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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript 7/29

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Friday, July 29, 2016.

BB: Well, we're underway here at camp. Hopefully today the weather holds, gives us a good opportunity to work in some inclement weather, which we can always use, so that'll be good. Again, as I said the other day I think the team is in pretty good condition, saw that yesterday. Hopefully, we can just string them together, which we need to do, string a lot of them together and just take it day-by-day, keep improving every single time we go out on the field. There's no shortcut to it.

Q: What are your thoughts on Kevin Faulk as the newest member of the Patriots Hall of Fame?

BB: Great choice. Kevin did a tremendous job. He was here when I got here so I didn't draft him, but he basically spent his whole career playing for me and he did everything we ever asked him to do. One of the most unselfish players I've ever coached, a guy who really understood his role, did a great job in his very important role. It was very significant what he did. [He was a] dependable player, unselfish team player, played some of his best football in the biggest games. [He's] very deserving. I'm proud to have coached him.

Q: You've often embraced inclement weather because ultimately it is out of your control. Is that something you developed from coaches that you've worked under previously in your career?

BB: We didn't have much choice. In Detroit we had a dome, but Denver, Baltimore, the Giants; those had no options. I guess there are options now, but football is football to me.

Q: What will change if you end up having to practice inside?

BB: We're not going inside. Forget about that.

Q: Is everything fine with Jamie Collins after his absence from practice yesterday?

BB: Yeah, he was excused. He's here. No issues.

Q: How much is your preparation throughout the offseason altered by the limited number of practices you are allowed these days as opposed to years ago?

BB: Well, the way we look at it Tom [Curran] is we have a certain amount of time, whatever that is, and we try and make the most of that time. So, whether that's in the spring, in the fall, in training camp, meeting time, practice time, whatever it is, we try to make the most of it. A lot of things are considered. We have players at different experience levels. We have priorities of getting individuals ready, getting units ready, getting the team ready. There are certain things that we need to do, there are certain things that we have to prepare for in terms of our opponents. We just try and balance all of those things out and make the best use of the time that we have.

Q: How much does the tenor of practice change tomorrow when you finally put on the full pads?

BB: Again, whatever we can do we'll try and make the most out of it. It's no different than in the season when we have padded opportunities and we have non-padded opportunities. Whatever we have, we have and we just try and make the most out of whatever those opportunities are. It's really as simple as that. If we have 10 days of practice then we spread it out over 10 days. If we have 20, we look at 20. If we have five, we do it over five. It is what it is.

Q: How important is the continuity that you've been able to maintain amongst your coaching staff over the past several seasons?

BB: Those guys do a great job, but if you're talking about success over 15 years you've got Charlie [Weiss] and Josh [McDaniels], Billy [O'Brien] and Josh, Romeo [Crennel], Dean [Pees], Matt [Patricia], Brad Seely, Scott O'Brien, so there's been multiple coordinators over that timeframe.

Q: But this group in particular has been together for about three or four years now.

BB: Yeah look, these guys do an excellent job. I'm very blessed to have an excellent staff. We've got some coordinators, we have a good coaching staff, we have coaches that have a variety of experience. Dante [Scarnecchia], Ivan [Fears], Ernie [Adams]; guys like that and then there are other coaches that have only been here for a year, or less than a year, or two years that are in there early to mid-twenties, whatever it is, and many in between. It's a mix. It gives me a lot of different opinions, perspectives. They do a good job. They work hard. They work well together. They're team-oriented. The team gets better consistently, so we're very fortunate to have them.

Q: Has Dante picked up right where he left off?

BB: Yeah, pretty much.

Q: What allows Rob Ninkovich to be such a versatile player and play both on and off the line of scrimmage?

BB: Rob's got a great feel for the game. First of all, he's got great physical skills. He can run, he's athletic, he's strong, so he can hang in there against the big guys but is athletic [enough] to play in space. Whether that be in the kicking game or as an off-the-line linebacker; you can drop him into coverage from the line of scrimmage. Mentally, he sees the game as well. He can move around, do different things. He doesn't get bogged down. He has the ability to play in coverage, which means you have to see the game a little bit behind you in pass coverage. It's not all in front of you, especially in zone defense. There are plays behind you. You have to have an awareness for where receivers are, where people are on the field. Mike [Vrabel] was able to do that. Junior [Seau] was able to do that, although Junior primarily played inside linebacker, but he played on the line quite a bit, rushed quite a bit. Tedy [Bruschi] certainly did that over the course of his career even though the majority of his college career was down and the majority of his pro career was up, but he showed the ability to do both of those things at a very high level. You get players that do that. Not everybody can do it but when you have one that can it is a big advantage.

Q: Is that a skill set that improves over time?

BB: Yeah, probably. Again, Lawrence [Taylor] did that, Carl [Banks] did that, Pepper [Johnson] did that in New York. I don't think you really usually ask that guy, guys like that, to do it all at once – 'Your first year you're going to do all of this stuff.' Usually it's a progression over time due to either the player's development, or possibly injuries or game plan situations where you need to make some variations like that. So, I'd say generally it's a buildup over time but that's kind of the way, but that would be kind of the way it would be anyways. Again, I don't think there are too many players that you would want to bring into the league in year one and give him that kind of multiplicity defensively in a pretty short amount of time. I guess it could happen. I haven't seen it too often.

Q: What went into the decision to give Shea McClellin more work on the defensive line and how do you expect him to perform there?

BB: He's been a versatile player. Shea's a four-down player. He's done a good job for us at defensive end, pass rushing situations. He's got good quickness and strength in the running game, as well. Again, you don't need to move everybody. I don't think you need to have six guys that all play a bunch of different positions and move around a lot. That's kind of counterproductive, really. You need somebody that can move, or you've got to find your depth somewhere, but if it's a player that has multiple position versatility then great. Then you use that player. I don't think you need four of them.

Q: How important is it to get players working with different players and more specifically how important is it for Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo to be rotating who they are working with?

BB: It's just part of training camp. There's a balance. Players that will probably play together, you let them work together, but you never really know how that's going to go. And in the end everybody's got to work with everybody until those things get worked out, get declared. I don't think we're really in that spot yet. But, you know, you get into the season and you want a certain receiver running a certain route, a certain situation, that's who it's going to be. I don't think we're really there. Offensively, we're just installing our offense. We don't even have 50 percent of our red-area offense [installed], and that's what we worked on yesterday so we're a long way from really trying to nail down a lot of specifics. But you saw some times in practice where the quarterbacks would be working with an individual receiver, maybe during a special teams period, things like that. There's some of that but we're not in that full-scale mode yet.

Q: Is the idea then to get everybody working with everybody at some point over the course of camp?

BB: Yeah, definitely. Now, you know, again, there are some players – everybody can work with everybody, that's not a problem – I'd say the knowledge base, the overall level of execution of certain things is higher in one group than it is in another group. We have some players with less experience spending more times on the basics and the fundamentals, Not that they don't practice some of the little more sophisticated things, but that's not the point of emphasis for them. It's for them to work on their fundamentals and more of the basics first. But it's a balance, it's a tough thing in camp that you've got to balance, and at some point you've got to turn the corner and get your players that are going to be ready to play, whoever those are, ready to play. We're not there yet, but there comes a point in camp where you have to turn that corner.

Q: Can you think of an occasion where you've ever clarified a starting quarterback this early into camp?

BB: I don't know.

Q: What happens if Jimmy Garoppolo plays better?

BB: Look, I told you what's going to happen.

Q: Kamu Grugier-Hill seems like he has been picking things up well at linebacker. How do you feel like he has progressed?

BB: Good. He's smart. He's a smart kid and he's played; he started off at safety, he's played linebacker, so he has some experience working on those positions which is a lot of coverage responsibility, a lot of adjustments. You can call him a safety, or a linebacker, or whatever you want to call him but there are certain times when he's going to be in more of one area than the other even though he might be playing the same position but by formation, by adjustment, or whatever it happens to be. We'll see how it goes. I think he's more of a third and fourth-down player. I'm not saying he doesn't have a role on early downs, but I think he has a bigger role on third and fourth-down at least at this point, so we'll see how it goes. But he's picked things up well. He's been productive. Kind of like Brandon King, he runs well and he has some length at linebacker, or at that position, linebacker, safety, whatever you want to call it. He's got some length and those things work to his advantage.

Q: Does his versatility make him a little more valuable because you may not have to take him off the field in certain situations?

BB: Possibly. We'll see. Again, I think he's got some good skills, some skills that can translate to the kicking game, that can translate to passing situations on defense. We'll see how it all plays out. I don't know, I think it's a little too early to start getting the bust ready for Canton [Pro Football Hall of Fame]. I think we'll just take it one day at a time, but he has good things to work with. Again, it's kind of Brandon King-ish from a skillset standpoint, 215, 220 pounds, can run, hit.

Q: There was a player donning the white number 43 jersey [Matthew Slater] out on the field yesterday. What did you think of him?

BB: He looked pretty fast, didn't he? It was a good shout out to Nate [Ebner]. I hope he's doing well.

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