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Bill Belichick Transcript: "We'll get into pads tomorrow"

New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick addresses the media prior to training camp practice at Gillette Stadium on Friday, July 25, 2014.


BB:** One down and a lot of practices in front of us. We think we saw a lot of things yesterday out there that we can build on, certainly a lot of things we need to correct and improve on. We'll just try to keep putting one foot in front of the other, string some good days together and see how it goes here. It will be another day without pads. We'll get into pads tomorrow. We've still got a lot of things we can teach on today and prepare for our first padded practice tomorrow. But I thought the players are overall in decent condition and trying to work hard so hopefully that will continue.

Q: You mentioned that it's tough for everyone to retain all the information from minicamp into training camp. Are you still in the installation phase?

BB: I'd say re-installation, yes. They heard it at least once, probably a little more. But you're right, there's been a gap and we have to re-teach it, re-install, re-familiarize ourselves with it. Part of that is part of coaching, too. We haven't been together for a few weeks so there are a lot of little things, little fine things, positions that when you do one thing it affects another one. So we need to do a good job staying on top of that and not having crossed wires somewhere. But yeah, I'd say that's all part of the process.


Q:** What is it about Kenbrell Thompkins that is maturing? What's it like behind the scenes as far as the work he puts in?

BB: Hard working kid; one of our hardest workers. He really tries hard to do everything right. Very attentive, very coachable and he's very hard working.

Q: How do you decide where to start with training camp? What leads to the decision on what you're going to work on the first training camp when you could basically start with anything?

BB: I think it's, for us, it's what our opportunities are, what we can work with. A lot of it was in the red area so that's what's going to happen in the red area. Things that happen in the red area, that's what we were working on. We worked on some goal line things but it's hard to practice goal line in the practice uniform we're in. Some of the things we're doing are in preparation for Saturday and beyond. There are some things we've focused on to highlight for these two days. It could have been different things. In the end we – look, it's kind of an end game. What do we have to have in by the first preseason game? What do we have to have in by the first regular season game? How do we get to those points in terms of basic installation, situational plays, game management, play calling, substitutions, special teams, all those things? Whatever you don't put in now, you have to put in later. Whatever you put in now is covered and that's one thing you can check off. Hopefully you can get it right or close to right. It's a long list of stuff that you just have to do somewhere along the line. Whatever you do now, you have to do something else later. You could switch them. I don't think there's any magic to it.


Q:** What does the presence of Jerod Mayo on the field and off the field do in-season and out of season?

BB: I think he means a lot to our team. He's, I'd say, really the guy that the team probably revolves around more than any other player. Not that there aren't other players that are instrumental in that but I think he touches pretty much everybody, not just the defensive players but all the guys; not just the older guys but the younger guys. Even when he was captain his second year, he had a relationship with the older guys. Now he's a more veteran player but he's still pretty attached to the younger guys like Jamie Collins, [Dont'a] Hightower, guys like that, in addition to guys not at his position. He's got great work ethic, great presence on the football field and great personality that's, I'd say, in a very good way professional but also has a good rapport with all the players and the coaches. I think he's as well respected as any player in the locker room. I'd say one of the best overall team leaders, players, kind of a glue chemistry guy I'd say that I've been around.

Q: When you look at the linebacker position in your tenure here, does he fall in line similarly with Mike Vrabel and Tedy Bruschi?

BB: I'd say more Bruschi but different; similar but different. Tedy had a little different personality but a lot of the same characteristics and played a position – look, when you play a position in the middle of the defense, it's like playing quarterback – you're in the middle of the offense. You have to be the main communicator, the person that everything runs through. That's inherent in the position of linebacker, middle linebacker, just like it is in quarterback on offense. Some of that comes with the position. It would be hard for a cornerback to do that or a wide receiver. They could do it maybe off the field but it would be hard to do it on the field just because that's not the way really the communication flows. But when you take players like that and they're in the positions like Bruschi was or Jerod, then that all comes with it. It helps to push it up.

Q: When you're making an evaluation of a player who plays in the middle of the offense or defense, how important is leadership or the ability to relate to other players in the overall package as opposed to other positions?

BB: Yeah, it's very important. It's part of the job. It's just part of the job. You have to be able to do that whether it's quarterback, center – [Dan] Koppen or Wendy [Ryan Wendell] or defensively from Vince [Wilfork], whether it's Bruschi or Jerod, Rodney [Harrison] to Devin McCourty. You need that down the middle. Going back to Cleveland, the Mike Johnsons and the Eric Turners and Steve Everitt. Whoever those players are, those guys are critical for you in terms of the communication from the inside out.

Q: I would only assume that there's no understating the presence of Darrelle Revis in the secondary. In what way does he sharpen the tools of everyone around him? How has he challenged Tom Brady in that same way?

BB: To this point, Darrelle is trying to learn a new defense, trying to acclimate himself to new teammates and communications and anticipations of formations and motions and patterns and things like that. I don't want to say players aren't aware of who is out there but I think at this point in time and even in the spring where you're rolling through – whatever position you're playing beside change and the guys you're playing across from change, if not every play, every two, three, four plays. So, you're seeing different faces, you're working with different people. I think you're really trying to concentrate on what you're doing, your job, your communication, your assignment. There's a lot less, 'What are they doing? Who is that?' You're just trying to, I don't want to say play generically but to a certain extent just build your fundamental base and learn the defense or learn the offense, whatever it is, and understand the total play, how it all fits together, what you're trying to do, what adjustments we have to make and so forth. I think the matchup part of the game is, I wouldn't say it's not there, but I don't think it's there anywhere near to the degree where it's going to be there where we start getting into a lot of competitive situations where you're working against certain guys in competitive situations. Not that it's not competitive now, but it can only be so competitive when you're not in pads. We don't want to go out there blowing people up and getting guys hurt and all that. It's still kind of a teaching tempo but at some point that will change. There's certainly a difference between, for a corner, which receiver is out there and what his skills are and which quarterback is out there and what combinations they can run and all that. I think that's something that we'll evolve into – at any position. I think right now it's just more of everybody trying to get themselves ready. That's really what it should be too.

Q: If there's a new rule introduced or a new emphasis, how do you as a coaching staff implement the teaching of that? Do you do it right away or do you have to see how the rule is going to be called during the season?


BB:** Yeah, I think that's a great question and probably a little bit of both. I think it depends on what the rule is. If it's a clear-cut rule that's going to change, [like] the kickoffs from the 30 to the 35, that's pretty cut and dry. But [if] it's a rule that maybe has some gray area or a rule that's not a rule change which is pretty common, the league does this every year, it doesn't change a rule, it just says we're going to emphasize it differently. Well, I don't really know what that means because we've tried to play by the rules from the beginning. So, we're trying to play within the rules but now they're saying, 'We're going to emphasize the rule differently.' Well, I don't really know what that means. I think you definitely have to get to the preseason or in some cases, the regular season, to see how that's going to be. For example, things like, we're going to put an emphasis this year on the tackles being up on the line of scrimmage. Well, that rule has been in place for decades about his alignment, where he has to be, whether he's breaking the belt of the center. It's been modified but whatever it is, it's been there for a long time. But now we're going to really emphasize it or we're really going to emphasize a wide receiver's alignments or we're really going to emphasize defenders getting their hands on receivers past five yards. Those rules haven't changed. What's a change of emphasis? I don't really know what that means. So, I think we'll have to see. Maybe we'll see that in preseason or maybe we'll see it in the regular season. I mean, preseason, that's another whole, it is but it isn't. But that's – the ones that are cut and dry, we'll just accept them for what they are. The ones that we've changed the shade of gray from light to dark or dark to light, I think there's a little bit of seeing what that is. That being said, that's kind of the way it is every week in the NFL anyway. We go out there and basically try to play the same every week. It's not like we change our techniques or any other team does. You'll see a game one week that has 19 penalties and the next week you'll see a game that has eight penalties. I don't know. Is one team fouling a lot more or is it being called a little bit differently? I don't know. But I think some of that is – we see that in all sports, I'm not singling out football. Some of that is just as the game gets going just understanding that this is going to be called tight or they're going to kind of let them play today. That's a little bit of figuring it out on the run.

Q: Do you have officials coming in any time soon?

BB: They'll be here during training camp.

Q: Any dates?

BB: The Philadelphia week.

Q: Is that your first look to see what the rules emphasis might really be?

BB: We've already had the literature from them and some film clips. We've met with [NFL Vice President of Officiating] Dean [Blandino] in the spring and he's gone over the rule changes and modifications and points of emphasis and things like that. So, we've already talked about those. Again, it's a little different to have a discussion between two people who even don't play and who one is calling it and the other is coaching it then to actually have players go out there and execute it, for them to understand what the transition or what the line of demarcation is between a foul and not a foul and that type of thing. Yeah, we've talked about some of the things that are a little bit different and part of what we do with the rookies, which is a big thing, is to make sure that, in part of their orientation process, is we teach them the difference between college and pro rules. There are a lot of significant differences, particularly in the kicking game. That's learning the rules. That's part of our job and it's also an advantage for us if we can utilize the rules to our advantage. We do that and then we try to kind of re-educate the veteran players as the rules get modified or when the officials come in we talk about them. But it doesn't look like there's going to be a big, drastic change on that.

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