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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Fri Nov 27 - 12:00 AM | Sun Nov 29 - 10:40 AM

Bill Belichick Press Conference

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            We are back on the two-a-days.  We tried to hit the running game this morning on both sides of the ball running play action passes. This afternoon we are going to look more on third down and our regular passing game.  That's an area we obviously need to perform better in than we did in the first two pre-season games.  We tried to put some time into that.  I think the players are working hard. We've got a lot of new installation going in this week, as we talked about yesterday.  That will continue through the week.  We've got some catching up to do, but overall, I've been pretty impressed with how the players have come back this week ready to go.  We've been on the run here for those last ten days going through the Detroit game, it looks like we got a little break here through the weekend and they came back and they worked pretty hard yesterday and today.  We'll need to do that to get ready for Washington, this is going to be a good test for us.  They have a good football team all the way around, a lot of talent.  They have a high confidence level based on the way they played last year and some of their acquisitions in the off-season so this will be a good test for us on Friday night.  Injury wise, Bruce (Armstrong) and Chad (Cascadden) are just going to practice one-a-day, so we'll take them out this afternoon. They worked with Mike this morning and I think everything else is status quo.  

Q: You mean Chad Cascadden?

B: Yes.

Q: You said Chad, I thought it was Chad Eaton.

B: No, well Chad (Eaton) hasn't missed a practice all year, so I don't even put him on the injury report. I don't think there is anything wrong with him.

Q: You acquired a receiver last night, could you talk about that?

B: The main situation with Dane (Looker) is that there are some things about him that we like as a player. We gave up a conditional choice to take a look at him. We'll see how he looks. If he looks good and we keep him, then we give up the draft pick that we traded for him. If he doesn't then we don't give up the pick so we felt like it was an opportunity for us to take a look at a player that we had some liking for. His receiving ability, his hands, and he had a good junior year in college. So he's been a productive player and we thought he would be competitive in our group. We'll see how he does.

Q: Were you dissatisfied with what you had?

B: No, it's not about anybody else. It's about an opportunity to take a look at a player that we had some feeling for.

Q: What is the progress of Chris Eitzmann?

B: Chris is making progress. He's getting a lot of reps and he's getting a lot of opportunities. His blocking right now is a little bit ahead of his receiving. For a young guy from an Ivy League school, he is doing a good job. He's being very competitive.

Q: Reggie Grimes is starting, is that until Henry Thomas is back? What is Grimes' situation?

B: Reggie was an undrafted free agent from Alabama. A guy who was just in a rotation down there, not a full time player and then he started a few games, but he was in a rotation. I think he has done some things very well in our defense. There are a couple of things he has to work on. So far, he's done a good job and is either equal to or slightly ahead of the rest of the rookie class at the defensive line position. I would say right now that it is all pretty close. I don't think there is a big gap between whoever is at the head of that, who is probably Reggie, and whoever is at the end of it. He has consistently been able to keep inching along. There are a couple things he does really well. If he gets some of his weaker points brought up, he's got a chance.

Q: Are you going to go to Redskins camp to scout?

B: No, it would be a lot better opportunity for us if we played them in the regular season. At this point in time I don't really see that as too big, we've got a lot going on here and I think that is where our time is best spent.

Q: Did you try to sign Dane (Looker) after the draft?

B: We talked about it, but he already had signed with St. Louis. The situation there was they made him available so we just worked it out. I've been talking to Charlie (Weis) about it for a while. Really, since back in June.

Q: In the past few years, the AFC East has been known as the most competitive division, would you still call it that?

B: Yes, I think it is a very competitive division. I haven't been sitting around, analyzing how competitive all the other divisions are, I'm just trying to focus on the one we're in but yes, I think it is a very competitive division. I think several teams have strengthened themselves in the draft. There has been a little bit of a changing of the guard at most of the teams in the division except for Indianapolis, which is the frontrunner coming off last year, so it will be interesting to see how things shake out. As we know since probably 1994, in this division, teams have gone up and down pretty quickly, all of them. I think historically, it's one to keep your eye on.

Q: What are your biggest concerns about the offense and defense?

B: The biggest concern that I would have right now is probably pretty much the same every year. It's just bringing your whole team together. There are just so many aspects of a team that you have to formulate in training camp. It's not just the X's and O's. It's the team chemistry, it's the conditioning, it's being able to play under pressure, handle different situations and take the best 45, or the best 53 and then 45, however you want to look at it, to put your best team on the field. There are a lot of different options in there as to how that can go. With players on our team and to a certain extent, to players who aren't even here right now. That's a real challenge, pulling all that together and maximizing the opportunities on your football team. Finding out the things that you can do well and maximizing those. Find the things you are not going to do well and either strengthen them or try to avoid them the best you can. Being able to identify that and plan it, and work around it. To me that is really the challenge of putting your football team together. There are always going to be challenges, there are always going to be, well hopefully, there are always going to be strengths that you can build on, whatever those are. I think you need to establish that as the backbone of your team, and work out from there and try to adjust the weaknesses. I can't ever remember a time coaching, either being a head coach or a defensive coach, or a coordinator, where there were things that you weren't concerned about being weaknesses in a certain unit. Sometimes they are not exposed right away and you still feel like they are there and sometimes they are exposed right away and it is obvious to everybody. In any case, you've got to have a plan for how you are going to compensate there.

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            **Q:  How do you think you are doing as a coach?**  

B: It is going to depend on how this football team is doing. We are going to find out in the 16 game regular season. Everyone will be 0-0 on September 4th, so that's when the returns will come in.

Q: Are you trying to have a ball control type of offense so Drew Bledsoe will be sacked less?

B: We are trying to be balanced on offense. Run and pass, we are trying to be balanced.

Q: Would you rate Raymont Harris as your first string running back and then (J.R.) Redmond behind him?

B: Redmond has only practiced a couple times out there. I think it's a little too soon to see what we have with J.R. I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do.

Q: Will Redmond play on Friday?

B: If he is ready.

Q: How does he look so far?

B: He is way behind everybody else. Those guys have been out there practicing three weeks and (have played in) a couple of pre-season games and he just hit the field. Anybody that comes back at this point is going to be behind the players, there is no doubt about that. We'll just bring him along, the same as we talked about with all the players. We'll bring him along as quickly as we can, but I don't think we can really put them out there before they are ready. That's just counterproductive.

Q: What does Grimes do well and what does he need to improve upon?

B: There are some technique problems. We were watching the film last night. There is one particular block he plays really well. Every time they try to do a particular block on him, he makes a tackle. When they put another block on him, he ends up back and is in the way of the linebackers. As I told him, 'if you could get the bad part of your game up to par to the good part of your game, you could be a good defensive end.' But right now, no matter which block they put on him, depending on which one it is, I could tell you what is going to happen. He's going to make the play or he's going to get crushed.

Q: Is it a surprise that Grimes can be productive in this league when he didn't play full-time in college?

B: Getting ready for the draft, we watch a lot of film, we look at a lot of players and the ones we bring in here are the ones that we think can play, believe it or not. I know it doesn't always look that way sometimes. If we think that a guy can play and can do something, then that's why we would sign him. In his particular case, the style of defense that Alabama was playing is quite a bit different from the one we play. The things that he was being asked to do are different from what we ask him to do. When we saw him at times doing things that were more in our style of play, he looked pretty good doing it. So that's what we liked about him. Plus, he hustled. He was pretty tough and he was a good effort player. At least that is a good starting point because you know if you teach the guy what to do, at least he'll play with good effort and hustle and be aggressive. Those are the things we liked about him, but things that we taught him here are things he wasn't really asked to do at Alabama.

Q: Does Alabama play a one-gap defense?

B: Very much, very much and they have some very athletic defensive lineman down there. A couple of guys who were drafted this year, a defensive tackle, the Giants took him. They've got a couple that will be drafted next year too and the year after that. I think one kid is a sophomore. That's a pretty good group. So, we saw things in college that we liked about him, we brought him in here in mini-camp and taught him a different style of defense. I think he's picked it up fairly well. There are definitely some things he needs to work on. I think if he can get some of those things straightened out, he could be okay.

Q: Yesterday, you said that the medical staff would keep you informed as to when Bruce Armstrong is ready to play. At this stage in his career, is there any reason for him to be rushed back out there to play in pre-season games?

B: It would be pretty hard for any player to rehab the entire off-season, miss all of training camp and walk out there on the first regular season game and be at the top of their game. That would be asking a lot of any player at any position at any level of experience. I think a player needs some kind of training leading up to the regular season. Whether that's pre-season games or practice at training camp, I've been down that road with some good football players. Back in the days when training camp hold-outs were more common than they are now. When players were with teams and they really didn't have any other options and there wasn't free agency and all they could do was hold out, they would hold out until the very first game and then walk in Wednesday before the first regular season game. You had to try to get them ready, and try to play them. My experience in those situations with those players, even though they were very good football players, they didn't play particularly well. No matter how many times you run around the track, do sit-ups or chin-ups or anything else, unless you get 21 of your friends to go out there with you and play football, it's just not the same as playing football. Football is not just running around the track. I've seen those guys do it, and they didn't do it very well and they were very good football players. I think that's a lot to ask anybody so I would rather not put the player in that position if I didn't have to.

Q: How is Marc Megna progressing?

B: Marc is a lot further ahead of where he was last year. When I was with the Jets last year, we drafted him and tried him at inside linebacker. He's played in the World League in the spring. He is playing outside for us. Outside linebacker and defensive end, a combination of those two positions. I think he is doing a lot better there than he did last year. He's better in the kicking game and those are the things he needs to do. He needs to rush the passer, play on the outside line of scrimmage, and be strong on special teams. Those are the areas that he needs to be most competitive in. I think he is definitely making some progress. Moving from nose tackle to the end of the line and moving from nose tackle like he was at Richmond to being on all the special teams here is a big transition.

Q: How do you choose a style of defense?

B: It's just a philosophy. It's a philosophy on how to play the running game and how to play pass coverage. To me it is pretty simple. The more people you have to play to stop the running game at the line of scrimmage, then the less people you have in pass coverage and also the less versatility you have in pass coverage. You just have fewer people you have to work with. The fewer guys you have to commit to the running game, the more people you have in the secondary to either cover or vary your coverages or create different combinations. The basic philosophy is to stop a run and to stop it with as few people as you have, or as you can, and to give yourself more flexibility with other people.

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