BB: We're back on the field today. This is really just a continuation of the OTA program for us. I feel like we're making progress here this spring. Obviously [we] have a long way to go, but the players are working hard. I think we're heading in the right direction. All the players are here except for Brian Waters - he's excused for personal reasons. Of course we have some players out there who are not participating that are in various stages of rehab and we'll evaluate those guys on a day-to-day basis like we always do. That's kind of the update here; another day at the office.
Q: On Brian Waters being excused for personal reasons, has he given the team any indication on his plans to play for 2012?
BB: Yeah, I don't have anything to add.
Q: They have a fine system in place in the CBA. Are those fines optional for those guys not in camp?
BB: That's probably one you can check with the lawyers on. I don't know. I'm just the coach.
Q: Can you shed some light on what the difference is between OTAs and mini-camp?
BB: OTAs are voluntary, mini-camp is required.
Q: What about the types of drills you do?
BB: No, the drills are the same. The daily schedule is a little bit different. You're allowed to have the players for a little bit longer in mini-camp than in OTAs. There are some other technicalities. You should talk to the league about that; they have all the answers on that - their lawyers and all those people.
Q: The things on the field are pretty similar then?
BB: There are some time restrictions and all that, but what we're doing is in compliance with what the rules are. All the specifics of them and all of that, you really have to check with somebody who knows more about it than I do. I just know what we're doing is in compliance with all of it.
Q: Can you talk about what you think Jesse Holley will bring to the roster?
BB: We've added and released a number of players here in the last couple weeks. With all the players that are coming in, we feel like there's an opportunity for them. The players that we released, we feel like for whatever reason it was time to move on and there are other options that are better for the team.
Q: What was the main reason why things didn't work out as well as they could have or you thought they would have with Chad Ochocinco?
BB: I don't know. The bottom line is that's in the past. Right now, we're focused on today, trying to go out there and improve when we step out on the field. I haven't really thought about that too much.
Q: What is the expectation for the rookies at this stage? I imagine it's different for different guys?
BB: Not really. They've been on the field here for 10 days, not including the rookie mini-camp. [They've been in] numerous meetings and so forth, so I hope they're closing the gap in terms of learning the playbook, understanding the overall system, learning the NFL rules - they're different from the college game - things like that. Hopefully we're closing the gap, trying to get them ready for training camp so they can go out and compete for a job in training camp. If we can give them that opportunity, then their talent and their competitiveness will be stacked up against the guys they're playing against and we'll see how it all turns out. I don't know. Just try to bring them as close as we can to our veteran group from a competitive standpoint so they at least have a chance out there.
Q: What did Brian Waters contribute to the team last year?
BB: Obviously, he had a great year; played a lot and played well.
Q: At 35 years old, do you see him playing at a high level? Is there any reason to think he wouldn't play at a high level this season?
BB: I don't know. I think any time players get closer to the end of their career, whatever that is, then you evaluate them on a year-by-year basis. Some players are improving in their early 20s, the early part of their career and then there's some point in their career where no one is going to play forever. I don't think he's any different than anybody else.
Q: Does his absence create a challenge for you going forward because you can't assess it?
BB: We have a number of players that aren't participating for one reason or another. Whoever is out there is getting the work, they're learning, they're getting the opportunities and the reps. The guys that aren't there obviously aren't. It's an opportunity for the guys that are out there.
Q: How has Jermaine Cunningham bounced back this year and are you encouraged?
BB: Yeah, Jermaine has had a great offseason; he's really worked hard. He looks good.
Q: What was the problem last year? Do you think the lockout affected him? He seemed to flash pretty well as a rookie.
BB: I don't know. I'm sure it was a combination of things, but whatever happened last year with any of our players - good, bad or indifferent, whatever it was - is really not that important at this point. We're really trying to move forward and evaluate the team on a current basis and give everybody an opportunity out there to show where they're at and show what they can do. We're not really focused on what happened last year; we're trying to get ready for this year.
Q: Seeing as we're only in June, what constitutes a 'great offseason?'
BB: A player's physical improvement, his overall mental grasp of what we're doing and then what we can see on the field - which is non-contact - but reactions and technique and things like that.
Q: Were you glad to be able to lock up Rob Gronkowski for another six years with that extension?
BB: Of course. Any player that we sign, we're glad to sign them, that's always what you want to do with contracts. That goes without saying.
Q: Why is it best for the team that Matt Patricia moves to defensive coordinator and Pepper Johnson moves from defensive line to linebackers and Patrick Graham goes from linebackers to defensive line?
BB: We just felt like, for a number of reasons, that combination would be the best way for us to go this year. Short answer to a long question, but yeah. We just do what we think is best.
Q: Along those lines, what are your thoughts on adding Steve Belichick to the staff? Is there anything for you that is nice about having him on board?
BB: Yeah, I haven't really seen him in six years. He's done work here in training camp before, so it will be a continuation of that.
Q: We've seen Chris Simms out on the field. Can you give us any indication of where he fits in the whole operation?
BB: He's learning in a variety of areas. Like most of the young guys that we bring in here, they work in different areas in the organization and he would definitely fit in that category.
Q: Similar to Joe Andruzzi?
BB: Not really. I would say Joe's role has been in the offseason program, which it has been for several years now. That's been his primary role for us.
Q: How do you envision the mix at running back?
BB: I don't know. It depends on how the players do. We'll just have to let them compete in training camp and the preseason games and see how it all turns out. That's really up to them. I can't control that.
Q: Do you like the idea of having one main guy to carry the load?
BB: Whatever is best for the team; however it works out best. There are number of ways to be successful, I don't know if there's any one right or wrong way. We'll try to in this spring camp here, finishing up, try to give everybody an opportunity to learn what their assignments are, what to do, how to execute the plays and then in training camp and preseason, we'll put them out there and let them perform and see how they do. Their performance will determine how the depth chart comes out. I don't have any control over that. That's up to the players at every position, not just running back.
Q: Is Ras-I Dowling all the way back from hip surgery or is he still progressing?
BB: He's participated in every practice.
Q: Any thoughts on Jermaine Cunningham's progression from when he was on the field quite a bit as a rookie to last year where we didn't see him that much?
BB: We'll see where it takes us this year. I don't know. Again, that will be up to him: how he performs relative to the other players at his position. I think we have good competition there, but we'll just see how it all turns out. I don't know.
Q: How fair is it to say that the lockout affected him since he didn't have the offseason to build on his rookie year?
BB: I don't know.
Q: How is Logan Mankins progressing?
BB: Again, we have a lot of players in various stages of rehab and we'll just take it day-to-day with them.
Q: Was Rob Gronkowski's extension something that was a priority for the team this offseason, or was that something where the player and his agent came to you?
BB: We have conversations with a lot of agents and their players. Sometimes things work out and come together and sometimes they don't. In this case it did and we were able to work out something that we were comfortable with and obviously they were comfortable with. There you have it, you have a signed contract. We have plenty of talks at other times. Sometimes that results in a contract; sometimes it doesn't.
Q: How logistically difficult is to go for these three days with the lightness you have at tight end with some injuries?
BB: It's no different than any other situation. The players that are out there have another opportunity to get more reps and learn and progress and the ones that aren't out there don't and I know they're working hard to get back out there as soon as they can. Whichever ones are out there, they will get the reps and that will help them. That's what we'll get out of it. That's what we can get out of it, that's what we will get out of it, and that's what each individual player should get out of it. We have a lot of players out there. Not everybody can get all the reps, obviously; it's a lot of mental reps, just watching what's going on, going through your mind, going through your assignment and trying to take to the rep mentally even though you're not actually in there physically taking it. That's going on. We have almost 90 guys, 22 players, so that's a lot of guys that are taking mental reps. Some of them are injured, some of them aren't.
Q: You mentioned talks with various agents. Is that true with Wes Welker's agent right now? Is there any pressure with the July deadline to get something done?
BB: It is what it is. The rules are the rules and so whatever they are, we'll comply with them.