Recently re-signed safety James Ihedigbo joined Sirius XM’s “Late Hits” program on Friday night, addressing his return to the Patriots with co-hosts Jeff Rickard and Gil Brandt.
Some soundbites from the interview:
On joining the Patriots in 2011 and being re-signed for 2012: "We’re talking about Bill Belichick here, who, he’s very, very smart in terms of using his players and his personnel to the best of his ability. And I just presented myself with an opportunity. I always believe that opportunity is the key to life. He gave me an opportunity and was like, 'You’re the guy, and do with it what you wish.’ I just continued to excel with the guys around – Patrick Chung, he’s been in the system and understands it very well and Devin McCourty, and just the guys across the board. Like I said, he’s a great coach, and I’m excited to be back and excited to work towards the number one goal."
On how frustrating the criticism of last year’s defense is given the team's success: "It can get frustrating if you listen to the noise. We have confidence in the guys in our room and in our defense; Jerod Mayo, all across the board with Brandon Spikes, we just continue to work hard. You know, we’ve just gotta keep winning games and at the end of the day, it matters in the win and loss column and that’s what the NFL is all about."
On if the Super Bowl loss to the Giants lingers at all: "It definitely does. I can see why a guy like Ray Lewis plays the game for so long, because once you get a taste [of] playing in the Super Bowl, it drives you. It definitely just drives you. It’s driven me this offseason to continue to work hard, and I’m blessed and I’m definitely thankful that I’m back with the Patriots and have another chance to make another run at it. When you play in a game as big as the Super Bowl and you come up short, or even if you win it, it drives you and it changes your focus, you just get a little bit of a taste of it, and you want it again, you wanna get back. You quickly turn the corner."
On one of two Patriots defensive players people will be talking about next season: "Definitely Mayo, hands downs he’s always performing at a high level. Next to him as well, I’m going with my man Brandon Spikes, he’s going to have an awesome season. He was nicked up for a little bit during the season with a few little injuries there, but coming back healthy this year and looking for him to do his thing like he always does."
On how he would cover Rob Gronkowski: "I’d put 11 guys on him if possible … Even when I played in New York, as much as I don’t like talking about it, they did different things, tried to get him at the line of scrimmage, tried to double him later on in the deep part of the field. He does such a great job of getting open, he’s a big target, he does a great job catching the ball with his hands. And the scary thing is the run after the catch, being as big as he is, as fast as he is, as elusive as he is. He’s a tough guy to cover. I’m just glad he’s on my team."
On joint practices in training camp: "Oh yeah, those are great, and I’m surprised that more teams don’t do 'em. It’s an opportunity for you to go against other guys, and really master your technique, master what coach is teaching you, whether it’s something new in training camp, a different way to do things. You can really try 'em out when you’re going against other guys, and not guys you’re going against every day."
On what it's like to be a part of the Patriots organization: "It’s great. It’s the type of ‘do your job’ mentality and come to work and be a professional. A lot of guys get caught up in the NFL aspect and the glamour and glitz of it, but the Patriots organization is first class. And it’s truly be a professional first, and that’s knowing your responsibility and being able to be accountable and being able to do your job. And that’s what the organization truly stands for."