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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript 8/3

New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick addresses the media at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, August 3, 2016.

BB: Alright, we're pretty much moving into the second week of camp here. We've got a few practices before we see New Orleans and the Bears right after that, so I think this is kind of an important, key time for us in terms of getting through the first few days, and getting the rust off and getting back into some contact-type practices to really start to improve our level of execution. Again, in the contact part of the blocking, defeating blocks, tackling, block protection, all of those kinds of things, so hopefully we can continue to try and do that, get involved in some additional situational football, and by the end of the week be in position to compete against New Orleans when they come in here next week.

Q: What have you seen from Bear Pascoe in his short time here in camp?

BB: Bear's an experienced player. The guy has had quite a few snaps in this league, primarily as a run-blocker, short-intermediate type of receiver, but a tough guy that's got some length, and size and toughness in the running game. I'd say similar to a Mike Williams role. [He's] different, but that concept.

Q: What have you seen from Bryce Williams thus far in camp?

BB: I think Bryce has come in and done a good job. [He's] got a lot to learn. It's a big adjustment for him. I think all three of the tight ends, including [AJ] Derby, who really had very few snaps last year, but AJ, and [Steven] Scheu and Bryce have all done a good job. It's been probably as good of a tight end situation, overall from top to bottom, as we've ever had here. The guys are all competitive; they can all do enough things to be competitive. But Bryce has done a good job catching the ball well. He's got good ball skills, has a receiver background, but you can kind of see that watching him play. It shows up out there.

Q: How far has Chris Harper come on the football field since he first arrived here?

BB: A long way. Yeah, a long way. He was kind of a late add after the draft and we brought him in for the mini-camp, ended up signing him. [He] had a lot of ground to make up and he has come a long way. He had a real good spring and he's built on that here in training camp. [He] shows good quickness, he's caught the ball well. He's doing well but he has come a long way. He has probably made as much progress as any player has in the last calendar year, maybe a little more than that going back to last spring, but yeah, he has come a long way.

Q: Is a guy like AJ Derby a lot further ahead than the rookies even though he received limited reps last year at this time?

BB: Yeah, I'd say he's ahead in some ways. He has heard it before. He has been through a season. He just has a little bit better idea of what to expect the second time through, even though he didn't execute very many plays last year; he heard them. He was in the meetings. He saw how it all kind of fit together and he's a smart kid. I think that all benefited him and so he has definitely had more exposure to what we do than Steven and Bryce have, so it gives him a little bit of an edge there.

Q: Edge rushers are often only credited with how well they get after the quarterback but a guy like Trey Flowers seems to excel in the run-game as well. What have you seen from him in camp?

BB: Yeah, well you know, Trey was with us in training camp last year. [He] was kind of a little bit limited, never could quite get his shoulder probably to 100 percent, or whatever it was, and then went on injured reserve and missed the rest of the year. He fought through it, he played, but wasn't really able to explode with it like he is now. That was a strength of his at Arkansas and for not a tall guy he has long arms, he has some length as a player even though his stature is not exceptionally long, but he has long arms and he plays the run well. He's a tough kid. All of those guys, Rob [Ninkovich], Jabaal [Sheard], Chris [Long], Shea [McClellin], Geneo [Grissom], Rufus [Johnson]; they're all pretty stout out there. [They've] got good playing strength, good length. So, that end position in the running game, so far, I'd say that hasn't been the major problem for us. It's been everything else.

Q: How would you characterize Trey's versatility both inside and outside on the line of scrimmage?

BB: He didn't play a lot inside in college.  I think there was one game against LSU when he was in there, but for the most part he was on the edge, so that's an adjustment that he's making. He's definitely getting better at it. He has quickness and again, the play-strength, and I would say the mentality to play in there. It's just going to come down to experience and getting comfortable. It's a little bit different. You're not working against as long of a guy usually at guard, and maybe not as athletic a guy as the ones that play tackle, but there is less space. The center is a lot closer to you. When you're rushing against a tackle there is usually nobody else involved. It's just the end and the tackle. When you're inside, its some kind of three-on-two, so there is another guy in there, another body in there that's generally not in play in the tackle-defensive end matchup. So, it's a little bit different but he's making progress on it.

Q: What have you seen so far from Donald Brown and how much of the offense do you think he has picked up?

BB: I think Donald's done a good job picking up the offense. I don't think that's really been an issue. Donald is fast, he has good ability to stretch the field, to get outside, to run inside, quality kid, good worker, smart, very professional. He works hard at his job, always prepared, always does the right thing, puts a lot into it. He's been a pleasure to coach. He's good to have on the team.

Q: We've seen Matthew Slater working off to the side with special teams coach Joe Judge. What goes into a decision like that?

BB: We've been doing that for years because it's where he spends most of his time.

Q: Why is that time valuable for him?

BB: Because that's where most of his play time is, in the kicking game. We do that with other players, too. If that's their major role on the team then that's the time we can get to work on it, on their individual techniques, not just the team part of the drills, punt coverage, or kickoff return, or whatever it is, but the individual techniques for that players positon that he plays then that's how he improves his skills.

Q: When in the course of your career did teams start to identify guys coming out of college that could be just core players on special teams as opposed to offensive or defensive guys that you just stick out there?

BB: I think it's kind of always been that way Bob [Socci], from my experience. Going back to when I was with the Colts we had a couple of guys who were just primarily kicking game players and certainly with the Giants; guys like Reyna Thompson, when I was here in New England; [Larry] Whigham. With Cleveland certainly we had Bennie Thompson, guys like that. I would say those groups of players – Whigham maybe more than the others – didn't play a lot, played some on defense or offense, but they were really primarily special teams players. Tony Bertuca back in Baltimore; those guys were core special teams players. The more guys you have on the team, the more you can specialize. The fewer guys you have, the more you have to double up on the roles. It's nice to have a guy that can do everything – be a good offensive or defensive player, maybe a backup player and then play well in the kicking game. Sometimes it tilts a little more one way or the other; guys more of an offensive or defensive player and a little less in the kicking game , or more of an impact player in the kicking game and maybe a little lesser on offense or defense. Those are some of the difficult roster decisions that you have to make. We've probably taken more of those type of guys. [Nate] Ebner didn't even play defense in college; Slater was a special teams player. [We] drafted a kicker in the fourth round, a long-snapper in the fifth round. We probably do more of that type of thing that most teams do.

Q: When you have a rule change in the kicking game like this season do you know what you want your philosophy to be, or do you need game reps to try and figure that out?

BB: Well, we'll see how it plays out. Anytime you involve a specialist, part of your strategy involves the specialist. The quarterback throws a certain type of pass well, you want to throw that, and if he doesn't throw another one well then you probably want to minimize that. If a punter is a good directional kicker then you might want to do more directional punting. If you are a directional team and he's not a directional punter then you're probably less of a directional team. [It's the] same thing with kickoffs. Some of it is a function of if we want to do something different then we'd be asking Stephen [Gostkowski] to do something a little bit different, and then how well that works. That's a little bit of a work in progress. I'd say one thing about here is we very rarely get a wind that just blows straight down the field, one way or the other. There's like a cornering effect. Usually the ball is getting pushed one way or the other, so that could play into it. It plays into the directional kicking in our home field anyways, for us and our opponents, but it might also have more of an effect on this rule. Especially later in the year when you generally get a little bit more wind. We'll see how it goes league-wide. I don't know if we're going to see it in preseason or not. It'll be interesting to see how teams handle that. Maybe they'll do it, maybe they won't, but probably the first month of the season we'll see how teams really want to handle that strategy or that change.

Q: How did you become interested in Deandre Carter since he came out of a school as smalls as Sacramento State?

BB: Well, we brought him in and worked him out. He was here with, I would say, three or four other receivers in that timeframe, not all at the same time, but maybe within a month or so of each other in that late November, early December range, somewhere in there. He just impressed us. He's got good physical skills. He runs well, he's got good playing strength, he's in good condition. He's got a good skill set, and relative to some of the other players we had in here at that time, we felt like he was definitely the best of those practice squad-types of receivers. We committed to him that offseason. We felt like he was the type of player we wanted to spend an offseason with, put him in training camp, let him compete and see how it goes. He's done well. He's a good kid, he works really hard, has some return ability. Again, has pretty good playing strength for is size. He's a shorter player but he has some playing strength to him, so that compensates for it a little bit. He's continued to kind of impress us as he's gained more experience and really is a hard-working kid and a great kid to have on the team.

Q: Is he somebody that has the versatility to play on the outside as well?

BB: Yea, he runs pretty well. He's kind of got a Troy Brown type of build, but I think he's got enough speed to be competitive on the perimeter, yes. And he's played a decent amount out there for us in camp as you've seen. But again, that's kind of the issues of if a guy can only play one spot then how much are you going to be in that and how good is he at doing it, versus a player that's got more flexibility which gives you more depth and more options.

Q: Tom Brady turns 39 years old today. How much of that longevity is due to his work ethic off the field?

BB: Well, first of all, I don't think we want to miss Chris Barker's birthday as long as we're celebrating. Yeah, no question, Tom works hard. [He] works very hard at all phases of the game. I think you have to, to play as long as he has.

Q: Is there any one area that you'd say he's worked harder and harder at?

BB: He works pretty hard at everything; preparation, physical.

Q: Are you and the team doing anything special for Tom and Chris' birthday?

BB: Practicing. 

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