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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Tue Feb 20 - 02:00 PM | Thu Feb 22 - 09:55 AM

Bill Belichick Press Conference - 7/28/2003

Belichick: We’ve got our fundamentals in. This is the week where we really need to start laying some bricks on that bottom part of the foundation...


BB:** I'll start off with the one roster transaction we had today. We released Scott Farley and signed Brenden Stai. So [we are] keeping our roster at the maximum limit there. For our team, I think that this week is a big week for us. We obviously got under way last week, went through some of the normal break in things that you do at the beginning of training camp with some contact and some running and cutting and conditioning drills and so forth and so on. We practiced once yesterday and then we're coming back with two today, including one tonight in the stadium. We kind of got a lot of things in, not everything, but we've got a lot of things in. We've got our fundamentals in. This is the week where we really need to start laying some bricks on that bottom part of the foundation, fine tuning a few things. Some of the teaching is over, a little bit so that players can start to refine the things that we have installed and that they've been working on and we should really start to see some improvement this week. Both individually and as a team, I think it's a big week for us in terms of making a good step. These next few days are really important ones for us. I think the players had a chance to get a little bit of recovery time yesterday, physically. And we're going to go out there and we're going to hit it pretty hard this week, starting today. I thought we had some good contact this morning, did quite a bit of work on the running game, and tonight we are going to get in some more situational things where we'll start doing first, second and third down, down and distances, a little bit of two-minute and that type of thing. Continue to work in the red area. The situational football is going to start picking up a little bit too this week, so that by the time we get to the end of the week, then we'll start our preparations for Giants, in terms of familiarizing ourselves with their schemes. But a lot of the situational things and the progress of the team, we should be a lot further down the road. That's where we are at today.

**Q: How has the transition been so far in this first week, with all the kinks and bugs, in switching the camp to your home stadium. Are you happy with it so far?

BB:** I think things have gone pretty well. Yeah, I think things have gone pretty well. Any time you have a large group and you have a lot of people, there are some logistical things, but it's gone pretty well. The most important thing is that we're getting good work done out there on the field. That's been good. There has been a couple of days where the weather hasn't been great, but we can just move up to the turf field. We've been able to keep good quality practices up there. I think it's been good. The one thing I think, of all the things that we have here, one of the things that's getting the most use and probably has been the biggest positives is just the training room. We have the cold tubs, the hot tubs, the SwimEx, twice as many tables to treat the players on as we had at Bryant. The players are getting in there more, because they don't have to wait around and they can get whatever they need and get it pretty quickly. So I think that part of it has really been good. This time of year, you get a lot of…everybody has bumps and bruises and sore this and sore that, so to try to get all those things hit before they come nagging has been a good part of this.

**Q: That's a small detail, but it keeps guys on the field whereas otherwise if you were 40 miles away at Bryant, they might not have an opportunity or feel like waiting in the training room it might turn into something other more major?

BB:** Yes and also that hopefully their quality each day might just be, marginally, but just a little bit better because those things are getting taken care of sooner. So that part of it has been…at Bryant, it was a bunch of tables in the gym. So this is a big improvement there.

**Q: With [Brenden] Stai and [Bill] Conaty now in the fold do you feel a little better about the depth in the offensive line than you did maybe coming out of the draft?

BB:** Sure. Sure. That's offset a little bit by the loss of [Stephen] Neal. So, not that were trading one guy for another, but for what it looked like in say the end of April to what it looks like now. A couple guys have come, a couple guys have gone. [Brenden] Stai and [Bill] Conaty both give us some depth in the interior part of the offensive line. I don't know if "feel good" is the right word, but they certainly added some depth there. Those guys are experienced players; it's helped the competitive level out on the field. And it's helped some of the younger players who were in there, like [Jasen] Esposito or [Matt] Knutson or not that [Russ] Hochstein is young, but in relative terms, just to be surrounded by more veteran players.

**Q: Keeping with the theme of depth, you mentioned the offensive line, running back, [Larry] Centers on the way, [Michael] Cloud is coming in, linebacker, there's a lot of positions on this team, who at least through experience and name recognition, there is a lot of depth on the team. Do you feel better about the level of depth now than say you had in the past year? Just the level of competition?

BB:** I think the level of competition is good. I think it's good. That just brings out the best in everyone. I think from a coach, I can just say from experience, you have to be careful about depth in July versus depth in November. What looks like good depth in July, a lot of time doesn't look anywhere near that good later on in the season. Depending on how things unfold, and as we all know, things can happen pretty quickly, but I think more than depth, I would call it competition right now. I think we have a lot of players who look very competitive with the other people they're working with. So we give them the information, put them out there, let them play and see how it unfolds.

**Q: Talking about strategic about that point, and obviously he's not signed officially at this point, I'm talking about Larry.

BB:** Right…I think I've said enough about Centers. If and when he gets here, we can talk about him. His resume pretty much speaks for itself and I've made quite a few comments on him. We'll wait until…if he gets here…when he gets here.

**Q: Tyrone Poole yesterday, talking to us, it sure seemed like his heart may not be totally in it. Do you have to sit down with him and try to get a resolution for that? Or do you just assume he's going to be here?

BB:** I guess I would say two things on that. One] As far as his personal situation and his family situation, I don't really think it is my place to comment on that. He's the one who is involved with that, knows it, deals with it, and so forth. I don't really think I can say much about that one. But as far as being aware of it, and talking to him, and all that, I don't think there is any question to me that I've talked to Tyrone Poole more than any player, any other player on this team, in the offseason. I think I'm as aware of everything I could be. We'll just see how some of those things are resolved, and some of those things are things that he's going to have resolve personally that externally you just can't be a part of them.

**Q: He said he feels like he's not performing up to his level. Do you see a difference in his focus or the way he's performing on the field?

BB:** I think that there is room for improvement.

**Q: When there is upwards of 80 guys out there, putting everything into making the team, spending extra time, probably studying until they fall asleep, and then Tyrone on the other hand is saying he's not sure if he can give full dedication to it. Is that some what troubling to you? Does it concern you when you say there's a lot of guys who would kill to be in this position who are going to go home in a few weeks?

BB:** Well, I talked about earlier what all the players need to do. It doesn't matter what position they play or how many years they've been in the league or anything else. That's basically what the criteria are for them to come in here and participate with us. I think it's up to each player to do that, and they need to do that to be able to be successful. Training camp is a long haul. We're not anywhere close to breaking it. I can assure everyone of that. We'll just see how things go there and deal with it on a day-to-day basis.

**Q: Was Anthony [Pleasant] just one of those days off, not days off, but on the side? Or was there an injury there?

BB:** Anthony had offseason surgery. Not that he's having any problems, but we just want to be moderate. Again, what we're trying not to do is take a player who has been rehabilitating something in the offseason, I'm talking about any player not anyone specifically, and then from the first day throw them in to a full-scale situation that another player who might not have had any rehabilitation in the offseason who just trained the offseason for training camp, that they may not be at exactly the same point right now. Eventually, we think they will be, but we're working to that on a case-by-case basis.

**Q: Boston College has produced a number of good offensive linemen. You've got [Damien] Woody and Daniel Koppen. Is that a true statement, that BC has a reputation for producing some star offensive players? Do you look to that school for that?

BB:** Sure, we evaluate it every year. But you are right. BC has turned them out pretty much every year. They had [Doug] Brzezinski, and Woody right in that time. The kid at the Bears, [Marc] Colombo, [Paul] Zukauskas, they've had them one or two every year since I have been here and even before that. It seems like there is a little bit of a tradition there for whatever reason they have been able to attract and develop guys who are able to come in and play in the NFL and we're certainly aware of it. It's nice when you go back into the school because you can compare, 'how does this player compare to these other guys,' whether it's Columbo at tackle or Zukauskas at Guard or Woody at center, that kind of thing. You get some kind of feel for, in relative terms, and also from the coaches who had those players. From that part of it, it is helpful.

**Q: How is Daniel Koppen looking so far?

BB:** I think he has held up pretty well in there. He really has. Center is a tough spot, they're all tough for rookies, but center is a tough spot because, first of all, the line calls. Not only is the center responsible for what he does, but he is responsible for making the decision as to how the front is going to block or handle a certain look, whether it's an over or an under and how we are going to handle that inside. The communication and the decision making process and being able to not only do his job but also make decisions in there that affect everybody on the line, is an important part of it. I think he has done a pretty good job of all of those things. As we keep going and the sub-blitzes get a little bit tougher and the defenses start stunting more and giving different looks and all, it's going to get progressively more difficult. That's kind of what I was referring to earlier about building blocks this week. We are at a point here where 'Okay we've gotten here, we've kind of stop and rested for a minute and now we're heading up again and it's going to a little bit tougher. Again, to this point, he has done a nice job with all of those things, not perfect, but statically.

**Q: Does it ever get to the point were there is a level playing field when it comes to evaluating guys? Like maybe a rookie get cut a little bit more slack?

BB:** I know what you're saying, I think there is a degree of patience. You stand out there and watch practice, those guys get yelled at as much as anybody. Once you give it to them and then your expectations are that they will be able to recognize it and do it, frankly, if somebody else has been out there for 13 years, and when you are coaching, you are really not stopping to think about that, 'well I don't really want to yell at him because he has only been out here a week and this guy has been out here for 12.' If it's not done right then, whether it's Dante [Scarnecchia] or Rob [Ryan], or Ivan [Fears], they're going to get on them, 'Hey, that wasn't right, we're going to get it right.' When you sit back and you make your final evaluations, it's midway through camp or three-quarters of the way through camp, you can sit back there and say, 'Boy, this kid has really come a long way in three weeks, let's think about it. Where was he in July? Now we are in the middle of August, boy this kid has really made a lot of progress.' When you can really sit back and take stock of the whole thing, that's a good time to do it. On a day-to-day, practice-to-practice, meeting-to-meeting basis, I mean everybody is under the gun to get it done and get it done right and quick so that we can move on to something else that we need to cover and we can't just keep going back and repaving the same road everyday.

**Q: Can you talk about Antowain Smith's performance so far?

BB:** I think that Antowain has gotten off to a decent start in camp. He's made some nice cuts out there running the ball. I think he is starting to see things on some of the plays pretty early, maybe a little bit better than he did last year. I think that he is in pretty decent condition. He is able to do all of the things that we need to do. He hasn't missed any time coming out of practice because he's been tired and can't take the reps and all of that. I think it's been okay. At this point with every player, there is room for improvement with everybody. Even guys that are doing a number of things well, there are still other things that they need to hit on. To this point, it's been okay.

**Q: Can you talk a little bit about the cornerbacks you drafted? Ty has been pretty impressed with them.

BB:** Ty Warren?

**Q: Ty Law.

BB:** Oh, our pro personnel assistant Ty Law. [laughter]

**Q: What do you think about what Eugene [Wilson] and Asante [Samuel] have done so far?

BB:** With all due respect to Ty, I think it might be a little too early to make some of those projections. But they have done a good job. They've come in and we have thrown a lot at them and they have been able to absorb it. They have been able to take the coaching in the classroom to the field and execute it on the field at a reasonable level. We continue to throw more at them and they continue to try to absorb it and practice it. They both have pretty good ball skills. They both have pretty good quickness. They both have pretty good instincts and just a general feel and understanding in coverage. A lot of times in the meetings when we're looking at film, we will say to them, 'now what would you do in this situation? Maybe if the play is screwed up, maybe somebody did the wrong thing, what would you do here?' They've got kind of a good understanding of just, instinctively, what would be the right thing to do in that type of situation. 'If you are not sure if it's this coverage or that coverage, which coverage are you going to play?' The right answer there is important because we don't want to be giving up big plays. Obviously something is wrong, but how do we minimize the downside in a situation like that. Overall, I think they are coming along fine. We'll see how it goes this week and next week as things start to pick up a little bit and the offense puts in some more plays, and puts in some things that are complimentary, you start making some plays on out-routes and the first day you not going to out-and-up. But by that second week, those kind of complimentary plays are going to start showing up in there and we will really see how good everybody is keying and executing their assignment. To this point, they are coming along okay.

**Q: Does seeing Rosevelt [Colvin] and Rodney [Harrision] plugged into your defense, do you allow yourself to get excited at the potential of what this defense might be able to do?

BB:** Well, I think it's a little bit too early to see how the whole thing is going to come together. But I like what I see from both of those players. They work hard. They are competitive. They are tough. They've got good playing strength; they don't get pushed around out there much. They are able to hold their ground or gain it competitively. Again, they pick things up well and we've asked them to make some adjustments and recognition on the run and they seem pretty comfortable doing that. They communicate well with their teammates. I think that they are both going to be able to help us. I don't think there is any doubt about that. How it all fits together, we'll just have to wait and see a little bit on that. So far it's been good.

**Q: How different is what you are asking Rosevelt to do compared to what you saw on tape and what he did last year?

BB:** I think in terms of third down probably not too much different. I'm not saying they are the same, but in relative terms, I think it would be pretty similar. I think the big differences would be on first and second down. When you are in a 4-3 defense like the Bears played and you are a linebacker, the only time you are really blitzing is on a true blitz with blitz coverage and fewer people on coverage. Whereas in a 3-4 defense, those outside linebackers can blitz and you can still play all of your regular coverages. My guess would be, he is probably going to be blitzing about 40-50 percent of the time more than he blitzed in Chicago on those downs. Third down is third down. His role on our team I think will be similar to what it was with the Bears. Not the same, but similar.

**Q: Is there a lot more recognition stuff now?

BB:** It's just different. In a 3-4 defense, you get a situation where, if I am outside linebacker sometimes I rush, sometimes I cover. Whereas in a 4-3 defense, you pretty much know coming out of the huddle again, they are going to blitz on this play or I am going to be in coverage. It's not an either/or situation. That's what we talked about down there in the film session, that we will have a quiz on a little bit later on next week. Those 'roy' and 'lee' calls, and the change of strength situations and all of that, linebackers have to make adjustments in a 3-4 system. Whereas in a 4-3 their responsibilities are much more defined through the entire formation and down. They don't change as much. Not that they don't change, it's to a lesser degree.

**Q: Can Brenden Stai go in at the same level as a [Stephen] Neal or [Joe] Andruzzi?

BB:** We'll see. He will certainly get an opportunity to play. He's been with several teams in the league and has started a number of games. He played in Pittsburgh, which has some offensive similarities to what we do and we've been able to evaluate that. He will certainly get an opportunity to compete there. I think we have good competition now at the guard position even though it's unfortunate about Neal. With the addition of [Bill] Conaty, Stai and the other players that are here, eventually Andruzzi will be back, I think that we will have good competition at that spot.

**Q: Chris Akins is in a little bit of a unique situation with his wife being away in the military. How do you think his focus has been on the field?

BB:** Good. Chris is all business on the field. He is all business, in terms of football, meetings, on the field, he's intent. He's alert. He wants to get it right. It's important to him. He plays with a good attitude. He's tough. He is going to knock some people around. He is a very competitive player. You really like the attitude that he brings to the field. Again, this is a new system for him, a lot of new learning. We ask our safety's to do a lot. He's been very attentive and really a hard working kid.

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