FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Picked-up pieces from player interviews Thursday at Gillette Stadium:
3-TE package unique for Hoomanawanui. The Patriots' impressive production with a three-TE package in the opener was dissected on Wednesday (link here), and it was a topic broached with third tight end Michael Hoomanawanui. He hasn't been part of something like that in his first two NFL seasons. "Of course everyone is going to have the 1-tight end sets and 2-tight end sets, but putting three of us out there at the same time gives the defense a problem as far as personnel, and what they are going to go against us," he said. "To use it, and see it as successful as it is, gives defenses some trouble."
Preparing for Cardinals pressure. Left guard Logan Mankins said one of the main things blockers are preparing for is pressure. It's part of the Cardinals' modus operandi. "They do blitz a lot," he said. "There's always a good chance of pressure when you play a team like this. You've got to be ready." Guard Donald Thomas stressed that blocking the blitz is one thing, but even before that, identifying it is a big challenge. "I think that's going to be key for us this week, to be able to identify what's going on before the snap of the ball," he said.
Wilfork likes the make-up of the defense. Defensive captain Vince Wilfork looks at his fellow defenders and sees a group that is capable of big things. It starts with commitment and chemistry. "We have a bunch of great guys on this defense. A lot of guys have a love for the game and a passion for the game," he said. "Every year, that's the goal. When you have a bunch of guys fighting for one goal, and the passion and love for it and understanding of the game, and what needs to be done, you can do mainly anything you want to do, if you put your mind to it. That's what we have."
Dockett presents challenge up front. Veteran defensive lineman Darnell Dockett, who ties with Larry Fitzgerald as the longest tenured Cardinal, has drawn attention for his explosiveness. "He's not one of those big 330 guys, he's less than that," reserve guard Donald Thomas said of the 6-4, 290-pound Dockett. "He's fast, he can move, he's strong. He has a good combination of size and speed, and I think that's what makes him such a unique player."
If you don't like the preseason, Mankins understands. This being the home opener, Mankins expects a charged-up crowd. "The fans are always pumped up for the first game," he said, before adding in tell-it-like-it-is-fashion: "They're always pretty quiet for the preseason, which I don't blame them."