New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, July 27, 2008.
BB: I think you guys are probably up to speed with the personnel stuff, the signing of LaMont [Jordan] and Nick [Kaczur] coming off the PUP [Players Unable to Perform] list. Worked a little bit in the red area today. Starting to get into a little bit of situational football. Certainly we have a long way to go in our basic regular stuff. We are starting to turn the corner on that a little bit - red area, third down, two minute. We will get into a little bit of short yardage later on in the week, blitz's and stuff like that. We'll add a little bit of that everyday but like I said we are kind of in the early training camp mode. We got the first couple of days under our belt and out of the way. Now we are starting to roll through it day after day and grind from meeting to practice, to practice to meeting, to practice to meeting. That's what camp is for, to build the toughness of your team, build their stamina and build their long-term focus. That's where we are at. There will be plenty more of it and we need it. I don't know who's in charge of weather today but I appreciate that little break.
Q: What does LaMont [Jordan] bring to the team?
BB: I think LaMont [Jordan] adds some quality depth to our backfield. We played against him a number of times. He's a tough guy to tackle, hard runner, good in the passing game, and good with the ball in his hands. He is a good football player that we will put into that mix and it will give us more depth at that position.
Q: In the backfield, you like versatility. Does he [LaMont Jordan] fit into that? Absolutely. Like I said, he's a big kid. He can run inside, run outside and he can catch the ball. He is a good pass receiver in terms of route running. He's instinctive and he's returned kicks. We will see how all that manifests itself here going forward. Right now LaMont [Jordan] has to concentrate on learning the offense, the techniques, his assignments and so forth. I think he's already gotten off to a pretty good start on that. He's working hard at it and we will just try to catch him up on the couple days that he's missed. Going forward, he should be able to keep up with the rest of the group as we continue to install things. There is quite a bit of that left so that's good.
Q: Comment on Pierre Woods.
BB: Pierre [Woods] has had another real good off-season this year in the off-season weight lifting programs and conditioning. I thought he did a good job in the spring. His experience level - sometimes it is hard to tell when that experience turns to confidence and aggressiveness. On the field it looks like that's where it's heading this year in training camp. He's playing with a lot of confidence both in the running game and the passing game. We know he is athletic and can play on special teams but he seems to have taken the opportunity to get a little more playing time in camp and raised his level of play so far. We still have a long way to go and a lot of things to add but Pierre [Woods] is one of our hardest workers and one of our most diligent players. He works hard at his job and tries to do everything right, just the way you want it. He's been productive for us so far in camp.
Q: How nice is it to have Nick [Kaczur] back?
BB: It's good to get Nick out there. Nick's been a good player for us. He's played a couple different spots. We will probably be able to use that versatility now that our numbers are a little bit low on the offensive line but hopefully they will climb back up here soon.
Q: What's the difference between pre-season years ago to pre-season now?
BB: It is an interesting question. Things have changed a lot since that first training camp in 1975 when it was unlimited number of rookies. So teams that bring in 30, 40, 50 rookies and have a camp with them for a while - a week or 10 days. They would take the best players that they needed out of that group and put them with their veteran players so it was a pre-camp, camp. A lot of the veteran players came to camp because there was no off-season program. There were no passing camps and mini camps. That was very limited. Maybe one of two days or not at all. Some of those players would come to camp with the six pre-season games and the idea of working themselves into shape. Now with the spring camps, the way the off-season programs are structured and the salaries, which are a lot better now than they were back then when the rookies were making 18,000-20,000. It is a full time job and a good one. You get a lot more done in the spring now. Training camps are a lot shorter, two-a-days are a lot fewer but there is a lot more work done in the spring in terms of your team installation, meetings, training and conditioning. It's more of a year round thing but a lot less rookies involved than what they were when rosters were unlimited. Six pre-season games, like I said my first year with the [Indianapolis] Colts we had six pre-season games and three scrimmages. You are almost playing a whole college season right there.
Q: How often do teams scrimmage?
BB: That used to be something that every team did. They would have one or two scrimmages with other teams now I don't know how many of those there are but I don't think there are very many. Maybe inner squad scrimmage but there is even fewer of those. You come to camp and your first pre-season game is in two weeks and you need three or four days to get ready for that first pre-season game. You only have about 10 days of camp really.
Q: Do the guys look at you cross-eyed when you tell them 30 years ago guys had full time jobs?
BB: There are a lot of things they don't understand. They have no idea. I remember when I came into the league the rookies carried all the players travel bags. Now everyone does everything for them. The youngest coach on the staff carried the projectors so you're lugging around those big 16mm projectors through the airports and the hotels. Now we carry six trunks of video equipment but there are no projectors anymore. There are a lot of things that are different. During the regular season the roster sizes were 38, 39, 40, 41, 42 - around there. There is no practice squad or any of that. You were about one and a half deep really. You had one team and then a couple backup offensive linemen, a back-up receiver and a backup running back. You had two tight ends but there were no long snappers and all that. They look at you like… and that was back when there weren't facemasks.
Q: Do you think it was a good idea for the rookies to visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
BB: I sure do. I think the Hall of Fame is a great experience. I have been there a number of times and of course when I was in Cleveland several times a year I really had a chance to see more of it then. To me, no matter how many times you go it's a great experience. You always see something new. You could spend a month there and still not see everything in the depth that it's presented. I think it's a great experience for the players to see some of the history of the game and of their teams and of the players that went before them either in their position or on their team. There are so many guys that have made the game so great for us, that participate in it and players and coaches that have paved the way. To understand that and have an appreciation for that is outstanding. We try to do that ourselves, not to that degree but having former players talk to them and making them aware a little bit of some of the things that have happened before they got here. Really, rookies need to understand that there was a game before they arrived. It didn't just start when they showed up in town.
Q: Gary Guyton made a stand out play today. How is he working out for you?
BB: Gary has been a very versatile player. He's a guy that's played inside linebacker and outside linebacker for us. He did a little bit of that at Georgia Tech too where he'd play inside and sometimes they would blitz him off the edge. He's smart, he's versatile athletically, he's versatile mentally and he can handle a lot of different assignments. He has been active for us in the kicking game and he's a good player to work with. We will see how all that works out but he has shown some ability to cover, some ability to rush and has done a good job in the running game and in special teams. We have good competition at that position and he is certainly part of it. But he is a young guy who picked things up pretty quickly.
Q: Were the autographs spur of the moment of something planned?
BB: I sign them during the year during training camp. It was nice. I could have been out there for quite a while. There were a lot of people out there this morning. The rain didn't scare many of them off so it was nice.
BB: The support has been great. I appreciate it personally and for our team and from the players during the year. Last year from the fans whether it be here, or other places in the area, being in an airport or somewhere having someone come up to you saying something positive and all that. It's been great really since I came here and took the job in 2000. The fan support has been good and I really feel like I have a personal connection. I have spent a lot of time in New England going to school here, living here, being here in 1996 and even time in New York and New Jersey isn't quite that far away. I always spent summers up here and it's great. I appreciate it.
BB: It's nothing compared to Brady.
Q: Did you like what you saw?
BB: Pretty much the same as last year. Last year was a big change from 2005. This year is pretty much following last year's blueprint. We were only in pads maybe seven or eight times in camp in 2005 and last year 31 out of 32 or something like that.
BB: With training camp being really short, you get few opportunities to work on your fundamentals. You can't do it in the spring and then when you get into game planning and adjustments on your new opponent on a weekly basis you spend so much time trying to match up to the different things that they do scheme wise. It's hard to find the time to allocate individual fundamentals and techniques. If you put a lot of time into that, than you find out when you are playing the game that you missed some simple adjustments and you aren't as coordinated as you want to be from a team standpoint. I have kind of gone back to the old school way like in 2000 and 2001 where it was a lot of time on fundamentals and individual techniques in pads. All the things you can practice with pads especially in a running game in the early part of camp. Hopefully, that can carry you through the course of the season and that you can be a good fundamental and technique team even though you are not spending time on it because you have to deal with all the schematic things that you face from week to week.
Q: How do you think the players feel or respond to the physical aspect?
BB: Probably a good question to ask them. I'm not sure what everybody thinks. There are probably players that would rather not be out there in pads. I definitely understand that. I think that overall our team understands that there are certain things that we have to do to prepare for the season. It is my job to make that decision as a coach. It is their job to make the decisions that they make as players. I think we have respect for what one another's job is. I'm not a player, they're not a coach. We all have to do our thing and have confidence in the other people doing their jobs. Just try to do what's best for the team.
Q: How important are the pre-season games and conditioning for that physical contact?
BB: They are certainly important. You can go out there and practice all you want and it's not quite the same as pre-season games. [Pre-season games] the contact, the adrenaline, the in and out of series and putting it all together, both cardiovascular conditioning and also the contact conditioning, taking those number of hits per game depending on the position the player plays, running routes and sprinting in full speed. You do full speed in practice but then there is game speed. There is pre-season speed and then there is regular season speed. There is post-season speed. There is a certain build up that is an important step for athletes to take at each one of those crossroads. That being said, some players aren't able to take advantage of those opportunities and sometimes its better for them not to do it. Generally speaking I would say that those are good opportunities for players to get in top condition both mentally and physically from a conditioning season and pre-season games are part of it.