New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on July 25, 2008.
BB: We are looking forward to getting outside today and being in front of our fans and have an outdoor practice. We will be able to spread out a bit. I think today will feel, not like yesterday didn't feel, more like a training camp day. We are looking forward to, like I said yesterday, just trying to put one foot in front of the other. We are just trying to get in some good practices, build on the things we worked on yesterday and try to install some new stuff and just keep moving along in the right direction. We have a long way to go and a lot of things to cover. If we make good solid progress everyday than I think in the end we will be somewhere where we want to be.
Q: You talk about going outside. Is it easier to get work done there than inside?
BB: It is just a little tight [indoors]. You have 60 yards out there compared to 240 outside. It felt a little bit like a regular season practice but we got a lot of things done. It's good to have space and be able to spread out the guys and not worry about them running into each other. I think that will be the case today.
Q: Did you have to alter yesterday at all?
BB: No, we did what we tried to do. It was just a little compressed. Cut down some drills a little bit because of the space. It is a little easier for those defensive backs when they don't have to worry about covering go arounds. Make those 10 or 15, 20 yards a little harder to plea because a good defensive back knows the receiver is not going deep.
Q: Can you talk about the defensive back secondary position?
BB: I think we will have good competition there. I think we will have good competition at a lot of positions. We will just have to see how that all plays out. We have some experienced players there and we have some young players that seem to have some talent. We will put them out there and let them go. We have a couple of veteran players that have played in a lot of games for us that are also in that mix. Hopefully, there will be a good complimentary group back there and we will just see how all that fits together. A lot of those players haven't played for us before so we will just have to see where they fit and how the whole group will mesh together.
Q: How are things different this year with the 80-man roster limit and no NFL Europe exemptions?
BB: Well, I think it is all relative. I think for right now it's ok. I think for every team in training camp no matter how many players you have, even if you have 100 players, you will just have more players spread out at the different positions. If you were to have players injured at the same position no matter what your numbers were, you would create an imbalance. That is where you have to sometimes modify your practices, your reps or whatever you are doing. If you don't have enough players at a certain position, you have too many guys on defense so it doesn't match up evenly or you have more groups on that side of the ball that you want to give reps to. Then there is one group where you only have one or two guys going. It is hard for them to keep up with the multiples you have in other positions on that side of the ball. Sooner or later, I think you have to deal with that at every training camp no matter what your numbers are. It is unusual for everything to stay balanced. Like to have three of everybody or four of everybody and then go from two to one, you are still looking at the same basic issue- how to practice with an imbalance at a position or two.
Q: Is that an issue now with all the guys that are on PUP?
BB: No. Like I said we are ok now. I think most teams that are going into training camp are usually in pretty decent shape. As they head in the problem comes that first week or 10 days where guys might get banged up a little bit or miss some days. If you get those in one position than sometimes that puts extra stress on that position. If those guys wear down than you are really short in that position. I don't think we are there yet but I can't think of a camp that I have ever been involved in that it hasn't happened at some point during the length of the training camp regardless of what the numbers are.
Q: At the end of last season Brandon Meriweather looked like he was starting to get it. Have you seen that kind of progress through spring camps and yesterday?
BB: Yes. I think Brandon finished up last season with a good off-season and a good performance in the spring camps. It looks like he is ready to go here in training camp. He had some good positive plays yesterday but it is only one day so I don't want to overrate that. Yes. I think he has made good steady progress and is off to a good start in terms of off-season training and spring camps. In talking to Brandon he feels a lot more confident in the communication, the calls, and our adjustments back there. I think anytime a player feels more confident it allows him to play faster, play quicker and be a little bit more aggressive because he is confident in what he is doing. He doesn't have that hesitation on, should I do this or should I do that, than he can just go. Sometimes that makes the player appear faster, quicker or more aggressive when really it's more of a confidence and experience thing. Which is why a lot of times experienced players don't appear to slow down, compared to the younger players they wouldn't have the same kind of times but their ability to anticipate and their experience and confidence allows them to play at a higher competitive level than what you think if you just watched two guys compete athletically in different tests.
BB: I think they are both good players. They are both smart guys and are good defensive football players that understand what we are doing. They can tackle, they can run, they are aggressive and can figure out where the ball is. They instinctively figure out what is going on and can get to the ball and make plays on it whether it's in the running game or the passing game. I think they both do a good job.
BB: Yes. I think the way the game is now with the formations and moving the position of the tight ends and offensive players around. Than you see how you want to line up and they usually try to do something to make it harder for you to line up that way. In the end, I think the safety's have to learn how to play on the strong and the weak side just like the inside linebackers and outside linebackers do. They really have to know how to play on a tight end or off a tight end because there are plenty of formations and schemes that the offense employs so they can get one guy or the other on the tight end or off the tight end. It's the same thing with safety's, covering to the tight end side or away from the tight end. It is a lot easier for the offense to move one guy and create that situation than it is for you defensively to switch everyone around.
Q: Do you look at the third corner as a twelfth starter on defense in the NFL right now?
BB: Yes. I think that is a real good point. I think there are teams in the league and we are one of them that have revalued some of the things on the draft board to make the positions like a third receiver, third corner, or a second and third down pass rusher to establish their value to the team relative to other positions. I don't think there is any question that those values have gone up. Arguably, I think you could say a team's third corner or their third receiver, maybe a third down back or a pass rusher on second or third down would be comparable to a lot of other starters. "Because they play on first and second down that their value is actually equal to if not greater than some players play on first and second down and come off the field on third down. "
Q: Have you seen a shift in the position of safety in the last five years?
BB: I think that the whole safety definition for most teams, you can see it in the draft, that the definition of those safety's have changed pretty significantly over the last four or five years. You see more corner types at safety and less linebacker types at that position. Also, their draft position is a lot lower than what it might have been in the past and in the last three, four or five years. Those safety's are players that have good skills in the D [defensive] part of the field, good skills in the passing game and can to some degree have corner coverage skills. They may not have them to the level of the corner but more that way than the safety's that are more towards linebackers.
BB: Well, defensively you have to match up what the offense puts out there. Offensively, you can control where you put your people and what you ask your guys to do. Defensively, you have to react to what the offense puts out on the field. You can ignore it and do what you want to do but it creates a match-up problem. The more receivers they put out there, the more guys you need to cover them or you will be deep D [defense] mismatched in the coverage. For those in the passing game and in third down, it is such an important down. If a guy can be productive on third down and help your team convert on third down to stay on the field, the value of that player is high - higher than some guy that maybe can do a good job on first down because of the criticalness of that third down situation.
Q: Will that third receiver position this year be an option for a guy like Chad Jackson?
BB: Chad is a terrific athlete. He has worked very hard even though he has had a few tough set-backs. Particularly, coming back after the knee injury that he had at the end of his first season so he didn't have a good off-season to come into his second year. He has had a great off-season this year. He has worked very hard. His receiving skills have improved. He understands the offense obviously a lot better and he is still a very talented physical athlete who's continued to work hard in that area too. I think that he is off too a good start based on the spring and in training camp. I am excited to see him out there.
Q: How is it to have [Jerod] Mayo out there practicing?
BB: It is good to have every player. It is good to him. We worked with him in the spring and I think he learned a lot there. He has a long way to go. This is the opportunity for players to get in pads to work some of the techniques at full speed in a contact setting and that is a little bit different than the passing camp. I know he is at a position where that will be important and I am glad we got him and had a chance to work with him yesterday. He really didn't miss that much and he did benefit from all the spring camps. I think he can get into the mainstream with everybody by the end of today and we will see what he can do.
Q: What is his [Jerod Mayo] conditioning standpoint?
BB: I think his conditioning is good.