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Replay: Patriots Postgame Show Mon Sep 27 | 12:00 AM - 08:55 AM

Bill Belichick Press Conf.

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            **B:** Just a quick recap on the weekend, we brought the players in last night had a little orientation to round everybody up and then did a little testing this morning, some indoor and outdoor testing, running, jumping, stuff like that. We will practice this afternoon, meet tonight, practice a couple of times tomorrow and then close up shop on Sunday. Basically this camp will be a little bit different from the one that we had last year because we just have a lot fewer people. We only have a total of 21 people here and we have some kickers and a snapper in that group so we really can't put a whole team out on the field. Last year I think we signed 26 free agents, plus the draft choices, plus we had some of our veterans participate in the camp so we could get a look at them, so this year we will be a lot more on an individual basis. There won't be very much team work, as you will see if you want to come out to practice. So what we want to try to do is close the gap early between where our veterans are now and where the rookies are coming in. That is a significant gap in terms of experience that we won't be able to close, but in terms of terminology and having some idea of what is going on in our system. The conditioning program, we want to try to get them oriented into that and get them to work on that in the next couple of weeks. Those are the main goals of the weekend. Also try to get to know the players on a working basis, not on a scouting or interview basis, but really get to work with them. Also for them to start to understand our system and what we are trying to do so they can understand how to fit into it. We got the list of the free agents that we signed, so 10 draft choices and 10 free agents.  

Q: Is there anybody who is not here?

B: No.

Q: You now have five tight ends, with the two young guys will you work with them on what is expected of them, see where they are and see what their strengths are?

B: I think we know where they are, how they fit in maybe is another question. Jabari (Holloway) was a three and a half-year starter at Notre Dame. I think he started 30 some games there so it is not really a question of seeing him play. He has been playing and been playing quite a bit. We saw him in the all-star games and I think for a college tight end he is pretty far along. He certainly has a lot of things that he can still work on, but he has had experience. He was a good high school player, a good college player, team captain and all of that, so I think he is a lot further down the road. He hasn't been in a drop-back passing offense and he will have to work against a higher level of competition than he has been playing at. Arther (Love) on the other hand is coming out into a completely different environment. A small school kid that played in a run-oriented offense, that has had a lot less exposure and a lot less competition than Jabari has just as comparisons since those are the two guys. He is coming more like from where Chris Eitzmann came from last year. Now how quickly he will be able to close that gap and where he will be I don't know. There are a lot of things we like about Arther, but he has a lot more ground to cover than I think Jabari does at this point. That is not saying one is better than the other and where they are going to end up, but they are at different points trying to aim for the same target.

Q: The fact that he wasn't in a run offense and that you still drafted him he must have been fairly impressive in the other facets?

B: What was impressive was the Senior Bowl because that obviously was a pro offense and run by pro staffs and you could see a much higher level of competition at the senior bowl. When Arther had some opportunities in college he did show up in the passing game they were just limited, but he probably did more in the Senior Bowl in the passing game then he did in two and a half years at South Carolina State. There is potential there and I think there is opportunity, but he has a lot of things to learn, but I think he has good tools to work with, so at that point in the draft that is the type of player that you are looking at.

Q: When you are evaluating two guys like these two where one has had more experience and a higher level of competition hoe do you do it because obviously the one guy can't look as good as the other?

B: Right and it went back and forth, it seesawed back and forth on that one with our coaches and our scouts. It was, 'this guy has a lot of potential, but this guy has been at a high level of competition and he has done it' and back and forth. So I think in the end you can see both as the glass half full, like I said I think it is two guys going at the same target from different directions. It probably could have gone either way. I think that part of the draft selection was the fact that we thought that Holloway would not last as long as Arther did. Of course when we took Jabari we didn't know that we would get Love or have a chance of getting Love so when that chance came up a little later we felt it was good value because we did have a conversation about both guys earlier in the draft.

Q: Now that you have them both here, how tricky is it to factor in the different situations and programs they are coming from?

B: At this point, as I told the players last night starting right now it doesn't make any difference where they came from division one, division three, east coast, west coast, big school, small school, running offense, passing offense really at this point nobody cares. I mean I don't care if a guy scored twenty touchdowns in college or didn't score any, it is form here forward what they produce. They are all starting at the same level now. The learning is going to be the same. The coaching is going to be the same. The techniques are going to be the same. Everybody is going to get he same amount of reps and opportunity and it will just be how they move forward and I am sure the progression rates may vary. One guy may progress quicker than another and then after a couple of weeks that rate of progress may change. So we will just have to evaluate it as we go, but I really want to try to look at everybody pretty equally right now and have an open mind and let them play. Like I told the players last night we have twenty new guys coming in, we have seventy players on our roster, we didn't have any graduation ceremonies. Basically all of the guys that were here last year are basically back with a couple of exceptions. We have added players from other teams and they have been working and training for two months so they are pretty ahead of where the rookies are coming in right now. I think the rookies need to understand that. I am not sure that they do, they probably don't, but we are going to keep trying to get that point across. I know what the rookies have been doing we have been part of it. NFL coaches come in a couple of times a week to what ever school they are at, work them out, put them through 15, 20, 30 minutes of drills. Talk to them, interview them, and watch film and all of that. That is one way of working out. Our players come in spend two and half hours lifting weights, running, doing agility drills, studying films with their position coaches. It is a much more intensive workout. They are not the same so rookies need to understand that they have some catching up to do.

Q: How overwhelming is it to them mentally?

B: It is a good point of view you are bringing in up there. I was downstairs this morning on the treadmill with Ula (Maugaula) Tuitele and we were talking and I asked him, 'this was you a year ago, coming in as a free agent, first exposure to the NFL, you hear about it at Colorado State and all of that, but let's look back a year and what do you take from the experience?' and I think a couple of the points that he made were just the ones that you would expect. Mentally there is a lot more than he anticipated. Physically everybody is bigger, faster and you hear the game is quicker. You hear it is faster and you hear that the players are stronger, but you just don't realize what a big jump it is. How much quicker, how much faster, how much stronger they are. How much more football there is, how many adjustments there are, how many formations the offense runs, how many more things there are to defend and he said, ' No matter how many times you told me about it or my college coaches told me about it or other players that played that graduated before I did and came back and told me about it, I respected, I understood it, but until you experience it, it is just hard to understand what the jump is.' I think he has come along way, like most rookies do in a year, but it is funny we were just talking about that down there for about a half hour. The biggest problem with the rookies right now is they don't know what they don't know. If they really could understand how much they don't know it might be easier, but I don't think that most of them really understand that they don't know what they don't know.

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            **Q: They are going to have to think a lot more about what they are doing out there, how much does that impact the way they are able to do it.**  

B: It impacts it tremendously and again that was a big theme that I tried to hit them with last night. The quicker you learn it the quicker, the quicker you understand it the more confident you will be and the better you will be able to execute it and the more aggressive you will be able to play on the football field. If you don't really know what you are doing you are going to be tentative. You will be slow making decisions, you will be playing not to make a mistake instead of playing to make a play and the sooner you learn it the quicker you will be able to execute it. That is just going to have to come from their work and their study. I can't learn it for them, no other coach can learn it for them. Each individual is going to have to put the time and energy and off the field studying into it to learn it himself. We tried to impress upon them the importance of doing that and doing that soon and not trying to cram two days before they come back before for passing camp. We will give them some information to take home and we will do verbal tests on the phone with them in the next couple of weeks and then we will have a written test for them when they come back to try to monitor and make sure they understand they are being held accountable for the information.

Q: Is it more logical that you will lose guys early on because of what you see are physical deficiencies or will it be mental deficiencies, or just not trying to learn?

B: I don't know. It will just depend on their performance. It could be either one. I am not really sure what they are going to do. We think that we have go people who physically can compete, once we see that they can't compete physically and if they are not able to compensate for it some other way then it is time to move on. Mentally that is another story. It takes some guys longer than others, again depending on where they are coming from, but to me with the young guys as long as they are making progress, as long as they are improving, as long as they are trying we will keep working with them. Once they stop improving or they stop trying or they give up then you pretty much have hit a plateau and you don't think it is going any higher you just have to decide whether that is good enough.

Q: Tight ends come in all different sizes and from all different places, some say they are all playing in the NBA, but it seems more difficult position to find, do you find yourself looking in different areas to come up with a couple of guys?

B: We have four young players on the roster not including (Rod) Rutledge who is only a fourth year player, but the other four players are very young and we will see how they do. I think they all have some qualities that are good to work with, but they are not established and they need to do that. I think looking at the draft this year, but it has been like this, but I think this year is a good example of the linebacker position and the tight end position are two positions that in the last three or four years have been underdrafted. In other words, most of the players that get drafted in those positions make a team not necessarily because they are that great, but just because of the need of that position. Somebody has to play it. Then historically there have been a number of players each year in the last few years that have made teams at the linebacker and tight end position who were undrafted, Eitzmann as an example, Jermaine Wiggins as another example guys like that. Olrick Johnson was on our team last year, guys like that that are undrafted players that play more at those positions then maybe some other positions. Whether those pleas are in the NBA or somewhere else, I don't know because we are not really in that market. But in the college market it is getting tougher and tougher to find that spot and I want to say that this year, I can't remember the specific number but just off the top of my head, I want to say that at the combine that half of the linebackers were under 6'2" which is a pretty high percentage of guys to be that short at that position. Going back into the eighties and nineties I just don't remember is being like that and that is one of the things that I would like to take a look at in the next couple of weeks and kind of review what the trend is at the position. We actually have a couple of guys working on that now, but yes I think the position is getting harder to find.

Q: Tight end wise it seems more difficult than the linebacker position, why is that?

B: I really think it is the same though, I think the difference is that a lot of teams play with one tight end or two at the most and are playing with three linebackers. You are only looking for one tight end, but you are looking for three linebackers, but I think three linebackers is just as hard to find as one tight end I mean in terms of the numbers of draftable people and that type of thing. Again, it is an underdrafted position. Most of the guys that are draft play and then some of the ones that don't get drafted have a higher percentage chance of making it and playing at those two positions than a lot of other ones.

Q: Have you told any of the players that you have drafted that you are moving them to another position, when do you do that?

B: Yes we have already talked to a number of them about it and particularly in this camp. Yes I talked to several guys about it, 'We are going to look at you at a couple of positions this week. Don't worry about it we just want to get a feel for you at mike and sam or at mike and will or at left tackle and left guard or at right guard and right tackle that kind of thing. Let us get through the camp. We really haven't had a chance to work with you' this is players that have flexibility, some players, we talked about the tight ends, they are what they are, we are not moving them anywhere, but some of the other guys that have some flexibility we are going to look at them in a couple of spots and just try to get a feel for them. That is part of the value of this week having three practices in three days to again, not only physically work with them, but mentally work with them and give them some different assignments as see how they handle it and see how adjustable they are and how flexible they are.

Q: Are (Richard) Seymour and (Matt) Light in that group?

B: Seymour, Light, (Kenyatta) Jones, T.J. Turner, (Yubrenal) Isabelle, (Jace) Sayler, (Hakim) Akbar, Walter Williams are all guys that will work at more than one spot. I mean the kickers won't, the quarterbacks won't, the tight ends won't. (Drew) Inzer is another one that will. So probably about half of the guys will be at one or two spots. Certainly we have one spot targeted more than another, I mean I am not saying that. We are going into it with the attitude of let's see how it goes. We kind of have them targeted for a spot, but again now is a good time to look at them doing more than one thing and just see what it looks like..

Q: When will you finalize it?

B: I think when we bring them back for passing camp on May 16 that we will put them where we want them and then we will go from there. Then we will see how that goes. It might be a week, two weeks training camp. Last year Tebucky Jones we played him at corner all through passing camp and then moved him to safety in training camp. So I think in passing camp you have to give the player enough time, you know you don't want to be playing jumping jacks there and pop them all over the place. You want to try to get them somewhere and leave them and the sooner you make that decision the better off everybody is for it, but on the other hand I think you have to give the guy enough time so you can evaluate his performance at that spot and then once you are sure that you need to make a move then you might as well go ahead and make it.

Q: Have you seen any of the film form the NFL Europe games over the weekend?

B: No it usually gets in yesterday or today, usually Thursday, I haven't seen it yet.

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            **Q: With so many linebackers under 6'2" what do you expect to gain from studying that how to get them taller?**  

B: No I don't think there is any way you can get them taller, I don't think you can stretch them out. I think you need to know what is playing in the league and I think you need to know what your opportunities are to find one. If you want to set your grades based on a position that just isn't available then I think that you are going to have a hard time doing that. We got into that when I was with the Giants. Our standards at the Giants for outside linebackers were 6'4" 240 pounds. Well we drafted Carl Banks, we drafted Lawrence Taylor, we drafted Andy Headen, we drafted two or three guys like that, but Lawrence Taylor was the second pick of the draft, Carl Banks was the third year in and year out there was never anybody that fit in that category. One or two guys every year so after we got into the later eighties, 1987, 1988, 1989 in there we had to readjust our standards because the players that we were finding the Andre Tippetts, and the Carl Banks and the Lawrence Taylors and the Chip Banks and the guys like that, that were showing up in the early eighties that were playing that position weren't playing it. We just couldn't find them at the end so we had to readjust our grading scale and tell the scouts what we were looking for and I think that is true of linebackers. If you can't find what you are looking for then you either have to get the few that are available and put a little extra into it to get them or change your style of play so that you are not counting on that type of player because you can't find them.

Q: If this trend continues what will be the trend of defense?

B: I think that colleges have already made that adjustment they have already gone to playing those linebackers off of the line of scrimmage more instead of playing them on the tight end. They play them back off of the line of scrimmage in the bubble that we call three or four yards off of the tackle and they have gone to this smaller, what I would say undersized not undersized for college, 250-260 (pound) defensive ends that play in place of those outside linebackers, but they just penetrate and rush up the field. If you look at the draft this year, the defensive end draft, other than Seymour, all of the other defensive ends, there was (Justin) Smith, there was (Kyle) Vanden Bosch, but those guys are 270 (pounds) or less Derrick Burgess and you can go right down the line, (Aaron) Schobel, all of the kids who were drafted they are probably under 270 pounds and those were the defensive ends that were picked whether it was the first round or the seventh round it is all going to be the same. So you have big guys that are playing tackle and you have guys that are 270 (pounds) or less playing defensive end and that is what the colleges have done so that the bigger defensive ends that we have seen in this league, guys like Reggie White big people that have played the position are hard to find.

Q: Are you going to have to change your basic philosophy of defense?

B: If you can't find them you are going to have to change their responsibilities unless you can get somebody undersized to play that responsibility. I am not saying that you can't find any of them I am just saying that the trend is they are harder to find.

Q: It seems doubly difficult because the offensive linemen are 800 pounds?

B: I think that is another issue that really league wide everybody has to take a look at because the offensive tackles in this league are getting bigger, bigger and bigger to the point where a 350 pound tackle isn't that rare any more. The guys they are blocking keep getting smaller and smaller and smaller and relatively faster so you are getting bigger guys blocking smaller and faster guys that could be a mismatch both ways. It is a mismatch for the defensive guy on some inline point of attack plays, but it is a mismatch for the offensive tackle in some space plays. Just the reverse is going on in the inside. You are getting guys inside that are getting bigger and bigger and bigger and I don't know that the guards are keeping pace with that. So I think that at some point you are going to see NFL lines shifting from smaller tackles to bigger guards so that they can match up more with the defensive size and have more athletic tackles on the outside to handle all of the speed that keeps getting moved wider and wider.

Q: Is it harder to play two-gap with the size the way it is going on the defensive line?

B: No two-gap is a technique. It is not as much about a certain size of a player, it is about what you want to teach a player to do.

Q: Are these bigger kids getting automatically shifted to the offensive lines when they get to college?

B: I think the ones that get shifted to the offensive lines are the ones that can't run. If they can't run they go to offense. If you have a big kid that can run you keep them on defense as long as you can, but if they can't run then the only place you can put them is either on the bench on defense or put them on offense. That is usually what happens to them.

Q: The three wide receivers all have something or you wouldn't have signed them, but is there anything in particular that caught your eye?

B: Ronney Daniels was a very productive receiver at Auburn. His senior year was really his least productive year, but I want to say that he had 1000 yards as a freshman and he had a real productive year in 1999. He is a big kid that covers the ball well, that is tough after the catch. His long speed is probably the reason why he didn't get drafted. Walter Williams is an interesting player. He has a background in both running back and wide receiver. He had a good year at Grambling in 1999, was ineligible and missed the whole 2000 season. He is a mature kid that is married with three kids. We brought him up here a week or two before the draft because he wasn't at the combine to give him a physical, but he is a big time athlete. Doug Williams who is the head coach at Grambling has a lot of respect for him and really wanted to try get him eligible his senior year to get him to play, but it was just a technicality. It was not really an academic issue because he is a smart guy and Scott McCready is a big kid from South Florida that runs pretty well. I don't think we are talking about Jerry Rice here, but they are free agents. They each have some positives and they bring something to the table and we will see how the competition shapes up.

Q: How do you convince two free agent quarterbacks to sign here with (Drew) Bledsoe, (Damon) Huard, Tom Brady and Michael Bishop all already here, what do you say to them?

B: Number one I don't think any free agent quarterback is really competing against Bledsoe, I don't think that is the competition. I think with Ben (Leard) Charlie (Weis) was at Auburn and after the Senior Bowl one of our summer intern coaches was from Auburn so we had a good relationship with the coaching staff there and spent some time with Ben down at the Senior Bowl and after the Senior Bowl. With all of those quarterbacks it is just a question of numbers and opportunities. Most teams are going to take four into camp or five and keep three or four and there are only so many spots and I think that based on the relationship that we have had with (Ben) Leard as an organization, I mean you would have to talk to him, but obviously he felt comfortable enough to want to be here in this system and (Michael) Van Raaphorst is a kid that I saw up at Southern Cal a little bit earlier this spring and it is the same type of deal. They are looking for an opportunity and a chance to show what they can do and that's what we can give them. So I guess he must have liked what we had better than what somebody else offered him.

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