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Bill Belichick Press Conference

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Thursday, June 30, 2009. BB: Alright, well welcome to training camp.

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Thursday, June 30, 2009.

BB: Alright, well welcome to training camp. Stacey [James] kind of let us down on the weather today. I don't mind a wet ball out there, but [we've] got to call it when thunder and lightning are in the area. Cutting it a little bit short, but it's good to be out there. It's good to see the team in pads. It gives us a chance to really bear down and work on our fundamentals. For those of you who were here in the spring, you saw that we did a lot of teamwork in the passing camps and things like that. This is really the time of year that we concentrate on fundamentals for a big part of the practice. Certainly, the teamwork and pulling everything together is important, but the fundamentals and the individual drills, the one-on-ones, the two-on-twos - all those kinds of things. This is really where it starts when we get the pads on and are able to execute those techniques on a good tempo, so it's good to get going on that. We have a long road in front of us. I think we are heading in the right direction so far, but we certainly have a long way to go. It's good to be back out there. It's good to see the team back out there. We've got a few players who weren't out there this morning. We have a lot of different guys in different stages of getting back on the field. We will handle all of those on an individual basis [and] make sure we do what's best for each player. When he's ready, then of course he will be back out there. I think they are also heading in the right direction. It's just a question on what the timing is. We'll be at it here, double sessions for awhile. I think that will build up our stamina, consistency and test the durability and staying power of our players on our team a little bit. But that's what I think we need this time of year. We are off and running. The season has started.

Q: Can you comment on the passing of Jim Johnson and what he meant in terms of football?

BB: I think Jim's probably as good a defensive coordinator as I've seen in the league in the time I've been in it. I spoke with Jim quite frequently. We exchanged a lot of ideas and I have great respect for his philosophy, his schemes and the way he attacks offenses [and] his ability to utilize personnel. I think he's got a real good football mind. Tried to work with him several times and that never quite worked out, but I've always … I first knew him when he was at Notre Dame. I've had great respect for him. He's a good friend and a real good football coach - tough guy to compete against. Certainly, on behalf of the team and organization, our condolences go out to the Eagles and Jim's family. He's one of the best.

Q: Are double sessions seven days in a row normally what you do?

BB: We've done it differently. We've done it differently from year-to-year, but that's where we are this year. We feel like what's best for the football team is what we need to do. We've gone through different schedules, but there's not much light at the end of the tunnel for right now.

Q: What's the best part of having Tom Brady back?

BB: Well, you know it's always good to see Tom out there. It's good to see all the players out there. Tom's worked very hard to get back out on the field in his rehab and doing what he did in the spring. He's certainly a big presence on our team and it's good to see him back out there, but all the other players - Terrence Wheatley, Adalius Thomas, Laurence Maroney - we can go right down the line. It's good to see a lot of those guys out there that didn't finish the season for us.

Q: Some of the new veterans talked about your passion. Do you get excited this time of year to get back out on the football field?

BB: Sure. This is really the start of practice. We are two weeks away from a preseason game and then we are four weeks away from the opener after that. Every team has basically the same amount of time to get ready. I mean, all teams will be in camp within a few days of each other here. We all have the same amount of time to get ready for the opening game and then for the 16-game regular season schedule. So it's an exciting time. It's a busy time. There're a lot of decisions to be made, a lot of evaluations to look at with your team, your schemes, your players, what you think you are going to be able to do and what you actually are able to do, or not do, as the case may be. That's what we get paid for. I enjoy it. It's fun. It beats working. But it's very challenging because of the competition in this league and what all of our opponents are doing. They are very good too.

Q: You mentioned it beats working. Is it like a job to you when you have to go to work in the morning?

BB: No. I come to work with an energy every day, whatever it is; whether it's the team building that goes into the draft and free agency, or the passing camps, rookie mini-camps, working with the young players, the game planning, game preparation we put in during the fall months. Of course, any games after that are always thrilling and game day, itself. Really, every day I enjoy the game preparation. I certainly enjoy the game competition. I enjoy working with the young players and the fundamentals they need to develop and the very experienced players that can perform at the highest level - physical talent as well as mentally being able to do things and seeing things out on the field and make adjustments that not very many players can make. I enjoy the whole spectrum of it.

Q: How much do you plan on using Tom Brady in the preseason?

BB: We've thought more about this afternoon's practice and what we have to do there. We are on the very short-term. We have a lot of short-term goals and are very short sighted here. We've got some things done this morning. We have some other things to do this afternoon. Some of the things we've done this morning came out OK and maybe we are a little bit ahead on. Other things we need to go back and touch up a little bit and that will be the same thing this afternoon. So right now it's the players, getting them acclimated to playing football, especially twice a day, going out there, getting in condition, doing what they do, getting used to the contact, getting used to the football game as it's played as opposed to the spring game when it's just shirts and t-shirts. In terms of getting our team ready, we are trying to get ready for this afternoon. We are not really thinking too far out right now.

Q: Can you talk about your flexibility at the running back position?

BB: Well, we feel like we have good competition at the running back position. Those guys all really have proven themselves. Fred [Taylor], of course, has had a tremendous career. Laurence [Maroney] has done a lot of great things for us. He played very well at the end of the '07 season and then he kind of had a short season last year. Sammy Morris has done a great job for us and has Kevin [Faulk]. [BenJarvus Green-Ellis], when he had an opportunity to play last year, was a good performer. So we'll let the players that we have in the backfield, put them out there, let them compete and let them play. I would think we would be able to get production from all of them because that's what we've gotten in the past.

Q: How important is it for Laurence Maroney to excel early in camp?

BB: Well, I think that's something we all have to do. Every one of us comes into camp and it's a new season and clean slate. We all have to establish our level of performance for the 2009 season in whatever that role of capacity is. That's a challenge for every single one of us regardless of how long you've been in the league or how long you haven't been in the league or what you did last year or didn't do last year. It's a new season. We all have to reestablish or establish our performance level this year. So that's true for every player, every coach [and] everybody who has a role in the organization.

Q: When you're game planning for practice do you treat Tom Brady like an injured player and ease him in?

BB: All the players that are out there are ready to go. They are participating fully.

Q: Can you talk about Randy Moss not being on the field this morning?

BB: Well, as I said there were a number of players that weren't out there and they are in different stages of coming back out on the field. Each guy is in a little bit of a different category. But I'm sure they will all be out there; some sooner, some might be a little bit longer.

Q: When you have older guys do you manage their workload differently than other players?

BB: I think, Chris [Gasper], it really depends on the player. Even younger players could have some type of a leg issue or some other type of physical issue that needs to be managed. Other players that are older might not have it and vice versa. It's really on an individual basis. We will do what we think is best for the combination of the player and also what he feels he needs or what he feels he needs to be able to compete and to be able to refine his skills to be able to play effectively. It's kind of a combination of all those things. Certainly any player that's over … that's closer to the end of their career - let's put it that way - I think you have to keep an eye on managing those players, yes.

Q: Do you have any thoughts on the possibility of seeing Michael Vick back in the NFL?

BB: You know, Michael is an outstanding player. He hasn't played in a couple years, but right now our focus is on our team and our players, trying to get the New England Patriots ready. That's really where my attention has been, but he's a tremendous athlete. Where he exactly is right now, I don't know.

Q: What type of jump do you expect Terrence Wheatley and Jonathan Wilhite to make from year one to year two?

BB: Well, historically, I think most players make the biggest jump from year one to year two. But that's not a given, it's just the way it usually is. That's what you hope will happen when players come into their second year with some confidence and a better understanding of the players they are playing against, but also the scheme they are playing in and what they are supposed to do. Usually, you see the biggest jump there, but how much that is or isn't, we'll find that out as we go along. Certainly, based off the offseason, both of those players have made significant progress and hopefully they'll be able to carry that onto the field and into training camp and build on it and have strong seasons. Their offseason has been good. They are way ahead of where they were last year. There's no question about that. Hopefully, they will continue to grow in that direction.

Q: Do you expect there to be much of a rust factor with Tom Brady? If so, are you prepared to be patient with him?

BB: Again, I think for every player - certainly quarterbacks, any quarterback, skill position players - that the start of training camp is the start of the season. As much preparation [there is] in the offseason and even in the passing camps, the lag time between passing camp and training camp and all the individual work that goes on in the offseason, compared to all the teamwork that goes on in the regular season, it takes everyone awhile to get to where they want to be. I think that's part of the development of every player before the season goes along. There's a kind of cliché of midseason form, but I think there's a lot of truth to that. I think the players in this league at the middle of the season are at their peak performance and none of us are there yet - no player, no coach. We've only been out there one day. How all that comes together and how each player progresses on an individual basis, that's something we will monitor as we go along and I don't know how that's going to turn out for anybody, including myself. It's something you go through a day-by-day process and evaluate it as it comes. But we've all got a long way to go. Certainly, nobody in this league is anywhere close to that point yet.

Q: Are you most nervous about the linebacker position?

BB: I think every position on the team at this point is really unproven. None of us have proven anything this year. Nobody's been able to establish anything. It's the whole process of going through training camp, preseason and we'll see where everybody gets too. We are all in the same boat on that. I know what their expectations are and maybe those will be realized and maybe they won't. There are also some players - that maybe expectations aren't that high on those players - will exceed those in a pleasantly surprising way, which all of a sudden will make that player or position one of strength. There's no way to know all that until we go through the training camp process and the preseason and even into the early part of the regular season. Those are all questions that it's just too early to answer.

Q: You are always trying to improve your team no matter what. If there was a free agent player out there with a skill set would a background, whatever it was, prevent you from going after that particular player?

BB: Well, every situation would be evaluated on so many merits. Depending on what the merits of the situation were, the research and the comfort level of all of that, if it was alright then it wouldn't be a problem and, if it wasn't, then it wouldn't happen.

Q: Have you ever coached a camp that's been altered at all because you are working with a new staff?

BB: Well, every training camp is different. We've already talked about it earlier. Our schedule is a little bit different than it was last year. There's always change. There's always change on your coaching staff with your players or some administrative or scouting capacity. That's the National Football League. It's pro sports. It's really like that on every football team. There is always change every year. You adjust to it, adapt to it and - over the course of time, hopefully - it works out to where you are smooth and efficient. I think some of the people that are on our staff that are new, and even ones that aren't as experienced bring a lot of ideas, energy and bring a fresh approach to certain things that are different from other people that did them. I'm not saying that is good or bad; I'm just saying it's different and it can be positive. That's what it has been this year for some of the coaches that are on our staff. I think it's a different dynamic. It's a different chemistry, but I think it's a good one.

Q: This is your 10th season here. How have you changed as a coach since your first game here in 2000?

BB: I'd say I'm a lot friendlier.

Q: Any adjustments you find yourself making over the course of the summer without Scott Pioli here?

BB: Well, Floyd [Reese] came in February. So that's a transition that's been going on for a number of months now. I thought the draft process with Nick [Caserio] and our scouts, Jon Robinson and Jason [Licht] and all those guys and Floyd with the contracts, all that's gone pretty smoothly. I think our draft signings and contracts and all of that has gone pretty smoothly. I feel very comfortable with Floyd. I've known him a long time. I think the other scouts have come in and I feel very good about our scouting department and the job they did in the draft, in free agency and as we prepare for next year. I think they've done a good job of staying on top of things and providing us with quality information. That's what their job is.

Q: How do you balance keep an open mind and sticking with what you know?

BB: I guess it's just my nature. I try to keep an open mind on everything. You see a lot of … You look around the league and see a lot of different things and a lot of different ways to be successful. With that being said, I think I have a core set of beliefs and values that are fundamental to a team and not necessarily a football team, probably most any team, but particularly to a football team, I guess. But I am open-minded to other ideas, some of which I've experienced and don't think they're beneficial, others that I can see some merit in and maybe are ways to improve some of the things we are doing. I think we are always looking for ways to get better and improve our product and our efficiency and our overall ability to coach the team. I try to keep an open mind on all of that. There are a lot of good coaches out there and a lot of good ideas. I certainly don't think we have the market cornered on that.

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