LM: To me mental toughness is just doing your job – putting the team before yourself. When things aren’t right for you, you still do what’s right for the team. I think we have a lot of guys that buy into that and they really care about the team and the success of the team.
Q: Is playing in so many close games something that helps build mental toughness?
LM: I think so. Those tight games are tough. It’s just something where your team never gives up. You always feel like you’re one play away from getting back into the game or taking over the game. Being able to hang in there and just keep grinding away, that’s a mental tough team to me.
Q: As one of the guys who have been on this team the longest, how do you process all the moving parts and new guys coming into the program?
LM: Well, there are a lot of new faces from prior years, but we spend so much time together we actually know each other. I think our scouting department does a good job of getting guys that fit into our system and guys that will fit into our team. We have a great group of guys in that locker room and everyone – we have good coaches that put everyone in good positions.
Q: I was wondering what the adrenaline tank was like for you after the last game?
LM: It was good. That was a good game. I was just glad we won. The bye week was huge, so that’s always good.
Q: For you personally?
LM: Oh definitely. I’m sure everyone saw me hobbling around, so it was nice to get that extra week of treatment in.
Q: Coach Bill Belichick actually said that he was surprised the trainer said you were able to go back into the game. Were you surprised that you were able to go back in and can you take us through that process?
LM: Any time you bang something up, you’ve got to let it cool off a few minutes and really see what’s going on. It was – it felt good enough to go so we taped it up pretty good and got back in there. But, you know we have guys on our team that do that every week. We have a lot of good guys that being on the field on Sundays means a lot to them. That’s our job, and our number one thing here is do your job. You can’t do your job unless you’re on the field.
Q: Did you have any initial fears as you were hobbling around that maybe it was something that would not allow you to come back?
LM: Yeah that always creeps in there at first. Usually when you get an injury, that’s the first thing that crosses your mind –- that you’re going to be out for awhile. Then you just take a few moments and really see what’s going on.
Q: I think they sent you to the second level of the defense on the first two plays you were back in the game, so they kind of eased you back in there huh?
LM: Yeah I think Josh [McDaniels] was wanting to test it out and see how good it was.
Q: Do you take some consolation in the fact that on the play you were hurt on you helped spring
LM: I could tell by the crowd’s reaction that it was a good play, but hey, that’s what I’m out there to do is try to open up holes for those guys, and whatever it takes to do it.
Q: How much is your injury affecting you as you prepare?
LM: I’m getting ready for this week. I’ve been limited at practice, but it’s going good. It’s improved every day, so we’ll see what happens by Saturday.
Q: What do the playoffs mean to you personally in terms of chasing the championship?
LM: It means everything. Your first goal is to play good football during the regular season, win your division, get into the playoffs and then anything can happen once you get into the playoffs. We know we need to play good football. We’re playing against a team that plays good football, that you watch them and they do some really good things. They’ve played in a lot of close games so we know it’s going to be a 60-minute game with these guys. This is where it all starts to get where you want to go.
Q: Is there a sense for you personally though that something is missing with all you’ve accomplished in your career?
LM: Everyone wants to get there and win one, if not more. You’d like to win every year, but it’s not an easy thing to do. The longer you’re in this game, the more you realize how hard it is just to get to a Super Bowl let alone win one. So, it takes a lot of team work and a lot of individual work to do that.
Q: The Patriots are 3-3 in their last six playoff games, and before that they were 11-0. Do you think that teams are a little more confident that you guys can be beat here at home?
LM: I don’t know. Ask them.
Q: How much confidence does this team have?
LM: We have a lot of confidence. As long as we play the way we need to play, usually things fall in line. If we go out there and start making mistakes, turning over the ball and giving up big plays, you’re not going to beat anyone.
Q: Is there something to be said for physical run first offensive lines, and do you like being associated with a physical offensive line that loves to run the ball?
LM: Yeah. Yeah we do, and I think that just helps your offense so much. You run the ball, you control the clock, set up play-action passes. They’re just not pass rushing every play, so it makes your whole offense better I feel.
Q: Is there a different sense to a game that is going like that, like you can tell that there are less surprises?
LM: Yeah, you get into a nice rhythm and you keep the defense off balance. Once you become one-dimensional it becomes a lot tougher on the line. If you could do run or pass every other play or whichever way you want to go, it makes your life a lot easier.
Q: Can you talk about the Colts front seven and the specific challenges they present?
LM: Well they’ve got a good front seven. They don’t mix it up too much but they do what they do and they do it well. They’ve got one of the most explosive players in the league in [Robert] Mathis that he can change the game at any moment if you let him. The other guys, they know their roles and Cory Redding is a very outstanding player. Ricardo Matthews, [Ricky Jean-] Francois, all those guys, they do a good job of holding up in there and they all play with really good effort. They don’t have many guys taking plays off.
Q: Coach Belichick mentioned your pain threshold being very high and said you are one of the toughest players he has ever coached. Where does that toughness come from? Does it come from the cattle ranch?
LM: I must have him fooled. No, I learned that kind of stuff from my dad and the kind of guys that he worked with. They’re all tough guys and they always took pride in never missing days of work and always being there, no matter what the circumstances were. There are lots of stories that I could tell you but I probably shouldn’t, so I’m not going to get into that.
Q: Could you remind me what your father did for work?
LM: He’s a rancher working with cattle and just doing those kinds of things.
Q: Did you help him out on the ranch?
LM: Yeah. Growing up on a ranch you don’t have much of a choice if you want to work or not. There were many days where you’re pulled away from school to go work. So, we learned that young.
Q: Did you ever get hurt?
LM: Oh, of course. Yeah.
Q: Worse than your football injuries?
LM: No, not worse than football.
Q: Did you ever get kicked or anything?
LM: Of course. Kicked, ran over, all kinds of stuff.
Q: In terms of the advantages of playing at home,
LM: There are a lot of factors. You’re more comfortable at home. You get to do your normal routine. You don’t have to worry about getting on a bus, going to a different stadium and having a different locker. You’re more comfortable when you know how everything is going to be set up for you and you have everything that you need here. And then, you’ve got your own fans here too. That’s always great. They’re cheering for you instead of against you. That’s always a positive. Unless we’re losing, then we get booed.
Q: Has your beard been growing for a full season?
LM: No, it’s not a full season but it’s a good part of it. I was glad I had it yesterday, because it was pretty cold out there.
Q: Is there a competition between you and
LM: Rob, he’s got a nice beard. I think he’s got some PEDs in there or something, but it looks good.
Q: Are your beards superior to what the Red Sox had?
LM: I don’t know. Those guys, they looked good. Especially the ones with grey in [them]. Those ones are always my favorites.