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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered and Patriots Playbook Fri Jan 21 - 12:00 AM | Sun Jan 23 - 11:55 PM

Bill Belichick Press Conference - 7/31/2003

BB: Usually with the guys that are missing practice, the case is those guys get better on a day-to-day basis and get closer and it's usually good news. In this case, the news isn't so good. Mike Cloud had an injured leg and things kind of came down pretty quickly in the last 24-hours so he had surgery and will be out for a undetermined amount of time. I think it will be somewhat significant. I don't want to try to mislead anybody into thinking it's longer than it is, or shorter than it is. Again, it happened pretty quickly. I don't know the full extent of it, the time frame, but it's certainly not in the day-to-day basis. That's the update there.

**Q: How had he been playing?

BB:** I thought he had a pretty good night here in the scrimmage Monday night, picking up a new system and [was] coming along. Unfortunately he's had a little setback.

**Q: He practiced on Tuesday. Was it something that acted up overnight?

BB:** Again, I don't even know all of the specifics of it. The bottom line is it came up pretty quickly and the procedure was done and it's going to be awhile. I don't even have all of the details to give.

**Q: Did it happen on the field or was it something unrelated to football?

BB:** No, it was an injury that he had and, again, he was out on the field and seemed to be coming along and then it just flared up.

**Q: Did he practice yesterday at all?

BB:** No.

**Q: How do you approach things now with Antwoine Womack and Mike?

BB:** Well, certainly the other people are getting more reps. Unfortunately, that's the way it goes sometimes in camp. You always have a couple of guys banged up and missing a little time here and there. Then you, unfortunately, sometimes get into a situation where it's several guys at one position and then that forces you to make some adjustments. Our numbers at running back have come down a little bit in the last few days. That's just more opportunity for some other guys and of course Larry [Centers] coming in adds one to that number. We'll manage it. It is what it is. I just feel badly for the guys who are missing time because they worked hard to put themselves in position to get an opportunity and had a little setback. They'll work through it and hopefully they will overcome it.

**Q: Does the fact that Mike was going to miss the first four regular season games mitigate the loss a little bit?

BB:** I don't really look at it that way. No. I feel bad for Mike. I talked to him this morning. I just feel badly that he's worked hard, he came in ready to go, did some positive things and now he had a little setback.

**Q: He would still have to serve his four game suspension after he returns from his injury?

BB:** There are a number of different scenario's and without really getting into all of them, I think at this point, that is all a little bit premature.

**Q: Is there anyway you can gauge on the improvement level of the defense?

BB:** No. I don't think so. I think at this point, we're just trying to get everybody trained in the system how we manage and fit the different people in different situations or in different defensive groupings, we'll just have to wait and see how that all works itself out. The main thing is to get everybody some exposure and in some cases have people learning more than one position so that we have some interchangeability and some moving parts within the system. That's really the point we're at now. How it all fits together, and what's going to more successful or less successful for us, or where the biggest change, if there is one, occurs, it's just too early to say on that. We're just trying to get everyone exposed to it.

**Q: Is J.R. Redmond banged up a little bit too?

BB:** Yes. He got hit in the ribs a couple of days ago. I think they are a little tender.

**Q: He did not practice yesterday?

BB:** He did not practice yesterday.

**Q: Was the surgery on Cloud an emergency one?

BB:** No.

**Q: It wasn't life-threatening?

BB:** No, it wasn't life-threatening. Sorry, was that a headline for the story?

**Q: No. I was just clarifying.

Q: Can you remember specifically a guy that had a play like Kevin [Faulk] did in the Green Bay game, which by all accounts he didn't make a good play there, and rally from it the way he did as opposed to a situation where he could have gone the other way?

BB: ** Not right off the top of my head. I will think about it. There were a lot of people involved in that play. It obviously wasn't a very good one. But, not right off the top of my head I can't think of that type of situation. No.

**Q: Does it surprise you that he turned it around the way he did?

BB:** Kevin is a hard working team oriented, diligent player. I have a lot of respect for Kevin Faulk. He works hard. If you tell Kevin this is something that he needs to improve on, then he works to improve it. He doesn't sit there and argue with you and say, 'Well, I did it and this is what happened,' or 'that is what happened, here is an excuse for it.' He would say, 'Okay then I'll go to work on that.' I really respect that. It's a great attitude to have and I think he has improved as a player over the last three years.

**Q: How is Adrian Klemm doing at right tackle?

BB:** I think Adrian has had a good camp. A big plus for him as he's been on the field and he hasn't missed any time. He had a productive offseason. That's gotten him off to a decent start here in training camp. He finished up the season fairly well last year and we'll just see how that continues this year in the regular game competition. And the fact that he's been out there everyday working. We've had some different people working at right guard and so the consistency between the center, right guard and right tackle is probably not as good as it is on the other side, the continuity there, and I think Adrian is coming along okay. I hope he continues to progress.

**Q: What is the one thing that he has really improved on since you drafted him?

BB:** I think the biggest thing is just being on the field and being able to get reps and improve. You can do a lot of things when you are not practicing. You can train. You can study your playbook. Just being able to get out there and get reps and practice, that is how you improve. Again, when you are injured, the players do what they can do, not what they can't do. But when you are out there, you are just able to make a lot more gains, much quicker if they apply themselves and Adrian has done that.

**Q: Is he a nimble tackle?

BB:** Yeah. Adrian is plenty athletic.

**Q: If there was one thing we aren't sure about yet, is it his strength or durability?

BB:** Again, he's played a couple of different positions on the line and has only played 'x' number of games there. I think until a player has established himself as a consistent week-in and week-out performer in the National Football League, until he establishes that, he hasn't established it. That's what really needs to be done, is to go out there and play a good level every week and be consistent and show that he is dependable and consistent in that spot. Until you do it over a consecutive number of games and weeks, you haven't done it.

**Q: You have coached special teams before. With a guy like Ken Walter, what are some of the techniques you can use to improve your kicking other than just keep kicking the ball?

BB:** Punting the ball is a lot like a golf swing, there are so many little mechanical things in it, the catching of the ball, the drop of the ball, the leg speed, the technique of the plant foot, the timing, over striding. It's a very sophisticated and technical movement, it's not just having a strong leg or as you said going out and kicking more balls. It's all about leg speed and timing. Having coached a number of punters, it comes down to good technique. Then when you start putting the variables in like bad snaps or wind or other elements in the game, whether it be weather or so forth and rushing and directional punting and all of that, then it really becomes…every punt is not from the minus 20. There are a lot of situational plays and the rushes and trying to kick away from returns and all of those different kind of things become part of it. It just looks really like, I know to the fan and to the naked eye, you run out there and punt the ball, but situationally there are a lot of things that come up. When you have 100 punts in a season or 90 punts in a season or 80 punts in a season, whatever it is, usually over half of those punts end up being some type of situational play. So you are really only talking about half of the time just going out there and kicking it as high and as far as you can. The other half of them are very specific to something that you are trying to get done from a team standpoint. What you work on is all of those things. Again, some punters have a little more problem with one thing than others. The drop is always an issue because if the ball isn't placed correctly, you aren't going to be able to make solid contact with it. Again, the footwork, the striding, the shoulders, the angles that you take and all of those things, the training, the flexibility and creating leg speed. Those are all part of it.

**Q: Is it hard to pinpoint what went wrong with him last year?

BB:** Well, first of all, our overall punting game wasn't as productive as it needed to be. The punter is part of that, but so are a lot of other people. Then again, every player can improve. Ken's had plenty of good plays and plenty of good punts for us. Some weren't as good as others. You are always striving for more consistency and that comes from technique and execution.

**Q: I understand that if one guy out kicks the other guy, you being the deicision maker of if the guy does better kicking, but in a case where all things are equal, let's say between [Ken] Walter and [Daniel] Pope, the fact that Adam Vinatieri loves the way that Kenny holds the ball for him, is that at all a factor if all things are equal?

BB:** I think it would be, if all things were equal, or particularly if Dan wasn't a holder. But Dan is a good holder as well. We'll have to evaluate that part of it as well. Whether there is a difference or not?

**Q: So it's not an insignificant part of the evaluation process?

BB:** Yeah, I think it is a...it's certainly a factor in the evaluation. You have to put your whole team together and you have to take care of all those spots. You have to be comfortable with the holder and the punter and you look at that as a package. Some of the same comments came up when we switched punters earlier when I was here about the holder. So then Kenny came in and we made that transition, and actually made it pretty well. These guys are professionals and they know what they have to do. Sometimes there are changes and if there are changes then we make adjustments. If we make a change then we do it for the betterment of the team, whatever the decision is for the best of the team. I think everybody understands that, but we've had experience with changes, Adam has, and if that's what it is then that's what it is.

**Q: Did you have a chance to see the Redskins highlight where the player got hit out of bounds and [Steve] Spurrier's comments at all a couple days ago?

BB:** No.

**Q: The reason I ask you is because I was wondering if you had any type of guidelines as to what is too much contact in practice as opposed to what is normal?

BB:** We talk to the players so that everybody is on the same page. What you really don't want in practice is one player going at one speed and another player going at another speed. That inevitably leads to a problem. You are better off going full speed and doing everything live so that everybody is at the same speed than you are having guys at different grades. Those inevitably lead to problems, one way or the other. So what we try to is have a set of guidelines in practice: here's what we want the lineman to do; here's what we want the skill people to do; here's the way we are going to handle the rushing the quarterback; and all those situations. We have different stages in the practice: this is level A, this is level B, this is level C and explain it to them so that this is what we want in this situation. Through experience and through time, my experience has been that everybody gets that. Sometimes it takes a few days or a few practices so that everybody understands what is too much, what is not enough. Coaches will sometimes get on a players about, 'Hey let's pick it up. We want a faster tempo than that.' Not that the guy is trying to dog it, but he was going at the pace that he thought the practice was at. But over a course of time, I think that evens out. Of course when you have a situation like this at the start of training camp where you have rookies and young players coming in from all different programs and veteran players coming in and it all comes together. The way we practice may be different than the way another team practiced that the guy was at. So he's doing what he thinks is right, but we're just doing it a little bit differently. Not that one's better than the other, it's just different. There is an adjustment period in there. But again, in the end from my experiences, that's something that works itself out once everybody understands what the coaches are looking for.

**Q: You talked a moment ago about Adrian Klemm, can you talk a little bit about Bill Conaty? Your impression of him so far? And how's he doing?

BB:** Well Bill is a sharp guy. He came in and picked things up pretty quickly. He had some experience in the league. He's played center and both guards, so he has really swung through all three positions. From a mental learning standpoint and experience, he's done a nice job of beign able to fit into all those spots and start to again understand the techniques, the specific calls and so forth, that we employ on various plays and on certain situations. That's good; I think he's getting acclimated to this system, which you would expect after a week or so. I'm sure he'll get plenty of reps and plenty of opportunity in preseason to show what he can do relative to the other players.

**Q: Do you think you'll have a faster defense?

BB:** I think the team's speed is better than it was last year. I think it's better than what it was last year and we've made a conscious effort to put faster players on the field, so some of our defensive schemes employed trying to get faster players out there. Working from the back to front, the more defensive backs you have relative to linebackers and defensive lineman, the faster those players are, the more linebackers relative to lineman…So from a scheme standpoint, there will be times when we'll have guys who are faster, but I think also some of the positions where there's competition that there is some faster players involved in the competition. Now whether they are the better players or not, that remains to be seen. I think our team's speed has improved, yes. And that would also hopefully carry over into the kicking game as well where a lot of the defensive players do play.

**Q: Would you comment on Chris Akins? Do you ever talk to him about his problems with his being away from his wife?

BB:** First of all Chris, similar to some of the other players we've mentioned, has had a good Spring, [he] has worked very hard since he's been here and participated in all passing camps and mini-camps. So he has a pretty good foundation. He's gotten a lot of experience in our system, which I think is a little bit different from the systems that he's been in. He's worked hard. He's all business. Chris Akins is all business. When he gets on the field, he's very attentive and very mindful of all the little coaching points you give him and really tries to do it right. He'll get a good opportunity in pre-season to show what he can do on defense. We've seen a lot of him in the kicking game, and of course he'll participate there. He'll get plenty of action and we'll see how that turns out. Yeah, I talk to Chris from time to time about his personal situation, 'You know how are things going?' and all that. He's very focused on his job and at the same time very concerned about his personal situation. I don't want to speak for him about it, but I think that's obvious.

**Q: Can that help a player sometimes?

BB:** Can it help them? I think players and people react differently to different situations. Some people, when they are challenged, respond to it in a real positive way and it brings out the best in them. Other people handle it differently. But I think in Chris' case, he's got a good balance of the situation that he has and deals with it very professionally from our end. He is a pretty solid individual.

**Q: You have a couple players who have situations like this, Chris [Akins] with his wife in the military, Tyrone Poole and his situation where he was concerned about his wife and his children, obviously there's a change in times. But how much does all that add to the football coach's role as not just coach but counselor or whatever else you have to be sometimes just to make sure that the efforts going to be there on the field while these guys have these other concerns? And is it that much different now than it was 15 or 20 years ago.

BB:** I don't think it really is. This is my 29th NFL preseason training camp and different things come up. Different situations occur. People get sick and people have problems and what not. Anytime you have a large group of people like we do, players, coaches and all of the support people, from time to time things happen. People have situations that they have to deal with that go beyond football and that's understandable. We all have them from time to time, so. I try to manage them the best I can. Each one's different and usually what I try to do is get some input from the player as to what he thinks the best solution to the problem is or what is the best way to address it. Then try to work with what I feel like the needs are for the player and the team and see if there's a way that we can compromise and make it the best for both parties.

**Q: Do you think it's all handled differently now than it was in the past? You remember the old days where you had 120 people in a camp or something like that, if people had problems they didn't stick around because there were a lot of people there, you could go or they could do whatever they want.

BB:** Like Terry Glenn, Andy Katzenmoyer and all those guys? [laughter]

**Q: Is there more sensitivity to these issues now a days than there was in the past? Or is it just something that we just know about more?

BB:** I think you guys do a better job of scraping the dirt off and digging it up. I go back to when I first came in the league. It seemed like every team had holdouts. Every team had contract holdouts. There were a lot of contract issues. A lot of times they wouldn't get resolved until right before the start of the regular season. That was obviously a whole different era, with free agency now, most everybody is with a team. If they're not with a team then they find somebody to sign up with. You have one or two cases. Back when I came in the league every team had three or four holdouts. Guys that…whatever their situation was and that's how they handled it. Plus training camp started so far in front of the regular season that a lot of them didn't want to come to camp anyway. They all come in different shapes and sizes. As a coach you try to look at each situation and again try to look at what's best for the team and what's best for that person and try to find middle ground that you can work on. But sometimes that just isn't possible. Sometimes it's just too much of a conflict and that's when you have to make a decision or somebody had to make a decision. Something's got to give.

**Q: Back to speed on defense. Does Ty Warren add a little bit of speed to the front part of that defense?

BB:** Oh yeah. For his size. For a kid that big that can run as well as he can. You may be getting a little bit of speed. But even if the speed is the same, you're talking about a bigger player but we don't have very many 300-pound players on defense. To have one that can run competitively. Maybe it doesn't make you faster in a 40. But in terms of the combination of size and power and speed.

**Q: Knowing that he has the versatility to move back and forth, how has it gone with him so far outside?

BB:** Good. I think Ty's made good progress. I don't foresee in the near future moving him from where he is. That's not to say that it won't happen, but at this point I wouldn't see it. I think he's made good progress. Romeo [Crennel] has spent a lot of time with him as have some of our veteran defensive players. I think he has improved his run technique. He's improved his pass rush. He's getting a better understanding of the system. I think he's coming along well. That's not saying he's ready for prime time yet, because he has a lot of work to do. But in the first week and a half here, he's made good solid gain and still has a lot of room to go.

**Q: What have you seen from Daniel Graham?

BB:** Graham's had a real good camp. Graham didn't have a lot of participation in the passing camp and the mini-camps. He was still limited a little bit from the offseason. But he was here and trained hard just didn't do as much team work when we were in those camps and spent a lot of time with the coaches in the off season, reviewing his play last year and the play book and that kind of thing. So he really hit the ground running in training camp. I think he got off to a good start from the first day when it was just the rookies, quarterbacks and injured players, and then hasn't lost a step since the veterans have come in here. He's been impressive in his run blocking and pass receiving and route running. I think he's improved significantly from last year. Not that he's a finished product either but at this point. But at this point he's shown good improvement and had a real good camp.

**Q: He had some drops last year. You said in mini-camp that guys could work on their hands work on their catching ability. With his rehab was he able to work on that?

BB:** Daniel has caught the ball well here in training camp. I think he's gained some confidence in his catching. He's not fighting the ball as much. He's catching the ball with more softness in his hands and not fighting it as much. He's dropped very few balls. I can't…one or two passes…I can't really think of him dropping it. There's some players that when you think of their name right away there's several drop passes that come to mind. But Dan has caught the ball well.

**Q: He has come from a football family. Does that help him at all?

BB:** I think it is. I think it is. I think Dan has a good perspective of the game from a big picture standpoint. How much teamwork is involved, as important as he is and his job is, but how that is just part of a function of a lot of other people and what his role in it his. He's a humble young man who wants to do well, but at the same time understands the team concept and how he can be helpful in a lot of different ways. It's not just catching passes. There are a lot of other things we can do to make us a better offensive football team and he's worked hard to do those.

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