Here’s the full transcript of Bill Belichick’s Q&A with the media this morning at Gillette Stadium:
BB: We continue to work through some situational aspects of the game. Of course we worked on goal line and you all saw that. We worked a little more in the red area. We are just trying to pull it all together here. We play a week from today and next week we will have to spend a little more time getting ready for Baltimore [Ravens] but we also have a few more situational things to work on and install. Hopefully in a week, it is hard to believe that it’s only a week, we will be ready to go right out here next Thursday night. That is what we are pointing to schedule wise. We still have a lot of stuff to do to be ready for that. We are a lot further along than we were a week ago at this time. We are about where we need to be.
Q: How did the team do on the goal line?
BB: Well, it was the first time we did it. Some things were ok and there were other things we need to correct and improve on.
Q: Are you happy with what you have seen work ethic wise from the defensive line?
BB: I think the work ethic has been good. We have a good competitive situation back there where a lot of guys look like they are going to be very competitive with each other and they have been. Not only in training camp but going back to the spring camps. You start over every year. There are always new people in the offensive or defensive system. You always have to go back to square one and build your base. You can never really pick up from where you left off at the end of the previous year. Even though there are some new people there, I think the whole building process, the installation and learning it, is really an annual thing. I think that is coming along ok. Overall, I feel our execution in the secondary has been about as good as any other unit out there on the field.
Q: Going back to the goal line, is that a drill you like to do at the end of practice?
BB: When you do a contact drill like that in the middle of practice, it is hard to get back to a different tempo on the succeeding drills. I think it is better if you build up to that and then have a full-speed drill at the end of practice rather then jump up and down as to how we practice and what’s the next drill we are going to do?
Q: Are you focusing on offense or defense when you are doing the goal line drill?
BB: It is our goal line against our goal-line defense. We win and we lose. Not in that period. At times we would work on our goal-line defense and we would run the other team’s plays or maybe certain plays we would want to see. The offense would show those to us and vice-versa, where we would run other goal-line defenses that are a little bit different than the ones we run so we can practice against it. That drill was a competitive drill. It was our offensive plays against our goal-line defense.
Q: How much of Marcus’ [Pollard] experience is influential to the team?
BB: He brings a high-level of experience. Of course, the most recent experiences have been in Detroit and Seattle. In Mike Martz’s offense in Detroit and then [Mike] Holmgren’s offense in Seattle with the West Coast offense. Those are what he has worked with the past three years.
He is very professional. I think we all know that he is a very experienced guy and good in the passing game. He has done a lot of different things offensively in his career. I don’t think we are doing anything that he hasn’t done before. It is just a question of adapting to different terminology and a little bit of refinement here and there. He is a guy that has played a lot of football so we need to manage him a little bit like we manage other players at that age, but it is nothing abnormal. Just the balance of getting him the reps and experience in our system that he needs versus not overdoing it or wearing him down for a guy who has played as much football as he has.
Q: He said he was impressed you reached out to him personally.
BB: I would say I talk to most of them. If we are interested in a player then I usually talk to them. It doesn’t mean every player I talk to we sign here. I would say most of the ones we sign I talk to relatively early in the process just to establish a relationship and let them know what we are looking for. We also want to hear from them and find out what questions they may have. Most of the time, if they have a question, it is going to come back to me anyway. Somebody else could answer them but they really need to be answered by me.
Q: He said getting a phone call from you was better than getting a phone call from the President of the United States.
BB: That is very flattering but…
BB: Certainly rookies have a lot of things to learn when they come into the National Football League. With all due respect to their college programs and that level, this is just a different level and different competition. I think that every player that comes into it has a lot to learn and a lot to experience. It is no different with this rookie class then any other rookie class. What each of them learned and how they experience it vary from player to player. There is a common thread of having to go through certain things together as a group or to pay your dues in the National Football League. I think all rookies go through that.
BB: When I was a rookie? In my first year in the NFL? Yep, I sure did. I got up and sang my school’s [Wesleyan University] fight song and all of that.
BB: I don’t think that would be good T.V. You can put that up there with my dancing video.
Q: Can you talk about rookie linebacker Jerod Mayo.
BB: Jerod [Mayo] just missed that one practice. Otherwise he has been here for all the spring camps and the whole training camp. He works hard and is a smart kid. Football is really important to him. He studies and is very attentive in meetings. He asks good questions and competes hard on the field. Linebacker is a tough position to play because there is a lot to learn there. You are involved in every type of play whether it is run, pass, play action or blitz. With everything we do, he is right in the middle of it. It is not like playing some positions where there is not as much action on every play. That is where it is at right now. He has a lot to learn but he is learning it and improving. He is working very hard. I have been very impressed with Jerod’s work ethic, toughness and competitiveness. We will see how all that goes as we continue to add and he learns more within our system. He has acquired a lot of information and there is still a long way to go.
Q: Do you have to remind him there is only one punter?
BB: We want to work together. Everybody is out there competing, but at the same time we want to take care of each other because this is all we got. That is something we all have to do at every position. We want to compete, play hard and take care of each other. Sometimes there is a fine line because guys get a little out of control or they lose their balance. We want to try and avoid any of those types of situations but that is also part of the game.
Q: How much has he benefited from Adalius Thomas, Mike Vrabel and Tedy Bruschi on and off the field?
BB: I am sure that it is good to be around those players. Those guys are smart and experienced players that have had a lot of success in the league. I think you would have to ask him that question. Those guys are very willing to help the younger players. They have a lot of knowledge and have played in our system pretty successfully for a number of years. They have a good perspective on what it takes to play and be successful on the New England Patriots defense. That is important information that they could give to any rookie that is receptive to listening to it and taking the advice.
Q: How is Brandon Meriweather?
BB: I think it has been pretty steady. I thought he made a lot of improvement last season during the course of the year and in training camp. He had a good off-season and a good spring. He is having a good training camp. I think he is much better now than where he was last year at this time. He continues to improve on a regular basis. He works hard and takes coaching well. He doesn’t make the same mistake repeatedly. I think he continues to improve but he still has a ways to go. He is only in his second year but he is making good progress. I like what he has done in camp. He has gotten some extra opportunities this year because Rodney [Harrison] has missed a few practices early and that gave him some reps. James [Sanders] has missed a couple of practices here. So he has gotten a lot of opportunities to play and I think he has taken advantage of those snaps and improved his level of performance.
BB: Yes, I have. There is pretty much only one way to go. He has improved though because he worked on it in the off-season. It has shown up better. Better in practice and better in training camp this year than what it was last year. I think a lot of the hard work he has done is paying off and it is showing in his play.
Q: Talk about Rodney [Harrison] missing a few practices?
BB: It is good to have him out there. It is great. We would like to have all of our players out there. It is good to have Rodney back. He brings a level of play and intensity out there to the practice field that is good for everybody. It is good for the defense, offense and for the entire football team. Nobody practices harder than Rodney. I don’t think, in my career, I have ever coached a player that practices any harder than Rodney practices on a daily basis. He has a tremendous work ethic and is as good as anybody I have been around, especially on the defensive side of the ball. That carries over to other players and forces them to rise up to his level. It is good to have him back out there.
BB: I don’t think we have time for all that. We meet with the players everyday. We talk to them on a daily basis from the first rookie mini-camp to the last game we play. We talk about things that are important to winning and to our football team. Some of that is related to other areas but in the end all those subjects are covered on a pretty regular basis. Basically, a player’s job is to be in condition, know his assignments and work hard. That is a good start right there.
BB: That is a really good question. I would say both. We have a plan but right now long term for me is 20 minutes. That is the way it has been the last week. You go from a meeting to practice, from practice to a meeting, to a meal, to another meeting, to a coaches meeting and then watching film. You are just trying to keep up with your schedule and be productive within it. I think we are reaching a point here where our preparations for Baltimore [Ravens], which really start for us Sunday night, between now and then there will be a period where we need to step back and take a breath and say ‘OK, lets go back and see where we are here. Let’s think about it.’ We do that on a regular basis anyway. Now we sit back and overview to find out where we are at the end of one week. We may be on schedule in some areas, a little bit behind in other areas and maybe we are doing a little better than we thought we would in some areas. Then we talk about the players and how they are doing, how the repetitions are going, what we need to emphasize in practice and maybe change the combinations of players to move guys so that they get more versatility. We have them work in different positions and manage a couple of positions where we are short on spots. All that is going to take place here in the next three or four days. I am not sure exactly when but that will all take place. It needs to take place. Then we will move forward and march on to the next week. Whether that is the same schedule that we have mapped out now or we have to alter it some. I am sure we will have to alter it some. That is kind of how it works. We kind of know where we are going in the second week but there are usually some things that have to be modified in order to make it as productive as we can.
Q: How is Jabar Gaffney progressing during camp?
BB: Jabar [Gaffney] has had a really good camp. Of course he had a really good off-season. He was one of our off-season award winners at his position. I think he followed up last season with a good off-season and good spring camp. He has taken it into training camp. He has gotten a few extra reps with Wes [Welker] being out. He is a very versatile player that played every position for us last year. Whether it was three wide receivers or four wide receivers. At one point or another he played in each spot. The X, Y, Z or F spots as we call them. He is a guy that picks things up quickly. Quarterbacks have a lot of confidence in him. He has been a very dependable player for us. His versatility during training camp and the regular season really helps us work other players and let them get the most benefit out of what they are doing. He is a guy that can bounce around a little bit and balance things out on different plays so we can maximize what some of the other players can do. He is really a key guy for us and was like that last year. He is ahead of where he was last year because he had an outstanding off-season and spring camp.
The Patriots have released their training camp info for the next few days:
FRIDAY, AUGUST 1
SATURDAY, AUGUST 2
2:30-4:30 p.m. Practice (CLOSED TO PUBLIC DUE TO CONCERT)
SUNDAY, AUGUST 3
1:00-6:00 p.m. Patriots Experience
2:30-4:30 p.m. Practice (OPEN TO PUBLIC)
MONDAY, AUGUST 4
8:45-10:30 a.m. Morning Practice (OPEN TO PUBLIC)
10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Patriots Experience
6:30-8:30 p.m. In-Stadium Practice (TICKETED EVENT FOR SEASON TICKET HOLDERS)
For updates, the Patriots recommend you check patriots.com.
Some practice notes from the recently concluded morning session today at Gillette Stadium:
BRADY BACK: After a days’ absence, quarterback Tom Brady was back on the field with the rest of the signal-callers, and handled his usual reps with the starting offense through most of the morning practice.
WET MORNING: The rookies were treated to a soaking at the start of practice, an annual tradition. In the drill, assistant coach Pepper Johnson rolled a football, and the rookies were forced to go chase it while they were squirted with a hose by linebacker Tedy Bruschi. They were left to squish through the rest of practice.
SPECIAL DELIVERY: A special teams play involving punt blocks was one of the more entertaining drills of the morning. Along with special teams coach Brad Seely, a collection of players that included Kelley Washington, Mike Richardson, Matthew Slater, Ray Ventrone and Terrence Wheatley all took turns coming in at the punter from an angle trying to block the kick.
ELEVEN ON ELEVEN: The 11-on-11 drills were particularly spirited this morning, with what appeared to be the starting offense facing the starting defense much of the session. On the starting defense, Tedy Bruschi and Tank Williams were together at inside linebacker through most of the session. Other ILB combos included Eric Alexander and Jerod Mayo, as well as Mayo and Victor Hobson.
RANDOM NOTES: Matthew Slater drew a large round of applause with a couple of very nice kick returns. … Brady and center Russ Hochstein were forced to take a lap after a botched center/quarterback exchange. … Randy Moss drew some cheers after a nice touchdown catch in a goal-line situation. … Announcer Don Criqui, Sports Illustrated writer Dr. Z and Red Sox first baseman Sean Casey were among the well-known faces present.
The Patriots have just announced that Thursday afternoon’s practice has been changed. Here’s the new schedule.
8:45-10:30 a.m.: Morning Practice
4:00-5:15 p.m.: Afternoon Practice
The Patriots encourage fans to check Patriots.com for updates.
Thanks to the hardworking Patriots’ PR staff, here’s the full transcript of Bill Belichick’s Q&A with the media this morning at Gillette Stadium:
BB: We just had our team meeting this morning and the last thing we did with the team gathered together was give Andre [Tippett] a nice send off. We let him know about our appreciation for what he has done and congratulated him on his selection and soon-to-be induction into the National Football League Hall of Fame this weekend.
Although I never coached Andre, I saw a lot of him from my perspective as the defensive coordinator of the Giants. I watched him when he played for the Patriots and of course that was an era of a lot of great linebackers. Certainly we had our share of them in New York. Watching Andre and Hugh Green, that was also kind of the end of the era of guys like Jack Lambert and Jack Ham in Pittsburgh. Then there were guys like Michael Singletary, [Harry] Carson, [Andre] Tippett, [Lawrence] Taylor, Hugh Green and all those guys. Andre was one of the guys that our players looked up to and learned a lot from because of his consistent play in every phase of the game. Whether that was against the run, the pass or as a pass rusher. He had outstanding use of his hand techniques and skills with his martial arts background.
We didn’t play the Patriots that often but we saw a lot of him on film. He was a guy we all learned from and admired. I learned a lot from him as coach when I watched him play even though I didn’t get a chance to coach him directly. I came here in 2000 and he has been part of this organization in a number of different capacities since then. He has been a great friend, a great asset to bounce things off of and talk to and a great ambassador for the organization and football in this area. He talks to our rookies every year. He is always in the halls of the locker room and around the team. He is a very positive influence and example for all of us. He carries himself with great nature, as he should. He will be recognized this weekend and we are very proud of him. Even though the players and coaches won’t be with him this weekend, we will be with him in heart and spirit when he is enshrined this weekend. It is a great thing for this organization.
Leaving that note, we take that inspiration back on the field. We are going to continue to work on more situational football. We will build toward down and distance, moving the field and just more the way we see the game on Sunday. As opposed to the different drills that are segmented and broken up so that you can emphasize various parts of the game. We are moving more into that phase a little bit more each day. Today we will hopefully take another step in that direction.
Q: Do you have any bad memories of facing Tippett with the Giants?
BB: We really didn’t go head to head with the Patriots very much. We played them in 1990 but that wasn’t one of the Patriots better years. Although they did play us well in that game in the old Foxboro Stadium. I just remember seeing Andre as a guy that was dominant. Tight ends couldn’t block him, couldn’t run outside to his side and couldn’t run off tackle to his side. He was a very powerful pass rusher but he was fast and athletic. He used great technique and used his hands well. He was able to get blockers off him well. He had a couple of years where he had 34 or 35 sacks [1984-85] over that span. That is unheard of. He along with other players of that era like [Lawrence] Taylor really defined that position of outside linebacker the way we see it in the National Football League today. Prior to that, there really wasn’t much [3-4] defense. There was the [5-3] defense in Miami but that really wasn’t predicated on the outside linebackers and the pressure they could put on the perimeter on the formation. That came more in the ‘80s with Taylor, Tippett and Hugh Green. That led into the Derrick Thomas types and all the guys who have played that position for the last 25 years. Before Andre, outside linebackers would get two or three sacks a year that came on an outside blitz or something. He and some other people redefined the position of [3-4] outside linebacker as a pass rusher. It became a player to set the edge on the line of scrimmage on the running game and play defense that way. Historically, those guys were not only outstanding in there own individual way but they had a dramatic impact on the way that the game is played now and the excitement that comes from that position. Well, it is exciting when you are on defense – not so exciting when they are doing it to you.
Q: Have you shown any highlights of [Andre] Tippett to your team?
BB: Well our players have seen a lot of highlights of Andre. He talks to the rookies every year and talks to the veteran players and team whenever he is around. We have shown the players some clips of him, which were pretty impressive. He was good at everything really. Every part of his game was good. He was not a one-dimensional player by any stretch. He was very versatile and dominant.
Q: Would you talk about Andre [Tippett] when teaching guys like Lawrence Taylor?
BB: Yeah, that is what I was referring to. We would watch him play and tell our players ‘See the way he is doing it? That is kind of the way we want to do it.’ Honestly, when you are coaching guys like Lawrence Taylor and Carl Banks there really aren’t a lot of guys that you can put on film and tell them ‘Let’s due it the way that guy is doing it.’ Most players couldn’t do it as well as those two but Andre was every bit as dominating in his time and in his game. He had a little different style then Taylor and Banks but those are some of the top players of that time. It was a fun time for me personally to be coaching defense because of the way the game was evolving and how the players adapted to that scheme and how dynamic some of them were.
Q: Is that why it seems outside tackles have gotten bigger on offense?
BB: Well I think everybody has gotten bigger. I mean Larry Wilson was 175-pound free safety. He was a great free safety but you can’t find a 175-pound safety in this league anymore. I just think every position has gotten bigger. When I was with the Giants I was there for 12 years and we never had a player that was more than 300 pounds. Bill [Parcells] had a hard and fast rule that we would never have a guy at 300 pounds. I don’t care how big they were, he made them get to 299, 298 or 295. They may have been more than 300 pounds in the off-season. Jim Burt was a great nose tackle and he was only 258. [Fred] Smerlas looks bigger now than when he was playing. He was 275, but that was big. Now, 275 is OK size for an outside linebacker. He would be a midget on the defensive line.
As we go through our draft process that is one of the things we have revised and look at. We have different sizes and speeds for what is normal in the league. Not that it is a final decision but you should know if you are drafting a big player, average player or a small player. Whether he is a fast player, average speed or a slow player. You just want to know what range a guy falls in. The size charts have continuously gone up in the last 30 years – significantly. In some cases it is 50 pounds at a position. It is a lot. If you look at Andre, he doesn’t look small at all. You push it back 20-25 years ago and compare him to some of the guys that were playing then, no wonder they couldn’t block him.
Q: How do you feel after the team’s two-minute drills yesterday?
BB: Anytime you go with the offense against the defense, one side does well then the other side doesn’t. It goes back and forth. There are positive and negatives in all of our scrimmage-type practices, when we go against each other. The big thing is teaching from it. It is done at a high competitive level. Players are working hard and knowing the plays they know how to run. They are not running stuff off cards or trying to get a look at something. They are doing what they do. We can learn from those reps and that high competition level as players do against different players with different skills. There is good teaching on both sides as there was the day before.
B: What side looked better to you yesterday?
BB: Well we had two drills, one we scored on and one we didn’t. [Terrence] Wheatley made a nice play in the end zone at the end of the first drill. [Sam] Aiken made a nice catch at the end of the second drill. The most important thing we are trying to do is to get, not only the execution of the plays, but incorporating clock management, communication and the tempo of the game in that type of situation.
Q: What are you looking for in the first preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens?
BB: For everybody to establish a good level of play and conditioning and build on that.
Q: When do you start planning for the [Baltimore] Ravens game?
BB: I think in order to give the players a chance to be competitive we need some preparation work. Certainly it wouldn’t be anywhere near as thorough as what we would do for a regular season game. Baltimore is little different because they have a new head coach [John Harbaugh] and they haven’t played yet. We don’t know exactly what they are doing because we don’t have a lot of film to look at. We know that Rex [Ryan] is their defensive coordinator from last year so we assume that they are going to run about the same in what they did defensively but I am sure there will be some changes offensively. We will just have to fly by the seat of our pants on that. We will prepare the team moderately. We are playing a lot of people so we need to prepare more than one player at the position because we know that we will play two or three players at each spot. You have to cut your preparation down to being realistic. Instead of playing 60 plays in a game maybe you only play 20. How many plays do you need if you are only going to be in there for 20 plays? You don’t need the biggest game plan of the year for guys that are only going to be in there for 15 to 20 plays. You scale it back and adjust. In the second game we will know a lot more than we did in the first and in the third game we will know a lot more than the second game. You [media] will see it the same time we do – when they do it.
Q: Going back to Andre Tippett, how unique was it for a player to use martial arts training to help him in football?
BB: There were a few players and a few organizations that had a little bit of an attachment to martial arts and that type of culture. Certainly Tip was one of the more prominent ones. The Cowboys had a guy come in and work for them for a while. When you watched Andre play, you could really see it. You could see how fast his hands were and how he was able to swat people off or knock the blocker’s hands down to create better leverage situation for himself to rush the passer. That was something that the Giants, over the course of my career there, started to work on. We started to incorporate hand drills into the off-season program, for offensive and defensive linemen.
When I got to Cleveland, I hired a martial arts instructor and he worked with the team. Anthony Pleasant was a big proponent of that and it really helped him. As it turned out, it didn’t only help with the hand quickness and defensive attacking moves but also the flexibility training that the martial arts people use we put some of that in our football program. I mentioned Anthony as a good example because he was one of the players that probably did more of it than most of the other guys. There are a lot of applications to those principals, whether you want to call it martial arts or football techniques. Andre was certainly one of the forerunners on that. Here, we teach it as football techniques. We tried to teach it from a football standpoint. Mike Vrabel is guy that uses it extremely well. I can’t tell you how many sacks and pressures he has got using some form of hand technique attacking the blocker. That was something he worked on with Andre when he came here in ‘01. I think now it has gone from a team hiring a martial arts guy to now everybody is aware of it and use it as a football technique rather than martial arts training.
Q: How do you evaluate how Stephen Gostkowski is doing in training camp?
BB: really no different than any other year. We chart the number of kicks and the days he kicks on. A lot of that is how the player is feeling and how he is doing. You can have more than one kicker in camp and a guy could still have a sore leg. Or some type of problem come ups. Part of that is just the normal management of your players. Because we only have one kicker or punter in camp, we are aware of their kicking schedule and how often they kick and how many balls they kick. We use that in consideration when adjusting our practice schedule. We do something with the kicking game that may not require kicking the ball as much. Chris [Hanson] and Steve have kicked well. They feel good and we talk to them on a regular basis. Sometimes a little less work is better than a little more work and sometimes a little more work is better than a little less work.
Q: What does it mean to have Rodney Harrison off the PUP list and back on the practice field?
BB: It is great. It is great to have Rodney back. It was nice to see him out there yesterday. He was out there for all of the spring practices and camp. He has a confidence and a presence out there that is special. I am sure everyone on the field, not just the defensive backs but all the defensive players, the coaches and the offensive players, feel that presence and confidence. They feel that air that he brings in when we walks on the field. It is a positive to have him and it is a positive to have any player come back and rejoin the team activities.
Q: Any of the remaining guys on the PUP list look like they are close to coming back?
BB: I think each guy is getting closer. We have a few guys that are in the day-to-day category. The answer is I don’t know. Guys are getting closer. If it’s the day we put them out there, we put them out there. If not we go through the process again the next day. In a few days we will have a few more guys out there but I couldn’t give you an exact time frame of when that is going to happen.
The Patriots just announced they have removed Rodney Harrison from the PUP list. Here’s the release they issued moments ago:
The New England Patriots removed safety Rodney Harrison from the PUP list today. Harrison is participating in the Patriots’ 5:30 p.m. practice at Gillette Stadium this evening.
Harrison, 35, is in his 15th NFL season and his sixth season with the Patriots. The 6-foot-1-inch, 220-pound safety has played in 180 career games with 153 starts for the San Diego Chargers (1994-2002) and the Patriots (2003-07). He is the NFL’s all-time leader in sacks by a defensive back (30.5) and is the only player in NFL history to have recorded at least 30 sacks and 30 interceptions in his career (30.5 sacks and 33 interceptions).
After spending the first nine seasons of his career with the San Diego Chargers, Harrison was signed by the Patriots as a veteran free agent on March 12, 2003. In Harrison’s first two seasons in New England (2003-04), he was the Patriots’ leading tackler each season and led all NFL defensive backs in tackles both years. He set a career high with 140 tackles in 2003 and followed that with a 138-tackle performance in 2004. He also led the Patriots in tackles in the playoffs during both the 2003 and 2004 seasons. After playing in three games in 2005 before missing the remainder of the season due to injury, he returned to start 10 games in 2006. Last season, Harrison started 11 of 12 games and all three playoff contests while totaling 67 tackles (52 solo). His 22 tackles (16 solo) in the 2007 playoffs ranked second on the team, one shy of team leader Tedy Bruschi (23). In nine playoff games with the Patriots, Harrison has recorded seven interceptions, totaling the most playoff interceptions in Patriots history.
In his 14-year career, Harrison has totaled 1,166 tackles (896 solo), 30.5 sacks, 33 interceptions for 361 yards and two touchdowns, 113 passes defensed, 14 forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries for 16 yards and a touchdown and 57 special teams tackles.
Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here’s the complete transcript of Bill Belichick’s Q&A with the New England media this morning at Gillette Stadium:
BB: We had a walk through this morning. We have the officials here so we will have them officiate the different aspects of practice through Thursday as we try to tighten up our techniques in pass coverage, offensive holding, offensive line, play alignments and stuff like that. It will be good to work with them for the next couple of days and as I said yesterday, we will keep progressing in terms of building things together, different situations and starting to tie it all up. By the end of the week, at least on a practice format we should do what we need to do to play a game. Of course, start getting ready for Baltimore [Ravens]. So that’s where we are.
Q: In general with rookies, how long does it take for them to earn your trust?
BB: There is no time frame, I couldn’t tell you. Some guys – Lawrence Taylor, a week. Than other players who have been real good football players, sometimes it takes a couple years. It depends on where they come from, what they were asked to do, how much of a transition it is to the team we’re on. Sometimes it’s who’s ahead of them and what the opportunities are. You want to see them keep improving. That is the most important thing when a player continues to work hard and improve than you keep working with them and see where it can go. Once they kind of level off, then you know what that level is and you evaluate it based on the rest of your team. So, I couldn’t give you a time frame on any player. It would be unfair to the player.
Q: Do they have to convince you?
BB: We do what we think is best for the football team. Whatever that is, that is what we are going to do. Circumstances sometimes dictate what your moves are that we have to make, whether it’s a rookie player or somebody else. Sometimes, when you have more options than you have more time to do it on your terms. Sometimes you get into a situation where you don’t have much depth and somebody has to play whether that is a rookie or could be someone else.
Q: When you take a player and put them in a position they haven’t played before, what goes into that move? Do you move them back if they’re not working out?
BB: Sure. Players background, what you are asking a player to do and what you think will work. If you don’t think it will work, you give it a try and evaluate it as you go through the process. Again, sometimes it’s a function of who your other players are. Sometimes you need that versatility in a certain direction and in another situation you don’t need that versatility because you have other players who have versatility in that other direction. There is no set formula. You do what is best for the football team and you try to evaluate that performance after you get a chance to see him do it. Some guys only do one thing and that’s okay. They need to do it pretty good or they don’t have as much value as someone who can do more things but if one guy can do something really well, than that’s valuable too.
Q: Kelley Washington and Sam Aiken both were star receivers in college. What does it take mentally and physically for them to make that change professionally and to special teams?
BB: Well, physically there are a lot of different positions in the kicking game so physically a player has to be able to do whatever is required of him at that position. Some positions are speed positions. Some, size is more important. In the end, in the kicking game, speed is more important because your covering a large distance on the field. Sometimes much more so than you are on the scrimmage plays on offense or defense. You have a lot of offensive and defensive lineman involved in those plays. You rarely see the offensive and defensive line involved in the kicking game except on field goal teams. Speed is important, instincts, being able to figure out special teams, which is kind of an organized chaos play. There is a certain framework the play starts in and as soon as the ball is kicked it is a little bit different each time. A little higher, longer, shorter, left or right and everyone has to adjust to that whether you are blocking the return on it or whether your covering it. There becomes a lot of “instinctiveness” on those plays. Guys have certain rules and framework that they need to stay within, they also have to be able to adapt to the situation as there is fluid in the play. It is more like basketball and hockey where there is less structure on less of those plays. There is a little bit of that on the kicking game.
Q: Mentally, does it take a certain personality?
BB: That is a role, whatever role you have on the team. If it is just for a one play role like special teams, you’re in for one play than you’re out. If you are a third down player, you’re in for third down and then you’re out. Sure there is a different mentality than being in there every play. You know what your situation is and you are really focused on that and what’s critical for that particular play. Where if you are there play after play you need to transition into those different situations. You have to have a certain level of awareness that changes from play to play. It is a little easier when you are specialized. On the flip side of it you’re not in there for every play, you’re not in the flow of the game like you are if you are playing down after down. It’s like a relief pitcher coming out of the bullpen to try to get an out. You come in and that is your job. You’re not a starting pitcher trying to go six or seven innings, trying to go a whole rotation of batters and the whole lineup. You are coming in to get one or two guys out. That is your job. It is a different mentality than a starting pitcher, there is no doubt about it.
Q: With the force out rule change, does that change the way you coach wide receivers?
BB: We still try to get our feet down. We still try to do it the same way. If we are forced out than, than we are forced out. There really isn’t much else we can do. We are going to try to get our feet down.
Q: It seems like the rule the way it was would make the officials have to guess what would have happened.
BB: It is a little bit more awareness on the side line. A lot of times, in the past you teach the defender to play more of the ball because playing the man doesn’t really help you. If you knock the guy out of bounds and you get the force out called than they will give him the catch anyways. So you might as well go for the ball, if you miss it, you miss it but the play is pretty much an out of bounds play anyways. Now, I think there is a little more of the defender to play the man as opposed to the ball and try to knock the player out than try to knock the ball loose. Again, it is a very fine line. We certainly don’t want to miss an opportunity on the ball over there but in that split second judgment I think that there are players that can play it a little bit differently in that situation.
Q: Do you like the rule change?
BB: Whatever the rule is, we try to play by it. You will have to talk to the officials about that. Whatever the rules are we try to coach to the way the rule is written. If they change it and we have to coach differently than we have to coach differently. If there is replay there is replay, if there is not replay than there is not replay. Whatever it is, it is not our job to make the rules, it is to our job to understand them and play to them.
Q: What were the factors in bringing Dom Capers on-board?
BB: No it just worked out that way. Dom has a lot of experience of course on the defensive side of the ball. As a position coach, as a coordinator and as a head coach, he has worked in different 34 systems. Most recently, in Miami with Nick [Saban], in Houston, in Pittsburgh and in Carolina. So, he has worked for a lot of younger players, the two expansion teams of course. He has worked with veteran groups too. I think he has a wealth of experience and a great background in a lot of different areas, [3-4] defense, younger players, older players. He has a lot of experience in personnel. I think he adds a lot to our staff. Regardless of his age, he is a young, energetic guy and he coaches that way. He is that way on a daily basis. He is a good addition to our staff and I am glad we have him.
Q: Going back to the force out rule. Was that something that was around when you first entered the league?
BB: It’s been like that for a while. You can ask the officials but it has been like this for a while.
Q: What are your first impressions of Sam Aiken at the start of training camp?
BB: Sam is one of our early signings. He was with us through the entire off-season program and of course training camp he has performed well all the way through. He has gotten off to a good start here in training camp. He did a good job in the spring. He had a real good off-season program. He worked hard in the passing camps and he showed up very positive here in training camp both as a receiver and in the kicking game. He is a big guy and strong – very strong for his position. He is tough, very professional and works hard at his job. Football is important to him. He is on top of things. If he makes a mistake, he really works hard to correct it and make sure he has it right the next time. I like his attitude, I like his work ethic and I like his versatility. He has done a good job. We have a long way to go but to this point he’s been here since the first day of the off-season program and here we are at the end of July and he’s been very consistent for us. I think he is a good addition to our team.
Q: Both Pierre Woods and Eric Alexander, what do you think about those guys?
BB: I think both Pierre and Eric both came to camp in excellent shape. Of course, they have some experience in our system but not a lot of playing experience. Not as much as some other people. When they have had the opportunity, particularly in this camp Pierre has gotten a lot of opportunity, I think they have taken advantage of it. Again, they are both off to a good start in terms of nine practices in training camp. We have a long way to go but they have used their experience in our system and their conditioning and work ethic in the off-season to show what they can do. They have shown upon a number of positive plays.
Q: With [Wes] Welker and [Mike] Vrabel being on PUP [players unable to perform], this gives opportunities to guys that wouldn’t normally get it.
BB: Well, that is always the case. Every time someone is not out there than it gives an opportunity to someone else. You hope that whoever is getting that opportunity that they can take advantage of it and use that experience to upgrade their performance and their play. It doesn’t make a difference who it is, it’s those opportunities go to somebody and you hope that as a football team and individually those players can capitalize on those opportunities and can improve your team. In playtime or in depth for when the other player comes back. Even if that guy to replace him, doesn’t replace him but gives you a higher level of depth and more quality on your team. Absolutely, you hate to see that. You want everyone to be out there but the ones that aren’t, it does provide an opportunity for other players. Hopefully, they can take advantage of those opportunities and make the most of them.
Q: When you brought Kelley Washington in did you know where he was going to contribute?
BB: Kelley did play on some special teams at Cincinnati. He really played on all of them just not every play. He was on the kick-off return team, punt return team, gunner on the punt team and played a little on the kick-off team. He had a good camp, showed up and was productive in the kicking game when he had the opportunity here in practices and pre-season games and then in the regular season he ended up being one of our most productive players in the kicking game. Whether that was something that didn’t come out in Cincinnati as it did here, or maybe their choice not to use him as much, or maybe his ability to play better here in our system, I couldn’t answer that question for sure. He showed up early in camp and that performance carried all the way through the year. He made a lot of great plays for us in the kicking game. All the way through we started seeing those last year right around this time.
Q: Talk about what Marcus Pollard has brought to the team on and off the field?
BB: Marcus has a lot of experience in a couple of different systems. He was in the Indianapolis system, the Detroit system with Mike Martz and last year in Seattle. Not only does he have a lot of experience in term of years but also in some different systems. He has been exposed to pretty much everything a tight end needs to be exposed to. Different blocking schemes, routes, route adjustments, hots, site adjusts, protection all that sort of thing. He’s a smart guys, he has a lot of experience. He is very good in the passing game, he’s competitive in the running game. I think the big thing is getting himself into top playing shape. At his age, not try to wear him down and over do it but try to get him to that right point where he has enough experience in our system to go out there and execute it well. I think if we try to practice players that age and grind them all the way through camp, a lot of times they just don’t last as long as what they could if you could pace them a bit. We are trying to find that fine line and balance with Marcus. He is an experienced player that has been productive for us in the spring camps and training camp. We are looking forward to getting him on the field and seeing how it goes in the pre-season. We will see how it goes with the rest of that group.
Tedy Bruschi spoke with the media for a few moments after the morning walkthrough at Gillette Stadium. Here’s a small portion of his Q&A with reporters:
Is this where you thought you’d be five days into camp?
Yeah, yeah. It’s about normal. You’ve got the aches and pains. You spend your time in the ice tub and you try to get your legs back as soon as possible. You just keep pushing through. You know it’s the toughest, toughest month of the job — the preseason games, the training camp. It’s just something you have to do.
Shorts regular for this time of year?
Yeah, we got a little bone today. We got a little bone today with the walk through. We’ve been working hard out here — we’ve had a lot of full-padded practices, and we’ve been working pretty hard. We had a walk through today, and we’ll be back to hitting this afternoon.
On Tank Williams and how he’s looked…
Good at times, and at other times, he has to learn things. He’s never done it before. He’s never done it before, so he’s learning. I think it’s different for him, taking on guards, sometimes, at that type of level. He’s used to second-level sort of situations where he has more space. But surprisingly, he’s accepted it all and he’s done a good job with it, doing the best he can out there — he’s still with the first group, working hard. I think it’s different for me, seeing him in there, a twenty number in there and smaller body, but he’s getting the job done.
How about Jerod?
He’s coming. I think the biggest things is just his attitude. He’s willing to learn. He’s willing to learn and he’s asking questions and he’s … you can see the ability he has out here. He’s running and hitting and he’s physical at times. I think what I’m most impressed about is his attitude and willingness to accept the system.
On the linebackers helping out new faces in the secondary…
I can’t turn around in the middle of a play and tell them what to do. That’s their area back there. They’re going to have to get the job done themselves. I think they have been so far. I mean, we haven’t played any games yet, but I think the learning curve is something they’ve accepted, and they know it’s difficult. But Wilhite, Wheatley … Brandon Meriweather has taken a more vocal role this year. You can hear him communicating out there. I think he’s done a great job.
On the most important thing for him through the first few days of camp…
I think just the physical aspect for me, being an inside linebacker. Getting back in the running game and putting your face back there, putting your face in the middle of Logan Mankins and some of the offensive linemen that we have — you have to get used to hitting people again. In the front seven, I think that’s the biggest thing we have to get used to again. Your body has the soreness after the first and second day, where you realize … your body is sort of asking you, ‘What are you doing to me?’ After practices four, five and six, it sort of remembers. And you hope your body remembers to the point where you just get back in football shape and start hitting each other again.
This morning, New England running back LaMont Jordan refuted a report in Monday’s San Francisco Chronicle that his release from the Raiders was contingent on his not signing with the Patriots or Broncos.
“One thing I know about the media is that a lot of times, they have no idea what they’re talking about,” Jordan said after the morning practice session at Gillette Stadium. “I’m quite sure that if my release was contingent on that, that it wouldn’t have just been heard in the Bay Area. It would have been heard all over. Everybody wants to take a shot at the Patriots.
“From my understanding, my release wasn’t based on that,” he added. “My release was based on the fact that the Raiders no longer wanted me out there, and I think that’s what I comes down to.”
According to reports, Oakland owner Al Davis and Jordan’s agent Alvin Keels had an agreement that if the Raiders did grant Jordan’s release, he wouldn’t sign with the Patriots or the Broncos. Jordan was released on Friday, and Jordan signed with New England on Saturday.
“I can understand whatever frustration that Mr. Davis may have to see a good player going to an archrival,” Jordan’s agent Alvin Keels told the Chronicle. “I never agreed to not explore a deal with the Patriots. Teams were waiting for him to be released. Once he hit the waiver wire, we weighed several offers. It was LaMont’s choice to go to New England.”
Jordan, who spent the bulk of time after practice signing autographs, reiterated his excitement at joining the Patriots and fellow ex-Raider Randy Moss.
“It feels good if you’re on a team that feels like the organization wants you to be here,” Jordan said. “You feel like the coaches welcome you. You feel like your teammates welcome you.”
Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here’s the complete transcript of today’s Q&A with Bill Belichick and the New England media.
BB: Well, we’re just rolling through the training camp mode here. We are starting to get into a little bit more situational football. We have the officials coming in tomorrow. They will kind of piggy back up off that in terms of making the players aware of some rules changes and how the games called, especially some of the younger guys. As we build through the week here, our situational football is going to start to pick up – red area, third down end of the game type stuff. Kicking situation and plays, all that type of stuff. In addition to our normal installation and the normal training camp routine we have that aspect going in too. That is what you will be seeing out there the next few days. There is not a lot of breaking news on this end.
Q: With the officials coming tomorrow is one of the things they are going to go over the new headset rule?
BB: We’re not going to deal with the headset issue until next week. We have enough to do to try to get ourselves straightened out with our normal stuff before we tackle something new. We’re going to try to make sure we have our basic installation in, substitution procedures and all that instead of adding another thing into the mix. I’m sure there are going to be a time where we are not going to be able to use that [radio system] for various reasons. We are going to have to operate without it anyway so we want to make sure we have that system down. We will look into it at the end of this week or next week.
Q: For a team that substitutes as much as you do, could that be a problem?
BB: That is one of the many problems that we have to address is since there is only one person out there, if he doesn’t have it than we are going to signal them anyway.
Q: How does the rule break down?
BB: The rule is you can only have one helmet out there defensively at a time. You designate two people that could wear the helmet. If one of those players was to leave you could put the helmet on player B.
Q: So it would be like Brad Smith with the [New York] Jets? He brings two helmets to every game.
BB: Exactly. If Tedy Bruschi was one of the radio guys than whoever the other player was would have two [helmets]. If you didn’t use one than you could use the other but if you are taking a guy out of the game for a third down play than you don’t switch the helmet, it would be easier to just signal it in.
Q: So that is a consideration too. To use signals?
BB: I think, from the coaches that I have talked to in the league, the defensive coaches and the head coaches, I think that everyone feels you better be prepared to signal.
Q: To clarify, you can only have two helmets at a game?
BB: You designate two players per game but only one can have the helmet on at a time with the green dot.
BB: [If] player A leaves than player B can put on his helmet but there is no player C. One helmet has to be in a box on the sideline. More importantly than that for right now will be the actual communication between the coach and the player and getting organized. On a defensive system like ours, I don’t even know who would be the best player to wear that. We might need to experiment with that a little bit. Quarterbacks have gotten accustomed to getting the play call and getting stuff in their helmet. You start doing that to other guys and they are trying to think about what they’re doing and trying to listen to people talking to them in the headset so it’s not easy. We will just have to see where it goes. That right now is a low priority. If we get to it next week, we get to it next week. Right now, we are just trying to get our stuff installed and learn how to run it. We want to make sure we got it down and deal with that later.
Q: To clarify, you can only have two helmets at a game?
BB: Exactly. That is another option. I think for teams like the [Baltimore] Ravens with Ray Lewis and the [Chicago] Bears with [Brian] Urlacher where that guy is going to be on the field for 95-100 percent of the plays in every situation, he’s the team signal caller anyway. That is kind of easy. For other teams that don’t have that type of situation, it’s a little less clear on what the best way is to handle it would be. For some of the teams I’ve talked to they are thinking about the same kind of issues. There are multiple considerations. On our end it will be a little bit of a trial and error type of thing.
Q: Can you talk about how well [Jason] Webster, [Fernando] Bryant and [Lewis] Sanders have picked things up?
BB: I think that all three players are smart, they work hard [and] they have had some playing experience. They are all kind of different but the fact that they have been here through the off-season and spring camps, I think that they all have a good base heading into training camp. I think that they are all having good camps. Fernando has gotten his hands on quite a few balls. Lewis is a bigger guy and being in pads has helped him to be a little more physical with the receivers, which wasn’t the case in mini and passing camp. Jason has got some good flexibility for us. He has played inside and outside. He is a smart guy and has quite a bit of playing experience as well. I think they are all coming along well. I think we have a good competitive situation there with the veteran players we brought in, with some of the younger players we have, some of the players on the team like Ellis [Hobbs] when he is out there and [Mike] Richardson. We will see how it all shapes up but it seems like a very competitive group right now. Everyone is right in the mix, which isn’t always the case but everyone is right in the pick of it.
Q: Several players have used the word finish to describe this year. Would you say that is the motto?
BB: Well, I think as in anything football or any other job a lot of things are important. Starting is important. Starting fast, getting off on the right foot, getting yourself in a position that you are going to be competitive whether it is in a play, a game or a season. Starting fast, being good fundamentally and not making mental mistakes. Finishing is the end part of it. Sometimes the finish of the play is more important than the beginning play. On a play you can be out of position and then recover and get back into position and make the play. If you don’t you drop the ball or miss a tackle and then you don’t have a good play. We try to emphasize all the stages along the way. I can’t say you can have one without the other on everything. For the most part that is part of it, finishing plays, finishing drives, finishing games and finishing situations. There is no question that is important. It is a point emphasis.