Hey all … here’s the link to an interesting story about LaMont Jordan’s signing with the Patriots. (Scroll down.) According to the story, Jordan’s release from the Raiders was contingent on him not signing with the Broncos or the Patriots.
Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here’s the complete transcript of Bill Belichick’s Q&A with the media today at Gillette Stadium:
BB: I think you guys are probably up to speed with the personnel stuff, the signing of LaMont [Jordan] and Nick [Kaczur] coming off the PUP [Players Unable to Perform] list. Worked a little bit in the red area today. Starting to get into a little bit of situational football. Certainly we have a long way to go in our basic regular stuff. We are starting to turn the corner on that a little bit – red area, third down, two minute. We will get into a little bit of short yardage later on in the week, blitz’s and stuff like that. We’ll add a little bit of that everyday but like I said we are kind of in the early training camp mode. We got the first couple of days under our belt and out of the way. Now we are starting to roll through it day after day and grind from meeting to practice, to practice to meeting, to practice to meeting. That’s what camp is for, to build the toughness of your team, build their stamina and build their long-term focus. That’s where we are at. There will be plenty more of it and we need it. I don’t know who’s in charge of weather today but I appreciate that little break.
Q: What does LaMont [Jordan] bring to the team?
BB: I think LaMont [Jordan] adds some quality depth to our backfield. We played against him a number of times. He’s a tough guy to tackle, hard runner, good in the passing game, and good with the ball in his hands. He is a good football player that we will put into that mix and it will give us more depth at that position.
Q: In the backfield, you like versatility. Does he [LaMont Jordan] fit into that?
Absolutely. Like I said, he’s a big kid. He can run inside, run outside and he can catch the ball. He is a good pass receiver in terms of route running. He’s instinctive and he’s returned kicks. We will see how all that manifests itself here going forward. Right now LaMont [Jordan] has to concentrate on learning the offense, the techniques, his assignments and so forth. I think he’s already gotten off to a pretty good start on that. He’s working hard at it and we will just try to catch him up on the couple days that he’s missed. Going forward, he should be able to keep up with the rest of the group as we continue to install things. There is quite a bit of that left so that’s good.
Q: Comment on Pierre Woods.
BB: Pierre [Woods] has had another real good off-season this year in the off-season weight lifting programs and conditioning. I thought he did a good job in the spring. His experience level – sometimes it is hard to tell when that experience turns to confidence and aggressiveness. On the field it looks like that’s where it’s heading this year in training camp. He’s playing with a lot of confidence both in the running game and the passing game. We know he is athletic and can play on special teams but he seems to have taken the opportunity to get a little more playing time in camp and raised his level of play so far. We still have a long way to go and a lot of things to add but Pierre [Woods] is one of our hardest workers and one of our most diligent players. He works hard at his job and tries to do everything right, just the way you want it. He’s been productive for us so far in camp.
Q: How nice is it to have Nick [Kaczur] back?
BB: It’s good to get Nick out there. Nick’s been a good player for us. He’s played a couple different spots. We will probably be able to use that versatility now that our numbers are a little bit low on the offensive line but hopefully they will climb back up here soon.
Q: What’s the difference between pre-season years ago to pre-season now?
BB: It is an interesting question. Things have changed a lot since that first training camp in 1975 when it was unlimited number of rookies. So teams that bring in 30, 40, 50 rookies and have a camp with them for a while – a week or 10 days. They would take the best players that they needed out of that group and put them with their veteran players so it was a pre-camp, camp. A lot of the veteran players came to camp because there was no off-season program. There were no passing camps and mini camps. That was very limited. Maybe one of two days or not at all. Some of those players would come to camp with the six pre-season games and the idea of working themselves into shape. Now with the spring camps, the way the off-season programs are structured and the salaries, which are a lot better now than they were back then when the rookies were making 18,000-20,000. It is a full time job and a good one. You get a lot more done in the spring now. Training camps are a lot shorter, two-a-days are a lot fewer but there is a lot more work done in the spring in terms of your team installation, meetings, training and conditioning. It’s more of a year round thing but a lot less rookies involved than what they were when rosters were unlimited. Six pre-season games, like I said my first year with the [Indianapolis] Colts we had six pre-season games and three scrimmages. You are almost playing a whole college season right there.
Q: How often do teams scrimmage?
BB: That used to be something that every team did. They would have one or two scrimmages with other teams now I don’t know how many of those there are but I don’t think there are very many. Maybe inner squad scrimmage but there is even fewer of those. You come to camp and your first pre-season game is in two weeks and you need three or four days to get ready for that first pre-season game. You only have about 10 days of camp really.
Q: Do the guys look at you cross-eyed when you tell them 30 years ago guys had full time jobs?
BB: There are a lot of things they don’t understand. They have no idea. I remember when I came into the league the rookies carried all the players travel bags. Now everyone does everything for them. The youngest coach on the staff carried the projectors so you’re lugging around those big 16mm projectors through the airports and the hotels. Now we carry six trunks of video equipment but there are no projectors anymore. There are a lot of things that are different. During the regular season the roster sizes were 38, 39, 40, 41, 42 – around there. There is no practice squad or any of that. You were about one and a half deep really. You had one team and then a couple backup offensive linemen, a back-up receiver and a backup running back. You had two tight ends but there were no long snappers and all that. They look at you like… and that was back when there weren’t facemasks.
Q: Do you think it was a good idea for the rookies to visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
BB: I sure do. I think the Hall of Fame is a great experience. I have been there a number of times and of course when I was in Cleveland several times a year I really had a chance to see more of it then. To me, no matter how many times you go it’s a great experience. You always see something new. You could spend a month there and still not see everything in the depth that it’s presented. I think it’s a great experience for the players to see some of the history of the game and of their teams and of the players that went before them either in their position or on their team. There are so many guys that have made the game so great for us, that participate in it and players and coaches that have paved the way. To understand that and have an appreciation for that is outstanding. We try to do that ourselves, not to that degree but having former players talk to them and making them aware a little bit of some of the things that have happened before they got here. Really, rookies need to understand that there was a game before they arrived. It didn’t just start when they showed up in town.
Q: Gary Guyton made a stand out play today. How is he working out for you?
BB: Gary has been a very versatile player. He’s a guy that’s played inside linebacker and outside linebacker for us. He did a little bit of that at Georgia Tech too where he’d play inside and sometimes they would blitz him off the edge. He’s smart, he’s versatile athletically, he’s versatile mentally and he can handle a lot of different assignments. He has been active for us in the kicking game and he’s a good player to work with. We will see how all that works out but he has shown some ability to cover, some ability to rush and has done a good job in the running game and in special teams. We have good competition at that position and he is certainly part of it. But he is a young guy who picked things up pretty quickly.
Q: Were the autographs spur of the moment of something planned?
BB: I sign them during the year during training camp. It was nice. I could have been out there for quite a while. There were a lot of people out there this morning. The rain didn’t scare many of them off so it was nice.
BB: The support has been great. I appreciate it personally and for our team and from the players during the year. Last year from the fans whether it be here, or other places in the area, being in an airport or somewhere having someone come up to you saying something positive and all that. It’s been great really since I came here and took the job in 2000. The fan support has been good and I really feel like I have a personal connection. I have spent a lot of time in New England going to school here, living here, being here in 1996 and even time in New York and New Jersey isn’t quite that far away. I always spent summers up here and it’s great. I appreciate it.
BB: It’s nothing compared to Brady.
Q: Did you like what you saw?
BB: Pretty much the same as last year. Last year was a big change from 2005. This year is pretty much following last year’s blueprint. We were only in pads maybe seven or eight times in camp in 2005 and last year 31 out of 32 or something like that.
BB: With training camp being really short, you get few opportunities to work on your fundamentals. You can’t do it in the spring and then when you get into game planning and adjustments on your new opponent on a weekly basis you spend so much time trying to match up to the different things that they do scheme wise. It’s hard to find the time to allocate individual fundamentals and techniques. If you put a lot of time into that, than you find out when you are playing the game that you missed some simple adjustments and you aren’t as coordinated as you want to be from a team standpoint. I have kind of gone back to the old school way like in 2000 and 2001 where it was a lot of time on fundamentals and individual techniques in pads. All the things you can practice with pads especially in a running game in the early part of camp. Hopefully, that can carry you through the course of the season and that you can be a good fundamental and technique team even though you are not spending time on it because you have to deal with all the schematic things that you face from week to week.
Q: How do you think the players feel or respond to the physical aspect?
BB: Probably a good question to ask them. I’m not sure what everybody thinks. There are probably players that would rather not be out there in pads. I definitely understand that. I think that overall our team understands that there are certain things that we have to do to prepare for the season. It is my job to make that decision as a coach. It is their job to make the decisions that they make as players. I think we have respect for what one another’s job is. I’m not a player, they’re not a coach. We all have to do our thing and have confidence in the other people doing their jobs. Just try to do what’s best for the team.
Q: How important are the pre-season games and conditioning for that physical contact?
BB: They are certainly important. You can go out there and practice all you want and it’s not quite the same as pre-season games. [Pre-season games] the contact, the adrenaline, the in and out of series and putting it all together, both cardiovascular conditioning and also the contact conditioning, taking those number of hits per game depending on the position the player plays, running routes and sprinting in full speed. You do full speed in practice but then there is game speed. There is pre-season speed and then there is regular season speed. There is post-season speed. There is a certain build up that is an important step for athletes to take at each one of those crossroads. That being said, some players aren’t able to take advantage of those opportunities and sometimes its better for them not to do it. Generally speaking I would say that those are good opportunities for players to get in top condition both mentally and physically from a conditioning season and pre-season games are part of it.
It hasn’t happened for the last few years, but today’s announcement that Gene Mruczkowski has decided to call it a career revives an old-school training camp tradition. Mruczkowski is the latest in a handful of veteran offensive linemen who decided to retire during the first few days of Patriots camp.
•Joe Panos: Retired on July 27, 2001
•Rich Tylski: Retired on July 29, 2002
•Brendan Stai: Retired on Aug. 10, 2003
Here are a few tidbits from today’s afternoon practice session…
•Marcus Pollard spoke with some reporters, and quickly lived up to his reputation as a personable guy and a great quote. Here is a quick portion of the Q&A the veteran tight end did with some of the media.
When you signed with New England, you were worried about Rodney Harrison — I read a story where you thought he would be a “butthead.”
I thought he would be the biggest jerk ever, because he’s one of those guys you hate playing against but you love having on your team. Now I’m here, I understand that, and Rodney is the epitome of that. He’s a tenacious football player, a hard hitter, a physical guy on the field and I thought he’d be the same thing in the locker room, but he’s far from it. He’s been a great friend who has introduced me to a lot of people — we’ve been talking a lot about golf. Both of us love that, a lot. So we have a lot in common, including the fact that the two of us have been in the league a lot of years.
You’ve played with some good quarterbacks.
I’m playing with a good one now.
How has that helped your career?
To me, it’s the key to any guys success at this level is playing with a talented quarterback, because he makes things happen so much faster. He’s not on his back half the time — having a great offensive line helps too. When you have a really good quarterback who knows where he’s throwing the ball after snapping the ball, it makes things a lot easier.
Is Tom a quick study?
Yeah, he’s a great study. We’ve been talking quite a bit, chatting about what he’s seeing, what he’s thinking, asking me if I don’t understand things what am I seeing on this and what am I thinking on this. To have the quarterback come over and talk to you about what he’s seeing … a lot of times a coach can come over and tell you, ‘This is what we want.’ When Tom is on the field, he’s a field general. When he tells me to hide eggs, I’m hiding eggs. Even if it’s not Easter. … That’s my mentality, because he’s the quarterback. When he’s on the field, he’s running the show.
Same with Peyton Manning?
Same with Peyton. That’s where I got it from.
•Chad Jackson was a big topic at Bill Belichick’s morning press conference — the head coach called him a “terrific athlete” who has “worked very hard” to overcome his knee injury. The young receiver was swarmed by the media when he came off the field after the afternoon session — here’s some of what he said.
The numbers seem to favor you this year when it comes to the wide receiver position. How does that enter your mind when it comes to camp?
Right now, we’re all out here battling for position, for starting position — one, two, three, four. Me, Jabar, Moss and all the other guys. That’s all you can do right now is just go out there. It’s great competition. May the best man win. All you have to do is work hard and do everything you need to do and do your job.
What’s the most important thing for you at this time of year? Timing? Getting in football shape?
I think both. Getting back in football shape, this is my first training camp since I got here. Getting in football shape, getting on the same page as the quarterbacks and getting on the same page with the coaches. Once you do that, everything will come along.
What’s it like being injured on this team? You’re sort of in limbo — part of the team, but not quite part of the team.
Last year, the guys were doing great. They had the winning streak, went undefeated, and it was kind of hard not being a part of it and not having your named called in the papers or anything like that. It’s not what it’s all about. You just want to feel like you’re part of the team. You want to be out there helping those guys, and helping those guys win.
What can you take from that as a learning experience?
The only think I can say about that is just don’t get hurt. Once you get hurt, you fall way behind, especially in this league.
•Rookie linebacker Jerod Mayo was “allowed” to speak to the media for probably one of the only times all season, and talked a little about his contract negotiation and the transition process. Here’s a sample of what he told reporters:
On the whirlwind of the last couple of days…
It’s been a long couple of days, but at the same time, I wanted to get here on time and be with the guys. It’s like my family now. I really love these guys.
On whether or not minicamp and the offseason training activities (OTA’s) helped with the transition…
Minicamp definitely helped. I feel like if I hadn’t been here without going through the OTA’s, I’d really be lost. But it’s still a complex system, and I’m still trying to get it down.
On any veteran linebackers helping him out over the last couple of days…
Bruschi and Adalius have really helped me out a lot. They’ve played a long time, they’re great guys, and they’ve really taken me under their wing.
How much of that is learning the Patriots’ schemes and how much of that is just being a pro?
To be honest, it’s a mixture of the both of them. They tell me to hydrate myself at night, do things that will help the next day, and they also help me with the plays, watching film and things like that. They’ve really been great up to this point.
On the contract coming down to the last minute and whether or not that was a concern…
It definitely was. I was really happy and anxious to get up here with my guys. Scott Pioli and that group did an excellent job getting a deal done, and thankfully I’m here.
Did your teammates tease you about missing the morning session yesterday?
They did. I heard a lot from the guys. At the same time, they understand the business side of the game and they welcomed me with open arms. I still have to carry pads for all the guys — that’s cool.
Hey all … here are a few national writers and their take on the first day of Patriots’ training camp.
•Mark Maske of The Washington Post says the Patriots are concentrating on “starting fresh.”
•Judy Battista of The New York Times says the Patriots are trying to forget the past.
•Mike Freeman of CBS Sportsline says the Patriots are all on message.
•The Palm Beach Post talks about how psyched Tom Brady was about the Jason Taylor trade.
•Kara Henderson of the NFL Network checks in with her first day report.
•And just because it’s my blog, here a link to my opening day story in Metro.
Here’s the full transcript of Bill Belichick’s Q&A with the media this morning:
BB: Stacey [James] just said that on the release that Rodney [Harrison] was not on the PUP List and he should have been so you can add him to that.
Anyway, it’s good to be out on the field and start training camp. We had the guys in yesterday and did some preliminary work; physicals, running tests and got some of that out of the way. Today is the first day we are really out on the field in pads going through drills, having contact work and starting a long road of building the base to get ready for the opener against Kansas City and the 16 game regular season schedule. As usual the emphasis on training camp will be on fundamentals and a lot of individual techniques. We spent a large amount of time in the spring going over game stuff, a lot of group things and a lot of non-contact work that we felt we could get done. [Work] that we thought would be very beneficial to the team and it was. I think the team has responded to that well. Now what we need to do is go through a lot of the individual stuff. The contact work, the hand placement, the feet, the leverage and a lot of one on one things like that so we can improve on those techniques and get those fundamentals down. Hopefully, those will carry us through the season. This is our time to work on them so that is where the real emphasis will be. We are in the training camp mode here. We have two practices today and we will just keep rolling here for a while and try to concentrate on one day at a time, one meeting a time. Put one foot in front of the other and just try to keep getting better on an individual technique fundamental basis. Then gradually blend things together from a team standpoint to get to the point where we can go out there and compete with some kind of efficiency in a couple weeks when we open up against Baltimore [Ravens]. That is where we are at. We have a long way to go. One step at a time and that’s the mode we are in right now.
Q: What goals have you set for yourself this year and for the team?
BB: The goal right now is to correct the mistakes we made this morning, talk about the stuff we are going to install this afternoon and go out there and work on that. We are going to try to have another good practice and string them together. Our focus right now is very short term.
Q: What does Dom Capers bring to this team?
BB: Dom brings a wealth of experience and on the defensive side of the ball. Also, as a head coach he has worked with a lot of young players through the course of his career and especially in the two expansion franchises he was with at the beginning of their operations. He has been in several different [3-4] schemes, Pittsburgh scheme, Miami scheme with Nick [Saban] and of course what he ran at Houston the past few years. Dom is very experienced in secondary and all around on defense. He has certainly made a lot of the head coaching and coordinator type decisions. He is a big asset from all those standpoints. I don’t know how everything will work going forward but certainly he has a lot of knowledge and experience to draw from. We have done that already and I’m sure we will continue to do that as we go forward through the course of the year.
Q: What did you see in Victor Hobson in how he would fit here?
BB: I think Victor is a good football player. We have played against him a lot when he has played with the [N.Y.] Jets. He has been an 80 percent playtime player the last couple of years although he played outside in that system. In Herman [Edwards] system before that he played in the [4-3] but he played more of an off the line type of position. That is more where he will play for us as an inside linebacker – more off the line of scrimmage than on it, where he played for the last couple of years. He is a smart kid, he’s fast, he’s tough and has been a very productive player. I feel like he can compete with some of the other players we have at that position and we will see out it all works out.
Q: You’re a student to the game…What have you learned about teams that have not been successful after a year in the Super Bowl and how will you apply what you’ve learned?
We have spent more time trying to look at ourselves like we do every year. What we did last year and how we can improve on that. Whether it be coaching, strategy, player acquisitions, scheme, whatever happens today. That is what we have done all the other years and that’s what we’ve done this year. We will try to build on some of the things we did last year, try to improve on some of the things we didn’t do as well and make adjustments from one season to the next, both from a scheme standpoint and from a personnel standpoint.
Q: Have you seen pitfalls in other teams who have been in your position coming off from a year like last year?
BB: I really haven’t focused on too much of that. I really don’t know what the specifics were for each one of those teams, what the dynamics were, what they were dealing with and so forth. After the ’96 season we weren’t here. We were in New York in ’97 so I can’t comment on that. Right now it’s really not about last year, it’s about this year and that is what we are going to concentrate on.
Q: What’s Ben Watson’s status?
BB: Watson’s status? There were several players that weren’t out there today. He is not on PUP. So what does that make him? Normal, I don’t know.
Q: How committed are you to the run game and making it a more balanced attack for this year?
BB: We’re are committed to scoring and trying to win games and whatever we can do to do that, that is what I am all for. I’m sure our offensive game plans will reflect that based on the teams we are playing and how we match up against them and what we feel like is best for that particular game plan. It is important to have balance in your offense with both running and passing, inside and outside, long and deep and to be able to attack the defense on a lot of different fronts. Sometimes it is better to do one thing or another depending on the match-ups you have against that team. That is all game-to-game, week-to-week decisions. As far as training camp goes, we work on everything. We want to be prepared to use all of our weapons and assets on offense. How we use them and when we use them that will be determined by game planning and game time decisions.
Q: What are you most excited about this season?
BB: As usual we put a lot of work into the off-season. We studied last year; we have made a lot of personnel adjustments, being in the draft, free agency – as you always do. Now it’s time to put it together, go to camp, put on the pads and start running plays. We will see how they look, make some adjustments, see if we can get them better and try to be competitive.
Q: Talk about the importance of getting Jerod Mayo on the field.
BB: We would like to have all the players on the field working as soon as possible. Whenever that is, then we will work with them.
Q: I saw Tank Williams filling in his [Mayo] position [line backer]. Is it because you are short players?
BB: We work with our players in a lot of different roles and different positions. That builds their depth and depth for our team. It builds depth for the player, versatility for each player and value to the team. We will do that with a lot of different guys. Certainly, Tank is a very versatile player. He has played in the secondary, he has played close to the line of scrimmage, he’s been productive in the kicking game, he can blitz and he can cover. How that will all work out, we will just have to see, but he can do a number of different things and we will work with him in those different roles.
Q: Richard Seymour said he’s been playing with one arm and one leg year to year. What does it mean for your defense to have him at 100 percent?
BB: Well, it is good to have all of our players and it is good to have them all 100 percent healthy.
That is the goal of every player, every coach and every team. Unfortunately, that is usually not the case. There are usually some issues that you are working around one way or another or an individual has to work around. That is part of the game too. We hope everyone is out there 100 percent ready to go without any restrictions or hindrances at all. We hope that for every player and I know that’s what every player hopes for too. That’s the point we are all trying to get to. As many as we can have in that situation the better off we will be.
Q: You have been pretty consistent about putting last year behind you. Is there anything at all…
BB: I don’t know. I am not really worried about last year anymore. We are just trying to have a good practice this morning, make the corrections this afternoon, put in some new stuff and go out and practice it tonight. So that is where we are.
Q: Who did you learn that philosophy from? To take things day to day and not look ahead at the big picture as a whole?
BB: What else would you do?
Q: Well, some people worry about what is going to happen 3 months down the road.
BB: What, are we going to sit here and talk about November? We don’t even know who is going to be playing in November. For us or them, whoever it is. I am just saying, I don’t know. Our deal is what is in front of us and what is behind us we can’t do anything about. What is in front of us, we will get to it eventually but right now we have a lot of other stuff we need to tackle and deal with. I guess if I learned that from anybody it would probably be my Dad.
Q: Nick Kaczur wasn’t out there today. Are you happy with the result of the legal matter?
BB: Well, it is a legal matter that we don’t have any control over. Whatever it is, that is a matter between a player and whatever part of the legal procedure that player is involved with at that time. Sometimes it changes. If it affects us than we will deal with it and if it doesn’t than the player deals with it. If there is any discipline than all that is handles internally between the player and the club like it always is.
Q: Is that why he was not out there today?
BB: No. I didn’t say that. I’m just telling you that is the procedure that we have. Any discipline between a player and a club is handled internally between the player and the club regardless of what player it is. That is the way we do it.
Q: Personally is this a special day to you?
Actually, yesterday was the first day of camp. It was the first day everyone came in but it’s good to get out on the field. We had our practices in the spring and it was good to see the team start to formulate, come together and work together. I understand for you it is the first day of the football season. For us the first day of the season was probably the Monday after the Super Bowl when you start making personnel decisions, then head into free agency, start getting ready for the draft and then start getting ready for Spring camps. For me the 2008 season started back in February and it’s an on going process. Training camp is an important part of the process but there has been a lot of work done leading up to yesterday and today by myself, by the staff, by the players, by strength and conditioning, trainers, rehab and so forth. We are pretty well into the year. I don’t mean to be disrespectful but it’s not like we rolled out the ball today and were like okay let’s start-playing football. We have been at it for a while and this is just another step in the process. An important one but another one.
Q: It didn’t seem like Tom [Brady] threw the ball all that much. Is there a reason for that or is it just the way it worked out?
BB: We have a long training camp and we will have players doing different things on different days. They will work on different positions and have different workloads. Some of that is managed as you go and some of that is the way you start camp. Each player is in their own individual situation, whatever that happens to be. Some guys do more than others, some guys do less, some guys are practicing some guys aren’t, some guys are practicing at different positions and so forth and so on. The composite of it is trying to get the team ready for the pre-season games, evaluate certain things in pre-season and try to get the team ready for the season opener against Kansas City and our 16 game regular season schedule. It is all part of a mosaic. What is best for the team, what is best for the player and all the situations are handled pretty independently.
Q: Is Tom [Brady] at a point in his career where he doesn’t need to be here?
BB: I think it is important for every player to do everything they can to be ready for the season. I think Tom did everything he can to be ready for the season. I’d like to think that everyone else did that as well. There is probably some that could have done a little bit more than they did but that is always the case. I think Tom is well prepared for the season. I think he will be ready to go but he still has a long way to go too just like everyone else.
Q: Can you clarify the situation with Nick [Kaczur]?
BB: He is on PUP. I don’t know how it could be any clearer than that. We can all read the PUP rules and all that. Basically, ready to practice is ready to practice and that encompasses a lot of different things. When they are ready to practice they are out there and when they are not ready to practice then at the beginning of camp they are on PUP and if they are not on PUP then they are not ready to practice and they are doing something else than the rest of the team practice.
There is some reason why those players on that list [PUP] are not participating, some physical reason why they are not participating.
Q: Is [Mayo] going to be ready to play this evening?
BB: We just got off the field. It sounds like they are getting pretty close but until they are done; to me they are not done. So when they are done, we will let you know. At this point, they are not done. When it is done we will let you know.
Q: Will signing [Jerod] Mayo put the roster at 80?
BB: In order to add him, we will have to create a roster spot.
We posted the partial Q&A Tom Brady had with reporters earlier today — here’s the complete transcript:
Q: How was the first day?
TB: I think everybody is excited to be back. We realize that we have a pretty good team and I am anxious to start the games. We have five tough weeks of practice and I think we are going to need it. The ’08 season has begun and I hope the rain isn’t a forecast of things to come. Everybody is just excited to be back.
Q: With how last season ended, did it make the off-season longer?
TB: It was a short off-season because we played all the way to the end. We were all disappointed with the way it ended – there’s no doubt about that. That is part of competition. You can’t always control the outcome. You control how much you put into it and I know this team put everything it could into it. I think that is part of what helps you move forward is to say ‘OK we did the best we could do and it didn’t turn out the way we would have liked but sometimes that happens.’ We are moving forward with just as much energy and excitement as we always have. Hopefully we can go out there and compete as hard as we can and put ourselves in the best position possible every week.
Q: Is it very noticeable with guys like Asante Samuel, Rosevelt Colvin and Junior Seau not out here?
TB: We miss every guy we have ever lost, especially from the very successful seasons. Dating all the way back to guys like Lawyer Milloy, Drew Bledsoe and Ty Law. We always miss those guys. I think every year there will be changes and it is hard to make comparisons every year because we never have the same team intact. There are new coaches here, new opponents and a new schedule. It always starts fresh for us and it starts today.
Q: There is a long history of teams that lose the Super Bowl and don’t have success the following year. What have you learned from those teams to help make sure this a positive year?
TB: We start by taking leadership from our head coach [Bill Belichick] and the example that he sets. I don’t think he is too concerned with what anybody did last year, including us. He is concerned with what we did today and what we do tomorrow. That is where is all starts. I don’t think what any team has done in the history of the NFL will have any effect on what we do this year. We are going to do the best we can do. We are going to try and do the best we can do everyday in practice. Hopefully that leads to a lot of wins.
Q: Have you watched film from the Super Bowl last year or do the coaches keep it away from you?
TB: We watch film from it and learn form it. We learn about some things we didn’t do so well and learn about the things we did well. It wasn’t all bad but it wasn’t all good. I think like most games it comes down to a few certain plays. We didn’t make enough plays in that game and that is why the outcome turned out the way it did. We will learn from it and learn from the games we won. We are always trying to improve and learn from the previous week.
Q: Does watching film from last year’s Super Bowl help put it behind you?
TB: You always have emotions when watching it because you remember the disappointment you felt after the game. Just like when you watch games you have won you remember the excitement you felt. It was one game last season that we all felt we could have played a little better. You can’t change what happened; as hard as you want to, you can’t. So what can you do? You can move forward with the awareness that you can improve. We are going to try to improve in all phases. There are a lot of improvements we need to make as a team to be able to compete as hard as we can. This is a tough league with a tough schedule and a tough conference. Those teams are always trying to beat us and it has been like that since I have been here.
Q: How was your off-season? Did you travel more?
TB: It was great and every year it seems to get better. I really enjoy it. It is a time to spend with family and friends but I am also anxious to be back. I love playing and I love competing. In March and April you are not too excited about football but once June and July come you are anxious to get back, be around your teammates and start working.
Q: What did you like about watching the Celtics in the Finals since you were at a couple of games?
TB: It was fun to watch. It is exciting for this city because of the Celtics’ history. I really respect and admire those guys. Their players, coaches, management and ownership have always been so supportive of what we do. It is cool to have all the Boston and New England community come together and be able to watch those guys. I was especially excited for those guys who hadn’t won a championship. You know how it feels so you get excited for guys like Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul [Pierce] that have played for so long and haven’t experienced it and now they are world champs.
Q: Do you feel you guys have anything to prove because of how last year ended?
TB: I don’t think about that. I don’t think about proving anything to anybody except proving that we can work hard. You don’t focus on proving people wrong. You just focus on doing the best you can do. You control how much effort you put in when you are on the practice field or in the meeting room. You control the effort you put out. We focus on that. No matter what anybody thinks or says – it doesn’t matter. As much as I want to think it matters or you guys [media] think it matters, it really doesn’t. We are going to control what we can control and that is the attitude we take with our preparation, effort and attitude.
Q: With how much of a grind last year was, physically and mentally, do you have to pace yourself early this year?
TB: Yeah. Each year I learn something different. The goal this year isn’t to see how sore my arm can get. For our team the goal is still the same – to be ready to play in September. Whatever we need to do to get to that point, our coach is going to put us through. It is a veteran team. We pretty much have everybody back on offense. I don’t think it is going to take what it took to cover last year. Hopefully we can build on stuff we did last year.
Q: Last year you had to get acclimated to a bunch of new receivers. How will it be different this year?
TB: We now know what everybody can do. We know what everybody is capable of. Last year when we broke the huddle, guys were running to the right or the left because that is where they had to go. They are trying to figure out how to run the routes and find out what I am looking for. Now when we get in the huddle, I tell Randy [Moss] what to do and he knows exactly what you are going to do. It is the same with Wes [Welker] and Jab [Gaffney]. It is pretty much everybody. That leads to better execution and if you can execute more consistently than that will help over the long term. There are a lot of guys who can do it really good for one play but it goes back for one play. You want to do it well and right as often as possible so nothing inhibits you from scoring.
Q: You guys had huge numbers last year. Can you equal or better that this year?
TB: I don’t know what this year is going to call for. Hopefully if the other team scores 40 points we can score more than 40. Each game is going to be different. How ever many points we need to win, I hope that is what we score.
Q: Last year you said you felt 22 years old. How old do you feel this year?
TB: I feel 21. I feel like I am getting younger. My body feels really good and in great shape. My arm feels good. My mind feels good most importantly. We are ready to attack this season and see what we can make of it.
Q: Are you going to take some practices off and not throw like you did today?
TB: Yeah, because we have another practice this afternoon. For me, I don’t think it is important to throw twice a day. I want to make sure the reps I take are good reps. Two practices today is good for arm soreness. Some guys do it but for me over the long term it would be beneficial to pace it.
Q: On the first day of training camp what are you focused on most?
TB: I think it is whatever the drill calls for. If coach scripts the practice to work on the run game then we will work on the run game. If it is a conditioning drill then we will work on conditioning. Whatever coach asks us to do that is what we are going to do and do our best at it.
Q: You said your arm feels good but how does your ankle feel?
TB: Yeah it feels great. The ankle is great.
Q: How much fun was surfing?
TB: I am a terrible surfer. I swim and avoid waves. I don’t think I surf much.
Q: Did you get your parking spot?
TB: No, I gave it up. I didn’t compete for it this year. I am sure if I would have competed I would have won but I chose not to compete.
Q: Do you feel you needed a bigger vacation this year?
TB: No, I think there are other things that have come up in my life that I had to make choices on. One of the choices was to spend time away with things that I don’t get the opportunity to do in the off-season. It was not all vacation though.
Q: You don’t have to face your buddy Jason Taylor as often this season. How happy are you about that?
TB: Yeah. I think [Matt] Light and I popped a cold beer when I saw that transaction. We were the two most excited players in the NFL. I appreciate that very much and I let him know it as well.
Q: Would Matt Light admit that?
TB: Oh yeah. We were hugging each other. It was awesome.
The Patriots have just made the Jerod Mayo signing official. They also announced the release of Lavdrim Bauta. The full transcript of the announcement is below:
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots signed first-round draft selection Jerod Mayo today. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The Patriots selected Mayo with the 10th overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. Additionally, the Patriots released rookie offensive lineman Lavdrim Bauta.
Mayo, 22, played in 32 games with 26 starts for the University of Tennessee over three seasons from 2005-07. In his collegiate career, the 6-foot-1-inch, 242-pound linebacker recorded 236 tackles (137 solo), 6.5 sacks for 51 yards, one interception for 34 yards and a touchdown, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. The Hampton, Va., native started all 14 games at middle linebacker as a junior in 2007, serving as a co-captain and recording 140 total tackles — the highest total for a Tennessee player since 1990. In a game against Kentucky, Mayo made 19 tackles, the highest single-game total for a Volunteers player since 1988. As a sophomore in 2006, Mayo started 11 of 12 games at outside linebacker, finishing third on the team with 83 tackles while totaling a career-high five sacks. In 2005, he played in six games with one start at outside linebacker as a redshirt freshman.
Bauta, 24, was signed by the Patriots on July 22. He was a three-year letterman for Duke before transferring to Villanova for his final collegiate season in 2006. As a senior with Villanova in 2006, Bauta started 10 games at right tackle. In 2005, Bauta started all 11 games at tackle for Duke while also being named to the ACC All-Academic Team.
The morning practice session just finished up here at Gillette Stadium, and quarterback Tom Brady chatted with the media. Here’s most of the transcript — we’ll have the complete version later this afternoon.
On returning to camp…
I think everybody is excited to be back. I think we realize we have a good team. I’m anxious to start the games. We have a [few] tough weeks of practice, and I think we’re going to need it. Let the ’08 season begin. I hope the rain isn’t a forecast of things to come, but I think everybody is excited to be back.
Ending the season as it did, did it make the offseason longer?
It’s a short offseason because we played all the way to the end. We’re all disappointed with the way it ended — there’s no doubt about it. But that’s part of competing — you can’t always control the outcome. You can control how much you put into it, and I know this team put everything we could into it. So I think there’s a lot of … part of that helps you move forward — we said, ‘We did the best we can do and it didn’t turn out the way we would have liked, but sometimes, that happens.’ And we’re moving forward with just as much excitement and energy, and hope we can go out there and compete as hard as we can and try and put yourself in the best position you can each and every week.
On missing guys like Asante, Junior and Rosevelt…
We’ve missed every guy we’ve ever lost, especially from the very successful seasons, but dating all the way back to Lawyer Milloy and Drew Bledsoe and Ty Law … we’ve always missed guys. I think part of every year, there are changes. It’s hard to make comparisons to every year. We’ve never had the same team come back intact — there’s new coaches here, there’s new teams that we’re playing. It’s a new schedule. So I think it all starts fresh for us, and it started today.
On Super Bowl hangover, and what he can learn from the struggles of other teams who lost Super Bowls…
I think we just start with taking leadership from our coach and the example that he sets. I don’t think he’s too concerned with what anybody did last year, including ourselves. I think he’s concerned with what we do today, and what we do tomorrow. I think that’s where it all starts. I don’t think what any team has ever done in the history of the NFL is going to have any impact on what we’re going to do this year. We’re going to do the best we can do. I think we’re going to try and do the best we can do every day in practice, and hopefully, that leads to a lot of wins every week.
Have you watched the Super Bowl game film as a team?
We watched it and we learned from it. We learn things we didn’t do so well, and we learn things we did well. It wasn’t all bad and it wasn’t all good. I think like most games, it comes down to a couple of plays, and we didn’t make the plays, and that’s why the outcome turned out the way it did. But we’re going to learn from it, and we’re going to learn from the games we won, and try to always make improvements and learn from the previous week.
Was it good to put it behind you to watch it?
You always have emotions, because you realize the disappointment you felt after the game. So when you see the game, you think of how you felt after the game, just like when you see games you won, you think of the excitement you feel after the game. It’s really … it was one game last season that we all wish we did a little better in, but you can’t change it at all. As hard as you want to make it, you can’t change it. So what can you do? You have to move forward. You move forward with the awareness you can do things better. And we’re going to try to do things better, in all phases. I think there’s a lot of improvements we need to make as a team, so we can try and go out and compete as hard as we can, because it’s a tough league and a tough schedule and we’re in a tough conference and all those teams are going to be trying to beat us. That’s the way it’s been since I got here.
On his offseason…
It was great. It was great. Every year it seems to get better. I really enjoyed the time with people and family and friends. … I love playing and I love competing. In March and April, you’re not so excited about football. But when June and July come, you’re anxious to be back with your teammates and start getting back to work.
On watching the Celtics and what he picked up from them…
It was fun to watch. I think it was exciting … it’s the history of the Celtic organization. I really respect and admire those guys and the players on the team and the coach and the general manager, they’ve always been so supportive of what we do, and I think it’s cool as a community that the Boston community — the New England community — can come together and watch those guys. I was excited, especially for guys who hadn’t had the experience to win a championship. You know how that feels, and so you get excited for those guys: Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen and Paul who had all played so long and hadn’t experienced it, and now, they’re world champs.
On having something to prove this year because of how last season ended…
Well, I don’t think that’s what I think about. I don’t think about proving anything to anybody, except proving that we can work hard. You can’t … I don’t think … you focus on proving people wrong. I think you focus on doing the best you can do and control how much effort you put into putting in the time each time you take the practice field or in the meeting room. We’ve focused on that for a long time. No matter what anyone thinks or says, it really doesn’t matter — as much as I want to think it matters or you guys think it matters, we’re going to control what we can control, our preparation, our effort and our attitude.
On the grind of last season, and whether or not he feels like he has to pace himself this year…
Yeah, yeah. Each year I’ve learned a little something different. I think the goal isn’t to come out this year and see how sore my arm can get. I think for our team, it’s the same thing. It’s to be ready to play in September, and whatever we need to do to get to that point, that’s what our coach is going to put us through. This is a veteran team, and on offense, we pretty much have everyone back. I don’t think it’s going to take what it took in terms of a lot of the things we covered last year — we’re going to cover a lot of things, but it’s going to be different things that we will hopefully build on from last year.
On the difference between this year’s receivers and last year’s receivers…
We know what everybody can do, and we know what everybody is capable of, so I don’t think it’s so much … I know when we broke the huddle last year, guys were starting right and then going left because they didn’t know. They were trying to figure out how to run their routes and what I’m looking for. Now, you get in the huddle, and Randy knows exactly what you’re gonna do, and he knows exactly what I’m gonna do. Same with Wes and Jab, it’s pretty much everybody. I think part of that leads to better execution, and if you can execute more consistently, then you’re going to have better execution for the long term, which is what you’re looking for. There’s a lot of guys who are good for one play, and then it goes back for one play. You want to try and do it as good and as right as often as possible, so there’s no negative plays that can prohibit you from scoring.
On if the offense can equal or better last year’s numbers…
Well, like I said, I don’t know what this year is going to call for. Hopefully, if one team scores 40 points, we can score more than 40. And if they score three points, we can score more than three. I think each game is going to be different. However many we need to score, I hope that’s what we score.
On how old he feels — last year, he said he felt like he was 22…
21. I think I feel like I’m getting younger. I feel like my body feels real good. I’m in good shape. My arm feels really good. My mind feels good, most importantly. We’re ready to attack this season and see what we can make of it.
What are you focused on the most through the first few days of camp?
I think it’s whatever the drill calls for. Coach scripts the practice, and if it’s a run game, we’re working on the run game and how to execute the run game. If it’s a conditioning drill, we’re working on our conditioning. Quickness drill, throwing the ball … whatever coach asks us to do, that’s what we’re going to focus on and try to do our best at it.
On his ankle…
The ankle is great. The ankle is great.
How much fun was surfing?
Surfing? I’m a terrible surfer. I swim and avoid waves. I don’t surf much.
Did you get your parking space this year?
No. I gave up it. I gave it up. I didn’t compete for it this year. I’m sure if I would have competed, I would have won, but I chose not to compete.
This “no Jerod Mayo signing” stuff got me to thinking about the dates some of the Patriots’ recent first-round picks officially inked their deals and the lengths of their rookie contracts. Here’s what I found…..
2007: Defensive back Brandon Meriweather signed a five-year deal on July 27, 2007.
2006: Running back Laurence Maroney signed a five-year deal on July 29, 2006.
2005: Offensive lineman Logan Mankins signed a five-year deal on July 25, 2005.
2004: Defensive lineman Vince Wilfork signed a six-year deal on July 19, 2004, and tight end Ben Watson signed a six-year deal on August 16, 2004.