New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday, August 12, 2008.
BB: We had practice in the stadium last night and we got some work in the rain, which is good. We kept working on some situations. As I said earlier, these first couple of days of this week will be good training camp days for us to get some things done that we need to get done. Starting Wednesday we will start working on Tampa Bay [Buccaneers], which will be good because a lot of things they do have application to other teams we will see during the course of the year in all three phases of the game. The Tampa Bay game will be a really good opportunity for our football team. Going down there to play in warm weather and face a football team that has a lot of tough schemes to deal with will make for a good week for us. Hopefully, we are off to a good start and we are going to try and string a few good practices together.
Q: How do you handle the practice repetitions of special teams guys like long snapper Lonie Paxton, kicker Stephen Gostkowski and punter Chris Hanson?
BB: We monitor it on a daily basis. They don't kick everyday. We can space out the field goals, kickoffs and punts so not everything is on every day. They are both in good condition. They haven't had any problems kicking on a regular basis without injuries or soreness. They both had good off-seasons and they are both in good shape. I don't think there have been any issues but if there were we would kind of monitor those and make sure we didn't overdue it.
Q: Do you find that those guys still have a competitive edge despite the fact that there is no one in camp competing for their job?
BB: I think they all know, just like how Chris [Hanson] came in at the end of last year, that there is always competition out there. We try to keep an eye on that but I think all of those guys are experienced enough to know that there are always people out there and there is always competition with other teams in this league because players can move teams. I am not saying that as a threatening thing. I am just saying that is the way it is. Certainly, Chris knows that.
Q: Do you have a general sense of how training camp is going?
BB: We are just trying to get better everyday. There are things we work on that need work and we correct them. We try to improve on them the next day and then add things. If we have them in, then good and we move on to something else. If we need more time on them, then we try to tune those up before we move on to something else. That is the way it always is; just a normal camp.
Q: Has anybody caught your eye in positive or negative way so far in training camp?
BB: I think all the players are working hard. We are improving and we still have a ways to go. We are just taking it day to day. Everybody has good and bad plays. Consistency is the name of the game. That is what training camp is for - to grind through and develop that kind of consistency with good fundamental habits and good techniques. That is what happens when you practice everyday in training camp. That is what you try and build and I think we are getting there but we still have a long way to go.
Q: How is the competition with the running backs going, particularly with LaMont Jordan?
BB: LaMont [Jordan] has done well. We have good competition there with players that have different skills and different styles of play. They have all been effective for us in the past, or given the opportunity LaMont has had in his time here he has shown to be effective. Heath [Evans], Laurence [Maroney], Sammy [Morris], Kevin [Faulk] and LaMont have all been productive with the ball in their hands. Either running it or catching it and in some cases returning it.
Q: Could you envision keeping all five running backs?
BB: We will keep the best football players; the ones that help our football team the most. Whoever they are. If we would keep four quarterbacks, I would think we could keep five running backs.
BB: Has linebacker Jerod Mayo seemed to pick things up quickly?
BB: Yeah, Jerod [Mayo] is a smart kid and has worked hard. From day one when we drafted him to rookie minicamp and spring camp he has done a good job. He is a very mature kid and a hard worker. Football is important to him and he spends a lot of time on it. He makes a lot of rookie mistakes but he learns from them and doesn't repeat many of them.
Q: How unique is running back LaMont Jordan? He is built like a fire hydrant but he still returns kicks.
BB: Every player has there own set of skills. I think LaMont has a good set. He is a powerful guy, has some quickness and catches the ball wall. He has good speed, he is not a track guy, but he has competitive speed, good quickness and can get through the hole. He breaks tackles. He has some things going for him.
Q: LaMont mentioned the possibility of lining up at wide receiver. Is that something you have worked on with him?
BB: We ask our players to do a lot of different things. We put them in different spots and we run plenty of empty backfield sets. I am sure he will line up there at times and already has. They all will.
Q: Have you seen enough from running back Sammy Morris to think that he has recovered from his chest injury?
BB: The doctors think so. He has done everything we have asked him to do in camp.
Q: There has been some concern with the 80-man roster limit for training camp that teams would have to hold back and try to keep guys fresher. You guys have been in pads for the majority of training camp. Is that an issue you aren't concerned with?
BB: We just do what we feel is best for the football team. That is the way we set up our practices. We try to get the most out of them. Whatever we have to work with then that is what we work with. There is nothing to really do about that right now. Right now the main focus we have is to try and improve our football team on a daily basis. We are getting ready for opening day against Kansas City [Chiefs] and for the 16-game regular season schedule.
Q: Have you eliminated the use of shells from practice?
BB: No, we just haven't used them this year. They are still in the equipment room. We still have them there.
Q: How would you characterize offensive tackle Wesley Britt's development and what did you see from him as a starter last Thursday night?
BB: Wes [Britt] came to us a couple of years ago and we put him on the practice squad. He has developed a lot and is one of the hardest working guys on the team. He has a big frame, like you would like a tackle to have. He played left tackle in college. He has played both left and right tackle for us. He has swing ability. He works hard and is a tough kid. He has improved a lot since he has been here, like a lot of our young offensive linemen do. He is one of many who has been on the practice squad and eventually worked his way on to the roster and then worked his way into the lineup for some playing time. He has done nothing but improve since he has been here. His hard work, determination and ability to take coaching have enabled him to do that. When he has had an opportunity to play, I would say he has played very competitively including last Thursday night.
Q: Are you satisfied with the way the secondary is with the number of changes that have happened?
BB: As I say about every position, there are always things we can work on and do better. That is what we are trying to do. We are trying to get everything to the highest level of efficiency and execution that we can. We know that our competition is out there and they are doing the same thing. There are a lot of things to work on and we will see a lot of things through the course of the year that we have to handle. Whether it is different adjustments, different types of receivers or different schemes on offense. Our secondary is challenged by that as every secondary in the league is. That is what we are working on but we have a long way to go. We have made a lot of progress. We won't really know where we are until we start playing regular season games. That is no secret.
Q: When teams that you face like the [New York] Jets make big changes. How does that change the way you prepare for them during preseason?
BB: We are preparing for our 16-game regular season schedule. They are a part of it but so are a lot of other teams. We are going to prepare our team to try and handle the things that we will face during the course of the regular season and what we think we have to get ready for with Kansas City [Chiefs] in the opener. It is the same thing we always do. Right now, our focus isn't so much on what everybody else is doing. We are focused on what we are doing. We are going to have to be good enough in a lot of different areas to meet the challenges that the other teams in the league will bring us. Both personnel wise and scheme wise. That is what training camp is for - to get ready for all those things.