Welcome back to Foxboro. This is a little bit of an unusual week for us in terms of the long week. We are trying to get some things done in the next couple of days before we really head into the Tampa Bay preparations. There are a number of things that we need to work on. The Tampa game is a little bit of cat and mouse for both teams with the opener being two weeks away. This game, being close to the end of preseason where you are trying to look at players and develop things schematically and at the same time prepare for a preseason game, and then turn around play for keeps in two weeks, it's a little bit of an unusual situation. We'll try to do the best that we can with this opportunity, as I'm sure the 'Bucs will. That is basically where we are. We are going to practice this afternoon and try to get some things covered that I feel we need work on. We'll do the same tomorrow, and then we'll try to get into a regular Wednesday to Sunday game week once we get past these two days.
Q: One of the things that showed up last year was Damien Woody in the shotgun situation. He had trouble with that last Friday and had trouble with it again. Do you see it as a problem and how do you fix it?
B: Well, we've been working on it. We had a problem during the game. If it is a problem, then we won't do it. I think that there are some advantages to being in the shotgun in terms of giving the quarterback a better look and a little bit more time in certain situations like blitzes and pressure up the middle. If the snap is a problem, then it's not worth it. This is the time to do it, and if it doesn't look like we can execute it very well, then we won't do it.
Q: How do you fix it?
B: Well, you keep working on it in practice. Most of the time when there is a quarterback/center exchange problem it is because in this league it usually happens when the center has to make a block. He's trying to reach a guy that he is supposed to block or he's sliding over for a protection or sometimes he's pulling, so the quarterback doesn't get the ball. The snap is not where it normally is if it were just a regular snap. Taking snaps out there before practice is fine, but that is not really the problem. The problem is when the center has to move to make a block. We try to put them in that situation as much as we can so that they're comfortable and confident and the snap is just second nature. If it is not then we will put it back under center.
Q: Bill, sometimes you spend the whole summer preparing for that first game. Is this an advantage that you will see with Tampa Bay because if you are preparing a game plan it is a pretty good idea to have first hand information of what you are going to see?
B: Right, but I think it is a little bit of a cat and mouse game. What you see in this game might not be exactly what you are going to get in two weeks, and that goes both ways. It is a lot of the same players but there is the 'we know that they know that we know' kind of thing.
Q: How much does that interfere with what you want to accomplish too? Does it cause problems in getting from where you are now to where you want to be?
B: I think it would be easier. You wouldn't give it a second thought if you were just playing like we will be the following week. We play Carolina, and we don't play them in the regular season, so you go out there and play what you want to play. You keep a little bit of an eye on the future on what your opening opponents like Tampa, the Jets, and Minnesota will be seeing off that game, but your not staring at the mirror. Now with Tampa you know that every time you do something you know that they are getting a good look at it. You have to ask yourself how much do we care if they see it? The things that you are going to do anyway, the core things, it probably doesn't make much difference. There are a lot of things that we have that they know we have that we are going to run, and there are a lot of things that they have that we know they have and we know that we are going to see them. That is just core football. It is more the subtleties and the changeups and things that keep them off balance that you have to decide how much you want to do.
Q: In the case of (Rob) Holmberg a seven year veteran who is playing because of injuries. He has done a nice job, so maybe you have a backup there. How does he fit in as a guy that might make this 53-man roster?
B: Rob's strength is his versatility. He can play a lot of different spots. He's an experienced player who has a good understanding of the game. He was with us last year during training camp with the Jets, but more importantly he has some experience in the league, and he is pretty adaptable. He can do some things for us in the kicking game and can play different linebacker spots and that is a valuable commodity when you can only take forty-five players to a game. He has done a nice job and that clearly is his strength. If you say 'who does this better Rob or somebody else,' the other guy may do that better. When you collectively put everything together, he's pretty competitive in a lot of areas, and he has a big edge in versatility over most of the players on the team, linebackers included. Jason Andersen has done the same thing for us on offense. He's played center, he played guard, he's played tackle, and he's done some deep snapping, so he is an example of another player that has a lot of versatility. There is some value there.
Q: How much attention are you going to have to give the tight end spot over the next week here?
B: I think we need to give quite a bit of attention to our overall efficiency on offense, and the tight end is part of that. The tight end is the receiver in the middle of the field, and more than half of the time they are going to be at the point of attack in the running game. It is a key position on a lot of offensive plays. That is an area, along with several other things on offense that we need to get in sync and we need to function better.
Q: Would you like to see one guy step up and become a starter at this point?
B: Well sure, we would love to have John Mackey in there, that would take care of a lot of problems. The players that we are playing with right now have a different set of skills. With Rod (Rutledge) and Eric (Bjornson) at this point we are just going to have to find the best overall combination of players in there for our team, and that includes the running backs, receivers, tight ends, and eventually the offensive line once they're all out there we have to put the best group together. How the tight end effects the back, how the back effects the tight end, and how the receiver effects the tight end there are some moving parts there and that is something that we want to try and resolve.
Q: Are you looking at the offense and thinking that this is just the preseason and they are still learning the system, or are you overly concerned about the offense?
B: I don't know if overly concerned is the word. We haven't had all of our players out there. We've had a number of offensive linemen who haven't practiced or who are just starting to practice. I can't really tell you what those players can do until we see them do it. It would be nice if they had all been out there and then you could see what we have. Right now it is the unknown. I don't know if we really know what the players who are coming back are going to be able to do. We hope they will be able to do what they have done in the past or maybe improve on that, but until we see it we just aren't sure. We'll have to wait and see what they can do. I think that the young offensive linemen and the way that we had to put it together for the last three weeks, I think that group has done some good things. It certainly hasn't been perfect, but overall the pass protection against Washington, and they've got a decent front, was okay. It could have been better there is no question about that, but I've seen a lot worse. Some of those guys have shown some advantage to the things that they can do, and that will factor in to the whole equation too. Once we get everybody out there, then we can put together the best group and work with them on a consistent basis. We just haven't been able to get to that point and that is just the way it goes.
**Q: Bill, human nature being what it is, how much do you think this flux has influenced Drew (Bledsoe), especially when you consider he had a very tough second half last year?**
B: I don't know, I think you would have to ask Drew that. It's a new system, there are new players, and there is the flux in training camp, but that is usually the way it is. Sometimes with a real veteran team you can put the same eleven guys out there for two to three years in a row and not have any changes but I think that is more the exception than the rule. As a group we have to adjust to the changes and make them work. That is a process that we are going through. We need to accelerate it, and we need to come together here pretty quickly. The season is in sight.
Q: We are getting to the point in the summer where potentially things might loosen up. How keen are you on making changes late in the summer if the right player becomes available?
B: Two things. One, what most teams are doing now is cutting down to fifty-three, so they are cutting there fifty-fourth, fifty-sixth, sixtieth, or whatever player on their roster and that's why they are releasing him. It's hard to visualize a lot of hall of fame players being released in the next couple of days. You are more likely to get what another team considers to be its fifty-fourth player. That is what it comes down to. Usually if you have a good player on your roster that is going to come in some type of compensation, unless it is a salary issue and then you have to decide what you are going to give up for what you are going to get. I think a lot of that is juggling at the bottom of the roster rather than the top. There are some exceptions to that, but is more the bottom part of the roster. We have been out on the road every week. We've had scouts at every game. We've graded every film, and we're trying to stay on top of it. Until people start releasing them, everybody wants to trade you everybody, but if you just wait a week, then they will cut them. The advantage of trade is that you get them early, but there is no compensation if you just claim them, so that's the dilemma.
Q: I think of somebody like Adrian Murrell, where is he going to fit in that operation with what they have? You and Charlie (Weiss) have some experience with him. Would he be a good stop gap measure that would be a good fit for this team?
B: When players become available, and there have been some that have crossed the wire, then those are the guys that you want to keep an eye on. Teams that have known depth at a certain position usually try to hang on to that depth until the end because as we've seen in these preseason games some teams get wiped out at a position or two relatively quickly and then all of a sudden that depth that you had becomes value. In some cases the depth that you have on paper in August erodes in two weeks when you get to September or October. I know exactly what you're saying, and that is the jockeying that we do at this time of year. That gets thrown in with the game plans, training camp, and all that. There is a lot going on. There are a lot of opportunities and you got to stay on top of it.
Q: Bill, I'm intrigued by Bobby Hamilton. He didn't seem to play much for you last year. It seems like he could have a more prominent role here. Can you explain that?
B: Bobby is a hard working and very competitive player. He played in the World League and was kind of a no name. He played for three or four years with the Jets. I think that he has worked hard, and his game has steadily improved. He's is a good, steady, solid guy. Everyday that you walk out there with Bobby, you know what you are going to get. Some guys that we talked about are flash players and have two or three spectacular plays, and then they have a couple of plays where you just shake your head and say 'how could that happen to that player?' Bobby is very consistent. He's dependable. He doesn't make many errors. He gives you a real good solid level of performance. I think that is something that all coaches' value.
Q: He didn't play much with the Jets because of people in front of him or what?
B: There were some decisions made not to play him that much. He did play. He played in regular. He played at times on sub. Your right there were times when he didn't play that much and other players played. Those were decisions that were made at that time for whatever the reasons were.
Q: At the beginning of camp you mentioned how hard Greg Robinson-Randall was working. Has he continued to progress?
B: Yes, Greg has continued to progress. Let me say this: the biggest thing for an offensive lineman is the mental part of the game with the plays and the assignments. Every play you get multiplied by ten because that is how many different things the defense is going to do from week to week. It could be different fronts, different stunts, or whatever. There are fifty plays and you have five hundred combinations right there. There are a lot of things to think about and it is all teamwork in there too. It is very seldom one guy blocking one guy. It is usually 'you and me are responsible for these two guys, or you and me are responsible for those two guys', there is a lot of that. He has done a good job of keeping up with that for a young player. He has gotten himself into better shape, of course he's played a lot so he couldn't help but do that. He has worked hard with Mike (Woicik). He's making progress.
Q: Where are we time wise with Adrian Klemm?
B: Klemm is making progress. I think that Klemm is doing well. He's better each week. You can see progress with him day-to-day and week-to-week, so we just keep going. Hopefully we won't have any setbacks and he'll be able to get into the stage that Bruce (Armstrong) was at last week where Bruce was in pads and doing some individual work. Then the next step is to do some teamwork, and then get a few plays in a game and then play some more in a game. We don't want to try and go too fast too soon. Hopefully Adrian will be in that mode in a fairly short period. I can't put a date on it because it is moving along day-to-day. Each day we try to do a little bit more.
Q: Does his status effect how you make roster decisions right now?
B: Well right now he is on the PUP, the physically unable to perform list. The way that works is when you make your final cut down on August 27, You have to do one of two things. You can either keep him alive, which gives him an October window where he can come back and practice and not count on your roster, or you can reserve him and he is out for the year, or you could just keep him active and treat him like any other player who is injured.
Q: But is it right that if you keep him on PUP he doesn't count against the roster for the first month?
B: I think it is six weeks. If he's active, he's active just like everybody else. If he is on PUP he is either active PUP, which gives him a window in October, he can't come back before then, or he's on reserve and he is out for the year. Basically with NFL rules you are either an active player or you are a reserve player.
Q: If he is an active PUP then he doesn't count against the roster?
B: That's right he doesn't count. You just postpone the decision, and you bring him back in October or you place him on reserve at that time.
Q: If he's on injured reserve can he practice as he gets better?
B: They can work with the trainers and rehabilitate and that kind of thing.
Q: Is he better off doing that?
B: That is a decision we will have to make. We don't have to do anything right now. We'll see where he is in a week or two weeks and figure out at that time what to do. If we had to make the call now it would be a lot tougher. Hopefully in two weeks we will have more information and it will be an easier decision. We'll just wait it out.
Q: Is it your plan to practice once a day now?
B: When we get to Wednesday we will be pretty close to a regular season schedule. These couple of days here are a little bit different. We had to relocate, and we want to work on a couple things, so we might go out twice tomorrow. We'll see how it goes today.