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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Fri Apr 09 - 12:00 AM | Sun Apr 11 - 11:59 PM

Bill Belichick Press Conference

BB: Really not too much new today just one thing we're trying to do in practice which I think coincides with Tampa is to be ready for the potential heat and humidity in the early part of the season playing afternoon games and we should get plenty of that in Tampa. One thing we normally do in practice is try to rotate people through so that everybody is involved and there is not too much standing around, but this week is a little bit of a transition there too where we have guys taking more plays consecutively trying to again simulate game conditions where they could be in there for 10, 12,14 play drive, whatever it happens to be. But where we are getting a little more work, more consecutive plays to try to build a little bit more endurance. Hopefully will get some warm weather in Tampa because I think we need it. I am sure we will get it at some point in September one way or the other whether it is here or somewhere else. We probably got a break last week in Carolina and for that matter when we were here against the Giants they were both pretty cool night's so the we could use a little heated game conditions.

Q: Did Willie do much in practice yesterday?

BB: Yes, he is about on the same schedule that Brandon was last week. He is doing some individual drills to start with before he goes into the teamwork.

Q: How about Brandon, how is he doing?

BB: Brandon is a further along he's working in team drills, which he didn't do last week.

Q: Where does he fit into the defensive scheme, is he an end?

BB: He's played and, he's played inside, he's played inside more in the pass rush and sub-situations, but he has played both in a regular defense, so I think that he has some flexibility. We want to try to work him in there this week and see how far he is coming along and decide whether want to put more emphasis on him in regular defense, in sub-defense or try to split it up until he can come along further. Realistically I don't think he is ready to go out there and play 75 plays, but I think he could contribute in either area and we will have to try to determine which of those will be the most productive both for us and for him.

Q: Can he play nose?

BB: He has played inside and he will get a little work in there at nose, and a little work at end and he will get some work as an inside pass rusher on the sub.

Q: Did you see him a lot in college?

BB: A little bit.

Q: Where you impressed with him in college?

BB: Very athletic, has good quickness and explosion, real athletic.

Q: Why hasn't that translated into the pros?

BB: I'm not sure. Last year was the only year that I really had any experience with Brandon. He was injured in training camp, he had a calf pull which as we know is an injury that takes a little time to come back from. So he missed a few weeks camp, that slowed him down a little bit. Then he played during the season and then got hurt in the Kansas City game so he kind of got of to a slow start and then was able to pick up a little bit of speed and then the season got cut a little bit short for him. He was a good contributor for us when he was in there, he's got good strength, he's quick, he runs well, he can rush the passer and I think what he needed last year more than anything was experience and technique in the system and unfortunately he missed a good part of that in training camp. As he played more and got more comfortable with the some of the techniques I thought that his play gradually improved through the year and unfortunately his season cut short. This year he is a lot further along than he was last year from a scheme standpoint and from an understanding point of view. Actually his reps on the field probably are less then they were last year, but not a whole lot less.

Q: Is there a big difference between playing end and playing nose?

BB: Not a huge difference. The blocking combinations are a little bit different, but there are certainly a lot of similarities, but in Brandon's case that was a lot new ground because he was mainly a one-gap player at [Texas] A&M and also his first three years here in New England so that was an adjustment for him. A lot of our techniques are fundamentally the same for each of the positions, but the guard/center combination is a little bit different than the guard/tackle/tight end combinations that our ends play.

Q: Can you talk about the play of Riddick Parker so far and how he fits into the defense?

BB: I think Riddick has had a real good camp he hasn't missed any time at all. He has been a very consistent player. Some guys in camp you see go up and down and we are coming up on 40 practices and some guys have some real good days and some bad days and some guys miss a few days here and there, but Riddick has been real consistent through the spring camps and training camp. I think he is a guy that really has grown on us a little bit in terms of his dependability. He is an intelligent player and he makes very few mistakes. He came from a scheme that was quite a bit different from what we play so he's learning some new techniques, but he' shown consistent improvement and he is doing a lot better now than he was earlier and he has worked hard at it. I think he really understands what we're looking for and he's trying to give it to us. His pass rush has steadily improved and I think he's had a good solid camp. Not spectacular, but solid and consistent and I think he has really earned everybody's respect for his level of play, but a real consistent level of play. He hasn't had a lot of bad plays.

Q: Is he a guy that has the flexibility, he played inside last year…

BB: He played inside but he played, the system they played in he played on the left side which is where we are playing him, but in Seattle he played in the center/guard gap then the guard/tackle gap and the reads and techniques were I think quite a bit different than what we are asking him to do. But he may be able to play, are you talking about playing nose? He may be able to do that, yes I wouldn't rule that out. We talked about moving him in and there or looking at him in there and the thing we didn't want to do was to go along at end and not really have that down and then move him somewhere else and then not have that down. I think that now that he's in the last couple weeks and under game conditions has shown pretty good discipline and a pretty consistent performance at end that maybe if he could play inside that would give him a little more flexibility and give us a little more depth so I wouldn't rule that out.

Q: What goes into deciding to take a guy off the waiver wire, does he have to be above and beyond what you already have because he is coming in late? Is the risk greater than the reward?

BB: The last part of your question about what is the risk in picking him up, in some cases there really isn't much risk. For example if you are under the roster limit and you were to claim a guy then you don't have to release anybody off your roster you just add one more guy out there on the field and let him do whatever you want him to do. For example we picked up Ryan Benjamin, we had a roster spot and we brought him in and he snapped and there wasn't really any risk to doing that. We could have either got him or got somebody else. In a situation like that the only risk is either bringing somebody in who is either disruptive or just not competitive and it kind of slows you down a bit, but beyond that there isn't much risk to doing it. When you are talking about when you are at the roster limit than that is a different story. Whether you pick them up off the waiver wire or sign a player who is not with any team like we did right at the beginning of training camp with a couple of guys and have to release people to make room for them then you have to look at what the trade off is going to be. Sometimes you need players because you have a lack of depth at a position, sometimes you see that player having a certain role that could fit on to your team that you think is significant and sometimes you can pick a guy up and you can feel pretty sure that he is better than what you are playing with at that position and you will feel like he will really be able to upgrade it. Again it varies a little bit if you are bringing a guy in for depth that doesn't maybe fit into the long-term picture, but you need a receiver somebody has to run routes, somebody has to practice at receiver, you have to get a receiver versus a guy that you think will be competitive versus a guy that you know can help you. For example last year when we picked up Otis Smith we felt that he would definitely be able contribute to our team as a corner last year and as it turned out he was able to do that. It was kind of an easy one because we knew the player and we knew our situation and we felt that he would be able to upgrade it. Other players that we have picked up off the wire some of them are here some of them aren't and some of them worked out well others just didn't pan out. A lot of times you don't know until you get the person here and put them in your system and see how they perform in doing the things you ask them to do.

Q: But when a proven NFL starter comes across the waiver wire are you at all hesitant, maybe wondering why the team released him?

BB: Sure, yes. The way we do it we just talk in terms of the positives and negatives. What are the positives that the player has, what does he bring to the table, what are his assets. Then what are the negatives, what do we see as a potential problem which could be any number of things. It could be his style of play or actually how good he is. Maybe he does some things well, but he has other weaknesses. It could be an injury situation, it could be age, it could be how he fits on to our team. What it would to where we are at and the players that we have. If Peyton Manning were waived I am sure that 30 teams in the league would pick him up but he is not going to be on the wire. So anybody that's waived there's a least one negative to the player because that team has released him for some reason. Maybe it is because they have great depth at the position and he is just not good enough for them, but he is going to play with somebody else or it could be any other number of reasons. So that's what we talk about. Each guy that is waived if it is six guys or ten guys or 20 guys or whatever it is we run through the list. This guy he just doesn't fit for us we have better players at that position. The next yeah he has got some positives here and if we lost a guy he is somebody we would be interested in, but right now we are further along with the players that we have. The next guy we can't use him now maybe it is somebody we would want on the practice squad later if we have a spot, whatever the case is. But each guy is evaluated, each guy is really placed of some type of a list. Either a list where we are saying we really don't want to consider this guy in, we looked at him, we considered him but he's not really right for us now and he probably won't be right for us later. The next guy we don't need him now, but let's keep the name up there in front of us so if something comes up we could use him or here is the guy we would really like to have right now there is a certain circumstance that really keeps us from pursuing him, but he would be at the top list of guys we would be interested in. It would just take one little thing to happen on our team, if we had an injury or if somebody that we are wanting to see workout and doesn't workout maybe this is a guy that we would be interested in. Then if the player clears waivers you talk to him, you talk to his agent and let them know that you are interested in the situation and maybe bring him in for a physical or get to the point where if you need him you are ready to go.

Q: Can you talk about the fullback situation particularly Patrick Pass?

BB: We got to the of mini camp in the spring and we kind of looked at the backfield situation and we were pretty heavy at running back because we had the four players that are currently practicing now, we had just signed Antowain (Smith), so we had Antowain, Kevin (Faulk), J.R. (Redmond) and Walter Williams and we also had Robert (Edwards). Then we had Patrick who of course played in the Cincinnati game last year and really had been a running back so we felt like we had six guys that we felt like would be competitive in training camp and the question was what to do at the fullback spot. I think Patrick does some things at fullback which are real good and there other things that are not his strong suit, but he definitely brings some positives to the position and can make some plays as a fullback. We just felt like with the overall numbers that we had at the halfback position and Patrick's versatility that he would get more opportunities and have a better chance and be able to really contribute more for us at that position. We put him over there telling him that, 'Look Patrick, don't lose sight of halfback. Things work out where we would move you back so you're still response for knowing the position and we may give you snaps in it, but your main focus is a fullback. So that's how he ended up where he is and I think that he's made pretty good progress at the position. I don't think he is a prototype fullback. The comparison was made last week between Patrick and Ritchie Anderson. I think there are certainly some similarities between the two players. It is a little bit of a different breed of fullback rather than the 245 lb. blocking fullback that is a lead blocker and doesn't catch the ball very well and isn't elusive and that kind of thing. Patrick is a little more of a halfback playing fullback similar to kind of the 49er West Coast offense. Some of the fullbacks that have been in that system guys that can handle the ball as well as block.

Q: Is he in the position now of maybe going back to halfback?

BB: I don't think so, no, but I wouldn't rule it out. But he's not doing a lot of work at halfback. He is still responsible for it and we are certainly not afraid to give him the ball. He carried against Carolina, I can't remember if it was once or twice, from the halfback position. He had a nice run on an off tackle play to the right. So I think that is something that he can do and if we need him to do it we wouldn't be afraid to use him, but we want to try to get some time and snaps to the other players at that position too. They are doing a pretty nice job and none of them really could make the transition to fullback that I think Patrick has made.

Q: How do you think Drew Bledsoe has thrown the ball in camp, not in the games, but on a day-to-day basis? Do you think he is sharp and that he is where he wants to be?

BB: I think probably for Drew and for the other quarterbacks that it could be better. I don't think that it is bad, but I think all of them could improve it. In fact I spent some time with all three of them this morning talking about, with all three players, some techniques that as we get into more scheme things and plays and audible and blitz adjustments and all that that there are still some very important fundamental techniques the quarterbacks just can't do lose sight of. They are like pitcher you have to get the ball over the plate. There is a big difference between a quarterback hitting a receiver in stride so he could catch it and run with it versus making him fall down to catch the ball and losing all of that extra yardage after the catch. I think Drew's had a good camp, but I think there's still some things that he could sharpen up a little bit on in the next couple weeks and I would say the same thing for the other two quarterbacks as well. I like the position, I like what those guys are doing but it's not perfect.

Q: Does any of that have to do with the people in front of him or is it strictly his mechanics?

BB: There is a big difference between football and baseball. In baseball the pitcher goes to the mound and he can make a clean throw to the plate in whatever fashion he chooses to do it. Football is different. There are people coming at him, there are things that sometimes alter the throw and it can't always be done in a classic style although a lot of passes are thrown that way they are a lot that aren't too. A quarterback's job is to deliver the ball to the receivers in all different types of conditions, some good some not so good. But mechanically, as much as possible, you still want the quarterback to be fundamentally sound and that really is the best way to throw the ball with proper balance, with proper footwork, using the lower part of your body and carrying the ball in the proposition and all of those fundamental things. When a quarterback has a chance to do that then we expect him to do it and if it is not done correctly than we will correct him on it and try to get him to function correctly and in the end that will lead to better accuracy and more completed passes. There are times when that doesn't happen and then there are certain fundamentals that we want the quarterback to execute when they are under pressure, but part of that is being able to get the ball to the receiver and again there are a lot of different situations that that can come up under. It is a little bit a combination of both, but when we're out there on seven-on-seven, or when pressure is not an issue and the quarterback can drop back, set his feet and throw the ball then there is no reason why it shouldn't be thrown correctly and it isn't always done that way but it should be and if it isn't then we want to point it out to them so that they can execute it better in the future.

Q: He is kind of a different quarterback then when he got here, he relied so much on when he first came here has he now reached the stage in his career where fundamentals are far more important to him than they ever were?

BB: I think fundamentals are always important to that position, maybe more so than any other position. I can just really speak to the last two years I mean even when I was here in '96 I didn't work directly with the quarterbacks I spent the majority of my time coaching the defensive players so I didn't really work fundamentally with Drew then, but I would just say that in the past two years when I have worked with him I think his fundamentals have improved in that period of time and the things that I've talked to Drew about and we've emphasized, that Dick (Rehbein) emphasized or Charlie (Weis) emphasized in the past couple of years, I think Drew has worked hard at those fundamentals and I think there was definite improvement on the field last year and I think it's continued into this camp.

Q: Is it difficult to keep track of their fundamentals when their coach is also the running backs coach and the offensive coordinator?

BB: It is a lot harder than it was last year when we had one coach who was devoted to looking at that all the time, yes.

Q: When you were considering what to do after Dick (Rehbein) passed away, do you think of bringing somebody in to keep track of the techniques and fundamentals?

BB: Did we talk about it? Yes, we considered a lot of different options.

Q: Why did you rule that one out?

BB: Because we thought that the way we are now is the best for everybody that is involved from the coaches, players, quarterbacks, other offensive players we just felt that the way we were set up to work offensively now that that is the best scenario that we can come up with at this point in time. That's why we did it. That's not to say that there aren't other options or that other coaches that are good coaches…it's not a commentary on anything else other than what we had to work with and what it would take to bring somebody else in and given where we are now and what we're doing we just feel like this is the best option of all the other options and I am sure there are lot of other options. We considered doing different things and we made that decision and talked to the people that are involved and I think that everybody is comfortable with it. Certainly nobody wants it the way that it is. Dick's situation is a very unfortunate situation, but I think the way that we are doing, it is the best thing we can do.

Q: Will Charlie have a lot of time to work with them given his other duties?

BB: His primary duty now is working with the quarterbacks.

Q: That doesn't conflict with coordinator?

BB: I wouldn't say that it conflicts, I think that it is an addition to, but you can look around the league and find plenty of quarterback coaches that are coordinators and there's some that aren't. There are some that are set up like were a few months ago where the coordinator wasn't the quarterback's coach and there was a quarterback's coach, you can find it both ways.

Q: How many are also running backs coach?

BB: I don't know right off the top of my head. Are you talking about Charlie as the running back coach? Charlie works with all of the players as the offensive coordinator, but the main position that he is working with now is the quarterbacks.

Q: How is the competition between Antowain Smith and J.R. Redmond?

BB: I think that both players have shown that they have some bonafide strengths and both players have shown that they can contribute. I think that we need to work through the process where we can put the best combinations of people on the field whatever they happen to be. I think Antowain and J.R. will both contribute for us the year. What's the best way utilize them and how does that fit in with everybody else, I think that's the process we're going through this week, next week and extends into other positions as well. It's not just player a and player b but the position extends to the offensive line, it extends to the receivers and it extends to the tight ends. So there are a number of different factors at work there besides just the running backs.

Q: Do you have a better idea of how your offensive line is coming along injury wise, guys like Matt Light and Adrian Klemm?

BB: Matt Light started practicing this week so he is closer. We will see where he is probably around game time, but he practiced this week. I anticipate him making the trip to Tampa and we will see where we are Saturday night in terms of playing time with him. Adrian I think is not quite that far along yet although he's making progress. He has practiced more the Matt has but I don't think he is as close to being ready to play in the game as Matt is.

**Q: Do you think you will have a set offensive line once the season starts?BB I don't know, we still have a little time on that. We will see where things are on that when we get back from Tampa in terms of (Mike) Compton coming along and where we are with Klemm and Light and how much we're going to be able to see of them. There will probably be a little better idea on that as we get closer to the season. We obviously don't have it now and it's not going to happen between now and Tampa, but how much of that will into place the following week, some of it could, but I can say definitively that it will.

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