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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript - Mini-camp 2002 - Day 2

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BB: The rain finally forced us inside today. As some of you probably saw the new turf in the bubble I think has really improved the quality of practice quite a bit. That was a real big upgrade for us. I think we made a little progress between yesterday and today. We have got some space limitations in there, but guys running around and trying to mesh some things together in all areas. We are cramming a lot into a short amount of time here, but I think that relatively speaking things are plugging along. Hopefully we can get back outside this afternoon and spread out a little bit. Not that you guys will be out there covering it. You guys have anything this morning or do you want to get into the locker room. Did that workout okay for you yesterday, did you have enough space to get all of the players? Once we get those lockers out of the middle we could have an inter-squad scrimmage.

Q: Has Deion Branch shown some flash this camp?

BB: I think Deion has picked up things fairly well. He comes from a passing offense background at Louisville. He played both outside and in the slot there so a lot of the things that we are asking him to do he has some background with. I think until the pads come on it is really hard to make a good evaluation, but in terms of just the skills, in there running around, catching the ball he looks okay.

Q: The ring ceremony Sunday night, have you given a second thought to that, how you feel about that and will you ever wear the ring?

BB: I am not a big jewelry guy. I usually don't wear rings so I doubt that I will start now. The main reason for that is because I usually end up losing it if I wear it. After I got out of college I wore a watch and lost three of them in a month and figured it would be more economical to find another way to keep track of my time.

Q: How do you tell time?

BB: You know you have a clock or you ask somebody what time it is, but what it means and what it stands for and all is something that obviously is what I work for and something that I will treasure along with the other two Super Bowl rings from the Giants and even the AFC Championship from '96.

Q: Did you have any tough decisions about who should get rings and is Terry Glenn going to be getting one?

BB: I would really rather not get into that.

Q: Donald Hayes looked pretty good today?

BB: Yeah, Donald has been in here all year. He has been here since before the off-season program even started and he never missed a day. He had a personal thing yesterday. It is the first day that he hasn't been here in three months, but Donald is an experienced receiver. Some of the things that they did at Carolina in kind of the West Coast offense are a little bit different for us, but there is some carryover, but Donald has worked hard. Last week we were able to get some work in with Donald, Troy [Brown] and David [Patten] in some of our three receiver sets. So it was good to see how that might fit together. I think we have good competition at the receiver position. Of course Troy is coming off of a great year and David really had, particularly at the end of the year, I mean he had the Indianapolis game and some other spots along the way, but had some big catches at the end of the year for us. So I think we have got a good, competitive situation at that spot.

Q: Ideally what do you want to get out of your tight end position catching, is it blocking, catching?

BB: Well it is both. I think that what we are looking for offensively is balance and anytime the defense overloads in one area you would like to be able to come back to where it's a little bit softer and attack in the middle of the field, both in the running game and the passing game is an area that the tight end usually factors into because of the position that he plays. Of course some of those runs are outside runs so that helps us stretch the perimeter in the running game. You want to be able to run the ball inside and outside. You want to be able to throw the ball inside and outside. You want to be able to throw it short and deep. So the more you can balance off then the harder it is to defend and I think that our production in both the running game and the passing game at that position I hope can improve. Whether it will or not remains to be seen, but that covers both areas both the run-blocking and the pass receiving and again the pass receiving can come in a lot of different areas. It can come in play-action, it can come in the red area, it can come on third down, so situationally that is an important position as well, but just in general terms I hope that we can be more productive there blocking for the running game and I hope we can be more productive there catching the ball particularly as the coverage extends outside on Troy and [David] Patten as it did last year.

Q: The three guys that you have brought in since the end of the season [Christian] Fauria, [Cam] Cleeland and [Daniel] Graham would be thought of as pass catchers first would they not?

BB: I don't know about that. Cleeland I would say definitely. Christian is I think been a pretty balanced player both in college and at Seattle. I mean he has been I think a pretty good run-blocker. Certainly above average, even going back to when he was at Colorado. I think that Graham has had some numbers in the passing game, but we evaluated him as a guy that can be a good run-blocker as well. So techniques in college and the NFL are a little bit different at that tight end position and the blocking and who you have to block and the type of blocking that is used, but I think that he should be able to do it. Hopefully we can get balance out of all of those players. Again, I am not saying that Cam, I would just say that he is a little more known for his receiving than his blocking, but he is a big guy. He's got the height and frame so we will see what he can do.

Q: How has Graham looked through rookie camp to this camp?

BB: I think that it is similar to what I said about Deion, I think that he has picked up things fairly well. We have thrown a lot at him and I think that he has started to make the adjustments into a new style of offense and some new techniques and working routes with the quarterbacks that maybe have…my sense of it is a couple of our routes might have more options then maybe some of his other college routes where you just pretty much run the pattern. This could be an either or depending on the defense, how they are playing it and that type of thing. There are some adjustments there, but Daniel seems to be working hard and has picked things up at a decent pace like we have seen with Deion and Rohan [Davey] for that matter, all three of them.

Q: Given your druthers, is the tight end a position where you would prefer to have a guy like [Ben] Coates, [Mark] Bavaro type of guy or do you prefer spreading out with the four wide receivers?

BB: Well whatever ends up being the most productive thing for us. I would be happy with whatever production, if we can get production from four wide receivers, great, if we got it from a tight end, great, just as long as we are productive. I think there are a couple of different ways to skin a cat and we have seen teams in this league do it in a number of different manners, but the two people you mentioned Mark and Ben both had dramatically different styles yet they were both probably one of the top two or three tight ends when they played at their time. Having been with both of them I wouldn't say that they necessarily were as good at what the other guy did, but they each had their strengths and weaknesses and then the system to a certain degree fit around them and their special skills.

Q: The fact that you had two draft picks at tight end last year and again this year it would seem that you would prefer to have somebody in that tight end position you could rely on in both the running and passing game?

BB: No question. It is a lot easier to have one guy that can do both rather than to have a pass catcher and a blocker and then everybody knows when one guy is in the game what he can do and then when the other guy is in the game what he can do and sometimes you have to do it that way, but I don't think that is really what you are looking for. Then of course there is the possibility that we will have more than one tight end in a game at a time so how it works out with those guys and that competition that is really what training camp will be for.

Q: Mike Holmgren said that he would like have liked to re-sign Fauria, but he just wasn't sure that he was physically able to continue the load he carried, you had no problems with him medically?

BB: Not me. I think like any player that has played for awhile, they are not 21, but Christian has been here every day. He has worked hard. I haven't seen any problems with him in the off-season program.

Q: You brought in Cleeland and Fauria, they probably thought here is an opportunity to play for the Super Bowl Champions, then when you draft Graham do you fear at all about ticking those veterans off, did you have any meetings with these guys and say, 'look here is the situation' or do you think they knew coming in?

BB: Well I think that obviously everybody knows that there is competition. I think there is going to be competition at a lot of positions. The best players are going to play. It is as simple as that. Whoever the best players are they are the ones who are going to play and if we have two tight ends that look like two of our best skill players then I think that history has shown that Charlie [Weis] will be able to find schemes and find ways to get them both on the field and have them both be productive and I have done the same thing as well. When I was at Cleveland we played most of the time without a fullback in the game. I am not saying that it is going to workout that way, but offensively I think we have competition at a lot of positions. We have it at receiver, we have it at tight end, we have it at running back, we have it at fullback, tight end and I think we have it on the offensive line. We have some young players there that are also competing and have gotten a year of experience and have grown in the system so we will see how far along they have come.

Q: How does it effect or help your planning to have a healthy Willie McGinest at this point in the year, where you didn't last year?

BB: Willie, it's just so far ahead of last year you can't even really compare it. At this time last year Willie hadn't even gone to have his back surgery and this year Willie has had a really good off-season. He has been here every day, he's worked hard and I think he is really doing well. He is having a great off-season. We will see how that goes, but I think he is off to a good start and that is always a good sign.

Q: Is linebacker still a position that might be a priority to bolster?

BB: I don't know if priority is the right word. If we could we would, let's put it that way. We can't manufacture them. If they are there and it worked out and it could work out sure I think we'd do it. If it isn't then I think we can play with what we have if we need to and there is another guy that is still out there we will see how that works out, but I am always optimistic.

Q: Any updates on Roman [Phifer]?

BB: No, but I am always optimistic. If we could add a player at that position that we think could strength us and I don't know whether or not we would be able to, but if we could you bet, we would do it.

Q: Is there a different feel to the leadership without Bryan Cox on the team this year?

BB: That's a good question. Of course Bryan wasn't on the team at this time last year either so if you look back to a year ago, now once we got into the season and training camp then there were some other forces at work. We will see how things come out this year, but every year the chemistry of the team changes and when people change, even if you don't change people it changes, but particularly when some people change then even though it is a lot of the same people together the mix and the chemistry is just different and there will be some events in training camp and I am sure during the season that will change that chemistry that none of us will be able to predict or project. Something will happen and somebody will react to it and somebody will…their leadership role will increase or maybe it will decline from what it was last, I don't know, but that's pro sports every year. So will Bryan be missed? Yeah, he is not here. Will somebody take his place? In some way you know it will.

Q: You want to bury last year and move on, but I think one thing that is going to recur is the Patriots are going to be referred to as a fluke having something still to prove from last year would you mention this to the players about people not giving the team respect, because that is going to be a recurring theme which I think would burying last season difficult?

BB: Well look I am not going to sit here and argue with you whether it is or isn't going to come, I don't really know and if it comes up, it comes up. I think what is the most important thing, whether it comes up or not is what the attitude of our team is, what their confidence level and what their belief in themselves is. Whether somebody outside this team thinks that we are the best team in the league or the worst team in the league or somewhere in-between, I don't think that is nearly as important as what our team thinks it needs to do and more importantly what it does and how it addresses all of the points that we need to get ready for a season and get ready for a game as the come up. That will be the key thing and we control that. That's something that when we sit in that room as a team the players, the coaches and talk about the things that we need to do we can control our own attitude and our own preparation and that aspect of it. I think that really overrides whatever anybody else thinks we will or won't be. We can't control what they think and we are not going to try to, but I think we can control what our attitude is and that's what we really need to address. So if it comes up I mean it comes up. It is going to be the same however we come up on somebody else's scale. I think that's as important as what we actually do about it ourselves.

Q: You were World Champions last year of the NFL, when you look at this team do you see this team as a legitimate champion team or do you see the same questions that there were some many things that fell into line that doesn't happen every year?

BB: Well football is the ultimate team sport and I think it is not about ranking this individual against that individual against another individual, it is about how the team performs as a team and I think last year we performed well as a team. Whichever team performs well this year, two years ago it was Baltimore, three years ago it was St. Louis. I mean those teams performed well as a team. They did what they had to do and that is why they won. That's what our challenge is this year, that is what it is every year is to pull the team together and make it as strong as we can as one group, not this individual, that individual. Sure they are important but it is how it all meshes together and what the product is out there on the field Sunday afternoon.

Q: Any chance there will be a re-screening of Shakelton's voyage or do you have to go into new material?

BB: No I don't think we will re-screen that one. I think there has been enough publicity on that.

Q: Do you take that at all as an affront, the idea that everything fell into place, do you take that as an affront to all that you accomplished?

BB: I really don't worry about it one way or the other. We could all sit up here right now and list 100 excuses up on the board for if something goes wrong, here's what happens and then looking back to Monday morning or at the end of the year we could all list another 100 things of things that went right, but I think we had our challenges last year, we met them, that's what it is all about. We will have new ones this year. We will have them early and we will have to meet those too and so will every other team. Every other team will have challenges that they will have to meet as well.

Q: Do you look back and say the Rams didn't repeat because this happened, Baltimore didn't repeat because this happened and do you use that as some way to prepare this team for the 2002 season.

BB: I would say that more what I do look back at is Baltimore, the Giants, a couple of teams that were in the Super Bowl a year ago have gone through a number of I would say problems or have problems and I think that people talk about how quickly teams, whether it be the Rams in '99, whether it be us last year to go from 5-11 to Super Bowl Champions, Baltimore. On the other hand it could just as quickly go the other way and I think that is something that, let's face it, we need to recognize that last year has no impact on this year and there it is right in front of us. I mean there's several team that you can see that example with in the National Football League. You don't have to go to other sports, not that it isn't there too.

Q: What are some of the things that you can take directly from what happened to Baltimore?

BB: I can't really get into what their situation was and their team and all of that, but I am just saying that I think it is a good lesson for all of us of how quickly it can go down just as quickly as it can go up and let's not think about anything other than moving forward and looking at what we have to address and not feeling like anything is going to be like it was just because it was like that last year. It doesn't take long to see that that's not the way it is.

Q: Speaking of Baltimore, a lot of people have debated whether their participation in the HBO special during training camp was a good thing for them were you approached at all for that?

SJ: I was not.

Q: So they didn't even bother to ask you if you wanted to be a part of it, would you have wanted to?

BB: I don't know anything about so I would have to defer to [Stacey James]
SJ: As far as I know the Patriots were not contacted.

Q: We talked about whether the Patriots are "respected" nationally isn't that the kind of distraction that you would just assume avoid otherwise?

BB: Yeah, I mean I don't know if that is respect or not. We are just trying to run a football team. Right now we are just trying to win just one game. We haven't won any this year and that is our first goal to win one so that is more where we are at. I don't think that other stuff, well I mean it is what it is. If somebody else wants to do it great and if we're approached on it we will consider whatever it is, but we weren't so we didn't. I am not going to worry about it. I haven't loss any sleep over it. I personally don't think I need to be the one to be made fun of in the rookie show to be broadcast nationally. I really don't personally need that.

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