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

Bill Belichick Press Conference

BB: Okay, well this morning we brought the tempo down again. As I mentioned, yesterday was our biggest day of contact since we started camp. And we backed off a little bit this morning, went through quite a few situations in practice: the goal line offense and defense and some special teams situations, things like that. We'll be back at it this afternoon, pretty much a regular afternoon practice. But I thought the players had a real good day yesterday, I thought that was one of our best training camp days in this camp, and looking back towards last year, probably as good as any we had last year overall. Sometimes a little break here and there gives them a little lift to spring forward the next time.
A couple of roster moves: we released Dane Looker yesterday, we claimed Giradie Mercer, a defensive lineman from Philadelphia, he played at Marshall and went to Carolina. He was with Philadelphia last year in preseason and we had scouted him in the preseason last year and we thought we saw some interesting things that he was doing. He got injured in the second preseason game and finished the year on IR. He is a nose tackle. We'll work him in there. We have reached an agreement with Bryan Cox. He'll be in this afternoon and should be on the field tomorrow. I don't think he'll be here in time to practice today. I just felt like at the linebacker position we needed a little bit more depth. I think that Ted Johnson and Tedy Bruschi are both having real good camps. I think this is similar to the Antowain Smith situation in the spring, where I said that J.R. [Redmond] and Kevin Faulk were both doing real well. It's not in any way a statement about the linebackers we have out there it's just the overall depth in the position, similar to the running back situation that we talked about in the Spring. Yesterday in practice, [Mike] Compton hurt his calf. He's getting some tests done this morning, it looks like he'll probably be a couple of weeks or so. I don't know the exact extent of it, but it doesn't look like it's serious in terms of a real long term thing, but I'm sure that we're probably looking at a couple of weeks or so here. A little disappointing to start off camp and lose four offensive linemen, but three of the four we know will be back, obviously [Joe] Panos is gone, but [Joe] Andruzzi will be back, I imagine he'll be the first one back and then [Matt] Light and I'm not sure exactly where Compton is, but Andruzzi should be pretty close to getting back out there, it would be good to have him out. Naturally, on the other hand, it provides an opportunity for some of the other guys to get more reps, get more work in, with the young players that we have out there, they can all certainly use it, so that's their opportunity and we'll see what they can so with it. In the meantime, really the only change that we'll make is we'll use [Adrian] Klemm at both tackle and guard, just from a numbers standpoint, but that certainly doesn't take him out of the running at left tackle in any way, shape or form. I think Klemm, in the last couple of days, has made good, steady improvements. So that's where we are. [Drew] Bledsoe, did I mention him? Bledsoe's got a little swelling on his ankle. We tried to get that down today and keep him off his feet and ice it down. He'll be back out there this afternoon, I don't think it's anything. I don't really think this is headlines that you're looking for.

Q: How much did Andy [Katzenmoyer]'s situation speed up the signing of Bryan Cox?

BB: Andy's situation had somewhat of an impact on it because he was part of the depth at that position and I think that's uncertain at that point. I don't really have anything new to report on Andy. He saw some people yesterday and that process is still going on. I don't think there have been any conclusions or anything final's been decided on, so that's still an ongoing process. There's no question now that Andy's situation is somewhat in limbo and that certainly effected my thinking, just our overall depth at that position.

Q: Will Bryan get a chance at both spots?

BB: Well, we'll see how that goes, yeah, we'll see hoe that goes. Somewhere between those three guys we're going to have to get a little bit of versatility there and I'm not sure where we are with Katzenmoyer, so I don't know whether he does or doesn't fit into that but somehow we'll have to have three to play two or it might be four to play two, I don't know right now.

Q: Where did he play in New York?

BB: Bryan played outside when he first got there, then we moved him inside. So he played… and I think that's really the role I would see Bryan having on this team would be to play inside linebacker on a regular defense and then to rush from the outside on third downs. And that's what he ended up doing in New York.

Q: What took so long to sign Cox? It seemed like it was always on the back burner.

BB: No, it just didn't work out until now. That's just the way it goes. As I've said before, sometimes those things seem close and take forever, other times they seem far apart and get done in a hurry and somewhere in between. He's a guy we had interest in, and I think he's had interest in our situation since the Jets released him. It didn't work out until very recently and actually he was in St. Louis over the weekend when we finally did get things done, so had he been in Atlanta he probably would have physically been up here sooner but he had commitments over the weekend in St. Louis, so that just gives you an indication of how unplanned it was and it just worked out that way.

Q: What's your sense of how much he has left in his tank?

BB: I thought he played pretty well for the Jets last year and Bryan has a certain style of play, he's a very physical player. He's big, he's strong, he's tough, he's a physical player, and that's his game and those are his strengths. When he can play to those strengths, I think that's when he's the most effective.

Q: Do you see him as a good locker room influence as well?

BB: My experience with Bryan has been very positive. When I was with the Jets, he was a strong leader on that team. As I've said before, each team has its own personality and its own leadership and its own chemistry. And I'm not going to try to project what it is with or without Bryan Cox or anybody else. I just think that's something that's going to have to develop as it occurs and I'm not going to try to guide that, however it works out. I think it will work itself out. But Bryan's a smart guy, he's had a lot of experience in the league and I think he's well-respected for the way he plays the game and certainly I have a lot of respect for him for the way he approaches the game and his commitment to football and to team football. Those are his strengths and I think that he'll be able to contribute for us this year and I think we can use some depth at the position, so that basically is my thought process in bringing him in here.

Q: What are your early impressions of Richard Seymour?

BB: Good. I like Richard. I like Richard. I think everything he's done out there has been at a good level. There's certainly some things that he has to work on, but overall, he does everything pretty well. I'm not saying great, I'm not trying to anoint him, but all the things that we've asked him to do, and for a defensive lineman, there are multiple blocking schemes, pass rush situations, both in regular and sub, reading draws, reading screens, pursuit, being strong at the point of attack, being athletic in blitzes and stunts and those kind of things. I think he's shown an ability to be a versatile player and has multiple strengths. He needs still to refine some techniques and become more comfortable in the system that he's playing in, but I think that's a natural progression. He has a lot of good qualities as a football player, but I'd say the most impressive thing that I've seen about Richard it's been his overall maturity and the way he's handled the situation that he's in. He works hard, he tries to get better every time he steps on the field, he never complains, he's not looking for a an easy way out. He wants to do more and wants to do better. I admire the way he's gone about training camp.

Q: Were you able to take a peek at Jabari Holloway?

BB: We've been watching Jabari come along, he's made progress, steady progress, since last Monday. When we first got to training camp… ran the conditioning test yesterday, Mike [Woicik] felt like he's ready to start practicing. Of course today was a pretty light day, so that might have been good for him in that he could kind of work into it, and I think that he's ready to do a lot of things in practice. He still may have a couple of limitations, but I think overall he's ready to get going and we're anxious to see what he can start producing.

Q: Where do you see this team in the aspect of mental and physical toughness?

BB: We'll have to improve it this year and establish it on the field. I feel a lot better about it now than I did last year, I can tell you that without a doubt. I think our team feels better about it as well. I really do. I think that way… just generally I think our team has a better work ethic, I think they're more focused on what they're doing and less concerned about other things that they can't control both on an individual basis and from a team performance standpoint. I think the physical toughness is improved, we've had more physical practices than we'd had last year in training camp and I think our toughness and competitiveness both in individual drills and in team drills is higher than it was last year, especially with the younger players. Guys who were rookies last year and where they are this year, the second year players as a group have made a pretty good jump. There's a lot less whining, a lot less 'How many more plays are there?' a lot less 'What's next?' and a lot more 'How can I do it better?' and 'Was that good enough?' and trying to find ways to improve and to get better and perform rather than sometimes looking for how demanding it's going to be in the future.

Q: Did it surprise you last year to hear whining?

BB: Well, I think there's always going to be a certain amount of it but you always try to minimize it and I think this year there's a lot less of it. I think it's less in the personality of some of the younger new players we've brought in but also there's so little of it from the experienced group and the veteran players that it would really stick out when it occurs and I think our veteran players have a much higher work ethic as a group than what our veteran players had here last year. Much higher.

Q: Did you set out this offseason to pick up 'tough guys'?

BB: One of the things we targeted in the offseason was to have a tougher, more physical team and every time we signed a player, part of the question that we asked with each guy was 'Is he going to make us a tougher, more physical team?' If you want to be a tougher team, you need tougher players. If you want to be a faster team, then you need faster players. If you want to be a taller team, you need taller players. You set the priorities on what the most important aspects are that you want to emphasize, you're not going to be able to get it all, or it's unusual, maybe you can, but it's unusual to satisfy all the things that you're looking for so you have to prioritize them and we did that with our scouts as well. When we signed college scouts up last year at this time we said these are the type of players we're looking for and this is what we're looking to draft. You go through the process, you talk about players in January and February and some of the scouts talk about the things a guy can do and look at the certain critical things that we're looking for and you say well, he comes up a little bit short in those areas, so that's not really what we're looking for, so he may play for somebody else and he may be a good player for somebody else, but that's not the criteria that are a priority for us, so we're not going to put a high grade on him. The scout goes through that process and he's got a few guys rated high and they get shot down for certain things they are lacking that are priorities that are lacking. Then they don't bring them up as much anymore. That's just part of the process of building a team, getting everybody on the same page, knowing what we're looking for and trying to find it.

Q: Have the players who are still here got tougher?

BB: I think some of them performed at that level last year, I think some of them worked very hard last year. I think other guys have worked harder, I think some guys here worked harder than they did last year. I think some of it's circumstantial, okay for example a player like Kevin Faulk, who was injured at the end of the '99 season, really didn't have a training period before the 2000 season, he worked to rehab his injuries but he was never able to really train because he was coming off a bad ankle. This year, Kevin Faulk has maybe worked as hard as he did last year, but he's been able to do a lot more because he's been healthy and he's been able to physically make a lot of progress in the offseason compared to what he did last year. I think other players, Lawyer Milloy I think is an example of, nobody's worked harder in the offseason program than Lawyer did this year. And that's harder than he worked last year. That's harder than he's worked probably any year since he's been in the National Football League. He made a tremendous commitment to the offseason program this year and I think that helped him and it helped our football team. Even though we've only been at it for a week, I think we've already seen the results of the kind of preparation and work ethic. I think it's been a combination of a number of things, but the overall work ethic and toughness of the team I feel is much higher than what it was last year.

Q: Can we have an injury update on [Terry] Glenn and [Robert] Edwards?

BB: They're both day-to-day. I don't think either one of them will practice this afternoon. I think they're getting closer, but they're not ready yet.

Q: Are they doing more every day?

BB: Right, well they're not on the field practicing, but the people that are rehabbing them in practice, our strength coaches and trainers and those people, they increase their activity level each day until they're ready to resume practice and mainstream with everybody else. Until they can get to that point, then they're monitored on a different program, but the program is increased. They're moving up and getting closer. We'll take them out there this afternoon, maybe they will be ready to go, I don't know but my guess is that they probably won't be ready today but they're getting closer, maybe they will.

Q: Did Bledsoe turn his ankle?

BB: You know, it's training camp. Yeah, I guess it got aggravated in the morning and then after the afternoon practice it went up on him a little bit.

Q: You gave him the morning off to rest it?

BB: No, not to rest it, he's been in the training room all morning with it elevated and putting ice on it and whatever they do to reduce the swelling.

Q: Did Looker just not make the progress that you wanted to see?

BB: Well, it just didn't work out. We liked a lot of things we saw from Dane. After we traded for him, he played well in a couple of preseason games. We were trying to get him into the lineup around midseason and he got injured, I think it was right there around the bye week, couldn't get back soon enough on that, and eventually ended up going on inured reserve. We tried to address his improvement and his physical situation in the offseason and I think he had a good offseason. Dane works hard, he's a hard-working kid, he's very motivated, couldn't get through mini camp, couldn't get through training camp, we've got some other receivers in here, we've got some good competition at the position, and to try to be fair to Dane and to try to be fair to everybody here, we just feel like there are other people ahead of him at this point. It's not that we were unhappy with anything he did, but it's disappointing to us just like it was disappointing to Dane that he wasn't able to get on the field consistently and those opportunities have ultimately gone to other players and those players have just moved ahead of him. It's kind of unfortunate because those preseason games, I thought he played well in the end of last year and we were all looking forward to seeing more of him, but it didn't work out.

Q: Would you consider moving Matt Light to left guard?

BB: I think Matt could play inside, I think he could play tackle, I think he could play guard. But right now Matt's not on the field, so we can move him wherever we want to move him, but until he gets out there it doesn't make any difference if we move him to quarterback right now. He's not on the field. Long-term, if it turns out that he's one of our best five, or Klemm, or whoever our best five players are, we'll put whoever those guys are out there and that will be the lineup and that may be a possibility for Matt down the line but at this point, I don't want to move him out of the tackle competition and until we get the tackle situation straightened out, I'd rather not move anybody if I don't have to. But I feel like I had to move Klemm because he's certainly one of our best linemen out there now, and we want to try to get a competitive line.

Q: Is Matt better suited for the outside because of his experience protecting the quarterback at Purdue?

BB: That's a real good question because surprisingly, as much as they threw the ball at Purdue and even though Matt was protecting probably 60 plays a game, for [Drew] Brees, I thought one of his strengths at Purdue was his run blocking. He's a real aggressive guy, he's got good strengths, and when he gets into people he's pretty good in the running game. Even though a lot of them were draws and it might have only been a handful of plays a game until they got ahead in the fourth quarter and then they would run a few runs to run the clock out type of thing, but I think that's the way it's turned out in the time we've seen him here. His run blocking is, for a guy who's been in a pass offense his whole career, his run blocking is not bad, and his pass blocking is where he's got a lot of experience, but I think his game overall is pretty balanced, say, compared to Klemm, as an example, who last year was further ahead in his pass protection than he was in the running game, or Greg [Robinson-Randall] who was further ahead in the running game than he was in his pass protection. I'd say Light's game, at this point, starting out is more balanced even though he had all that experience in the passing game at Purdue. That's kind of an interesting situation.

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