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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript 8/11

Q: Have you been waiting for a rainy day like this?

BB: We had one at the beginning of camp, I think before everybody got here. It was just the new guys, but yeah, whatever we get we'll play in.

Q: How big of a relief would it be to have the whole Deflategate saga settled before the start of the season?

BB: Today, we're just focused on this practice and getting ready for Green Bay.

Q: How much confidence do you have in Jimmy Garoppolo to step in for Tom Brady if he is suspended?

BB: We're looking forward to seeing all our players play this weekend, all the ones that are able to play.

Q: How will decide to split up the quarterback reps for the preseason opener?

BB: We'll probably talk about that tomorrow. Today's really, like I said yesterday, kind of a combination practice for us. We've got a little bit on Green Bay, but there are a lot of things we just need to work on no matter who we were playing or what we were doing, so we'll get through today and then talk about that tomorrow.

Q: Has the uncertainty of Deflategate been a problem?

BB: We're just taking it one day at a time. Today is a big day for us. We had two big days here – yesterday and today – to clean up some things from training camp and start to transition into a game-type week, so hopefully we'll have a good day today.

Q: How has Jimmy Garoppolo's skill set developed in year two?

BB: I think all of our second year players have built off their first year. They obviously know a lot more of what to expect and have more experience in our system – been through a camp, have been in the NFL – so it's benefitted all of them.

Q: Are you preparing more for what you want to see out of the guys and if they're getting better as they go up against another team?

BB: We played Green Bay last year. They're one of the best teams in the league – they've had a lot of success. I can't imagine they're going to do things that are a lot different from what they've done in the past. They've been too successful doing them and they have a lot of the same people back. They've changed a little bit in the special teams area, but otherwise there's a lot of carryover with their coordinators. There's a new offensive coordinator, but still Mike [McCarthy] is there, so I'm sure that they'll be pretty similar to what we saw last year. We spent a lot of time on them and had a game against them late in the season. Our big concern isn't as much Green Bay as it is us, and we just have to give our players enough of a background and enough of a chance to know what to do against them so they can go out there and execute it, but it's not a big game-plan game. It's more of a work on the fundamentals and execute the things that we've been practicing.

Q: Is it fair to say the offensive line is the foundation of any football team?

BB: It's certainly a key component. They're all important, but that's an important part of it – no question.

Q: What have you seen from Jonathan Freeny thus far in camp?

BB: He brings a good level of experience to the team both in the kicking game and on defense. [He's a] smart player, picks up things well, tall, rangy, runs well, is a good athlete, has got good size, has got some experience. I think he has an opportunity to contribute on all four downs – defensively and in the kicking game. We'll see how it goes. He's got a lot to work with. He's been a good addition to our team. He works hard – he's been dependable and tough.

Q: How was he utilized in Miami? Was he more inside or outside or did he move around?

BB: Probably a little more inside. He didn't get a whole lot of playing time down there, but he did play some. He has the ability to play both, I would say. He's long enough to play on the edge, and he's big enough and has enough power to play inside, so I think he's got a degree of versatility in terms of position. He can play in the running game, he can play in the passing game, he can play on fourth down, so he's got a good set of skills to be able to help a team in a lot of different ways. He's been trained in all those, he's worked hard, and we'll play him here in the next few weeks and in practices and see how it all develops with other players we have on our team and his role. We'll see how it goes.

Q: Do you see an expanded role for Brandon Bolden and how has he looked in camp?

BB: I think everybody's role is really up to them. It's not for me to define anybody's role – that's what the players do based on their performance, how they play, what they're able to accomplish out there. If we see a guy doing something well then we want to use that. If we see another player doing it then we'll use the other player. Brandon has gotten better each year. He's got a very good skill set, too. He's got good size and power to run on early downs, he's got good hands, he's a good pass protector, he can play on third down, obviously plays in the kicking game. He's made a lot of big plays for us there, so he's got a lot of versatility and lot of value, too, which is always good for your football team. How all that will play out – what his role will be – we'll just have to see, and obviously a lot of that's up to him.

Q: What have you seen from Robert McClain? Having played a lot of nickel corner for the Falcons, is that a role for him here?

BB: He's worked there. He's also worked outside. [He's] another smart player that's got a good level of experience. All these guys we're talking about are I think in their fourth year – right around that range. Robert's played in the kicking game. He's also played defensively inside – more inside than outside, but he has played both. We've worked him there. We'll see how all that plays out, but he's been competitive – smart guy, picks up things well, communicates well on defense.

Q: How has Dominque Easley's training camp been this year compared to last year when he missed practices?

BB: He's already way ahead of that. He's been out there. He's gotten a lot of work, gets better every day, so it's good to have him on the field. He's been able to show up and practice, and we'll see how all that turns out in the games here and how consistent it is going forward over the next few weeks. But he's been competitive and there's good competition in that position on the defensive line. We'll just have to see how it all plays out, but it's good to have him out there.

Q: What were your first impressions of Ryan Lindley out on the field yesterday?

BB: Anybody that comes in has got a long way to go, so we'll see how it all comes together. It's good to have him out there. It's another arm. He's got some experience, so I think he'll pick things up hopefully quick enough to be able to play Thursday, but we'll just have to see.

Q: How do you balance a player getting accustomed to a new system against keeping a practice moving and having productive reps?

BB: It's kind of what we talked about yesterday – you see what the player can do. You put him in there based on the things you think he can do – if he can do those then you give him more, if he can't then sometimes you have to go back and spend a little bit of time to build the foundation and get it right before you move ahead. We're kind of going through the same thing with Ryan [Groy] today. You just kind of take it day by day. We meet with the players, the coaches get some feedback and get kind of a feeling for how they're picking things up – what they are comfortable with, what things they maybe have questions on or don't seem to have as a good of a grasp on. They substitute them or call plays based on what we feel they are able to handle and what's going on on the other side of the ball – how complex that is or what the degree of difficulty is there. You're right – we don't want somebody in there that doesn't know what to do and then that fouls up practice, but at the same time you want to try to evaluate them on what they do know how to do and see how that looks and then move forward at as fast a pace as you can go at, but it has to be one that the player can keep up with. Each situation is different – you just have to read each one independently.

Q: Are you ever surprised by a player's ability to pick things up that quickly?

BB: Yeah, all the time – to varying degrees. Some guys, if you haven't been with them – until you've really been with them you don't know exactly what they can do and how they process, how they can adapt to your system. Some guys can move very quickly, other guys move at a different pace. Sometimes guys are kind of in a little bit of a fog and then all of a sudden it just sort of comes together, and sometimes it doesn't, so it's hard to tell until you've really spent enough time with a player to know exactly what you have. Some guys, when they learn stuff they have it – they won't make a mistake on that, but you throw something new or have to make a quick adjustment in a practice or in a game, then sometimes that's hard for some people to deal with. Other people, they just get it, roll with it, understand it and move on, but until you've gone through that experience it's hard to know. That's part of what training camp and these preseason games and all that's for, is to try and get a feeling for what your team can do, what it can't do, with certain individuals, how they handle things. We put them in different situations, and a lot of times they don't get it right the first time, but if we keep working at it and build on it, then sometimes it changes, sometimes it doesn't.

Q: How has Tarell Brown done adapting to the system?

BB: He's a smart kid. He works really hard at it – you see football is important to him. He does a lot of extra things. Part of his situation is just coming back after missing the spring and kind of being in a rehab phase. Now he's working his way back into a more competitive phase. There's some work to do, but he's definitely making progress. Based on his experience level and his overall football intelligence and work ethic, I think he's got a pretty good understanding of what we're doing. That hasn't really been a problem.

Q: How does the routine change tomorrow with Thursday being the preseason opener?

BB: I think tomorrow is kind of our biggest preparation day for the game. We go through all the game-type procedures – coaching staff, the game day operation. We'll talk about the whole day of the game plus the game itself – sideline management, substitutions. Some of those things we've done to some degree, but just try to have a good, clean game day operation – pregame warmup, making sure everybody's ready to go and it runs efficiently and smoothly, so you know, all those things. We haven't talked about any of those, and that'll be ground that we'll have to cover tomorrow or maybe to some extent Thursday morning just in terms of getting ready to go out and play the game, and as I said, have hopefully a relatively smooth team operation so that we can play. It's giving everybody a chance to do their jobs – coaches, players working together, offense, defense, special teams, substitutions and all those things, so yeah, I would say that tomorrow and even Thursday morning would be emphasizing a lot of points and going over things that we really haven't covered up until now, so it'll be a little bit different.

Q: How tough would it be for a player to miss that workout and practice session tomorrow?

BB: How hard would it be? Depends on who the player is and what their experience is, but certainly I think if you just went with the herd you'd probably be in the right spot.

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