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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Thu May 23 - 02:00 PM | Tue May 28 - 11:55 AM

Bill Belichick Press Conference

Click on the "Full Article" link to read the transcript of Coach Bill Belichick's Press Conference from Training Camp. To listen to it, press "Play" on the audio link to the left.



BB:We need a bigger room, huh? First, to update you on a few roster things. We released Rob Gatrell and signed Je'Rod Cherry, which keeps our roster at 87. As far as practice this afternoon, guys that won't practice from last week, [Jabari] Holloway is still out. [Dane] Looker and [Robert] Edwards got pulls last week and they both won't practice today. And Antowain Smith didn't complete the conditioning test this morning so he won't be practicing either. So other than that I think everybody else should be ready to go. Just a quick recap of last week, we spent three days going over a lot of individual technique, fundamental type things some one-on-one blocking tackling throwing a ball drill's, that kind of thing. Trying to get some of the injured guys back into the flow of things. Get the new guys, the rookies, working with pads on some individual techniques and of course getting the quarterbacks some throwing, similar to the pitchers and catchers in baseball type thing, getting their arms going and getting them used to throwing the ball. We really didn't do much teamwork, really didn't do any teamwork and that will obviously start today and looking forward to getting everybody out there together and like I said seeing the progress that we've made, getting started on it. It's a lot cooler than I'd hope for today but that's out of our control, we will play in whatever conditions that we've got. I thought we had a good week last week and hopefully that warm weather will come back to us. I spoke with Terry [Glenn] this morning and Terry and I discussed a number of things past, present and future and I think the best way that I could characterize it is that we're gonna go day-by-day. There's a lot of things that need to be reestablished everywhere and as I told the team many times and I told them again today--each coach, each player, and each team needs to reestablish its level every year at the beginning of the year, regardless of what any of us it did or didn't do last year. This year will be built on this year. We all need to do that and Terry falls into that category as everybody else does so we'll take it one day at a time and try to move forward. I'd like to give my best effort to try to have Terry as well as have every other player reach the highest level of productivity. That's my job and that's what I want to try to do and I think that all the players are committed to doing that as well. So that's our challenge heading forward into the season both to have the individual players be at a highly productive level and the team into that as well. So that's Terry situation but it's really the same for every other player.

Q: How long did you and Terry speak for?

BB:For a while this morning.

Q: Half an hour?

BB:It was some where in there.

Q: Did he seem receptive?

BB:We talked, yeah we talked.

Q: How did he explain his failure to communicate?

BB:We talked about lot of things, I don't think it would be appropriate to rehash an entire conversation. I don't know that I could recollect it word for word anyway. I wouldn't want to characterize anybody else's thoughts or feelings or anything, I would just say that I thought we talked about a lot of things.

Q: In general terms, it is not hard to find your boss if you want to?

BB:We talked about it.

Q: Are you optimistic that he is going in the right direction?

BB:I think we just go day-by-day, we go day-by-day. We've got a lot of work to do here in a lot of different areas and I think everything we are just trying to take it one day at a time.

Q: Do you have vibes either way?

BB:I don't have my mind made up, I'll just go by what I see.

Q: How did he do on the conditioning test?

BB:I think overall the team is in good condition, it's a lot better condition than it was last year.

Q: How about Terry specifically?

BB:I think everybody with the exception of one or two players, of the 87 players, we are in a lot better condition than we were last year. I didn't see any problem with Terry.

Q: Do you feel better about the team and Terry today now that you've had the opportunity to talk?

BB:As I said it's all going to start when we get out on the field. We all need to reestablish ourselves and the team needs take some strong steps to improve from last year's record and last year's performance. Until that starts happening I don't think there's really any good measurement, we will see what we can do.

Q: What does he have to do to reestablish himself?

BB:Everybody has to establish their level of performance. We'll all see it. You will be able to tell, about mine or anybody else's.

Q: Will the past few months be forgotten?

BB:Nobody said anything has been forgotten. We're still looking… we're looking forward we're not looking in the rearview mirror. What's been done has been done. It's been talked about, it's been addressed. We're moving forward. The whole football team has to move forward as of this afternoon. That's our first training camp practice and that's really where our focus is, is moving forward. What players have done previously has a bearing on where they are right now but it doesn't but it doesn't have a bearing on what they do tomorrow, or today, or the next day.

Q: Is there anything physically wrong with Antowain Smith or is his conditioning not good enough?

BB:It just wasn't completed satisfactorily. There is not injury that I know of, no.

Q: Will he take it again?

BB:They won't practice until they complete it.

Q: What was Terry's mood in the conversation?

BB:I think really I've said about as much as I can say about that conversation, I don't think I could accurately verbalize the conversation especially speaking for somebody else. I just don't feel comfortable doing that. We had a lengthy conversation. We didn't come to blows or anything if that is what you are asking.

Q: Did you express your disappointment to him about not communicating?

BB:I think I have said about all I can say about the conversation.

Q: In general terms Bill, that part of the job, dealing with players' problems, how do you deal with that?

BB:That's all part of the job. It's all part of it. Whatever needs to be done…

Q: Do you enjoy that part of it?

BB:Well, I don't enjoy the discipline part of it. I think that the fewer distractions that I have as a coach and the team has from a disciplinary nature the easier it is for everybody to focus on the real target, which is Indianapolis, Miami, Buffalo, the Jets, that's what the competition is. That's the enemy. But any time you have a large group of people together you have to have some type of order in order to be efficient and get things done. If everybody just did whatever they wanted to do I don't think you'd be very efficient operation. So if there is some type of way to keep everybody functioning in a way that everybody gets a chance to do what they need to do and be efficient. The discipline part of it I could do without, as I told the team this morning I hope we don't have any fines all year. I hope we don't have to fine anybody, I hope there's no problems in terms of the team discipline, the league discipline, or that type of thing. The rules aren't put in to try to find ways to discipline players or fine players. They're just put in so that we can function together as a unit, everybody is there the same time so we can all start so everybody knows when we are going to start, how long we are going to go, what we are going to do and things like that. You need to be in condition. You need to be able perform well. Some of those things are necessary to run it. So if I didn't have to deal with any of them that would be fine with me. But that's part of a job and if they come up then I'll address them. That's the job too.

Q: What was the level of contact the last couple of days and how did Robert Edwards handle it?

BB:I think he pulled… I think he pulled on Tuesday. So he wasn't out there Wednesday. The level of contact was basically one on one type contact. It wasn't a lot of team work, so it was one-on-one tackling or one-on-one blocking, blitz pickup, that type of thing.

Q: So it was Robert Edwards that pulled up not Marc Edwards?

BB:Marc Edwards wasn't here last week. Yeah, Robert. Right. Robert and Dane.

Q: What did you say he had pulled?

BB:Robert pulled his groin and Looker pulled his hamstring.

Q: Did any guys come in overweight by any significant amount? How do the guys look?

BB:We're in pretty good shape. I haven't talked to Mike [Woicik] exactly, but I would say we're pretty close. One maybe two guys at the most are overweight, but I think everybody else is on it or under it.

Q: So it is much better than last year?

BB:Way better than last year. The weight is way better. The conditioning is way better and we look better and we test better. Now we've got to play better, but we test better in terms of jumping, explosions, strength, speed all those numbers are up significantly from last year. So I think Mike's done a real good job, Mike [Woicik] and Markus [Paul] and Pepper [Johnson] have done a real good job with the off-season program. But ultimately each player has to achieve his gains or not achieve them. I can't go down there and lift weights for anybody or jump for anybody or squat for anybody, those guys have to do it themselves. I think I think they've had good direction I think it's a good program. Mike's done an excellent job and Markus and Pepper have done a great job too. But the players have put in a lot of sweat, put in a lot of time and they trained very hard. Guys last year that really struggled to get on the field and to perform on the field are in way better shape and I told them that. I mean some of them don't even look the same guy.

Q: Did the program change or did the faces change?

BB:Well faces changed cause they are not carrying as much extra weight. Seriously some of them looked thinner facially. But no the program didn't change significantly we did alter some things in the off-season to try to address specific needs. We went through at the end of the season, we went through each player on the roster and talked about what will be the best thing for this player, what will be the best thing for that player. What are their weaknesses and how can we improve them? And of course you get a variety of different answers when we talked about however many players it was we talked about, 60-some players. So those needs were addressed in various ways. Some guys needed more strength. Some guys needed to lower their body fat. Some guys needed better technique. It was all different, so some guys needed flexibility, some guys were rehabbing injuries. Whatever the case was, we tried to specifically address those things with each player. So it was a very wide ranging an extensive program that encompassed not only a weight program but training and rehab, flexibility and also in some areas in the coaching. Including sending guys to Europe and that kind of thing too. Which is what we felt like would be beneficial to those guys when we sent them over there.

Q: Could you talk about your hopes for Charles Johnson?

BB:Well let me just say this. First of all you have to understand as a coach I'm not really pulling for any player I mean I can't… it's not like it's my son out there. I can't root for this guy to beat out that guy or that guy to beat out this guy. My job is to put the best players out, there so whoever they are, that's who is going to play. What Charles brings to the table and the reason why we signed him is his size, his toughness, his work ethic, his ability to catch the ball, his durability and the consistency that he's shown in the league. He has been a guy that's been a touchdown producer, he's caught the ball in traffic, he's a tough guy, he'll block, he's got some experience. But he is not somebody who is over the hill yet either. So he has a lot of positives but do I hope he is going to perform better than somebody else, that's up to them? We're going to put him out there, we're going to let them compete. We'll give them an opportunity to show what they can do, to try to utilize their talent, certainly some receivers have different skills from others. And we want to try to let them use their strength and Bert Emanuel's strength are different from Charles Johnson's and vice versa, and they're both positive. But I'm not pulling for one player over another. You understand what I am saying?

Q: Bill, how big of an advantage do you have this year as opposed to last year? How much easier is your job?

BB:Well we are way ahead of last year, I mean we are way ahead of last year. It's easier from that standpoint, but I mean it's still a challenge. It's still two years in a row that the Patriots finished last in the AFC East. So just because we're better…internally we know we are better, maybe we look better on paper but until we can show that kind of improvement on the field and win games it doesn't really matter. We won't really know whether we are any better off for a while or not. But I know that we've made a lot of strides in the off-season and I think we made a lot of the strides in terms of our preparation for the season by knowing the players, improving their weaknesses, getting certain guys working together to try to accelerate the improvement of the team and we'll do those things better than we did them last year. But how good that'll be and what that will produce, there is still a lot left that remains to be seen.

Q: Relative to last year, do you see more competition on a position by position basis?

BB: Without question, oh yeah, without question. We didn't even have any competition on the offensive line last year. We could barely get eight guys out there, seven guys out there for practice. We were just trying to get through it, there wasn't any competition. There wasn't any competition at several positions, we really didn't have enough players. I mean if you remember when we cut to 53 we cut well below it, I forget the exact number now 49,50 whatever it was, we didn't have enough players really to legitimately fill it out. The competition will be much better this year than it was last year. I don't think…as I look back on it now it's even more evident how little there was last year.

Q: Do you think that the competition has prompted better conditioning? That they knew that it would be more competitive?

BB:Oh sure, I know the players can see that there are better players here, that there are more of them, it's more competitive. But I think also the quality of the players that we've brought on to the team. That a lot of them have those qualities in them. They're self starters, they're highly motivated, that want to work hard and they've had a history of doing that in the past. I mean a lot of the players we've signed there's some pretty intense workers in the group I mean guys like [Larry] Izzo and Marc Edwards. Guys like that to go along with Tebucky [Jones] and Otis [Smith] there's people on this team that are really strong workers. Robert Edwards and those guys, you can't work any harder than they work. Things we ask them to do they take it beyond that and you know 'what more can I do try to find something else, Garrett Johnson, Tom Brady, [Anthony] Pleasant, you can't work much harder than that group.

Q: You say you are way ahead, but is it tough to have all these new players and have them ready for the season?

BB:Sure that's a challenge, that's a challenge. But last year what we looked at was 20 college free agents and that's what ended up being on the team including practice squad and you cover even more ground with that group. This is a much better veteran group and that group now has a year under their belts. So they are in their second year and we'll see what they can produce. A couple of them we've already released. We gave them a year. We spent a lot of time with them. They improved but at this point we just had to make a decision and our decision was to move on and we just don't feel like they're gonna be able to hit the level that they need to.

Q: As you look ahead is there any area you have to budget more time to because you need more work in that area?

BB:Well, I think at this point in training camp you basically take that approach. We have to install everything, we have to reestablish our levels in every area of the game. As I said last season, at the end of last season and even into the mini-camps the big areas of weakness on the team were third-down production on both sides of the ball, scoring on offense-red area and goal line-and the lack of turnovers on defense. Those are areas that we want to go into camp emphasizing as improvement from last year and we'll spend a little bit more time on them, but at this point we still need to pretty much just budget our time evenly to get everything in because at this point all the situations look like they are I important. I don't know that we are going to be a, that our strengths last year are going to be our strengths this year and until we reestablish those strengths then they are not anything. Punt team for example, kickoff and punt return, that those were statistically and I think people that saw the game, I think we were pretty consistent and were pretty productive in those areas. But that doesn't mean anything, I mean Miami doesn't care about that. Indianapolis, they don't care. So until we go out there and reestablish those levels, then that remains to be done. I'd say our installation this year will be pretty normal, but there is no question we will have more emphasis on the red area and third-down, offensively and goal line.

Q: Have you seen enough from any rookies that one might be competing for a starting job?

BB:Well, we had them for three days and there is no doubt some guys looked better than others. Any time you start the evaluation process, if it is one day of evaluation or one week of evaluation, at some point there is going to be some type of separation. I think we certainly saw some separation last week. The thing that…the hesitancy off of what we saw last week is the fact that we didn't do any team work. Some guys look good in individual drills and they don't look as good in team and other guys look good in team drills and they look bad when it is one on one. You know, a little bit of feel and instincts and knowing how to play the game and things like that. In some cases that is a strong point and in some cases it is a weak point. So I think until we see the players out there in team situations, we are pretty measured on what we saw. But physically and athletically we had some guys stand out in some individual drills. Like I said, I've seen that go both ways, guys look great in individual drills and can't play, guys that are terrible in individual drills and are good football players. So we'll have to give it a few days of team work and see if the guys who looked better individually can sustain it.

Q: Could you talk about Je'Rod Cherry and the process that brought him here?

BB:Well Je'Rod as you may know was drafted by New Orleans. He was with New Orleans and then was sigined with Oakland last year, Oakland released him in training camp and he went to Philadelphia. Je'Rod's big, he played some corner and safety, he has a little flexibility. He played both in college. He has been more of a safety in the NFL. He is a big kid, 210-ish, big good looking kid. A very good special teams player, he was a good special teams player for New Orleans and did a pretty good job for Oakland last year in preseason and then on Philadelphial's team last year he was very good particularly in the coverage, both kickoff and punt coverage. He plays positions in the kicking game similar to what [Larry] Whigham played. I am not saying he signed to replace Whigham, I am not characterizing that way, but just in terms of comparison he did similar things to what Larry did in terms of there position in the kicking game. And he has been productive, really at three different clubs. And I think that what his potential role for us will be, his value on special teams, as a safety, and in some defenses at this point. He is a very bright kid, hard working. We have some coaches that were on the New Orleans staff while he was there and also some scouts that were in Philadelphia when he was there. I think his personal recommendations are about as high as you can get. We had his brother and I think we are talking about quite a difference between the two players, personally and as football players.

Q: The turnover between years one and two, is it more or less than you anticipated?

BB:I guess I am not sure what my anticipation was. I didn't really anticipate or plan on turning over or not turning over. What I did last year was come in, try to coach the team, try to do as good a job as I could with it, maximize our performance and as opportunities came up, other players became available or we had certain needs or weaknesses, try to address them. As it turned out I would say, if you had asked me what I thought the turnover was going to be 18 months ago and what has actually happened, I'd say it's probably more than I would have expected then. But I can't say that I had real expectation on what it would or wouldn't be. But it certainly turned out that way.

Q: Do you remember any years similar to this turnover in your past jobs?

BB:We actually had a similar situation in Cleveland and there was quite a bit of turnover there too. It was a similar type of situation where a lot of players who were good players for Cleveland say in the '80s, in the late '80s. In the early '90s they were basically out of football, whether it was in Cleveland or they went somewhere else and that was their last stop, that type of thing. There were a lot of those type of players that were older players near the end of their career that ended up getting replaced.

Q: Getting back to Robert Edwards is there any concern that he is struggling, that maybe he has bitten off more than he can chew based on the last couple of days?

BB:I think he's…let me put it this way, I think he is certainly able to compete at the level he is competing at. Whether or not he'll be able to do all the things that he needs to do remains to be seen. And there are a number of steps that he is going to have to take along the way through the course of training camp-two-a-day practices, preseason games, and so forth. How that is all going to turn out, I really don't have any idea. I do think that he is able to and has earned the right to go out there on the field and compete, I don't think that he's playing with one arm tied behind his back type of thing, I don't see it that way. But he still has a lot to overcome and he's got a lot to prove and he's got a number of steps he needs to take. In the last two years he hasn't had any opportunity to take any of those steps. So what's going to happen when the different challenges arise this year, I really don't have any idea. I really don't know. But I think he's been able to get to a certain point, whether that will keep going or whether it won't, or whether it will regress, I think we're just going to have to take that day by day. As I told Robert, and I know he's seen it in his rehabilitation as well, sometimes you move forward, sometimes you slip back a little bit and then you move forward to a higher level. Sometimes it is just a continual and gradual incline other times there is a little drop before you can make another gain. So I am not sure, I am not sure. Based on one or two days I don't know whether it's regressing, whether it's a temporary setback, where it's going to climb to, whether we've hit the top, I just don't know.

Q: How is Stephen Neal doing so far?

BB:Good, Steve had a good week. Again a lot of individual drills so the game is pretty simple for him where it was just two people out there instead of 22 but, Steve showed some encouraging signs. Still, we are talking…I mean this is like me trying to learn Chinese. In two days you are not going to have Mandarin Chinese down. But you know Steve's got good balance, like you would expect from a wrestler. He's got pretty good balance and he can handle other big guys being on him. He know's how to bend his knees and play with some leverage and keep from getting pushed around. Fundamentally he's got a long way to go, but for three days and for not having played football for six years or whatever it has been, you know, not bad. I think it's too early to count anybody out, but it is too early to anoint anybody either, the second coming. I am not ready to anoint him yet, but it was encouraging.

Q: Do you have any experience with guys who are essentially not football players?

BB:Limited, limited. Right off the top of my head I can't think of one who really has been successful. At the Giants we had a couple guys. We had a basketball player who played for Indiana, who played for coach [Bobby] Knight that we thought maybe could be a defensive back, who had real good quickness. He was kind of their top defender and cover guy and all that. But that didn't work out. As it turns out, we started doing a little research on that. As quick as a lot of those basketball players are, and as athletic and as skillful as they are, most of the ones that we looked at can't run very fast relative to football players. So that became a problem and that didn't work out. We've had a couple, we've looked at a couple of kids from Australia that were rugby players, Australian football player type, I don't know if you want to call it football or not football, certainly not American football. Of course I mean John Smith is the classic example here, but that's a true specialist. So a little bit of experience with it, not a lot. I can't think of anybody right off hand that made the transition.

Q: Do you find you have to teach football 101 as well as gauging skills?

BB:A little bit, yeah. But again these last three days there was a lot of individual one on one stuff and as we get into the team things here in the next few days it is probably going to get a little tougher. So Steve again, Steve hasn't been present with the challenge of it, he may meet it fine or this may be a little drop for him. I don't know. But Steve is a smart kid and he'll work hard and put the time into it to try to learn it. We'll give him some experience and see how quickly he adapts. Nobody has tried to pick any fights with him, I can tell you that.

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