and memorabilia. Belichick was asked if he keeps items like the 2011 AFC East championship hats and T-shirts. His answer: Absolutely. "After 36 years of coaching, I've accumulated a lot of stuff. Way too much. Game plans. T-shirts. Programs. You name it. I have too much stuff, more than I need, more than I know what to do with. I keep all those things -- I keep my game-plans, I keep my draft books, I keep my notebooks I had when I was with the Colts. It's hard for me to take something you worked that hard on, for a long period of time, that is important to you, and just put that in the trash can."