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Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 6/7/2003

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BB: We wrapped it up here today. We've been out all week since Monday and we've had eight practices. We've got a long way to go but it is starting to come together. It's good to see everybody working together, visually, just to see the players on the field interacting and running the schemes doing the things we want to see them do. It's been a productive week but there's still a little bit of time left here in terms of training and conditioning and getting ready for training camp. We'll be ready to go in about six weeks.

Q: Between now and when training camp starts, do you try to reinforce what you said about these guys coming here in shape?

BB: We talk to them strongly about it. I think everybody that has been here and hopefully the new guys not only heard what I had to say, but maybe what some of the other players had to say about the importance of conditioning and just being ready to go in the National Football League. It's a long season and the competition is stiff and there are a lot of well-conditioned athletes in the league and you can't afford not to be in that group. So, they have all heard that message.

Q: Is this the most dangerous time of the year in terms of conditioning?

BB: I think for the most part as the season gets closer, most athletes train harder to get into peak condition when they start, there's always exceptions to that rule. But I think that it's more the rule than the exception.

Q: What do you think the biggest temptation is [conditioning wise]? Football becomes 12 months a year, Do you think the guys want to have one little period of time to purge? Do they pick the wrong time?

BB: I don't know about that. When they come here in March they are not in top shape. I don't know about it being 12 months a year.

Q: What are your impressions of Bethel Johnson and the speed he can bring to the offense and maybe the return game as well?

BB: Well, I don't think there is any question about Bethel's speed. He had a good week. He was seeing some new things offensively and schemes and adjustments and that kind of thing, route adjustments, but he's got good skill. If he'll keep working hard and be able to pick up the offense and do those things, I think he has a good opportunity to fight for a spot.

Q: Have you coached a faster player?

BB: I don't think so. He's fast and he's explosive. Maybe Leonard Thompson when I was with Detroit. Ricky Upchurch in Denver, but not many. He can go.

Q: People talk about the complexity of your defense. What kind of allowances do you make for guys on a case-by-case basis to get up to speed? Do they have study groups? What kind of specific things do you do so these guys grasp things quickly?

BB: Well, I think we just go through the normal teaching progression. You teach them in a classroom, your teaching them on film, and you teach them out on the field. Then you run it and correct it. Players will meet individually with the coaches to specifically go over different aspects of it that they might not be as familiar with. Otherwise, it's just repetition and if a guy doesn't understand something, try to find a way to explain it to them or show it to them either on previous year's film or on practice field or on the blackboard. I think that overall the group has picked things up fairly well. There are always going to be a few bumps on the road at this point in the year, but it will come together.

Q: Are there guys that you might rule out because they may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer when it comes to studying?

BB: My experience has been that if a player will work at it, he'll be able to get it. We all learn at different rates. Some things come faster to some of us than others in some areas. Some people learn things quickly in one area and not as quickly in another area. My experience has been if a player will work at it and really try to apply himself that they can eventually get it.

Q: The other day you were talking about Antowain Smith and the running game. Do you have anything specific in terms of what you guys as coaches can do this year?

BB: I just think every year you always try to find a way to do a better job in coaching it by either changing the techniques or the schemes or when you call certain things, what formation you are running out of and that kind of thing. I think that is all part of the normal self-analysis, that development internally of your team. So, I don't think it's anything out of the ordinary. Formations against certain techniques, how to make two plays look the same that aren't the same so that it's harder for the defense to defend them and blending things together in your play-action game. All the things like that are things that we've worked on and hopefully we'll do a better job of it.

Q: How about the run/pass balance? Is that something that you looked at? Was it situational and the scoreboard dictated a lot of it? Or do you think you got away from the run too much?

BB: Well, I think it comes down to production. If the running game is producing, then everybody is happy to run the ball. If it's not, then you know you are less inclined to call them and you're just not as efficient with it. I think they go hand in hand. Some of it was score dictated based on last year's games. We were in a lot of close games. But there were several games where, in all honesty, weren't all that close. All of those are factors.

Q: With Kenyatta Jones having surgery on both knees in the offseason, do you go back and reevaluate his season and say to yourself that he is probably not 100 percent?

BB: Sure. I think what is more important is going forward rather than going backward. What's important going forward is for an injured player to rehab, to get back out on the field and start participating and be able to do what he can do with his new situation, usually improve with an offseason of whether it be surgery or rehab or strengthening or flexibility or whatever the offseason program is. You always hope that will put [a player] at a little bit higher physical condition than he was at the end of the previous year and not necessarily at the beginning but at least at the end.

Q: Would you say since Kenyatta is still rehabbing that Adrian Klemm would go into training camp as the starting right guard?

BB: I don't think it's that important who starts at right tackle at the beginning of training camp. It's who ends up there at the end of training camp and the start of the regular season. Whoever is out there will have an opportunity to compete for the spot. The best player will get the starting spot.

Q: Can you give your assessment of the defensive line, specifically Richard Seymour, Dan Klecko and Ty Warren?

BB: This is much more of a teaching camp than an evaluation camp, especially in the line positions where we don't have much contact. It's more working on their fundamentals and learning the schemes and making sure that they get the right calls and are in the right spots, that kind of thing. The real evaluation on those guys will come in training camp when the pads are on and we're out there banging away. I think that overall the group did okay in terms of picking up and understanding what we have to do. There are a few things that we have to clean up. Overall, it was okay. But the real evaluations on those guys are not going to come until we get out there and start seeing it in competitive situations.

Q: Will you sign Mike Cloud?

BB: It's a possibility. But until anything happens, and it hasn't happened, I think it's a possibility.

Q: Did you get in all the teaching in that you wanted in your eight practices?

BB: We did. We covered the areas that we wanted to cover. Again, there is always more to do and there will certainly be plenty of things to hit in training camp. The big thing was to develop a good fundamental base so when we do get back in training camp and go over these things that A) there will be some recall and B) there will be a good base to build from as we go into some of the things we weren't able to get to at this camp. I think from that standpoint, we are where we can be.

Q: It looked like [Eugene] Wilson and [Asante] Samuel got some reps with the first group. Have you been happy with what you have seen from them so far?

BB: Asante and Eugene both did a nice job of coming in. We've worked them in a couple of different positions in their set, inside and outside, and I think that they are starting to get a feel for what we are looking for. There's still quite a bit of learning because we were checking coverages and making some formation adjustments and that type of thing. I think that they have shown that they should be competitive in training camp.

Q: Is it, for guys like [Chas] Gessner, [Rob] Milanese, Derek Watson, a bit of a setback for them?

BB: Yeah, a little further behind everyday and everybody else is out there practicing and learning and they are not. So each day that goes by they just fall further and further behind. It's tough enough as a rookie. It's even tougher when you are not out there on the field. It's an unfortunate situation for them and the team obviously. There's nothing more important than a player's health and his physical ability to go out there and play the game. So until you have that, it's hard to make progress. You can make a little bit, but it's slow

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