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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday, August 9, 2011.

BB: All right, well it seems like the first day in a while that we haven't had some sort of player transaction. [We're] just pulling it together here. This is really like a Friday type of practice for us, two days before the game, so we're still trying to pull a lot of things together for the Jacksonville game. But it's definitely coming together, I feel like we're making progress. Yesterday we did a lot of down and distance work and started to get more into the 'playing the game' mode and less of just running plays. We'll keep building in some situations and looking at that aspect of our preparations as well as just the normal execution of the plays that we do call. It will be interesting to see how everything comes together, but I'm sure everyone is looking forward to seeing somebody other than the New England Patriots out there on the field, so we get to mix it up with Jacksonville.

Q: Have you made any contact with Jack Del Rio?

BB: I haven't talked to Jack, no.

Q: Sometimes coaches call and figure out how long they are going to play certain guys…

BB: I haven't talked to Jack.

Q: Do you have any plans to do anything like that?

BB: No. We're just going to play the game, do what we need to do and I'm sure [Jacksonville] will do what they need to do. That's football. You've got to be able to react to whatever it is.

Q: You've said in the past that the greatest leap a player will make will be between their first and second year. This year without the various camps and the compressed schedule, should we look at those second year players differently than we have in the past?

BB: Well, I would say every player in the league that's in that category is dealing with the same set of circumstances. I still think that the players that were here last year have gained a lot in terms of experience and knowledge of our system, and just being a professional football player and playing for the New England Patriots. They're way, way, way ahead of where they were last year. Could they have gained some in the offseason? You'd like to think so, but that didn't happen, so, we're not worried about that. We'll just move forward. But I think all those players, you can see a different player from what we saw last year at this time.

Q: What about the two-a-days? Without as many practices as you've had in the past during training camp, will we see the veterans play more in these preseason games than we might normally?

BB: I doubt you'll see it this week. We'll do what we feel is best for the team to get everybody collectively as a team and individually prepared to play, and play in the regular season. Whatever it is, that's what it'll be.

Q: How would you describe the shape that Albert Haynesworth is in? He has missed the last three practices. Is he in good shape?

BB: I'd put him in the day-to-day category. He's getting some treatment and I think he will be back out there as soon as he can. I think he's working really hard and hopefully he'll be back at it there in a matter of, hopefully, a day or a matter of days.

Q: How much more difficult is it for him to learn a new system being away from it or not being out on the field? How will it be for him to assimilate?

BB: Well, unfortunately we have a number of players in that category, so it's the same for all of them. The guys that are out there are getting the reps and are able to practice the plays and techniques that they're being instructed. The players that aren't out there are still getting the instructions and still learning, but not able to participate or participate fully. I think the way the players have to look at it is they should do everything that they're able to do and maximize that, the things they aren't able to do, there's really nothing they can do about those, but they maximize the opportunities that they have, so, that's the way we approach it with everybody.

Q: If a guy hasn't practiced by today is it safe to say he's not going to play in Thursday's game?

BB: I'd say that's probably right. I hate to make any absolutes on that, but it's probably right.

Q: At the left tackle position, [Nate] Solder has worked there, [Steve] Maneri has worked there too. How do you break down that spot behind [Matt] Light and what is it going to look like in the game?

BB: I think that the players that have practiced at the positions that they have practiced at will, for the most part, play those positions. We'll determine who's going to play and when they're going to play and all that. I would say, for the most part — I cant think of an example, I don't want to paint myself into a corner here — but I would say the guys who haven't practiced, yeah, they probably aren't going to play. So we'll manage all the positions with the players who have practiced those positions, I would say, for the most part. We might have to move somebody around here or there just to get a lineup out there, but for the most part we will try to play the players at the position that they practice.

Q: How has Patrick Chung looked this year?

BB: Good. He's worked hard. He's in good condition. He's attentive. He continues to work on all of the little things to make him a better player. He's very determined and he spends a lot of time on it and I think he continues to improve in all areas: defensively, and in the kicking game. He's got a lot of responsibilities and various groupings, including the kicking game. He works hard at those and we're very confident with him out there.

Q: Due to this offseason, have you noticed a sense of urgency or anxiety amongst the players?

BB: I would say this looks like training camp and there's always that sense. We have 90 players and the roster has to be cut to 53 in a few weeks, so that's obvious. That's not a new story, but we all know that's what the situation is — there's a lot of competition out there and these are very competitive athletes, and they respond to the competition because of what their aspirations and goals are. It's always that way. It may be 80 to 53 instead of 90 to 53, but you still cut your roster down. I don't think it's too much different.

Q: Where is Shaun [Ellis] in terms of his readiness?

BB: Day-to-day.

Q: Is it about the same as Albert Haynesworth?

BB: Well, no. They're two different people. They are both day-to-day along with all of the other people that aren't there. We're looking at all the guys that are making progress and getting better. Maybe some of them will be ready to go today, maybe not. Maybe it will be tomorrow, Maybe not. Maybe it will be Friday. I can't tell you for sure when it's going to be except that it will be when they're ready. I don't think that we have a lot of guys that we won't see until October, November or that kind of thing. That doesn't include the PUP classification because that is more of a rules thing, but from a health standpoint — I think that most of out players or really all of them are getting better. They're getting closer to being out on the field. When will that actually happen with each individual guy? We will take it day-to-day.

Q: Albert has had knee issues and Shaun has had hip issues. Do you care to illuminate us on if that's what they're dealing with?

BB: Day-to-day.

Q: Can you evaluate your receiving group?

BB: We've got good depth there. We've got 11 guys working. I think they're practicing hard. Again, it's starting all over again as far as timing and execution in the passing game — that's always a challenge. I think they've responded well to the practices and what we're doing, and I see that group improving. I think it's a very competitive group. It'll be interesting to see how things go with — when you take into account the special teams responsibilities and competition overall as a receiving group – we'll see how that goes, but I would say right now that it's deep and it's a strong competition.

Q: What are some particular challenges or successes that Chad Ochocinco has been having within that process?

BB: I would say it's pretty much the same for everybody. They've all had the same number of practices. They're all basically catching about the same number of balls. They're all working on their timing and execution of the routes and plays with three quarterbacks throwing [to them]. I think everybody is going about it the same way. Obviously, it's a new offense for Chad. He's got that compared to guys that were here last year, but there are a number of players in that group that are also new to it.

Q: In terms of injuries or minor tweaks, are you being more cautious because you haven't seen these guys as much in the offseason?

BB: We're doing what we always do, [which] is giving the players the best treatment and care we possibly can. When they're ready to participate then we let them participate at that level, whatever level that happens to be. Those are daily decisions because their situations sometimes change from day to day. You hope it always improves and occasionally it doesn't and there's a problem or something, then you have to take a step back before you can go forward again. It's no different than any other injury or any other situation, whether it's this time of year or any other time of year. When they're ready, they participate. If they're not ready to fully participate then they participate on a limited basis based on what there limitations are. Our care of the players is no different than it ever is. There's nothing more important to a team than your healthy players. You have no team without healthy players. Players want to be healthy; the team wants them to be healthy. Everybody is working hard toward that end.

Q: What are your key factors in evaluating the depth at wide receiver?

BB: Evaluating the depth? How good they are. The more good players you have the more good depth you have, right?

Q: In terms of special teams…

BB: Sure. That's important too. You've only got 46 active players per game and linemen don't really contribute very much in the kicking game, so once you eliminate the quarterbacks, linemen and your specialists — as far as coverage teams and blockers on return teams — you're already down to not a lot of players there and you're talking about 66 spots on special teams with the three phases of kickoff, punt and field goal. That's a lot of positions to fill with not all that many guys, so a player that can play on two, three, four special teams, obviously the more the better. If it's at a high level, the more value that player has to your teams. That value has to be weighed with the player's performance on his side of the ball, offense or defense, along with the other players at that position. Somebody has got to do those things and that's what training camp is for – to try to evaluate how well they do them and how well they do them relative to other players on your roster.

Q: Is left tackle a position where experience is more important than other positions? Would you feel comfortable starting a rookie at left tackle?

BB: I'd say the only position where experience is really something you've got to consider is quarterback. I think all of the other positions, of course it's good to have more [experience] than less, but I think we've all see a lot of players play all those positions. We've certainty seen a lot of rookie quarterbacks play well – I'm not saying that – but I think that there's just so much happening at that position. Having gone through it from an experience standpoint — playing in games in the NFL with the rules and the situations and the way the games played and all that, and having the control of the team that the quarterback needs to have — there's a lot to be said for experience at that position. I think the other positions, sure you'd like to have [experience], but we've all seen a lot of good players at every position I would say in their rookie year. If you have it great, if you don't I don't think it's a prerequisite.

Q: Can you think of an example at left tackle?

BB: I think we could find plenty of examples. Matt Light would be one. There's plenty throughout the league but I would say Light would be a good place to start.

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