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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript

Posted Aug 13, 2012

New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick addresses the media at Gillette Stadium on Monday, August 13, 2012.

BB: I don’t really have too much to update from last night.

Q: Any roster moves?

BB: [No], it’s only been a few hours.

Q: With the bigger gap between the two preseason games, will you break the week up at all in terms of devoting the early part to yourselves and the later part to game preparation?

BB: Yeah, that’s exactly what it will be. We’ll take a few days here to try to finish up our installation, get through some situational things, work on things we need to work on and then get ready for Philly at the end of the week.

Q: Specific to Rob Gronkowski, who didn’t practice yesterday, I’m just curious if you’re managing him any differently this year than you would have last year based on what he went through this offseason?

BB: No.

Q: How do you feel his training camp has gone?

BB: Good.

Q: What have you seen from Jermaine Cunningham so far this training camp?

BB: He had a good start with the offseason program [and] did a good job in the spring. He’s working hard. He’s out there every day, working hard, getting better.

Q: What areas has he improved in since you guys drafted him three years ago?

BB: The big thing is he’s been out on the field every day – that’s the most important thing, is to be able to work and improve and get better. His durability has been good. He’s worked on a lot of little things – different reads, techniques in the running game, passing game, gained some experience. I think the whole lead-up to it has been good. He really hasn’t had that the last two years. This is the first year he’s really had an offseason program in the National Football League – offseason to spring camps and all that.

Q: Have you used him inside a little bit up front in some sub packages?

BB: He’s worked in there a little bit, [yes].

Q: Does that give you a little bit more versatility with a guy like him?

BB: Yeah, we’ll see how it goes. We’ll see how it goes. I don’t know that there’s enough evidence to know how that’s going to turn out. We’ve worked a couple of our ends in there. We’ll see how it goes.

Q: How close are you to reaching a point with some of these young guys, like Alfonzo Dennard, who hasn’t practiced for awhile, that it might be too tough for them to catch up by the time they get back?

BB: You hate to see any player miss time. The more days they miss, the farther behind they fall. We’ll just take it day to day.

Q: The other night Patrick Chung was talking about building a relationship with Steve Gregory. What are the signs you look for as a coach that show that two guys are really starting to get on the same page?

BB: When more difficult situations come up, things happen faster – shifts, motions, two-minute situations and then formations or situations that are a little bit harder, whether that be an adjustment in a defense we have to make or whether it’s the way they’re formationed or the way they position their players that forces us to do something, how quickly we can recognize that, get it communicated, work it out. There’s no written test, but when you see things on the field that are just basic and simple – they’re the way they normally are – you like to think you can get those right, but when the wheels start to spin a little bit faster, that’s a better indicator of where you are in terms of your recognition, communication, ability to make adjustments.

Q: Have you seen that evolving with those two guys?

BB: We’ve seen it with the whole defense, yeah.

Q: Marcus Cannon has some position flexibility. We’ve seen him mostly at tackle this camp. What made tackle the choice for you?

BB: [I] just feel like that’s his best position.

Q: How so? What are the traits that make you feel that way?

BB: He’s big, he’s strong, he’s in good condition [and] he’s got the feet to be able to play out there in space. It’s the position he played in college; he has a long history of playing there. [I] think he can play the spot.

Q: We saw Nick McDonald at different places on the line the other night. What are the traits you saw in him that led you to play him in so many different positions?

BB: He played tackle in college, but has primarily played inside in the NFL. We don’t have a lot of depth at tackle, so he was probably the most experienced – not that he has a lot of experience – but still the most experienced guy with also the athleticism to be able to play the position. I thought, really, he did a pretty good job out there for not much practice. He hadn’t done it in a couple years and went back out there and really did a pretty credible job. That was great to see. There aren’t many offensive linemen in the league that can play all five spots. If he could do that, that would be very valuable to our football team.

Q: Does that happen often where you create depth without realizing you had it as you experiment with guys in different positions on your own roster?

BB: Sometimes you get into that with, like Troy Brown and Julian Edelman playing defense. Sometimes you kind of get pressed into it.

Q: Have there been any players over the course of your career that were five spot guys?

BB: Not too many, not too many. Maybe there were a couple guys that could have done it, real good players, but they just played their one spot. I’m sure [Logan] Mankins could play anywhere on the line – [he’s] another guy who played tackle in college and plays guard mostly in the NFL. I’m sure he could do it.

Q: He could snap too?

BB: Well yeah, I would think so.

Q: How have you felt about Ryan Wendell’s camp so far?

BB: Good, good. Ryan has had a good year, going all the way back to the spring; healthy, out there every day, getting better, really improving. Last year was a tough year for him, he got injured early, missed time and then came back, was just kind of still…[he] got banged up again, could never really get into the flow of it. He’s performed well, performed consistently and he’s done well.

Q: Is it hard to find a defensive lineman with the combination of strength, up field ability to anchor and then the ability to chase down and pursue behind the play. Richard Seymour was able to do that. Is it rare to have a guy that can chase down running backs from behind?

BB: Depends on how fast they are; if they’re fast enough, yeah. I think you see a lot of it in the league, guys that can run. It’s hard to catch anybody from behind if you can’t run fast. You have to be able to cover some ground, whether it’s running down guys to the perimeter or downfield on screen passes and things like that. Guys that can run, that play hard, that play with a good motor, they make those plays.

Q: Is that an added value attribute that you’d find in a defensive lineman? Not only can he do all these things but he can also make plays downfield.

BB: I think there are a lot of things you ask players at that position to do. If they can do that, that’s another one on that side of the list.

Q: There was a play the other night when Chandler Jones got down the field about four to six yards and made a tackle from behind. Did those things jump out at you when you watched his film from Syracuse?

BB: Yeah, Chandler runs well.

Q: What are his strengths?

BB: He covers ground, he plays with good effort. Jake [Bequette] had a couple of those plays, Justin [Francis], Jermaine [Cunningham], Rob [Ninkovich], really all those guys. They can all run. They’ve all made plays from the backside or downfield, definitely in practice and through the spring. I think [if] a guy runs 4.7, 4.8, he takes a good angle and is playing with good effort, they’ll make some plays.

Q: Shane Vereen ran well on Thursday night. He’s come a long way from where he was last year. Have you seen him run like that in practice or is that as good as you’ve seen from him?

BB: It’s always kind of hard to gauge a running back in practice because we’re not doing full speed tackling. The last time he got an opportunity to run like that was probably in the Kansas City game when he had some of those same kind of looking plays. That’s the good thing about the preseason games: you get a chance to evaluate players. Guys like that – skill players – can you tackle them? Or quarterbacks – how do they throw when they’re really under pressure about to get hit or after they get hit, how do they stand in there? You can simulate more of the line contact in practice, but the tackling of the skill players and them being able to not get tackled or get tackled or tackle or miss tackles or whatever it is – you can set up drills, but it’s a better picture in the game. Yeah, he did a good job.

Q: Would you ever be of the mind to hand a running back the ball 320 times in a single season or are those days gone?

BB: I’m for whatever helps us win. If it’s 500 quarterback sneaks, if that’s the best thing for us, then I’m all for it. If we win, if that’s the best thing we can do to win, then sign me up for it.

Q: Is it rarer with some of the specialization that goes on? Since Corey Dillon, there hasn’t been a guy who was the lone back. The other side specializes so much to keep guys fresh and guys specific.

BB: Corey Dillon was good enough to do it. If we had the ’04 Corey Dillon, he’d be getting the ball, I don’t know, how many times did he carry it that year?

Q: 300-plus I think.

BB: Yeah, so if Corey Dillon of 2004 was on this roster, I’m sure he’d get it 300 times too. I haven’t seen Corey out there lately though, it’s too bad.

Q: What about [Former N.Y. Giants running back] Joe Morris?

BB: Who knows? I think a lot of it has to do with the player.

Q: What attributes would that player need?

BB: Production. If he’s productive, I think you’d want to give him a chance.