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Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 8/11/2003

BB: We’ve got a couple of guys back out there, Branch, Watkins. Hopefully this week we will be able to graduate somebody else from the bike program

BB: This week we spent Saturday, Sunday and today cleaning up some training camp things, some more installation, building on our scheme a little bit. Then tomorrow we will start to pick up the preparations on the Redskins. So the Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday will be like a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday in a normal preparation week. So that's where we are at today. We've got a couple of guys back out there, a couple of receivers [Deion] Branch and [Kerry] Watkins. Hopefully, this week we will be able to graduate somebody else from the bike program. It's good. At least they are headed in the right direction on that end of it. Otherwise, it's just adding things to our scheme, building on some of the fundamentals that we already have had in camp, correcting some of the mistakes from the Giant game and then we'll start looking at Washington tomorrow.

**Q: On the offensive line, you always say that you are looking for players to improve the team. Is it more likely that you stick with what you have? Or bring someone in?

BB:** I think for now, we will go with what we got. In all honesty, there is not a lot of…most all players are in camp with somebody. So there's not a lot out there. I'm not saying we wouldn't consider it, but realistically it's thin.

**Q: Does Scott [Pioli] look at other people's rosters and maybe try to predict who might be out there?

BB:** Yeah, sure. We've already gone through that. When camp starts, from a personnel stand point you look at all the other teams and you can see where you think when you add it all up there might be too many guys, more than the other team can keep at whatever positions those are at. Those are the players that you scout in preseason; go to the preseason games and make sure that you se how those guys do and evaluate them so if one becomes available you do that. You also keep your emergency list, so that all the players that aren't signed with any team at training camp at this point, at least you know who those people are. If you need a guy like…for example, we got in a bind at receiver, [we] went out and signed [Thabiti] Davis and brought him in. Sometimes you run into problems like that where you just have to go to the people who are available. So yes, it is a combination of both. Of course there is a lot of conversations between personnel people at this time, in training camp anyway, where one team has extras where another team is looking for people to increase the competition, that kind of thing, and sometimes you find a marriage there. A lot of times you are just keeping tabs on the information so if something comes up you have an idea of what your options might be. That's a big part of training camp right now, I would say from now until the final cut, the personnel people in the league have a…the phone lines are busy.

**Q: Is there ever much of a surplus of offensive lineman, it seems that is one of the positions, at least in the past, that that's where there has been the most difficulty in finding someone of a certain quality level?

BB:** Well, good players are always hard to find, but we have several on our team that have come that way. Brandon Gorin, Tom Ashworth, Joe Andruzzi to name a few. So you never know and some people fit better in some systems than others. So you just keep your eyes open and keep working and sometimes those guys work out. I am not talking about free agency or making trades or that kind of thing. Mike Compton, that was a free agent with us, or [Matt] Light is a draft choice, but in terms of guys that end up without a job, [Stephen] Neal, [Matt] Knutson, so we probably have four or five guys in that category that you get that way.

**Q: How does changing roster cut down dates affect what you guys are going to do this summer and this season? Is it advantageous for you, or no?

BB:** They actually changed it two years ago, so now the 65-cut comes after the third preseason game and prior to the fourth preseason game, which in our case the way the schedule falls is the day before the Chicago game. The 65-cut. The one thing that I think is a little bit different, just to digress for a second, the one thing that I think is a little bit different in the league this year is because a lot of teams have five, six, seven Europe players who are exempt you are carrying 85, 87, whatever it is per team. When you multiply that times 32, you have another 180, or whatever the number is, 150, 180 guys in camp that without the Europe exemptions you wouldn't have. So those 150 players that would normally be out there, aren't out there. They are all spoken for in somebody's camp and they are not going to be released because they are exempt players. So you are not going to get to those guys, they will probably be there until the final cut when it finally counts. That part is a little bit different, in terms of the 65- and the 53-cut, that's the same as it was last year but the way the schedule falls our 65-cut is the day before our last preseason game. So it's a little closer than that, sometimes you start cutting down sooner than that, and that's done on a case by case basis as your team or the players or your situation warrants getting more reps to essentially fewer players.

**Q: Do you anticipate making any cuts before the day right before the last game just to streamline the roster a little bit for the last game?

BB:** We will have to get to 65 by the Bear game.

**Q: But will you…

BB:** Sure, it's possible. I think for the most part you would make them when you are sure, if you were sure. Whether that will be the case or not, I don't know. If it's not, there is no need to make them. One thing you don't want to do is get rid of what looks like a couple of extra players now and then two days turnaround and somebody sprains their ankle and then those players will be guys you would have to give an opportunity to. So a little bit is trying to look into the crystal ball and try to figure out how much you need them or not need them. If you remember last year, in the last preseason game, we finished up with two receivers playing corner and Larry Izzo playing safety. That's not really what we are looking for either.

**Q: Can you talk a little bit about Rohan Davey and Kliff Kingsbury? And how they both look so far to you?

BB:** Let's start with Kliff first. Kliff is coming into a situation where he has no experience in our system. He's had to make some transition from the way he played in college where he was basically in a lot of spread offense and shotgun and that kind of thing. I think he is a lot further ahead in those aspects and those techniques than say in some of the play action, ball handling and things like that. Overall I think Kliff hasn't gotten a lot of snaps. A lot of his work has been in drills and with scout team, but when we have put him in to do team type situations he handles himself pretty well. He's a smart kid. He picks things up without too much of an explanation, seems to have a feel for the game and does a pretty good job of managing the team. Rohan, on the other hand, is a year past that stage and he has much more, at this point, a much better understanding of the offense, and understanding of the system, and has executed the plays, and is just ahead of him, that's all. Rohan is coming along fine too. He still has a lot of work to do, but relative to Kliff, he's significantly ahead of Kliff. But relative to Damon [Huard] and Tom [Brady], Ro has taken a lot less snaps than those two have. So there is a little bit of a stair step there.

**Q: Where do you think you are with whether you are going to keep three or four quarterbacks?

BB:** I think both are options. We haven't made a decision on that. They are both our options.

**Q: Is it basically determined on whether you think Kliff or Rohan are best fit to play this season if needed? Or how does that decision come about?

BB:** That's a good question. I think it is a combination of things. It is a combination of 1) how they do, and not only what they can do this year but maybe what they can do in future years, what kind of upside or development we think that they have. It also could have a little bit to do with the rest of your team and what kind of depth the rest of your team has at other positions relative to a fourth quarterback. What's the difference at that 53rd player? What's the difference between your fourth quarterback and your sixth running back or eleventh DB or tenth linebacker or whatever the numbers are. Which player is the more valuable player organizationally? When you get into a situation like that, one of the things to think about is when you cut to 53, for the first game you are cutting to 45. So you are going to have your 53-roster, you are still going to have to make 8 guys inactive. Just because you keep a guy on the 53-man roster doesn't mean he's going to be able to play in the games. So that's another consideration. Every team does it. Every team has two or three guys on their 53-man roster that don't see a lot of playing time during the year there. Sometimes they are inactive every week. When we had four quarterbacks that was the case for us as well so we know how that works.

**Q: Can you talk a little bit about David Givens and his improvement from last year to this year?

BB:** I think David is one of our most improved players. David came on strong in the kicking game at the end of the year and got a little bit of time on offense. [He] wasn't a real consistent offensive player last year, made some plays, but just wasn't real consistent. [He] has worked hard in the offseason and has had a good camp in terms of his receiving, his blocking and his special teams play. I think he has had a real solid training camp and I think he has improved in all those areas. Everybody is getting a lot of confidence in him and I think he has a chance to compete for some playing time.

**Q: What were some of the things you told him to work on in the offseason?

BB:** Well, first of all, on special teams he didn't have a great background on that. He did it last year, but just from more experience and better technique to be able to improve there. David is a unique special teams player because he is a receiver but he is a big receiver, so he can play some of the bigger positions on special teams that normally a safety or sometimes a linebacker would play, but he can also play some of the receiver positions that the cornerbacks and the receivers play. So he really has a little bit of versatility there that is valuable. His blocking, which had a ways to go last year, that's improved significantly at camp. Brian [Daboll] and Charlie [Weis] have spent a lot of time working with David on that and his overall game as a receiver. He wasn't in a real pro type of offense, and things they did at Notre Dame are different from what we are doing, former running back. So David had some development to do in the passing game, in terms of his release off the line, his route running, even some of his catching skills, adjustments to coverage, all those kind of things. He's moved along in all of those areas. He still has a ways to go, but relative to last year, he's done a solid job in all three of those areas.

**Q: Would you say that receiving group is the most competitive area right now?

BB:** I don't know. It will be nice to see what the receivers look like when they are all out there. So, far it has been a revolving door. One comes in, the other goes out. One comes in, the other goes out. It would be good to see what it looks like when they are all out there. Say relative to the linebacker position where they are all out there.

**Q: What are your major objectives for Saturday's game against Washington? Is it different from other years where the objectives of Week 2 are pretty much the same?

BB:** Well this preseason is a little bit different than normal preseasons because we play…our first three preseason games are against teams we play in the first six weeks of the regular season. So that changes it a little bit. We do see these teams again during the year, and that's usually not the case. But still at this point, the major priority for us is trying to get our team ready for the opening game and the 16 game regular season schedule. With that in mind, then the games pretty much are the same, to try to move your scheme along and also try to evaluate the new players on your team, especially the younger players, the rookies, and try to maintain that balance, so the guys that are going to have to play are getting enough turns and getting enough playing time, so that they are conditioning and their skills are being sharpened at the same time you are trying to give playing time to younger players to see how they do in game conditions. You are always trying to maintain that balance. Now we are looking at an opponent that we are going to see in the regular season, so that puts a little bit of a different twist on it.

**Q: Can you talk a little bit about what went into your decision to put Rick Lyle in the nose?

BB:** As you saw in the game against the Giants, Rick played nose and end. He has played both ends and inside. He is a versatile player and that is really just part of the value he has to our team is the versatility. Some guys are much better at one position at others. Rick is a guy that has the ability to be functional at several different spots. And that gives you a lot of depth on your team. When you are only taking so many defensive lineman to a game or so many receivers to a game, the type of guy who can play multiple spots gives you a big advantage. So that's important to him for his value to the team, but it is also important to the team in terms of the flexibility it gives us.

**Q: Is there anything about Jarvis [Green's] play that helped make the decision?

BB:** No, Jarvis is in a totally different point in his career than Rick, and I think they are different players as well. They just happen to be playing the same position. But their experience and their skills are different.

**Q: Has your feeling on the nose changed at all from the start of camp in how you see it?

BB:** Going into camp we hadn't seen it. Now we've had a chance to see it, but I think it's progressed about like we thought it would. It's improving. The guys who are playing it don't have as much experience there as some of our players do in other positions. But they are getting better and we are seeing some improvement on the practice field and we'll see how it looks now as we go through the preseason and look at it in several guys. It's not prefect but it's heading in the right direction and it certainly is better than it was at the start of training camp, which is good. The fact that all the players have been able to stay on the field, and be healthy and continue to get reps and practice and improve everyday has been good for everybody as well. It's good for the players and it's good for us to see the development of the defense.

**Q: Do you have any interest in Dan Wilkinson?

BB:** I think we have interest in all players. It doesn't mean the players going to be playing for us, but we keep tabs on everybody. We have interest in everybody. We will evaluate each guy and his situation with our football team. So, pretty much anybody that's out there, we've looked at, contacted, have some idea of what their availability and what their situation is.

**Q: What has impressed you with Dan Klecko and what would you like him to improve on?

BB:** In terms of improvement, I would say he could start with special teams. That would be one thing. Defensively, we've put him in some different positions so that we could look at him doing some different things. I think this is the time to do it in camp. I don't think that is what you want to do with a player if you can help it, sometimes it's not avoidable. But if you can help it, you don't want to let a guy go all the way through training camp where he is getting his fundamental work and all the basic teaching and everything and then at the end of camp move him from one spot to the other. If you are going to put a guy up there from the start, usually it's after the first week of camp, maybe the first 10 days, let him get into something there and then, now he's got a base and then move him into something else before it's too late, while you are still in your teaching phase. That is what we've done with Dan. We've put him in some different spots. He's an instinctive player and there are times where, instinctively, he does the right thing and is productive in terms of really being technically sound in everything that he does, there is still a ways to go on that. That will help him once he is able to be a lot more proficient in those areas.

**Q: Kevin Faulk said that he sees himself quicker this year and lost a little bit of weight, and he is quicker getting to the line than he was. Do you see that at all?

BB:** Yeah, Kevin has got good quickness. I am not sure how much weight he has lost, a pound, maybe two pounds, I don't know. It's not like he was 230 and now he is 200. I would say he probably within three or four pounds of where he played last year, but he does show good quickness and I thought he showed that last year. If he feels quicker, then he probably he is. Maybe he is a shade quicker. I think overall that is one of his strengths and it still is. He shows good quickness out there, yes.

**Q: Are there any rookies or second year players on this team that have caught your attention or your assistant's attention that would exchange the value of some of the established players or starters?

BB:** Are there any rookies or second year players that have caught our attention?

**Q: Well, improved enough that would…

BB:** Well, I think a lot of them are improving. I think you could pretty much go right down the line and for the most part, most all of them are improving. Now, how that will, in the end, stack up with everybody else, that is what these next three weeks will determine. I think right now, it's a little too early to make those calls and I think if you look at all of the other teams in the league, you will probably see it about the same way. We've had a couple of weeks of training camp; we've had a preseason game, now let's see how the consistency holds up. These teams that we are playing get a chance to look at what we're doing and get a chance to look at some of the new players and how they fit in. Maybe they will block a little bit better or maybe they will attack them a little bit differently and we'll just see how it looks. We'll see how it looks against different competition. Some weeks you go up against a certain style of player and that is a good match up for you and the next week you go up against a little different style of player and that is not quite as good a match up. A lot of times after two or three preseason games, that works itself out. It's not always the guy who plays the best in the first game, it's not always the winner of the race at the end. The big thing for me is, get them out on the field, keep them working hard, keep improving and see where it goes.

**Q: Ty Law says that he feels ready to go this week. Is that a possibility?

BB:** If he is ready to go this week, he will play. You bet.

**Q: Do you sense his competitive nature?

BB:** Sure, Ty is very competitive. If it is one thing he is, he is very competitive. Ty wants to do well. It is important to him to do well. He has always tried to train hard and get himself in good shape and be ready to go. I am sure that it is frustrating for him to not be able to do all of the things that he would normally do the first couple of weeks of training camp. You can see him out there. The sweat is pouring off of him and he is working hard and he is trying to get in position to do that and when we see that he is ready to do it and he feels that he is ready to do the combination of the two, then we will put him out there and do it. What we don't want to do at this point is set him back in his progress and I think he has made pretty good progress in these three weeks. At the same time, we'd like to see him out there and I know that he wants to be out there. That is kind of what we are trying to balance that. But we are certainly getting closer and Ty is doing more work with the team. Hopefully he will be able to play against Washington. We'll really have to make that decision at the end of the week after we have seen four or five consecutive days of him practicing and him doing all of things he needs to do.

**Q: Not many teams have just one kicker in training camp. How much of a luxury is it for you to have that position basically settled in and to know that if Adam (Vinatieri) has to work on things, he is perfectly capable of working on them and not having to be pushed by another kicker?

BB:** It's good. It's a good situation. I wouldn't make any bones about that. It is a good situation and I think that Adam has proven through the years and not just last year or two years ago, even since I was here in 1996, when he was here as a rookie, that he does work hard and his job is important to him. We've had situations where we've had competition here like [Owen] Pochman, and like this year where he is the only kicker in camp. We're comfortable and confident with him as our kicker. At the same time we want to have him ready and he wants to be ready at the same time, we don't want to overwork him and have some kind of a set back there. So, we just have to kind of balance that out. The good thing about it is Adam trains hard, he is in good condition, he's a very honest and upfront guy so whatever he tells you, I have a lot of confidence in him. If he tells me he can make it from 53 then I feel pretty confident that he can make it from 53. If he says it's going to be about 48 going this way this week because of the wind, that is what it's going to be, not 46, not 52. He knows his own ability and his skills and he is realistic in all different areas whether it is his kicking, his training and what he needs in terms of preparation. It's a pretty good situation. He is a very mature player.

**Q: What does Don Davis brought to your defense?

BB:** I think Don is, if not our fastest linebacker, certainly one of our fastest linebackers in terms of being able to run from point a to point b. He's got good speed and acceleration. So he has good range out there and that shows up in the kicking game. It shows up in some of the spread situations in third down or sub-situations, that kind of thing, where you want to cover a lot of ground in there. I think that he is a smart guy; he has some experience in the league. He picks things up well. He has picked up our system well and he can run. Those are all good attributes to have.

**Q: Did he come as advertised to you?

BB:** It's kind of funny. With some players you have more of a relationship [than] with others. We've had a relationship with Don since the first year that I've been here. He was a free agent coming out of Tampa in 2000 and ended up re-signing with Tampa. He was a free agent the next year and we talked to him some and he ended up in St. Louis and two years later he ended up here. It's a guy that when he visited here, it was his third or fourth visit, whatever it was. We've maintained a relationship with him, we've watched him. It just hasn't worked out until this year. But I think based on the unofficial history that we've had with him, we feel like we know him personally and as a football player but better than some other guys in the league that haven't played on our team either. I don't know if that answers your question.

**Q: Can he go inside or outside?

BB:** He has basically played off the line of scrimmage. Let's put it that way. So, if he plays outside, he's played outside off the line as opposed to at the end of the line like usually all linebackers do. Not to say that he couldn't, but that's been what most of his career has been and that basically is the position that we have him in.

**Q: Could he do the kind of things that Roman Phifer has done?

BB:** I think that Don is a little bit more of a inside linebacker. But Roman has played both. Not that Don couldn't play outside linebacker, it's just that Roman has more experience in his career as a outside linebacker than what Don does. There are certainly some similarities. They are both in that 240, 245 range. They run well, they are smart, they are instinctive, so there are definitely some similarities, yes.

**Q: Is that a tough transition to make, since he came from Tampa and St. Louis, into your defense?

BB:** Well, it's different. I think that 'tough' is the word that is relative to different players. For one guy it might be tough and for the other guy it may not be. But it is certainly a transition in terms of responsibilities and schemes and what we would ask the linebackers to do on a play-in and play-out basis relative to what that middle linebacker would be doing or the will linebacker in either case what they would be doing in the Tampa system if you will. There is some carry over but there are some significant differences as well. But in terms of learning and understanding and all of that, I think that Don has made that transition and what is more similar is their third down roles.

**Q: Does it say anything about Don when he left Tampa, that the same coach he played for there still wanted him when he went to St. Louis?

BB:** Sure, well they brought him out there and started him. He started against us in the Super Bowl. That is something that we are familiar with where a player in one system like Bobby Hamilton, he had very little playing time at the Jets and has had a lot more playing time here. [It's] similar with Don. He didn't really have very much defensive playing time in Tampa, [mostly] special teams time, and then he went to St. Louis and had a lot of defensive playing time. Sometimes that is situations; sometimes it's a guy knowing the system a little bit better than the new players knowing it. It could be a combination of things. I think we've seen examples of that. We are familiar with guys that are coming to our system that end up having more time than, maybe, where they came from especially from when we were there. Roman is another example. Roman played half the time with the Jets, somewhere in that neighborhood, about 50 percent, that was his playing time percentage. Then, one season he was, I don't know, 98 percent or whatever it was. It was nearly every play. They told him he was coming in as a role player. It turned out that the role was to play every down, including the punt team and kickoff return.

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