Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Monday, August 2, 2010.
BB: We announced a couple transactions here this morning. We added Rod Owens, a receiver who played at Florida State last year, and Carson Butler, a tight end who came out of Michigan two years ago [and] was in the league last year, to the roster, so that puts us at 80. That gives us a little more depth at those positions. We're starting to string a few days together here. We're kind of into the flow of camp. Tonight will be the [in-]stadium practice. I think that will be a good opportunity for all the players to work in the stadium with the new turf and so forth, and of course for the new players on the team to experience that before we actually do it in the preseason game in 10 days. Definitely for the specialists to be able to kick on that surface, but also for the returners to deal with the lights and just the stadium surroundings and so forth and just get used to seeing the markings on the field, the 40-second clock and just playing in that environment. So we'll take care of that. That will be a step tonight. As we continue to go through camp here, we'll start to - even though we've done some situational work - we'll start to build on the situational segments in practice, more red area, more third down, more situational type things as we integrate them into our basic offensive and defensive and special teams systems. Working on the hands team, things like that today to kind of...by the end of the week, hopefully we'll have most of the situations covered, because then the following week when the Saints come in we'll be working against them and want to review some of those situations against them and those type of situational play, which will be good teaching for both of us. That's kind of where we're at here.
Q: Two days ago you guys had a walk-through in the morning. What goes into the decision to have a walk-through and give the guys a little break?
BB: Really, it comes down to the teaching schedule. In training camp, when you practice twice a day, you have a lot of film to look at. You have not only the team film, but you have a lot of individual drills: one-on-ones, two-on-twos, and sometimes some individual technique drills that you want to show ball handling or certain defensive combination coverages, two-on-twos, three-on-threes, things like that. So by the time you watch all the film and then start on, 'Ok, fellas, here is all the film from today. Let's get that straightened out. Ok, now here's the stuff we're putting in tomorrow,' and then you want to talk about it, go through the playbook and you want to show them film clips of it. 'Here's how we ran it in this situation. Here's how we ran it in that situation.' It just - it's hard. A walk-through day gives you an opportunity to catch up on that. It gives you a little bit more meeting time because you don't have the film of that practice to show and it gives you an opportunity to walk though all those things with the players and make sure that they understand them. And a lot of times, those walk-throughs really encompass two or three days worth of teaching. So let's just say if we did a walk-through this morning, then that would probably also include things we were going to work on on Tuesday and maybe even into Wednesday so we could really thoroughly cover them and then try to concentrate on what we're doing on each individual day. You can do it the other way, just it's hard when you have a full day of practice and then you have another full day of 'Ok, here're 20 new things we are going to do tomorrow.' You just run out of time [and then] you don't watch as much film or you don't do a very thorough job installing it. And when you get to the third day of camp, I think it's usually a little bit of the hump day there. The first couple days, [you're] going on the energy and all that. By the third day you start to feel the soreness and I think that's a good time to sometimes just back down a little bit depending on how your team is doing. All of that is always conditional on how things are going. It can always change. There's no set way it's always going to be. We'll do what we think is best for the team.
Q: How would you describe where things stand with Derrick Burgess right now?
BB: I would describe it as 'I don't know.'
Q: Open ended? Have you been communicating with him?
BB: Yeah, we have spoken but I would say I don't know where things are. I don't think he knows for sure either, so therefore...
Q: With that in mind, what have you seen, if anything, that maybe stands out for you from the other players at that position through the first eight practices?
BB: I think all five of those players have done some good things. Tully [Banta-Cain] has really picked up where he left off last year. He gained a lot of experience and he's done a good job. I think he's having a good camp. He's taken over a little bit of a leadership role as well, in terms of his experience and I think he has a lot of confidence and that carries over to other guys. Pierre [Woods] and Rob [Ninkovich] are definitely ahead of where they were last year. Again, Rob kind of came in late and [there was] a little bit of catch up with him all year, although he did a lot of good things. But I think this year he is starting from much higher ground. Jermaine [Cunningham] has picked up things very well. I think each day you can definitely see him getting better, more confident, understanding things that happened the day before and being able to process that, and the same thing with Marques [Murrell]. Even though he has played, he's still new to the team. But I think that this spring, and now coming into training camp with padded practices and the contact and all that, that he's making good strides as well. I think that group has worked hard. They communicate well with the inside linebackers. I think we have good competition there.
Q: Even though it's only day five, are you getting what you expected out of the new veterans like Alge Crumpler and Torry Holt?
BB: Well, again, we haven't created any rolls or anything for anybody. We're trying to give everybody an opportunity to compete and see how things shake out. But I think both Alge and Torry have worked hard. They bring a good veteran presence to the team. They're very professional. They work hard. They know their assignments. I think they're a good example for the younger players, but at the same time they're trying to learn an offense that other players, even some of our younger players, have more experience in than they do, just because it's what we've done. I think they are coming along, but they're in transition, too.
Q: What went into the decision to not have a second punter and go with an unproven rookie punter?
BB: In an 80-man roster, it's hard to carry extra specialists. I mean, you can do it, it just comes at a price; you lose a player somewhere else. I think we all know and I think all the players understand that there is competition everywhere. Players get traded. Players get claimed. There are different ways to acquire players and I'm sure that over the course of this season and training camp...we all know that is going to happen. I don't know whether we're going to do it or not, but we have and we could. I think all players understand that there's competition, not only within this team but also throughout the league.
Q: Has that changed at all with getting rid of the NFL Europe?
BB: Yeah, when the roster was at 90 or 80-plus, depending on the exemptions and so forth, it gave you an opportunity to have more than 80 players and you could decide where you wanted to put those players, whether it was in the specialists or at whatever the position was you wanted. With 80, if you punt every other day or every third day and carry two guys to split up however many punts that is, it's not very many. When we had an opportunity to carry two earlier in the spring, we carried [David] King. We did and he did a good job, and if we had extra spots we'd probably have him or someone like that in here, but for right now we just feel like the best thing for the team is for the players to be distributed the way they are. But that could always change, too.
Q: What were your observations of how Wes Welker handled his workload yesterday in his first official day out there?
BB: Wes has been working hard all the way through. You know he is going to go out there and do everything he can. I think he's done that at every opportunity he's had all the way through the spring, and when he wasn't with the team and when he was. It's a long process. It's a gradual process. We'll just take it day-by-day and see how it goes.
Q: You mentioned Brandon Tate and the strides he's made since last year. During the offseason program, can you tell what kind of strides he's making as he is rehabbing and working?
BB: I think you can evaluate a player physically and then the process of players coming back from injury, you evaluate them physically and monitor that. And then as you get into the spring you can do some individual things, work on route running or work on change-of-direction drills and things like that. Then as you get into OTAs, then you start to get into the teaching process. And certainly in Brandon's case, starting this season, his ability to retain and process information and route adjustments and things like that are on a much higher level than they were last year, when really all he could do was sit in meetings in training camp and for the early part of the season. So he's way ahead from that standpoint. I think his physical conditioning and his ability are good. His individual techniques and route running and receiving skills have improved and his understanding of not only his position, but also offensive concepts, that's way ahead of where it was last year. Each of those is a little bit different, but you like to see that kind of progress in every player from year one to year two where they have that first year under their belt and the experience of going through a camp and all of the terminology and just the whole program, to be able to come in the second year and take that experience and take it up to a higher level.
Q: Do you have any appraisal of Torry Holt so far?
BB: I think Torry is a good veteran receiver. He's smart. He's crafty. He certainly understands route-running techniques and coverages and adjustments and things like that. He catches the ball well. [He's a] pretty experienced guy. I think he's done alright.
Q: Is it interesting to have a guy like that come in to work after having played against them in the league, and then see how he works with the younger players?
BB: Yeah, but I think that's about what we expected. He and Alge are both very professional. Those guys have had a lot of success in this league and they have the reputation - and from the information that we have on them - prepare well, work hard, know what to do, are very good with their teammates and their assignments and communication on their side of the ball and all of that, and we have definitely see that. Torry has been good. Alge has been good. Not only what they do, but with their teammates around them. They've blended in very well.
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges of learning this offense for receivers?
BB: I think any time you learn a new offense or defense the issues are terminology. I mean, that's number one. Sometimes there is a common denominator to what you've done before and sometimes there isn't. That's up to each individual and the system they came from. Then there's understanding concepts: what type of passing concepts - level patterns, horizontal patterns, man beaters, zone beaters, play action, things like that. And then there are the individual routes. Teams run different techniques. Even though the route sort of looks the same to all of us, a lot of times there is a different technique or they adjust differently depending on what the defense does. Sometimes you cross a defender's face. Sometimes you go behind him. Sometimes you adjust it into a different type of route. [It's] all things like that, so the challenges are learning that and all of those things and then developing timing in the passing game with the quarterback. And not just the quarterback, but knowing where other receivers are going on the pattern so that you can adjust your route accordingly, whether you speed up and get across or whether you slow down and create a space on zone coverages and things like that. For each guy it's probably a little bit different depending on what their background is and how easily those concepts and those adjustments come to them. Some guys do it differently than others. West Coast offense, they don't make many route adjustments. And that's a very good passing offense, I'm not saying that [it's not], it's just a different approach to it, so they have to learn something different. Is it hard? Is it easy? It depends on the person.