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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Tue May 21 - 02:00 PM | Thu May 23 - 09:55 AM

Bill Belichick Press Conf.

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            **BB:** This is the smallest turnout of the camp so far. Let's see… We had kind of a review practice this morning without pads. We went through some situations that we'd kind of fallen behind on a little bit. What happens is when you work against yourself and you run your plays against your defenses and all that, there's some things you just don't see because you don't run them and they're things you need to see, so for example we're playing a 3-4 defensive front and we need to see some 4-3, so things like that, the offense is getting caught up on, vice versa with the defense, so that was one of the major emphasis points for this morning. I know there have been a lot of reports about Roman Phifer. Roman is in for a physical. We don't have a contract with him yet so until that happens, he's not a Patriot. We'll see, I'm not sure how that's going to go, but we'll let you know if anything comes down, if and when that happens. I think we're real close to getting several players back. We're going to work at the stadium of course tonight ad what we're going to do is set up as many game-like situations as we can, with the coaches in the press box, just kind of field organization, coach-to-quarterback radio system calling in plays, 45-second clock, all those kind of things to try to get our team into a little bit of a game environment. We're also going to try to do a little bit of kicking once practice gets going so we can do some ball-handling under the lights, and things like that. We just don't have quite enough players on the offensive line to divide the team in half and have a real, two real teams, so… But I think we're pretty close to getting some guys back and hopefully after tonight's practice we'll give the guys a little break to get their legs back under them on Saturday and a little bit over the weekend so we can get a couple more healthy bodies back out on the field as we head into next week. But the guys that are out are working pretty hard, they're rehabbing and they're coming along. I think that's where we're at today.  

Q: Are you going to give them Sunday off?

BB: We'll probably be back Sunday. I'd rather you didn't write it yet, I'd rather give it to them, but they'll probably be off Saturday. I don't want to set their expectations too high.

Q: How difficult is it to give your offense a look at a 4-3 defense when you play mostly a 3-4?

BB: It's something we have to deal with. One of the things that I think is going to help us is the work with the Giants. They're a 4-3 team and we'll go through a week running our stuff, but next week we'll have three practices against the Giants. We'll also have a practice prior to them getting here where we work on them so we can at least familiarize ourselves with, like you mentioned, the 4-3 defense, a couple of things offensively as well that we need to familiarize our defense with just so we have a little bit of preparation for them, not that it's going to be a big game plan thing or anything. So that's a good way to balance out the overall two weeks of training camp, the first week on 3-4 type schemes and the second week on the Giants which is more of a 4-3, over and under base.

Q: Do you have an update on Adrian [Klemm]'s situation?

BB: Adrian hurt his elbow, he'll probably be out a few days, we'll brace it, but he shouldn't miss too much time. I don't know the exact medical classification of the injury, but he has a little bit of pain, a little bit of swelling but they're going to get a brace for him and he shouldn't miss… he'll miss a couple of days until things settle down but then he should be back out there. The way it happened was that Antowain [Smith] was on the goal line and was just running up in there and trying to score and Adrian was blocking and he kind of hit him from behind on the way in.

Q: How is your wide receiver situation working out?

BB: I think for the most part, our veteran guys are pretty veteran, guys like CJ [Charles Johnson], Torrance Small and Troy [Brown] and those guys, and Bert [Emanuel] has had a good camp, so they're showing up, their veterans with experience, they have skills reading zones and picking up blitz adjustments and that kind of thing, but that's kind of what we're looking forward to in the next week between tonight's practice, working against the Giants. We've kind of split the reps up evenly or as evenly as we can through this first week so we've got everything installed and, not that we haven't been evaluating because we have, but I think the evaluation process will take on a little bit more importance in the coming week when everybody knows what to do, everybody's been through it, and now we're going to start to see who can do it and who can't. We started that a little bit yesterday in the kicking game with the special teams practice and these next few days will be important to the next group of receivers.

Q: Does it make your life a little easier having so many veteran receivers?

BB: Yeah, it does. On paper anyway. We still have to go out and establish it on the field and just because a guy did it last year doesn't mean he's going to do it again this year, but there are signs in the group, you know we have had 13 practices or whatever it's been, I've been losing count now, but something like that, and you can see it on the field, they pick things up, we've got a couple of bigger guys and that's helped the running game a little bit, in terms of blocking, they've come in and been able to seal off the safeties or push around the corners, that kind of thing, so you can see the skills that those guys have and it's a very competitive group. I'm anxious to see them under fire and see if anybody emerges, or see who emerges, if anybody as the cream of the crop.

Q: How's the Stephen Neal project going?

BB: We're going to work Steve a little bit on offense as we head into next week. We're going to use him on defense actually because that's where he's most familiar, and where he really probably could play in a team situation at this point. But heading into next week, we're going to try to go back and give him some more work on the offensive side of the ball and see how it goes. Steve's a smart kid, he works very hard. You go over there to the meals and he's eating lunch or dinner and he's got his playbook open and he's reading it all the time. He can't ask too many questions or learn too much. So no matter what happens on either side of the ball, I think that this will be a good experience for him. If he stays on offense, obviously that will be the right move and his time on defense is going to help him as an offensive player to understand some things and vice versa, even if he goes back to defense, at least now he has a little more idea how they're trying to attack him and what's going on.

Q: So the move could end up being permanent?

BB: Again, he hasn't played football in six years, so I'm not really sure. I can't just sit here and say he's going to be a defensive lineman… He's got skills that you could find on either side of the ball. The advantage that he has on defense that a lot of guys don't have is that he can run, so there aren't too many defensive lineman that can't run. If they cant run then they get moved to offense, so he can run and that keeps him as a potential defensive player, but that being said, in the end his skills may be better on the offensive side of the ball. And we all know that there are certainly a good number of players on offense who can run, too, so that's not to say that everybody on offense is slow, I don't mean it that way, but I would say that there's not too many slow players on defense, once they're slow, they get shifted to the other side of the ball.

Q: So will he be working out at guard?

BB: Again, I don't know. In some respects, I think guard will be better, in other respects, it's, assignment-wise, a little bit easier at tackle, so we'll start him at tackle and see how that goes from an assignment standpoint that will be a little bit easier, but in the end, it could be guard, because I don't know.

Q: Considering his wrestling skills, how hard do you think it will be to avoid holding penalties?

BB: We've already seen a little bit of that on defense, too, when he's just tackled guys that are trying to block linebackers, and we tell the defensive linemen, 'Don't let your guy slip off and get a linebacker because the linebacker thinks that the guy on you is going to block you, he's not expecting him to come and block him so you've got to keep that guy off of him.' So sometimes he's kept him off of them by tackling them, so… I don't know how big of a transition that will be for him, but he's going to have to learn how not to do that. Or how to not get caught doing it, we'll put it that way.

Q: Are you more locked into a 3-4 defense this year rather than going back and forth like last year?

BB: I don't really think we went back and forth last year. I think what we're going to get in to is if McGinest is out there, call him whatever you want to call him: if you want to call him a linebacker, call him a linebacker; if you want to call him a defensive end, call him a defensive end. But other than whatever you want to call him, the responsibilities and the system and all that plays pretty much the same. Because Willie rushes much of the time he's on the field and he plays more like a defensive lineman, we can call it a 4-3, but the principles of the defense are still the principles of the defense, and if you ask Ted Johnson or Lawyer Milloy, or Mike Vrabel, from one to the other, it probably wouldn't effect them, or it would effect them very little. The biggest thing is what you want to classify McGinest as. So without him out there now, it's easy to say it's 3-4, because we don't have anybody like him with his pass rushing skills and his ability to get up the field and that kind of thing, that I think you would classify as a defensive lineman.

Q: So you wouldn't ask TJ [Turner] to rush the passer like McGinest does?

BB: No, he's not Willie McGinest. He has a different set of skills. It really is a 3-4 defense. The linebackers are involved in coverage and when Willie's in there, we all know that Willie's going to be involved more in the rush.

Q: How is Tebucky Jones doing at safety?

BB: I think he's more comfortable, I think he's ahead of where he was last year. If you remember last year we had him at corner in mini camp and then moved him to safety in training camp. Of course this year, he's got all the fire at mini camps and passing camps and last season's regular season and preseason play at safety behind him. So he's got a lot more in the tank, a lot more experience to draw from, and he's much more comfortable back there making adjustments and he's making them quicker and reacting quicker, so I think for out system we've got him in the right spot and he's definitely ahead of where he was last year.

Q: Last year you benched him at safety. Was he mentally where he needed to be?

BB: Well, Tebucky's further along this year. I wouldn't say that he was deficient, I wouldn't characterize it that he was just killing us, that type of thing. Part of what we did early in the year was related to scheme, where we were seeing teams that used a lot of three wide receiver offense like the Jets did, as an example, whether you want to call them three wide receivers, which was sometimes a pretty frequent formation with [Wayne] Chrebet in the slot, or whether as much as they used Richie Anderson in the passing game, it was kind of like them having another receiver on the field, even though he wasn't a "wideout." But some of that was game plan, scheme-type things, too. But I wouldn't characterize Tebucky as that he was benched last season. Tebucky has a significant role for us in the kicking game, he can be an impact player and we don't want to lose the impact that he can make in that aspect of the game. Particularly early in the season, with the weather being hot and that type of thing, and how many plays a player can be effective and impact on. We didn't want to take all those plays away from him in the kicking game, or take them away from us. So that was part of it, and he and Larry [Whigham] kind of split that off a little bit last year. Sometimes we went with three corners with either [Antonio] Langham or Otis [Smith] back there playing some safety in some certain schemes. So I wouldn't rule that out from happening this year. I think that Tebucky's ahead of where he was last year. I would also say too that there's real good competition at the safety position, with Matt Stevens and Antwan Harris, Antwan's having a real good camp, he looks like a totally different player from what we saw last year. Those four guys, I'm talking about Lawyer included in that group, but those four guys have been very consistent with both the first and the second group at safety, regardless of which ones have been in there and what the combinations have been. So far that's been a real competitive group.

Q: Had Antwan played much safety before?

BB: He played safety in college, played corner and safety in college, senior year he played mostly safety but he also played corner in some of the bowl games and played corner earlier in his career, I think it was his junior year. He's kind of been bounced back and forth between corner and safety at Virginia. We started him off at corner and this year he's just kind of out of the numbers, really. I think we could put him out at corner, too, but we feel like we have good depth at corner right now and he'd have a better opportunity at safety and he's responded to that very well and mentally he's on top of things, he makes very few mistakes back there and he has some corner skills so that gives you some range, and some athleticism at safety that's nice to have.

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