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Bill Belichick Press Conference - 7/29/2003

Belichick: We still have a lot more to do, but I was pleased with the way we got... things under way and gave everybody a lot of reps

BB: Good Morning. I thought we had a real good practice last night in terms of effort, alertness and spirit. Being in the stadium, we got a lot of situations covered, and just generally I think it was a real up-tempo, real up-tempo period and as I said the other day, we are in a real kind of crunch time in terms of training camp, in terms of trying to make a lot of improvements, take the fundamentals that we started with last week and really build on those. I think a lot of the situational things that came up last night were a good start. We still have a lot more to do, but I was pleased with the way we got those things under way and gave everybody a lot of reps. Everybody got a good opportunity to play and start to show what they could do and the evaluations now are starting to become a little more direct. Things are going to start to shape up as we go along from here because a lot of the teaching and the installation is over, and now is a chance for people to go out there and execute the things they have been working on for the last week or week plus, [and] more of that all week. It's a big week for us, but I think we got off to a pretty good start yesterday.

**Q: Are you experimenting any with Dan Klecko to see if he fits in better some place else than as an interior lineman? And if so, is it because you just don't think he has the size to play?

BB:** No. He'll play it. He has played it; he will play it. We drafted Dan; I think Dan's a little bit of a unique player. He's a good football player who doesn't fit the prototype of certain positions. He has a variety of skills. We're going to look at him doing different things and see how that will fit into what we do. It could be different positions in different defensive sets. He's getting some exposure at a number of different things, on defense, a little bit of offense and even in the kicking game.

**Q: If he's back at linebacker, that would be more of a situational thing depending on the defense you have on the field?

BB:** Yeah, right. Exactly. We're not moving him to linebacker. We're not doing that.

**Q: Any roster moves today?

BB:** No. No.

**Q: Can you talk a little bit about Kevin Faulk? Seemingly from a midway point of last year HE has really been one of your more valuable players and seems like he had a great second half and has followed that up with what looks like a very solid camp.

BB:** Yeah, I agree. I think that's pretty much right on the money. Kevin had a very productive season last year. We're going to give him every opportunity to display his skills this year, and Kevin has a variety of them, as a runner, a receiver and a returner. We hope that Kevin can be as productive as he was last year or maybe more so in other areas like in the running game. He's getting an opportunity to show that. I really have a lot of respect for Kevin because in the three years here, he has had some ups and downs. Kevin has worked hard. He really has tried to take any coaching instruction that has been given to him and improve in the areas that he has been asked to improve in and has worked hard. I think he's one of the most respected players on the team. [He] kind of goes about things in a different way, but a very professional way. I really have a lot of respect for Kevin and the way he has improved as a football player in the last three years.

**Q: Has he expanded his role, or his value, by being able to expand his role, in being a guy who doesn't just do one thing really good but seemingly a lot of things well?

BB:** Right. Definitely. Yes. Definitely. Kevin has worked hard on some of the areas that he needs improvement in. He has shown, particularly in this camp not that he hasn't done it before, but it's been even more pronounced in this camp, where he really is jumping up there and trying to meet the challenge. We do blitz pick up drills, he's the first one in there; we all know that's not his primary role in the team, but at times he's going to be called on to do it. But he steps right up in there and will take on those guys that out weigh him by fifty or sixty pounds and wants to compete and challenge against them. I think he's taken a real good attitude and a real good approach to that, and in the end it's paying off.

**Q: That was something three years ago that he needed to work on wasn't it?

BB:** Yes.

**Q: So he's accepted it's…I mean, does that show you a lot in players?

BB:** You bet. Absolutely. You bet. It's going back a few years, but it reminds me of the Anthony Pleasant situation in Cleveland. When I first got there, he was a rookie of the year the year before. I didn't coach him his rookie year. Second year, he had come off of a different defensive system than what he played on in '89. He had to make a big adjustment in his style of play and gain some strength and change some techniques. At first I think it was kind of hard for him, but eventually he did a very good job of making the transition. And as we all know, [he's] had a long and distinguished career. He's a player who went from being one thing to really having to become something else to stay in the system that he was in. I think Kevin, maybe, is in a little bit of the same category. Some of the things that were asked of him in '99 and what's been asked the last three years have been different. He's tried to adapt his game and has adapted his game and been really upgraded and done a good job at it. The more things he can do, and the more things he can do effectively, then the easier it is offensively to use him in a variety of roles and not just pigeon hole him in one thing in the defenses, 'Oh there's this guy and here's what he's going to do.'

**Q: You said a minute ago, he maybe has a chance to do more for you this year. In what way? How could he do more? Could he get on the field more? Could he be more of an everyday player?

BB:** We'll see. Yeah, we'll see. If he's good enough, he can. If he can perform well, he can.

**Q: Any impressions on Dedric Ward? What he's brought to you here? What he might be able to do?

BB:** Yeah, well I think Dedric has had a nice camp. I really do. He came in a little bit late at the end of mini-camp, passing camp. Training camp; he's gotten off to a good start and has been productive. He's made a lot of plays; he's dropped very few balls. He's running good, crisp routes and getting open and making plays in the passing game at all levels, short, quick passes and down the field plays and [has] run good routes. He's shown up here pretty quickly here in camp, which is good for him. It's good for all of us. He's opened a lot of eyes.

**Q: Tom's got two new guys that you are targeting in the passing game in Bethel Johnson and Dedric Ward. How is the timing and the relationship coming with them?

BB:** Well, I think for the first week of camp, it's about where you would expect it to be. It's okay. It certainly wasn't great. That's one of the targets this week that we've identified to try to get more work in the passing game between the quarterbacks and the different skill players. Again when you put in routes at the beginning of training camp, you've got eight, nine receivers, four quarterbacks. You've got a lot of different combinations. It's hard for guys to really get comfortable, the receivers getting comfortable with the quarterbacks and vice versa. You just don't get enough reps at it, running the same routes continuously. But now the time has built up and you have an accumulation of learning day-by-day and those reps are now starting to repeat and we're going to start putting more emphasis on certain players working with other players so we can build that timing. We started to see some improvement on that in the last couple days and that needs to continue.

**Q: Staying in that area, has [David] Givens improved this offseason?

BB:** David has had a good offseason and he's had a real good start to training camp. I think he's shown up in every phase of the game, special teams, his blocking, and the running game and his route running. Like Ward, he's made plays down the field and made them inside, made them short, has shown quickness to get away from people and the ability to separate down the field. So, David's had a real good camp. I think he's going to contend…well, we'll see how it goes. But I think at least now, he's put himself in position to contend for some playing time. I mean not just a roster spot, I think he's got a chance to actually get in there and fight for some playing time.

**Q: Knowing that it's early, does the receiver position look like it's going to probably come down to some tough decisions?

BB:** Well we got a long way to go. Things like that usually take care of themselves, but there is certainly good competition there at that position now. We'll see how, in four weeks, how that separates or doesn't separate. But right now, I think it's very competitive. There are a lot of guys that are having good camps at that spot. Maybe that competition has brought out the best in all of them.

**Q: How is [Joe] Andruzzi coming along? It's obvious that he's had surgery, but do you think he's made some progress over the last week?

BB:** Um…yeah. I would say that Andruzzi is a little bit farther ahead than Kenyatta [Jones] at this point. I think Andruzzi is probably pretty close to being back in there. He's day-to-day; we'll just take it as it comes. One of these days, he'll be ready to go. He's really come along well. He's running well; he's moving well. I think he's pretty close to being ready to get back out on the field.

**Q: Is there any reason he's ahead? Is it just the nature of the surgery? Or just circumstance?

BB:** Well you know, guys just go at it different…it's not all the same even though it might be the same joint. What's going on is different. But Kenyatta's making good progress too; I don't mean to minimize that. But just say at this point, Joe's ahead of him.

**Q: In general, can you talk about the benefits of the tandem at safety of Lawyer [Milloy] and Rodney [Harrison]? What they can bring together?

BB:** I think we all know what kind of resumes both players have. They have played in the league for a significant period of time and are very accomplished players. I think they have a similar set of skills; they're both big, they're both physical, they're both very instinctive. They have been productive in a lot of different aspects of the game, not just the running game. They have had production; they've been durable. Some people think that those two positions should be different, but in some respects it's good for players to have similar skills particularly when you're playing a defense like we play a lot of, a split-safety defense, where really the assignments for both safeties are fairly similar. So that really provides a little bit of consistency in the secondary. Where one guy is strong at one thing, another guy is strong at something else, if in a way, can imbalance you in certain situations.

**Q: By looking at them, how can they benefit the running game, with both of them having strong safety skills?

BB:** They can benefit it by being good force players and tackling the runners before they gain many yards. That's what their job is. For the most part, safeties aren't blocking the running game. Sometimes they're blocked by receivers. But a lot of times, by the time you get everybody else blocked, it's hard to get them blocked effectively. Particularly in the open field, even if you do have a receiver assigned to them. Those players should make tackles on balls that get through the line of scrimmage. You hope that your safeties aren't making all of the tackles, because that means the linemen and linebackers are getting them sooner and probably for fewer yards. I think a safety's job is perfectly described by the name. Safety. He's really your last line of defense. That could be five yards from the line of scrimmage, or that could be fifty yards from the line of scrimmage. His job is to make that play because there are not usually too many people behind him.

**Q: Those two guys are use to making a lot of tackles though. Is it difficult to try to get them to buy into being force guys? It's not very glamorous, being a force guy, not making the plays that they might be use to making. Is it difficult to sell them on that?

BB:** Well, I think that's pretty much what they've been doing. I don't think we're asking them to do anything that they haven't done before.

**Q: But even before last year, was Lawyer always doing that? I mean, same thing with Rodney?

BB:** Well there are only three players who can really be force players. That's your corner, your safety, and your outside linebacker. Sometimes it could be an end on certain fronts, who's out there wide and sometimes he can be the contain player. But I would say for the most part it's either a linebacker, a safety or a corner. It's one of those three guys, and whoever is not doing it, they have responsibilities that are coordinated with the player who does have it.

**Q: Can you talk a little bit about Antwoine Womack?

BB:** Antwoine is getting better. He's still not ready to go out there yet. I think it's probably a little bit longer for him. So we'll just take it day-by-day. But he's working hard, he's improving, he's getting better. But he's not out there, so he's definitely missing some time.

**Q: To the untrained eye, Rosevelt Colvin looked pretty darn good last night. Was he really as good as he looked from your standpoint?

BB:** I think Rosevelt has had a very good training camp to this point. Some of the things that he is doing, particularly on first and second down, are things that he hasn't done earlier in his career or at least not the way we're doing them, in a two-point stance and playing a 3-4 outside linebacker, but I think he has adapted very well. I really like his playing style. He's tough and he is aggressive. He hustles to the ball. He's upbeat. He is a good communicator. He is thinking ahead, he's thinking about adjustments before they happen. He's into the game. He is really fun to coach and be out there on the field with.

**Q: That's what it looked like from a distance last night. It looked like he was really into what he was doing even though it was practice.

BB:** We have a couple of other linebackers that I think are sort of like that like. [Tedy] Bruschi is kind of like that. [Mike] Vrabel has that kind of approach too. When you look out there a lot of times you just see those guys and they are having fun. They can't wait until the ball is snapped and try to get to the guy that's got it and hammer him. They have a good attitude and they come to practice ready to go and play with it on a consistent basis. Especially Colvin. He is not a guy that one day you are going to get it then the next day you get something different. He has been, even in passing camps; he's had that same kind of demeanor out on the field and that good. It's fun to be around.

**Q: He came from an entirely different system. What has he done to transition himself to get adjusted to your system?

BB:** He has been here everyday. Everyday since right after we signed him until the following, whatever it was a week, a week and a half, I can't remember the exact time frame, but he's been here every day. He was here all the time in June, July. I don't think there is any player that has put in more time in the offseason. There are probably others that have put in as much, but I don't think anybody, any more. He is one of the offseason award winners. That's reflective of his work ethic. He's spent a lot of time with Rob [Ryan] and Romeo [Crennel]. That's how he's done it. It's been a lot of hard work and a lot of time and energy and effort put into it and now it's paying off.

**Q: Rosevelt is one of the players that you were clearly most impressed with as you prepared to play against him. What are the different perspectives on him you get now that you are working with him?

BB:** I think some of those intangibles. When you get a player like that, you don't know what he is like in practice or his off the field demeanor is, what he is like in meetings, how well prepared he is and that kind of thing. I think Rosevelt's off the field, if you will, and practice and preparation habits and attitude have all been very positive. He probably looks a lot like the football player that we saw in a Bear uniform in terms of rushing the passer, hustling to make plays in the open field, his strength taking on blockers and all those kind of things. He's certainly come with a good deal of personal pride in his job and leadership. He's not a prima donna when it comes to hard work. He will roll up his sleeves and get in there with the best of them.

**Q: Is it fair to say he's a 'throwback'? He seems to get some of the things that maybe the younger players don't really get yet.

BB:** I know what you're saying. I think in terms of the overall group, he fits in pretty well. We have a lot of guys like that. Ted Johnson works hard. Tedy Bruschi works hard. Roman Phifer is a pro. Nobody works harder than [Mike] Vrabel, Colvin, those guys, Matt Chatham; it's a group that get along well together. They work hard together and they have fun. They will put in as much sweat equity to their job as really [all] you could ask for. He fits in good with that group. I don't want to try to make it sound like he's head and shoulders above everybody else. I don't really mean it that way. With the other guys, there is no slack in their line either.

**Q: Were your [New York] Giants linebackers like that as well?

BB:** That's a great question. It was a little different point in time. Some of those players were not real good offseason workers. I am not saying they weren't good football players but you couldn't find them in the offseason program with a magnifying glass. Some of those guys weren't as prepared I think as others. But then again, take in guys like Pepper [Johnson], Carl [Banks], Harry Carson; it would be hard to be more professional than those guys were. From top to bottom on the group, this is a pretty good talented group of players. I'm not trying to downgrade them there.

**Q: Rosevelt likes to talk about how he did his homework on the Patriots before coming here. What are some of the great stories that sold you on him when talking to other people about him?

BB:** Since I've been here, we've had a number of different people here from Purdue that were with him in college and a couple with the Bears that were with him at one time or another. Given all of that, I think that there were a number of different people that said the same type of things about him, not only Rosevelt [as a person], but again his approach and his attitude and his leadership as well as his playing ability.

**Q: You like to have players who can be versatile. How tough would it be to keep a guy who may not fit in, say, in a certain position on defense but is really good on special teams but you have other guys that you plan on using?

BB:** I think I've done that every year that I have been a head coach. We've had players that have been big special team contributors and maybe not so much on defense. Larry Izzo is a prime example.

**Q: I was thinking of Matt Chatham.

BB:** Matt is in that same category. Matt has been one of top special teams producers in the league, forget about our team. He is one of the top producers in the league and hasn't seen that much playing time on defense. Je'Rod Cherry is one of the top special teams players in the league and doesn't see as much defense playing time as some other guys do.

**Q: With two positions in particular like safety for example is a pretty deep position on this team and linebacker is a pretty deep position. You have guys like Don Davis at linebacker. Where does Matt Chatham fit in? It just seems like a pretty hard decision when you talk about numbers.

BB:** Again, this is kind of getting into a whole different area of discussion, but one of the things that you do on your team, in terms of its make-up, is if you have a core special teams group that plays on virtually all of the special teams and they are very productive, then there is something to be said for just having that core group of guys do it. If you only have a few of those and you really just don't have enough and the other people that you want to be core guys really just aren't that quality, then a lot of times you are supplementing that core group with the Tedy Bruschi's and with the Troy Brown's and with the other players like that who are significant play time players on offense or defense, but they are also very good in the kicking game and they have been extremely productive. I think you can do it either way. The bottom line is to be successful and productive on special teams. But if you have a group of core special team players, pretty much whether it's kickoffs, kickoff return, punt or punt return, those seven or eight guys are basically out there on everything, that's not really that bad if they are that good. Sometimes when they are not then, again, we've used our starters in those roles and still been pretty productive in the kicking game. You do what you have to do. The one thing I can tell you [what] we are going to do is, we're going to put everything that we've got in the kicking game, those aren't just throw away plays for us, we're committed to being good in that area of the game and it starts with Brad Seely who is an excellent special teams coach and there are a number of other coaches on the staff, myself included, who have coached special teams in this league. We understand and respect the importance of that job, Romeo, Dante [Scarnecchia], several of us. It's a high area of importance.

**Q: Is there a number in your mind of games that you can win or lose in the kicking game?

BB:** I think when you are in close games, you can probably point to most close games as being impacted by it. Now if you are not in close games, then it's less of a factor.

**Q: So you don't feel like if you have really good kicking teams, you could win or lose two games, five games, three games, something like that?

BB:** I think that if you look statistically at it in round numbers, you've got about half of the games that are decided by seven points or less and you get about a quarter of the games in the league that are decided by three points or less. If you want to put the kicking game in those three or less categories, then you are probably talking about a quarter of your season. You are going to be in those kinds of games statistically and those kicking game plays can make a difference. Not that they can't make a difference on offense/defense but they can certainly come down to a field position play, a turnover, a kick or not a kick. Probably in a quarter of your games on average, those special teams plays, you can probably point to them and say they did make a difference. If you are winning by 17 or losing by 21, an extra five yards on a kickoff return, still doesn't look like a turning point. But when you need a field goal, that extra 10 yards puts you that much closer to field goal range. That's really starting to become important now.

**Q: Is Fred Baxter more of a blocker?

BB:** No. I think Fred is a good combination tight end. I think that he has skills in both areas. I don't think that he is just limited to one or the other. I don't think that you are necessarily going to say 'He is the best in the league at one or the other,' but he's got a good combination of skills. He's big, he's athletic, and he's got good hands. He is a solid blocker on the line of scrimmage and he is a solid receiver in the passing game. I don't think the quarterbacks or the coaches have any reservations about throwing Fred the ball or having the confidence in him to make plays in the passing game. With that being said, I don't think he's the top of the line at tight ends in the passing game, but he is certainly a solid receiver and a solid blocker and he's got a good consistent all around game.

**Q: Are you comfortable knowing what he brings to the table?

BB:** Yeah, well when we brought him in at the end of last year, after he had been released by the Bears, we got him right there at the end of the season, but our background with him goes back to New York for three years and he was kind of that same player there. Again, Fred is a real pro. He is prepared. He is another player that has been productive in the kicking game. He's got a good solid variety of skills. Maybe not one great one, but all pretty good and none that are just terrible that you just can't work with.

**Q: Is there any news on Larry Centers?

BB:** No.

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