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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript - Mini-Camp 2002, Day 3

BB: Well this was our fifth practice. I think there was some improvement from where we started so that was good. I mean obviously we have got a long way to go, but starting to see some signs of improvement and we are headed in the right direction. We are going to do a little bit more this afternoon and then wrap it up. I think we are getting down what we need to get done in terms of teaching. This has not been a big evaluation camp, it has been an instructional camp. I think the players have been fairly attentive and we have gotten quite a bit of stuff in so hopefully that will give us a little better jump on our installation of training camp. At least we have been through it once.

Q: Would you term the way things ran as business like?

BB: I would say so. I mean it certainly wasn't perfect, but we haven't played football in awhile so we are getting back to doing some things that five practices later there is some improvement.

Q: Who do you think has made the biggest leap since the end of the year?

BB: It's not really an evaluation camp. I don't think you can really see a big jump now. So much of it is instruction. Everybody is just rolling through. I think we will get a better idea when we get to training camp, too early for the induction ceremonies.

Q: You are going to have the rookies in a couple days early at training camp, right?

BB: Right. Rookies, the same as last year, rookies, injured players and quarterbacks will report a couple of days before the rest of the squad will, yes.

Q: What are your initial impressions of how the facility worked out, meeting rooms, players, practice fields?

BB: Good. I mean the meeting rooms are a big improvement. The practice fields are status quo. The indoor field though, like I said yesterday, I think that is really a big improvement, the quality of practices inside. Our training's run better and our practice was better yesterday. That new surface is a big help.

Q: Is it field turf stuff?

BB: It's the same stuff we have over there by the machines. It's what we practiced on at Tulane and the Super Bowl. Kind of the fiber fabricated grass with the rubber pellets or whatever it is in there that gives it a little cushion, but it feels pretty much like grass.

Q: What do you see in Ratcliff Thomas?

BB: Right we signed Ratcliff yesterday. You know Ratcliff has been a good special teams player. He was out of football last year, led the Colts in special teams tackles two years ago in the 2000 season, so it just gives us a little more depth and competition in the kicking game. That's really the main reason why we signed him. We will work him into defense and see how that goes, but he has been a productive special teams player.

Q: Do you ever see the day that you would want to have training camp here instead of a college somewhere?

BB: We have talked about it. I think it is a possibility. We would have to work through a couple of logistical things. I mean the housing would obviously be number one.

Q: Do you think that there is something to bonding together away from here and to get away from the distractions, do you think that is becoming outdated now or is there still a value to doing that?

BB: I think it is a little bit of a tradeoff. No I think there is some value to it, but on the flipside when you go away you just can't duplicate the facilities that we have here. I mean we could duplicate the facilities at Foxboro, but we couldn't duplicate the weight room or the training room, the video equipment and just the efficiency that we have here would be a lot better than we could have at training camp. So that would be the plus, but like you said the bonding, the going away to camp and being in some place that is not as nice as this gives you a little more of an appreciation for coming back here. So I think there are points on both sides, but the housing here would certainly be something that if we were going to stay here we would have to work out.

Q: Are you going to Albany this year?

BB: No, I talked to Jim [Fassel] about that and that is something that we wanted to work out last year, but since they have the Hall of Fame game, which is a Monday night game, it just would make the week too short for them on the other end.

Q: Are you going to do an agreement with another team?

BB: No. We will just play the regular preseason schedule and start with the Giants. Had they not had the Hall of Fame game I think that would have worked out, but since they are opening with Houston it just really squeezes that week down with them playing Monday night.

Q: The ring ceremony tomorrow, is tomorrow really the last night you get to enjoy last season? Is that when you officially turn the page?

BB: I think we have turned the page. I think there are going to be some days between, say the start of the off-season program back in April, there are going to be some isolated days where there are going to be events, whether it be the White House trip or the ring ceremony or whatever, that are still obviously a celebration of last year, but I think once the off-season program started that was really the turning of the page and the start of this year. There are still going to be some isolated days along the way that will be part of the reflection back, but we will just try to enjoy those and isolate them as they come up or will come up, but our main focus and attention is on preparation for this season.

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