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Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 8/1/2003

BB: I think this is kind of a good time to recap the week a little bit. We started out with some work in the stadium and, on a moderate level, some situational things. We have built into adding day-by-day, as we've gone through. And this morning we finished up with probably the most situational work we've done in terms of substitution and play calling. Just trying to cover as many bases as we can and I think that's moving along. We're obviously not there yet. We have covered a lot of that ground in addition to trying to make it a fundamental week and tighten up some of the things that needed that based on where we were at the beginning. I'm going to give the players tomorrow off to give them a chance to get their legs back under them and get a little bit of rest. We've gone pretty hard, had a lot of contact in pads this week. Then we'll come back Sunday and start working on our preparations for the first preseason game against the Giants next Thursday. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday will be like a regular Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and then we're two days away from the game. So that's the setup on that. We made two roster moves today. We released receiver Scott McCready and corner Ben Kelly and we are working on bringing players to replace them, player or players maybe plural, but that's not done yet. That probably will happen before Sunday so that we can get a full group back on the field as we start to get ready for the Giant preseason game. So that's my updates.

**Q: What have you seen from Spencer Nead or Rodney Trafford that makes you believe they might be able to contribute something?

BB:** Trafford is a guy we really didn't know too much about. He played in Europe and hadn't been with us at any of our passing camps or anything in the Spring. He came in and made a pretty good impression right away in terms of his athleticism. He catches the ball well. He has some receiving skill and he is a real competitive guy. He is a tough guy, a feisty fighter. And he is a competitive blocker. He showed that right from the beginning in rookie camp, the guys that were in there early. Spencer is a different type of player. He's a bigger player, a little bulkier player and has some versatility in terms of being able to different things which is what he did in college, in terms of blocking and playing on the line and going in motion and those types of things. They have both made some progress. We've got pretty good competition at that tight end spot. We'll get into the games and I'm sure those guys will both see a good amount of playing time and we'll see what they can do.

**Q: Do you think that there is a decent chance that you might just carry two tight ends this year given the number of quality special teams guys?

BB:** Yeah, well again, we don' really have a specific number set. It will depend on how it all plays out. That's certainly a possibility. We've done that before. We've carried two, we've carried three. It will depend on how that competition works out, not only at tight end, but also at the other spots, the backs, the linebackers, the guys who play those same type of special teams positions.

**Q: Why wasn't Larry Centers out there?

BB:** When we signed Larry he had some unfinished business in Houston. He didn't retire back in Texas. So I gave him a couple days to go back there and get things tidied up. So right, he was not out there this morning.

**Q: [Fred] McCrary is obviously much closer to being full pads. Is he ready to go full on Sunday?

BB:** Right. We [had] two or three guys back today. Fred was one. I think he should be ready to go. Bethel [Johnson] worked today. [Richard] Seymour was back. Those guys that are day-to-day, you really don't know what's going to happen until they get out there and loosen up and get going, but they all practiced today.

**Q: Does Fred still have a role here, I mean Larry Centers although he plays the same position...

BB:** Yeah, different kind of players. I think they fill different roles or compete for different roles on the team. You know Larry being primarily a third down back and Fred really being primarily as a first and second down back. They do play the same position. There is going to be some carry over, but they are kind of separate too in what they do.

**Q: Do these two guys play both roles for you as Marc Edwards?

BB:** What do you mean?

**Q: Pass catching and the block?

BB:** Yeah, on first and second down, but Marc hardly every played on third down. Only on certain formations. But he rarely played on third down. Fred and Marc will have very similar roles offensively in terms of what they're asked to do, not only for us but even what Edwards did earlier in his career whether it was at Cleveland or San Francisco or what McCrary has done earlier in his career at San Diego. There is more of a similarity to their skills, where as Larry Centers has a different type of style play.

**Q: Will he fill like a [Keith] Byars role? He can do some of the things in 1996 we used to see?

BB:** Talking about Larry?

**Q: Yeah.

BB:** Yeah, but again in '96, [David] Meggett was the third down back. So maybe on first or second downs that's a possibility. He's more of a Keith Byars type of player, although Byars was bigger. It's sort of a cross between Byars and Meggett

**Q: How does it affect Kevin Faulk's role? Wasn't Kevin pretty much the third down guy last year?

BB:** Kevin played a lot on third down and we can certainly have both of those guys in the game for the same time or maybe not depending on what Kevin's role is on first and second down. There is some competition on third down. There is also some competition on first and second down.

**Q: You have a lot of different faces and different sets of skills in the backfield now. Was predictability an issue last year? Does this help you with misdirection, having different guys that do different things? Where as last year you had Faulk, people would know what his special skills were, Antowain [Smith], that type of guy, and now you have McCrary at center?

BB:** I think the comparison for us would be McCrary with Edwards...

**Q: I mean, I think that there are more bodies now doing different things than last year...

BB:** Well, yeah, we definitely have more people competing now than we had last year, because you throw J.R. [Redmond] in there and Patrick Pass. There are more people who can do those type of things.

**Q: What I'm trying to get at is, was there ever predictability issues last year with just having guys... for example, J.R. carried four times last year for whatever reason and Antowain was the ball carrier, now you have different people...

BB:** Right, well what happened last year relative to the year before was that J.R.'s third down role was played more by Kevin [Faulk] last season. How that plays out this year, we'll have to wait and see. It was more a shift of personnel because Kevin didn't have as many carries in the '01 season as he did last year. It's hard to have, not impossible, but it's hard to have more than one third-down back because you have your extra receivers and if you have a tight end in the game, usually you are in a one back set, not always, but usually. The production at that position, either it's spread between a couple guys or if one guy takes it over for another, than you are going to have that change in production there.

**Q: You said you were giving the players off tomorrow so they can get their legs under them. How about mentally, is it good for them to get the day off?

BB:** Sure. Yeah, mentally too. Try to forget about football for 24 hours. We've thrown a lot at them. We've gone through a lot of situations. There has been a lot of learning. Some guys are starting to double up in different positions. They are learning more than one spot so the load is high. This is really the high water mark, mentally, for a player for a number of different reasons. One being that you have, let's say offensively, you have all your plays in offensively that the player has to know, but then they're also getting run against all of the defensive combinations. Whereas, when you go to a game plan situation you maybe draw a third of those plays. This is the game plan. Then you would take maybe a third of the amount of defenses that they're seeing in training camp because that's what the other team runs and mix them together. So the number of possibilities comes way down and then when you add on top of that double practices, fatigue and all of that running together, it is a very high mental load at this time for all of the players.

**Q: Do you sense any difference in the way the players are approaching this training camp as opposed to last year's?

BB:** Different mentality approaching training camp? I would say not really. I know what you are getting at. I think I know what you're driving at, but in training camp it is such a short term situation. When the player gets up this morning, I don't think he is thinking about anything more than how much rest can I get before practice, getting over, getting tape, getting dressed, getting loosened up and going out and practicing. I don't think he's thinking about anything more than that. He's not thinking about last year, next year, next week, this afternoon. From a coaching standpoint, it's the same thing, you are just trying to maximize the next event that you have with the team, whether it's a meeting, or a practice, or a walk through or whatever it is. So it's a lot of short term goals. From an overall standpoint, I think there is a good attitude from the team in terms of an urgency of getting things done and not just accepting that they are going to fall into place. But taking a proactive effort to making it happen and to make it fall into place. But, again, I kind of temper that at this point with it [being] such a minute-to-minute routine that it's hard to think big picture when you have so many short term goals in the next five minutes or the next half hour of 45 minutes that you have to attain.

**Q: Can you give us some early thoughts on what kind of test the Giants will give you and what you are looking for in the first game?

BB:** We have played them in preseason in previous years. I think they are a very good test for us. They have an explosive offense in the running backs. Obviously the tight end is as good as any in the league. They have a real good group of receivers. Jim Fassel runs a very multiple, it's a west coast offense base, but he has expanded it. So they give you a lot of formations, different personnel groupings and a lot of different looks. So defensively you are facing a very talented team but you are also facing a team that gives you a lot of schematic problems that you have to adjust too. Defensively, the Giants are very good with their front four. They are a good defensive team period. But their front is good. So that's a big challenge for your offensive line and tight ends that deal with them. They have a good secondary. Their corners are good. They have a nice package defensively where they mix several different schemes that are tough to play against. They have a version of their 46 defense. They play some zone; they play some man. They have a number of different blitzes with the linebackers and their secondaries. So they have a multiple defense, so it forces you to offensively... you are getting challenged in a lot of different ways. So, I think they're good personnel. They are well coached; they have good personnel and they have some schemes that you definitely can't just roll out that ball and say, 'Well we're going to run these plays and there won't be any problem.' There are going to be some problems and you are going to have to make some adjustments on the run. I think it's a good team to play because it makes you better by facing all those things and they're pretty good at them.

**Q: For your guys, will it be a typical [preseason game where you] won't play starters too long kind of thing?

BB:** We haven't talked about the exact playing time. It varies from player to player. I think we will play the players we think need to play longer than we will play the ones that for whatever reason we don't think need to play for whatever reason as long. That's one of the things we'll talk about, for us talking about the coaching staff now, this is a transition period because we've... from the first day of training camp until today we've really been installing things in our system, we've been trying to teach the players basically new plays or new situations or how to deal with different defensive or offensive problems within them. Now we are going into a different phase where we are trying to get a team ready to play a game. So we are going to have to be selective in terms of what plays we want to use, what players will be playing, how much playing time they'll have, who will be in there when we call certain things. There maybe some plays that we don't want to call with younger players because they haven't had enough experience running them. We are going into a different mode from a coaching standpoint than we've been in up until this whole period, including the spring where we were installing a lot of the things in the passing and mini camps.

**Q: You have [Damien] Woody and [Daniel] Koppen, both Boston College both centers, you have [Christian] Fauria and [Daniel] Graham, both Colorado both tight ends. Will you talk about both team aspects of helping a teammate, being that a former Eagle or Hawk, but at the same time helping someone who is competing for your job?

BB:** I think we are really fortunate because the players we have, specifically the ones you've mentioned but it extends well beyond that on our team, that I think our players are as good as any I've been around in terms of trying to help their teammates understand, to give them the knowledge to try to help them understand what they need for the position and let their experience be absorbed by the younger players. They are very generous with that. The younger players are very receptive to the advice, or sometimes criticism, that they get from the veteran players, whether they be from their own school or from another one. It's a very healthy working relationship. In the end, I think the way we look at it, and the way the players look at it, we're all on the same team. We are all Patriots. The team's trying to get better and I think they probably have enough confidence in their own ability that they know they can go out there and do the job as opposed to feeling as if they give someone a tip this guy is going to take over for him. I think they have enough confidence in what they can go out there and do, and rightfully so, I think they should.

**Q: Christian Fauria with his performance last year and it seems he is catching everything in camp, has he carved out a position for himself?

BB:** I think that Christian is going to play a lot of football for us this year. He's a solid player. He is one of our best and most consistent offensive players. He may not be the flashiest guy on the field, but he is dependable. He is consistent and he's productive. He really did a nice job last year for us at that spot. Based on camp this year, it looks like he's at that level.

**Q: Is he a really good role model for Daniel Graham?

BB:** Well, I don't think there is anything wrong with any rookie looking at a player like Christian who is a true pro. Christian is just a true pro in every sense of the word. He prepares himself well physically in terms of his training. He prepares well mentally and studies and knows what to do. He's a very good communicator offensively on the line and making adjustments and those kind of things. He's tough, he's a dependable guy. He is a great role model for any player. Especially another tight end. Not that Daniel doesn't have those qualities, but again, to be able to see somebody who has been in the league, who has done it and who is doing it, go about it that way, that's a great example to have.

**Q: Do you offer a lot of two tight end sets generally?

BB:** Sure. We can run them out of two tight ends or we can run them out of one tight end and two backs, a lot of those things are interchangeable.

**Q: That could be a handful, having those two guys and one is a little bit more athletic than the other?

BB:** I think that they compliment each other well. We used them last year in those roles too. Daniel missed some time last year, so they weren't always available. I could see them both being on the field a good percentage of the plays. Yes.

**Q: About the two roster moves, do you have two guys in mind that are coming in or was it they weren't going to make the cut and now you are going to find two guys to take their spots?

BB:** I would say more of the latter that we decided to release those players and then we'll see what we can do about those spots.

**Q: Was it you just couldn't wait for them anymore? Like Ben had injuries from last year.

BB:** Well Ben's situation, he is an experienced corner in the league and we just said at this point there are other people ahead of him and I felt like the best opportunity for him would be to have a chance to catch on with somebody else where maybe he would get more of an opportunity than we could give him here. Here, he would fall into one of those situations where he wouldn't be getting too many opportunities or too many reps. If that is going to happen, then it's not good for him or the team really for him to be sitting there for two weeks and saying,' Well you know I haven't gotten any chances, I would have been better off with somebody else where maybe I could have gotten a chance.' I think he deserves that. He's worked hard. He's given us everything we've asked him to do, it just didn't work out. We wish him well. Right now we just have too many numbers at that position and there are just other people ahead of him.

**Q: So the pro personnel director Ty Law was onto something?

BB:** Yeah, you can't get anything by Ty. [laughter]. Ty can hit that slider now.

**Q: Any updates on Michael Cloud?

BB:** No.

**Q: In talking to Richard Seymour today, he says he still has to reach that next level. As a coach, what do you feel he has to do to get to the next level?

BB:** I've talked to Richard about a number of things but a lot of it is technique related and some specific things. I think in general for any defensive lineman, the name of the game is for a player to improve his power and explosion and control the line of scrimmage and refine his pass rush moves in order to get to the quarterback. In general terms, I think that is where he would fall. But you could probably say that about every lineman.

**Q: Richard said you had shown him tapes of Jerome Brown and Reggie White. Did you initiate that or did he?

BB:** At the end of every year, we take every single player on the roster and go through the player's strong points and areas that he can improve in and we talk about the things he can do in the offseason. A guy who needs experience playing isn't going to be able to get that in March and April. He can go in there and do sit-ups and all of that all he wants but he can't get any better on the football field because we don't practice then. You pick out things that players can't do and in Richard's case, I talked to him about certain other players that I think there are things he could learn from and we showed him films of some of those players so that he could get an idea of their style of play more in general terms. Not that he has the physical make-up of some of the people that you mentioned or they have his. Obviously, they all have good physical make-ups, but they're just different but there is a certain style of play and some techniques that I thought he could benefit from seeing.

**Q: What is the ceiling for him?

BB:** I don't know. That's a good question. He doesn't have a lot of limitations, he's only been in the league for a couple of years. He's big. He's smart. He's tough. He runs well. How high that go will depend on whether or not he can keep improving and keep heading up the ladder. I think he's got a lot of things to work with and I think he wants to get to that point and experience and better technique, a better understanding, getting the jump on and anticipating some things will all enable him to perform at just a little bit higher level.

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