Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Friday, April 30, 2010.
BB: The first practice out there with young players like that is always exciting to get some new faces. You realize how far our veteran players have come from getting the call, getting in the huddle, lining up. That's where, hopefully , it will all end up. It's fun to be out there. The group, I thought, had good energy. They're trying to do what we ask them to do. We're underway - practice No. 1.
Q: What would you like to accomplish this weekend?
BB: Get to know the players. Have them get to know us. Get to know our system. What we expect from them. How to do things, not just X's and O's, but the overall program: Training, conditioning, studying, watching film and all those things. At the same time, we'd like to see them. We've seen them do things in other systems, so to see them do the techniques we run. Watch them do those and give them some things they can go back and work on the next couple weeks. We're going to try to improve on those between now and middle of May.
Q: Is this like a training camp situation where you will go into the classroom and go over what you did this morning?
BB: Yeah, absolutely. We'll correct some things that happened this morning and talk about the techniques that they can improve on. We'll add some new things. We'll look at some of the things we did today, this afternoon. Hopefully, some of those will be improved and move on to some other stuff and see how that comes along. After five practices, a couple days here, they'll know a lot more than when they came in and hopefully they'll retain most of that and it will be a base for starting back up in a couple weeks.
Q: Is it interesting to watch the interaction between the players and see what leaders emerge?
BB: I think part of that starts with players showing they can do their job. It's kind of easy to come out the first day and have some energy, but I think as we go along the guys that get the most respect and who are truly are the leaders are the guys that are dependable and consistent players that everybody can count on. And they have that certain presence about them. I think those two need to be combined and we'll see how that goes.
Q: Is there one specific thing that is tougher than another to learn for a guy like Brandon Spikes who is learning a new defense or is there a way to help their transition?
BB: No, I think you just start at the bottom and build it up, brick by brick. Even if you've been in a different system of defense, I think you're still kind of starting all over again with the teaching progression. Some of the things will be similar to what he's done and he'll be able to relate. Other things will be a little bit different and the process and sequencing will be different than what it's been. There're no two things - unless it was the exact same system - that are going to be alike. There will be some carryover and there will be some other things that won't. I'm not sure what those are and what those aren't. [The player] will know better than I will. It doesn't make any difference. You just have to build a good foundation and once that's built, then I think everything else should be able to fall into place on top of it.
Q: Any quick impressions so far?
BB: I think everybody did a couple things out there that were good and other things that certainly we need a lot of work on, but I think that's at the end of the camp. After this is over, you spend a little time next week going over a couple of days and see what the performance was over that period of time rather than on one or two plays: See if that was a high, a low, what the rate of improvement was. Some guys will improve from the first practice to the second, some of them it might be from the 10th to the 15th, some won't improve pretty much at all. You'll just have to wait and see how that goes. By the end of camp, we'll know more than we know after one practice out there.
Q: Does Ross Ventrone remind you of his brother Ray?
BB: Sure does. A little longer hair than Bubba [Ray Ventrone]. It took three seconds to recognize the physical resemblance and also the playing style and a little bit of personality. Yes, very similar.
Q: What are your first impressions of Zac Robinson?
BB: He did a good job. He played with a lot of good players on that team - a real good running back, receiver, tight end last year, tackle. There's a lot of talent on that team. And he has a long way to go. His system is a lot different than what we run, but I think he's shown some good qualities in terms of leadership, production, being able to manage the team. We'll see how all that goes. But what we do is what he did, so he has a learning curve there. He's a smart kid and he works hard at it, so he'll have a good chance of getting it. It's just going to take a little while.
Q: Brandon Spikes mentioned that this is like English and they are all trying to learn French in a hurry. Is that accurate?
BB: I think it is significantly different. Probably most every team is a lot different than what college teams run. We see different things. We see a different type of offense, different type of defense. The player's skills are different. They're not just better, they are different. Systems are different. Adjustments are different. It's football, but there're certainly a lot of variations and modifications from what guys did. The thing about our guys is most of our players are very experienced players on their college teams. Some of them were seniors or third- or fourth-year juniors - whatever it was - and they were some of the best players on the team and they were most experienced. Now, they're the least experienced. Now, they're freshman all over again. The elevator starts at the bottom and they have to ride it up again.
Q: Was there something you saw in John Wise that made you want to bring him in?
BB: Yeah. I think he has some physical talent. He had a good workout. We'll see how it goes. We'll spend some time with him and we'll see how quickly he picks things up and can play football. We know he's a good athlete. We know he's strong. We know he has good balance. How will all that translate on the football field? We'll just have to wait and see.
Q: Can you talk about the tight end position?
BB: Put them out there and let them go. We'll see how it goes. I think Alge [Crumpler] is a real good player. He's done a real good job in this league. We'll see how Aaron [Hernandez] and Rob [Gronkowski] do. We'll put them all out there together when they all get here. Right now, they are inexperienced. They have a lot to learn. Aaron was in a multiple offense, some of what we run, but there are certainly a lot of differences. Rob was in less of that. He was in much more of a stationary position even though they moved him around some, so I think there's still quite a bit of learning for both of those guys to do and definitely playing against players who are a lot more skilled than what they played against in college, so that's a lot of work for all of them. We'll see how it goes.
Q: Taylor Price didn't have a lot of special teams experience at Ohio, but his speed seems to be an asset in that area. Do you have plans for him in the kicking game?
BB: We'll definitely look at him there? He has good size and speed. He's 200 pounds, 6 feet. He's a 6-foot receiver that runs well and showed a good competitive style of play. We'll see how that goes. It will be an opportunity for any young player to get playing time, get on the field, possibly find his way onto the 45 man roster if they contribute on the kicking game. So that's a big opportunity for all of them -other than the linemen - but all the skill players, linebackers and guys that can run.
Q: [On Walter Jones retiring]
BB: I remember when he came out of Florida State. I think he played one year or started one year. He had very little experience and that was a big projection - kind of a reach on the draft. There were a lot of other players that were more productive than he was, but he had exceptional talent at a very hard to find position. He was a guy with limited experience and limited evidence and turned his athletic ability and potential into probably what any of the scouts thought it would be and he's had a tremendous career.
Q: Brandon Spikes' motto is: "It is what it is, but it isn't what you think," regarding to his 40-time at the Combine. Do you have any comment you would like to make on that?
BB: No, I'll let that stay with Brandon. Testing is certainly one way to evaluate a player, but football is a game of 22 guys out there on the field all moving at the same time. It's not a track meet. It's not a jumping contest. Those are measures of athletic ability and we use them just like everybody else does. But ultimately it comes down to players playing the game. We all see plenty of athletes down there that aren't at the top of the testing level that are tough football players and vice versa. We see plenty of athletes that aren't at the top of the testing level that are tough football players - and vice versa. We see guys that are great testers that don't end up with a great football career. I don't think those two necessarily coordinate; sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. I think it's important that he has a lot of confidence in himself, which he should because he's a good football player. We'll see how that goes.
Q: Can you explain how you came to a comfort level with some of the off-field issues Aaron Hernandez had?
BB: Everybody that's here we feel like can help our football team and that's why they're on it.