Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday, June 15, 2010.
BB: We're in our ninth day here of the veteran passing camp extending here into mini camp. I think we're moving along. We've still got a long way to go, but it gives us a good foundation for training camp, which is kind of just around the corner. It's good to have the level of participation that we've had. I think our guys are working hard and we've made a lot of progress. We still have a long way to go. We've had some good warm weather. That's helped with the conditioning and I think the overall tempo of practice. Getting a good day of that today.
Q: You mentioned this gives you a good foundation for training camp, but some teams have mini camps closer to the draft. Do you do it closer to training camp so everything is fresh in the players' minds going into the break?
BB: We really don't start any of our offseason workouts until the rookies get here. We do some individual things as part of the offseason program, but group and team things pretty much hold until then. So the rookies came in and we had a week with them to kind of get them caught up with some information and some walkthroughs and things like that, and then we were able to include them with some of our younger veteran players and then the guys with more experience came in later. I think that's a good way to build it. I'm not saying anybody else doesn't do it well - I don't mean that. It's just that it works for us and it gives us a chance to start the younger guys and try to get them caught up and then bring everybody in. It's a big gap to close, but I think that's our best chance to get everybody on the same level at the beginning of the year.
Q: What kind of challenges do Taylor Price and Kade Weston face coming in later?
BB: They're behind, no doubt about it, but they have done, I think, as much as they can do as far as studying and trying to keep up on the material even though they haven't had the involvement that most of the other players have. But they've done the best they could on that and I think they've definitely made some progress. I don't think they're with everybody else; they have a little catching up to do. There's nothing, really, anybody can do about that, but it's good to have them. It will be good to put them back in and get them on the field here tomorrow and today and let them start the process of catching up.
Q: How would you gauge the intensity level out there? We've heard some players be pretty vocal recently, but do you expect this time of year to be more or less intense than training camp?
BB: No, it's Spring - not even close to training camp. I don't think you could even possibly compare the two. This is a long way from training camp. It's a teaching camp. We've installed a lot of things. We work on the running game kind of against each other, against ourselves and not against each other so we keep the tempo down, blocking bags and stuff like that. You won't see much of that in training camp.
Q: How big a concern is it to you when a stalwart player of yours is so upset that he wants to be traded?
BB: Well, right now we're just focusing on coaching the players that are here. I think we'll go out and get things done, hopefully have a good practice today, and that's where our emphasis is: the guys that are here.
Q: Could you characterize-
BB: I think the situation between anybody and the club from a contract situation is between them and the club.
Q: Can you comment on how close it's been in the last few weeks?
BB: I think it's between the player and the club.
Q: What was your reaction when Ty Warren told you he would be missing OTAs to work toward graduation?
BB: It's voluntary camp. He's here now.
Q: I'm sure you don't celebrate guys missing OTAs, but the reason he missed camp-
BB: It's a voluntary camp. Some players are here. Some players aren't.
Q: Since it is a passing camp, how do you think the offense has looked?
BB: It's a teaching camp. It's not as much of a competitive camp as it is just a teaching camp, trying to install our plays, get everybody to know what to do, understand their assignments, the different responsibilities on coverages and blitzes. It's not a great timing camp because we have a lot of different people - a lot of guys throwing, a lot of guys catching. The numbers are high and it's just to make sure that everybody knows what to do so when we get to training camp we can go out there and run it, hopefully, at a high, competitive level and let the players execute it and see what the performance level is at that point. But this is much more structured toward teaching than it is evaluating and creating great timing and all of that. We're going to lose that in the next six weeks anyway. We're going to have to reestablish it, so that's not the main focus of it.
Q: What are the challenges for players over the next six weeks after a month of practices and then a month and a half of down time?
BB: I wouldn't call it down time. I think that's an important time for the players to get ready for the season. When they leave here there will certainly be a lot of things that they'll know they need to work on - things that they'll be practicing in their individual workouts that they probably haven't done as much of early in the spring. The training was different and also the emphasis is different. As you get closer to training camp, the players are preparing for camp and when you're in training in the spring, that's a time to build up and work on some things. When you get closer to training camp, you've got to prepare for a camp atmosphere and the football season. The training shifts at that point, so I think from a mental standpoint they'll be reviewing the things and the information we've given them over the past few weeks, and they'll also be working on specific techniques and drills that we've done at their position, and they'll be working on their conditioning levels to get them at the best they can to head into training camp.
Q: Has Logan Mankins told you or the team directly that he wants to be traded?
BB: I think we already talked about that.
Q: When was the last time you spoke to him?
BB: All contract situations are between the player and the club. I'm not going to get into that on anybody.
Q: Do you think you've been able to prepare for an eventuality though, in the OTAs - given the voluntary nature and all of that - you've had to have people play in the position that Logan Mankins normally plays. Does that give them any kind of head start in case you have to replace that player later?
BB: We've worked players at every position. We have multiple players playing every spot. It's that time of year. We have a full roster. We'll be at 80 players at training camp and we'll have a lot of players participating at all the different positions, so there's nothing really new about that.
Q: How large are the strides made by these rookies from Tuesday to Thursday, generally speaking in your experience?
BB: I think the overall gains from the rookies from the middle of May to the middle of June is a huge leap. It's one big step of many big steps that need to be taken, but it's a foundation, not just of techniques and plays, but also as a professional athlete and all that goes with it, which is pretty encompassing. I think they've worked hard. They've been through a lot. I think they've learned a lot, and they have a long way to go.
Q: How pleased are you with Wes Welker's progress?
BB: I think he's doing alright. It's a long rehab. He's done quite a bit. He's still got a long way to go. I know he's working really hard. I'm impressed with his work ethic, as you always are with Wes. That's the way he is. He's coming along.
Q: With Tom Brady being out for part of the offseason program, was there any catching up he had to do with the rest of the offensive players or was that kind of like riding a bike for him getting back out there with all those guys in OTAs.
BB: I think the time before we get into any Spring camps is the time where players really focus on individual things that they're doing. There's not a lot of team work and group work involved. There's a little bit, but it's more focused on individual improvement and working in small groups. The timing and all of that, that's something that I don't think you can establish in April anyway. Those are the kinds of things that you establish in training camp. I'm not saying you can't work on them now and you can't make some points, but you still have to go back and redo all of that when you get to camp at the end of July. The main focus right now is to get everybody taught so they can understand what they're doing and they have a good base to build on so that as we add things in training camp and change things, they'll be able to relate those to concepts and fundamentals that they learned in this period of time and then that will build as we go through the process.