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Brian Belichick Grateful to Continue Patriots Legacy

Back where he's happiest, Brian Belichick is grateful to be back coaching the Patriots safeties despite significant turnover across the rest of the staff and roster.

Patriots safeties coach Brian Belichick (center) and inside linebackers coach Dont'a Hightower (left).
Patriots safeties coach Brian Belichick (center) and inside linebackers coach Dont'a Hightower (left).

FOXBOROUGH - There's been plenty of change for the Patriots this offseason and it was once again apparent on the practice fields on Wednesday as the team took part in their second OTA practice with media in attendance. Offensively, the differences are striking, with an entirely new staff walking the sidelines and barking out commands as they get their new players into shape both mentally and physically.

But on the defensive side of the ball, things feel a little more familiar. It starts with head coach Jerod Mayo and newly minted defensive coordinator Demarcus Covington, but it's hard to miss the two standbys in the secondary, Mike Pellegrino and Brian Belichick. The duo has worked together for the last five years, and have put together two of the most consistent and impactful position groups on the team. Despite injuries and departures over the years, the safeties and cornerbacks have always remained a strength, a credit to their coaches who always seem to get the most out of their players whether they're stars or free agents off the street.

That continuity has helped incorporate a handful of new defensive coaches, like defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery and outside linebackers coach Drew Wilkins, as well as former Patriots player and new inside linebackers coach Dont'a Hightower.

Add it all up and Mayo likes the mix, which will still lean heavily into the Patriots defensive system of years past while incorporating some new twists to keep them fresh and on the cutting edge.

"I feel like we have a good combination of old, young, player, non-player, but, at the end of the day, they all love football and they know how to articulate complex ideas and kind of simplify it for the players," said Mayo before the two-hour session. "There is a good mix of guys even that were here and that weren't here, you know. We brought in 17 new coaches, and I think those guys are doing a good job gelling with the rest of the staff, and it's a work in progress."

Belichick's return was no guarantee following the departures of both his father and brother this offseason, though Steve Belichick was among those spotted as a practice observer during Wednesday's session.

A new father himself who just welcomed his first daughter, it was a busy offseason for the youngest Belichick, but one that he was grateful for. He's happy to be back and the players and other coaches in the building are happy to have him back.

"I enjoy very much coaching here, living here, working with our players every day," said Belichick. "You know, I have the opportunity to coach a position in the National Football League. How much more can you ask for than that? So it's been awesome."

"He's been fantastic," said Mayo. "There are other guys in the organization that it has been a little awkward for, him and those guys have handled it the right way. Look, Brian loves football, and he loves New England. I think I talked about this a little bit earlier: a guy with a new baby, loves it up here, and wants to stay. We're happy that he's here."

With most of his safety position group returning to the mix, the secondary can once again be counted on as a place of strength heading into a season with an almost entirely remade offense.

"[Brian] just brings a different level of how he sees the game, how he thinks the game, he holds us to a very high standard and has coached a lot of great DBS back there," said Jabrill Peppers. "And the standard is the standard in that room. We work really well as a collective and in the DB room from the coaches to the players. We all got one goal in mind, put the best product on the field and help the team win ballgames."

Peppers arrived two years ago coming off a major knee injury and in just one healthy season he's reestablished himself as one of the best safeties in the league, thanks in no small part to the job Belichick has done while also developing Kyle Dugger and second-year player Marte Mapu, who hopes to follow a similar trajectory.

"I was thankful and happy to get the opportunity to coach here and was again thankful and happy to take advantage of it," said Belichick. "I have a lot of a lot of gratitude in my life right now for a daughter, a job, being here, living in this area. I love it. I just hope I can contribute to help us be the best team we can this year."

Despite all the changes the ultimate goal remains the same, as does the goal of returning to the standard that was set by twenty-plus years of coaching greatness from Bill Belichick.

"We're all trying to live up to a very high expectation that obviously was built here through the years and my dad was the head coach," said Belichick, "that's just the legacy of the franchise and everyone's trying to live up to that every day."

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