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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript 8/7

Q: What have you seen from Joe Thuney thus far in camp?

BB: He's worked hard, smart kid. He's got some position flexibility even though we haven't played him in a lot of different spots, but he's learning multiple spots, so I'm sure at some point we'll get to that.

Q: Is he learning those multiple positions behind the scenes away from the practice field?

BB: Yeah.

Q: Do you feel that at this time he is better suited to just focus on one spot along the offensive line?

BB: Well, we're working through it. He has played, like I said, he has played left tackle, he has played center. He hasn't played a lot of it in a game but he has practiced there. He has played guard. He'll learn and take reps in walkthroughs and that kind of thing, but we'll get to it. I'm sure we'll get to it.

Q: Is there something specific you look for in an opposing team when you schedule joint practices or is it just a matter of having a relationship with the head coach?

BB: Yeah, somebody you can work with, that's the number one thing. That's above all else. We have a great relationship with the Saints, with Sean [Payton] and his staff, the organization. It's always worked out well the times we've done it with them, so if we have an opportunity to do it with them we try to take advantage of it. It's been really good. They're great to work with.

Q: Have you been in touch with Sean Payton to come up with some kind of plan for the week?

BB: Yeah, I think we know what we want to try and do. We'll talk about it when they get here. We'll kind of go over it one more time. We've still got practices that are important to us before we get to that, but we want to be organized with them. I think we are and we'll just kind of fine-tune that when they get here, but we're good to go.

Q: What are you looking to accomplish with these next two practice days before you get into the joint practices?

BB: Well, we still have things we need to install. We still have a lot of situation work we need to cover. I know we'll be doing some of those things against New Orleans, so it'll be good to have already put it in, to have run it, and then run it against them, rather than go out there and have that be the first time. A lot of times there is some ironing out to do. We'll try to get some of that out of the way the first time or two and then try to run it competitively.

Q: Will you have a full physical practice on Wednesday the day before the preseason opener?

BB: No. No, we won't do that.

Q: Going back to the scrimmage you held at practice on Friday, what kind of evaluation are you able to make from that as opposed to just individual team drills?

BB: Well, that's football. The big part of football is being able to change. The situation changes every play. It goes from first-down, to second-down, to third-down, the ball moves, you go from offense to defense, to special teams. You don't go out there and punt six punts in a row like you do in practice. You punt it once and then maybe the next thing you do is a kickoff return, so I don't know. It's doing things like that. It's getting players to understand the situation and then apply the call and the technique for that given situation. So, we do things in a lot of one-on-one drills. When those situations come up in the game you want to carry those techniques into the game situation and do it. A lot of times that doesn't happen because players don't remember to use the techniques that they've worked on. They don't know when to apply it or they forget to apply it and they kind of lose track of it and that type of thing. This is football. It's as close as we can get to it. The drill work is good. The repetition is good. That's how you build your fundamentals. That's how you build your execution, but at some point you've got to play like we're playing and that's good, too. It's good for the coaches; handling all the substitutions, making adjustments on the sideline, seeing the game on the down and distance basis, seeing it live as opposed to making corrections on film. Not that we don't coach on the field, but when you don't know when it's coming, when the down and distance changes, we need work on that, too, so it's good for all of us.

Q: How did you feel the overall level of competition was during the scrimmage?

BB: There were some good things. There were some things that we need to do better. We ran 100 plays so that's a lot of good opportunities to coach.

Q: Has training camp already evolved into an evaluation period as opposed to an installation period?

BB: Yeah. Most of the installation we've put in we've already covered in the spring. It's not new installation. The execution of it in pads is obviously new, but we're getting into the numbers on that now. We're playing against an opponent on two practices and then we have a game Thursday night. It's time to start evaluating. We can't keep pushing it back. At some point we've got to make some decisions and see where things are. I think we've given everybody a pretty good chance to learn what to do, to have an opportunity to rep it. Now we're getting into some competitive situations with us, but then against these other teams there will be not just the game but other practice opportunities as well to evaluate. Those will all be valuable. We'll just see how it goes.

Q: With this being the ninth day of training camp are you starting to see some players separate themselves from others or did that already happen last week?

BB: I don't know that it really comes at all. Look, we'll see competition against two good teams here in the next couple of weeks, so hopefully we'll see some separation. We're going on limited information, honestly. But it's what we've got so we'll just have to make the best of it.

Q: Is it safe to say from a roster standpoint that this camp has been a lot more consistent as opposed to previous camps where there were new players coming in every other day?

BB: Yeah.

Q: What do you make of that? Is there a reason behind that?

BB: Because we haven't been forced to do it. This year has been exceptionally good that way, so far. Hopefully it continues but that's how you make progress, is working with the same players day after day so they can actually go out there and get better, but when you lose players and have to put them on injured reserve, whatever the circumstances are, you have to make changes then you bring them in, [and] you start from scratch. It's not the ideal way to do it, that's for sure, but sometimes that's what you're forced to do. It's a good observation. It's been a good thing about this camp, that we haven't had that [roster turnover]. We still have a number of guys that aren't practicing but at least we're not switching bodies every other day.

Q: Do you have any recollections from the Hall of Fame game versus San Francisco that you coached in back in 2000 in your first year here with the Patriots?

BB: It was a great class that went in. Because of the five year rule and all of that, a lot of those guys were guys that I coached against or that we battled against those years with the Giants. It was a good group. That was an interesting game because we started out a little bit on the Tim Rattay trail and Dick Rehbein went down there and worked him out at Louisiana Tech, or wherever he was from. They ran a big spread-offense and he had a lot of big numbers and all of that and we kind of liked him and thought that might be a late-round pick. Then we got on [Tom] Brady, so it was kind of Brady and Rattay in that seventh round. Then, as luck would have it, we took Brady and they took Rattay and then they were playing against each other, and so we kind of got a look at that, those two quarterbacks in the sixth round, or whatever Brady was, but the same thing. I guess we took the right one.

Q: Giovanni Carmazzi was running around out there that weekend as well.

BB: He was, he was.

Q: There were a lot of great players in that game like Jerry Rice who was coming to the end of his career there in San Francisco.

BB: Yeah, I don't think he saw a lot of playing time that day.

Q: Is it interesting looking back on the overlap of the two franchises at that period of time?

BB: It was obviously one of the many parts of the process in rebuilding that team. We had a lot of work to do there from 2000, 2001. It was a lot of building. We had a few good players, I'm not saying that. But after you get past those guys there were a lot of things that needed to be changed.

Q: With Tony Dungy and Marvin Harrison heading into the Hall of Fame this year, what was it that made those guys so difficult to compete against?

BB: Yeah, Harrison was a great receiver. He could do it all, and he had the quarterback to go with him, obviously. But he was - short, long, run-after-catch, great route runner, outside the numbers - we always doubled him. That was Ty [Law] out there on him, too, but I'm saying anytime we doubled; there was a lot of guys you had to worry about on that team. [Edgerrin] James, the receivers, the tight ends, the running back, the quarterback, but in the end where it usually went to was Harrison. [Ken] Dilger, James, [Peyton] Manning, [Reggie] Wayne - it was always Harrison - and that's not taking anything away from the rest of them, but you've got to start somewhere.

Q: Is there one characteristic about Tony Dungy's teams throughout the years that sticks out?

BB: They were always tough.

Q: How important has this camp been for a guy like Justin Coleman who wasn't around here last summer?

BB: Yeah, Justin had a good spring for us. That was really a key thing for him. You're right, he was here last year but he missed two different sections of the season. He had some missed time with injuries so it wasn't a full year for him. He was kind of in and out, but he had a real good spring and then that carried into training camp. He's out there every day, he hasn't missed any time, he's been able to get a lot of reps and improve, so it has been good for him. I think this is a big year for him anyway, but the fact that he has had so many opportunities and has been healthy and has gotten a lot of reps [is impotant]. I think our receiver group is pretty competitive, so whoever is out there has been a pretty competitive player so it has been good for all of the corners, but definitely for him.

Q: How closely do you watch how players rebound from adversity during training camp and does that play into the evaluation process?

BB: It's definitely something we talk about and you see that sometimes, a player might have a bad play and then it ends up being four bad plays. Obviously, you try to turn the page, move on to the next play. You can have a bad play but you can't have a bad day. We all make mistakes, we all have bad plays, but you can't let it affect you, so we talk about that. Some players, obviously the more experienced ones, probably have a better chance to handle some of that but we've all got to work through it. That's a part of it sometimes. You see guys that catch the ball really well and they go out and drop the first one and then its six out of 10 instead of nine out of 10. Look, we all have to do that. We all make mistakes, we all have bad plays and we've got to find a way to work through it, get back on track, don't live in the past and move forward.

Q: Is the reason Malcolm Mitchell has missed a few practices just a matter of preventative maintenance or is there something to be concerned with there?

BB: It's about us doing what we think is best for the team.

Q: Does Malcolm Mitchell's style of play remind you of a Deion Branch or any other receiver that you've had in your time here?

BB: It's hard to really compare anybody to Branch. Branch had a rare quickness. I mean, what'd he run, like a three-seven short-shuttle? You just don't see that. Deion was very, very quick and very smart. I'm not saying there aren't other smart receivers, but Deion was really a smart receiver and very, very quick. We've had quick guys like Troy [Brown], and [Julian] Edelman, and Wes [Welker], guys like that. But it wasn't Deion, they didn't have Deion's kind of quickness. They may have more size than Deion, they were probably a little better after the catch in terms of bulk, and strength, and breaking tackles and all that, but Deion's short space quickness was pretty good. I don't think we've had a guy with his kind of quickness. I don't know that too many other teams have. They might have been quick but not with all of the other things, but when you put Deion together with his hands, his instincts - which were very good - his overall intelligence and his short space quickness. He was not the biggest guy, not the strongest guy but he was hard to cover. His quickness was tough to cover. It'd be hard to compare anybody to him because he was pretty unique with the level of quickness that he had.

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