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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript 8/23

New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Q: What is your reaction to the big trade last night between the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers?

BB: Yeah, I'm really focused on our team. I've got my plate full with that.

Q: How is Trevor Bates progressing in the system?

BB: Good. He works hard, a tough kid, out there every day, good offseason. He's a grinder.

Q: What does he have going for him here in New England? I believe he played some defensive end at University of Maine and then had a different role in Indianapolis briefly.

BB: He's played some on the line, some off the line, runs well. Again, a tough kid, has shown some - well we play him off the line of scrimmage basically - but he's shown that versatility. He plays in the kicking game. These are the kind of games that are important for a player like him to have the opportunity to play in, evaluate him against other good competition.

Q: Did he have signal calling duties with the green dot helmet at some point this preseason, and how has he done in that role?

BB: Yeah, we've given it to all our linebackers just to see how they handle it, just to give them some experience so if it came up, the first time wouldn't be in a regular season game. We're allowed to have more in preseason, so I think we've hit most of the guys that would have any outside chance of having it hopefully.

Q: At this point in his progression, is the fact that he came from a small school like Maine less of a factor and the jump year-to-year isn't as big for him?

BB: Right. Well, no, I think he had a good offseason. I think last year on the practice squad he progressed in our system, but you don't make as much progress then because they're running the other team's defenses and so forth. You get into spring and get into training camp and all we do is what we do. Yesterday was the first day we've really run another team's plays to speak of, so it's all been our stuff. How a player does with our stuff is different than how a player does something off of a written card. Hearing the play, making the adjustment, doing the assignment that comes with the play is different than running the line that's on the card. It's a lot different than that, so that's been good for him and that's been a good progression. He hasn't had that with us like a lot of our practice squad players. Some of the guys that were on the practice squad last year that were there early had the background of the offense, of the defense, but some didn't. He would fall into that category.

Q: Adam Butler mentioned he had dropped roughly 20 pounds in the offseason. How does that type of body change affect how you evaluate a new guy in your system who haven't seen perform with that change yet?

BB: Well, again, Adam is a young player. We'll see how it all turns out. He has a good frame. He's tall. He has the frame to put on weight. Some of the weight that he had wasn't quality weight. I'd say his weight now is better than what it was. Could it be more? Maybe. We'll train and see, but he has a good frame so it wouldn't surprise me to see him add on some quality weight. It's hard to add it during training camp, but once the training progression changes a little bit during the season or certainly in the offseason that there will be an opportunity for that to happen. We'll see how it all goes. Right now he's just competing to make the team and see how all of that works out, but he's a young player with a good frame. So guys like that, we have a number of other players I would say fall into that category. What they are now and probably what they'll look like a year from now in the National Football League is not the same, assuming that they work hard and they are in a good program.

Q: How much of that change in body type have you seen guys make throughout the years in the NFL and how much has that benefited those players?

BB: Most of them. Most players coming out of college at 21, 22 just aren't physically developed like the 25, 26, 27, 28 year olds. I mean they're just not. It's more common than the other way.

Q: Is Chris Hogan a player that other guys look up to as far as doing the right things out on the field?

BB: Sure. Chris does a great job. [He's] in shape, works hard, puts the team first, good in the kicking game, blocks, runs after the catch, catches the ball, makes tough catches, smart. There's a lot to like about Chris. I think he has earned everybody's respect just from his day-to-day attitude, performance, physical and mental toughness.

Q: The significant jumps typically come from younger drafted players who progress from year one to year two, but can a veteran player like him show significant improvement from his first season in your specific system last year?

BB: Sure. Definitely, he's way ahead of where he was last year and he has taken on more of a leadership role just because of his experience in the system and the amount of respect that he has earned from his teammates. You come in when you first get here, or get anywhere, and try to establish yourself, figure out what's going on, fit in and all of that. He has done that now. It's at a different level. Like when [Julian] Edelman started, that's where he was but he has grown into a different - I mean most players do that - but yeah, I think that has happened for Chris because of his role on the team and his day-to-day work ethic and attitude and toughness.

Q: How much progression have you seen from Dwayne Allen from the springtime through training camp?

BB: Dwayne's made good progress. Again, there are a lot of things that we couldn't work on in the spring that we've worked on in training camp. Particularly in-line blocking and pass protection, some of the more physical aspects of his position. He's improved on those. He has worked hard at them. He's out there every day. He's a dependable player, gives great effort, has a good attitude, very coachable. You tell him to try and do something, even though he's been doing it maybe differently at other points in his career in college or at Indianapolis or whatever, he tries to do it the way you ask him to do it. He wants to do it right, tries very hard to use the techniques that he is asked to use. There has been a lot of progress.

Q: How important was it to resign Dont'a Hightower in free agency this past offseason, and how important has he been to this defense over his past five seasons?

BB: He's made a lot of big plays for us, and he has done a lot of different things. He's got good leadership on and off the field. He's a very smart player, has been in a lot of big games, been in a lot of big situations. He's got a good demeanor, good even keel poise and presence, not too high, not too low but is able to make good decisions, have good communication, recognize situations and help other players around him do that or do it with him. Yeah, he's a key player for us.

Q: How would you say that the new players on the roster with veteran experience have adjusted to the system here in New England?

BB: I think they've all tried really hard. Some adjustments are harder than others. If you ask a guy to do 20 things, maybe five of them are pretty easy. Maybe five of them are pretty hard. Ten of them are somewhere in between, but those guys have all tried very hard. [Rex] Burkhead, [Dwayne] Allen, [Brandin] Cooks, guys on the defensive side of the ball, [Stephon] Gilmore and [Kony] Ealy and so forth, [James] O'Shaughnessy. They've all tried really hard to do that. They've all made a lot of progress. There is still a ways to go. We haven't gotten into some of the higher degree of difficulty things that we'll get to during the season scheme-wise. Right now it's more of the fundamental and that foundation basis which is critical. As we move the needle it's going to get harder. There will be some higher degree of difficulty things. They've shown all of the effort and aptitude to adjust those when they come, as well. We just haven't gotten to some of them yet, quite a few of them I would say.

Q: Tom Brady mentioned that in a game like this week, one of his goals isn't necessarily to play a number of snaps or make a certain number of throws but to get more into the rhythm of the game. From a coach's perspective, with the quarterback specifically, do you talk to a guy during the game and see how he feels and if he is in that rhythm?

BB: Well, I think if you talk to Tom and you talk to a lot of players, most of them would want to play every play of every game. I'm not really going to go around and take a poll during the game of who wants to do what. I just don't think that's the way to do it unless there is a specific reason for it. That's different, but as a general rule it's hard for me to imagine coaching games like that. So again, in a preseason game we're trying to balance a lot of things - veteran players, new players, the unit working together, young players, evaluations, trying to work on certain things in our scheme that we want to work on under game conditions. So we try to balance all of those and do the best we can with them. We probably don't satisfy 100 percent any of those goals but hopefully we can accomplish the majority of some of them or most of them and that's what we try to do. There's no way to satisfy every single thing that we would want to get done in the opportunities that we have. I think it's impossible but you do the best you can. You get done what you can get done. If you don't get it done, you get it some other time or work through it. But you have to prioritize what it is you want to do. I think if you go out there and play all of your veteran players in all of the preseason games, maybe arguably they might be a little more ready for the opener, but you would've missed the opportunity to evaluate a lot of other players that need to be evaluated. I personally don't think that's the answer in the overall benefit of the team, but there is a balance there. You just try to find that balance.

Q: How important is it for the guys who have received limited opportunities and are trying to make the roster to not press or feel the pressure when they do get the chance to make a lasting impression as we get closer to roster cut downs?

BB: Right. I think that's a good question. It's a fair question, but this is the National Football League and there is pressure every week. There is pressure this week. There is going to be pressure in October. There is going to be pressure in November. We're going to be under stress all year every week. We're going to be under stress out on the field every week against every opponent. Playing in the National Football League, that's what you sign up for. If you're looking for vacation weeks and weeks off where we play some Division 4 team and all of that, that doesn't happen in this league. There is stress every week. So is there stress in training camp? Yeah, there is plenty of it. There is stress on the coaching staff to get the team ready, to pick the right players. There is stress on each player to establish his role, or to make the team or play for playing time, whatever it is. There is stress on everybody and there is stress on every team. We're not in any different situation than any other team in the league is and every player on every one of those teams is having the same thoughts that our players are having, I'm sure. One way or the other, either the guys who think they're on the team are trying to get ready to have a good year, and there are a lot of guys who aren't sure whether they're on or they're not or what their role is, and there are a lot of coaches who don't know the answer to that question either. We're trying to figure it out, so there is no right answer. At this point it's still a process. But there is pressure every week in this league. If there's too much pressure in August, it's probably going to be too much pressure in November. This is the world we live in. You tell me a week in this National Football League when there is not pressure, I don't know when that is. Every week is a tough week. Every week is a good team, good players, good coaches, work hard that have a lot of things that you've got to deal with, and if you don't deal with them then you're not going to win that week. That's the NFL.

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