Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Friday, August 6, 2010.
BB: We dodged a little bullet there yesterday [with the weather] and got off [the field] just in time, so hopefully that won't be a problem today. Moving forward to more situational football, we're starting to get into more down-and-distance and field position, new field position situations and we'll continue to build on that today, really each day as we go forward here. It's all starting to sort of come together a little bit. Different down-and-distance situations, field position situations, backed up, moving into the red area, goal line, two-minute, and so forth. As we come to the end of the week here [we're] trying to get most of our installation in and then we can go out there and execute it against the Saints next week and just see how it looks against another obviously very good football team in a competitive environment. I think we're progressing along here. We've still got a long way to go and we're right in the middle of two-a-days, so I think that's a good time to evaluate our players' conditioning, their dependability, consistency, and just day-to-day performance under tough conditions. That's what we all need; we're getting it.
Q: Last year at this time you had a bunch of veterans who would take practices off, but this year we haven't really seen that. Is that a philosophical change or is it that they're in better shape?
BB: I'd say we're doing a number of things differently than we did them last year and I'll just leave it at that. We're doing a lot of things differently.
Q: How much has having the Saints come to practice next week affected the walkthroughs up to now?
BB: It hasn't affected it all. In all honesty, what we do today is just really based on where we're at today. Right now, long term to me is the next hour. I'm just saying that from an installation standpoint, we sometimes try to put things in the last two or three days before that preseason game. This year, we didn't want to be doing that because we're going to be practicing against the Saints. We wanted to have in whatever it is we're going to have in, and then go out there and run it because we don't really have time to install it. We're practicing against them, [so] we don't have our periods to put everything in. So we want to move that up so that it's in and we can just go out there and be able to call it against them and run it.
Q: Do you at all look back through your notes leading up to preseason practices with the Giants about a decade ago, just to see how you did it?
BB: Not so much a decade ago. There were a lot of differences then, both in the number of days...each training camp has its own particular nuances, whatever they happen to be. As an example, we had more players back then with the NFL Europe roster exemptions and so forth. But I definitely do that, though. I look at the last two or three years of notes from training camp and during training camp and then after training camp when we talk about what happened during that [camp]. Like at the end of this training camp, we will go back and evaluate what we did, how we did it, what things were good, what things we would like to do differently, suggestions for next year, problems we had, and try to be on the front end of those the next time around, things like that. There is definitely an element of that – of looking back at previous years and trying to take the best things from those camps that we felt like we did as a team and incorporate those in the future at camps, and also try to eliminate the problems or address them sooner rather than after they become an issue to the best that we can do that.
Q: What have you seen from veterans Damione Lewis and Gerard Warren so far?
BB: I think both players are similar in that they've come from systems that are different than what we do. They're both very experienced guys with real productive careers at other places. We're asking them to do some things a little differently than what they've done in the past. Our defense is just structured a little differently, but I think they have adapted very well. [They're] both smart guys, very professional, work hard, both in good condition. They've taken a lot of snaps out there. They've, overall, I'd say performed very well both in the running game, the passing game, [and] the communication. Vince [Wilfork] being in the middle kind of helps that as the communication always starts on the inside and works its way out, so having Vince to help with some of the calls and adjustments and alerts and things like that has been good. Those guys are good on their own, as well. They can certainly handle themselves without any help, but then when you put it all together I think that the chemistry and those guys playing and working off each other has been good and I think will continue to improve. I like both of those players. I think they've done a good job for us. Again, they've brought a good professionalism to our team in terms their effort, their work ethic, their toughness, their dependability. You can see why they've had the kind of success they've had in their careers. They're good football players and the go about their job in a good way.
Q: Yesterday, Julian Edelman took a few reps as a running back. Is that to help him with his versatility?
BB: We move guys around at all the positions. Other than the quarterbacks and the kickers, I don't think there are too many guys that don't play more than one spot or line up in different places. It's kind of a common theme for everybody, especially at this time of year. Now is the time to work on those things in case you need them later on or just to build depth on your team.
Q: What have you liked form BenJarvus Green-Ellis over the last few years and do you think he will be able to take on a larger role this year?
BB: That's up to him. I don't know. It depends on how he does. If he does well, then sure. Benny has been productive when he's had an opportunity to carry the ball. I think he has improved over the last two years significantly. He's had a good curve. Benny works hard. He's tough. He's again, very professional. He really takes his job seriously. When you tell him to improve in something, he'll work very diligently to improve on it and I think we've seen those kind of improvements over the last couple of years. I'm sure he'll get opportunities here in the coming weeks to perform his skills and we'll see how he does. I think he's done a lot to put himself in a good position to be successful and we'll see how it all comes out.
Q: Coming out of college, what's the biggest thing that a guy like that has to pick up to succeed at this level?
BB: For most backs – depending on what offense they're in – but for most backs it's the passing game. He was a good runner in the SEC [and he] had a couple thousand-yard seasons, but pass protection, all the different pick up rules, route running, route adjustments, all those kinds of things, for backs that are used to playing behind the quarterback, when you start to get into the passing game and protections and all of that, it's usually a lot more than they had done in college. Again, it's dependent on their offense, but generally speaking, that's a big adjustment for them.
Q: How much has Alge [Crumpler] helped to reduce the workload on the receivers so far?
BB: I think Alge has been really good for our football team. [He's] kind of the offensive version of Gerard [Warren] and Damione [Lewis]. [He's] very professional. Alge takes his job very seriously. He prepares with great diligence and puts a lot of time into it. He never wants to walk onto the field unprepared. He'll ask questions even on things that might not have a big chance of coming up, but he's very thorough and I think that has been great for all of our tight ends to see – [Rob] Gronk[owski], Aaron [Hernandez], Rob Myers, all those guys. It's been really good. Again, you can see why he's been so successful in his career. He prepares hard. He works hard. He's tough. Every play is an important play to him. He doesn't take any plays off. He's very conscientious. So I think he has been a great example and he has performed well. He's a big, physical player that can block on the line He's got excellent hands. He handles the ball well, even when it's not quite right on target [or] behind him and low balls and things like that. He's got soft hands. He's a very good catcher. He knows how to get open, knows where the soft spots are and how to set up a defender and those kinds of things. I think he's done a good job for us. He's been a good contributor to our team, and particularly that position.
Q: Corwin Brown seems to be a good motivator in that he can relate to players. What do you think his greatest coaching strength is from what you've seen with him?
BB: Corwin and Pepper [Johnson] both bring the element of they've played the defense. They've actually gone out there on the field and played it in the National Football League, all the things that we coach – the techniques, the calls, the alerts, the situations. And they know a lot of the on-the-field subtleties and little tips and reads and things like that as a coach, you try to coach them. But I haven't played the position and those two guys have. I think that's a good thing for our defensive players. A lot of times they can help a player when the coach is telling him to watch out for these four things, Pepper or Corwin can kind of step in there and say, 'Look, this is how you do it.' I think that's something that is good for us; it really is. Not just the Xs and Os, but the whole being a football player and all the things that go into it: the training, the preparation, the attitude, the importance of all the little things, defense, special teams, individual drills, film study, weights, stretching, all of it. Those guys both had good careers, again, for a good reason. They did a lot of things right and they can impart that knowledge to younger players from an 'I've done it' standpoint. I can tell them things, but I can't say that I've done it because I didn't.