Much attention has been paid to Bill Belichick's training camp style, with alternating two-a-days and intermittent days off. After nearly 30 years of coaching in the league, and now in his 10th as a head coach, Belichick has seen many styles to midsummer preparation.
But it may come as a surprise to learn his system of running camp hasn't so much evolved as it has been born out of necessity. In fact, Belichick doesn't even refer to the Patriots style of workouts as a system at all. Rather he feels his team adapts to whatever the schedule calls for.
"We've done things differently during my time here," Belichick said before Monday's practice. "Back in 2000 when we played San Francisco in the Hall of Fame Game, we had to do things differently than we did them last year, when we played three of our preseason opponents again within the first six weeks of the season. You're doing more film work in a case like that than you normally would.
"I really don't look at it as my training camp style evolving into anything; it's more of a reaction to the situation."
Not including today's workout, Belichick has put his team through 15 practices thus far in camp. He said the team was coming to the end of the "real training camp part of it." Beginning Tuesday, the team will start preparing specifically for opponents. Starting with Philadelphia, Friday's opponent in the preseason opener at Gillette Stadium, the Patriots will devote time each day to future foes.
It's all part of a process Belichick has grown to enjoy. Training camp may be a necessary evil for the players, but the coach loves every minute of it.
"It's like putting money in the bank," Belichick said of his fondness of the daily grind. "It's an investment. There are so many things you can draw from – situational work, conditioning, and execution of certain plays. When those situations come up again during the season you feel you're prepared because you've gone over them before during camp."
The Patriots spent a significant portion of Monday's workout going over special teams. Once again, most of the starters and veterans went without pads while the youngsters dressed in shoulder pads and helmets. Those in pads went through a basic practice on one field, while the veterans went through a walk through on the other field.
Belichick talked about the differences of filling an eight-man practice squad as opposed the five-man units the NFL has used in the past. While not delving into specifics in terms of what positions or players would be candidates, the coach did say it was likely two of the spots would be used on an offensive and defensive player. He added that the expansion made it more likely for teams to use a spot on a developmental quarterback.
Depending on the availability of veteran Jim Miller, who isn't scheduled to begin throwing until Sept. 1 at the earliest, that could make Kliff Kingsbury a candidate. Assuming Rohan Davey capably fills the backup role, and Miller is well enough to hold down the No. 3 spot, Belichick could opt to keep Kingsbury for another year.
Still no word on when, or if, rookie Benjamin Watson is expected to sign. When asked if there was any news on his would-be tight end, Belichick panned, "I was going to ask you guys about that."
Linebacker Rosevelt Colvin was in pads for the second straight day. He and newcomer Dana Stubblefield were two of the few veterans suited up. … Patrick Pass, a versatile special teamer in his four previous seasons in New England, lined up as the only running back with the first offense in a pre-practice hurry up group used to set up a simulated late-game field goal opportunity. … Lonie Paxton made one fan's day when he threw a ball into the crowd after the specialists worked on field goals. Although fans must generally return any balls that inadvertently end up in the crowd, the long snapper told this lucky fan to keep the souvenir. … Tight end Zeron Flemister was helped off the practice fields by the training staff, gingerly dragging his left leg, after a broken up pass attempt in a group of defenders down the middle of the secondary that included Scott Farley. … Kliff Kingsbury and Michael Jennings hooked up on one of the nicer plays of the day in the padded action, connecting on a deep ball down the right sideline over newly-signed cornerback Earthwind Moreland.