BB: We kicked off, in terms of the numbers, the smallest rookie mini camp we have had in three years and as you can see it is a lot of individual work at this point. We don't have anywhere near enough guys to do any teamwork, but I think we can get some things accomplished in terms of individual techniques and also giving the players some information that I think they will need through the course of their career here with the New England Patriots. We're trying to indoctrinate them not only to the football and some X's and O's, but also just procedurally how we do things in the training room, our strength program, our weightlifting, conditioning, starting to get them ready for our May and June camps and of course training camps, so all of those things. Getting them re-adjusted to some of the personal things that go on, relocation, checking accounts, things like that. A lot of little logistical things we try to get those moved along as well as some of the football stuff and hopefully we can touch on some specific things for them and also a few things in the kicking game, but the main thing is between now and when they come back in May is to try to emphasize how important it is for them to be conditioned and ready to go and we will work on that conditioning a little bit this afternoon when we get them in the weight room and do some running out on the field. Some of the conditioning that you saw some of our other veteran players doing today. That's our update.
Q: Is it a much smaller free agent class just because if the caliber and depth of this team as opposed to when you took over two years ago?
BB: Yes, absolutely. In 2000 our numbers were in the thirties prior to the draft and a few moves there in the spring, we just, from a cap standpoint, didn't really have much money at all and the only players that we could sign were rookie free agents that didn't really hit the cap so that situation has improved a little bit and we had a pretty full roster at the end of the year. A lot of those guys remain under contract. We added a few new ones and drafted some guys to fill us up to the 80-man limit. Also we had a few extra spots last year because we had some players in Europe that we ended up getting exemptions for. Not that we don't have them this year, but fewer of the players that were on the team this year are in Europe. Most of the players are players that we signed after the season that are in Europe. So it is a little different mix there too. So all in all the numbers are pretty small really, nine guys.
Q: Talk about the quarterbacks and what you saw today? Have you re-thought your decision to not go with a quarterbacks coach with [Rohan] Davey, some have said that he is a raw talent?
BB: I'll start with the second question first, I think that all rookies are pretty raw at this point. They all need a lot of work and a lot of teaching and a lot of instruction, so I don't know that he is going to be any different from anybody else at any other position. He needs it, but I think probably 99 percent of them do anyway. Charlie [Weis] and I talked about it in the offseason and we still feel like this is the best situation for us and the best setup at this point, but Rohan is a talented kid and I think that really what we are trying to do with the quarterbacks is give them some X and O material, let them understand the offense, the formations, calling the motion, calling the pass pattern, understanding the protection, we have spent some time in the classroom with them. Unfortunately with our numbers we can't do that out on the field in this camp, but we will get plenty of that in May so it really isn't that big of a deal. A lot of the work will be on film and in the notebook then actually seeing it out there on the field like we did a couple of years ago where we had 30 some guys in this camp, it is just a different environment.
Q: The scouting report said that Davey is flat-footed, is that something you look at?
BB: Sometimes, sometimes he does. I think mechanically he can improve, there is no question about that. I would say that about our veteran quarterbacks as well. They are always mechanical things that…you know as a quarterback you want to try to do as many things as consistently and as precisely as you can that usually leads to better accuracy down the field. Obviously the difference between baseball, where you can stand there on the mound and set your feet and set your lower body in perfect position every time you throw the ball is quite a bit different then this sport where sometimes you can do that, but a lot of times there are other factors at work, but in terms of having a good timing passing game it is a lot better when you can be in a constant rhythm, setup and throw the ball without any interference and as much as you can do that consistently that leads to better accuracy. We will work on all of those things and we have a number of different drops in our offense, three step, five step, play-action, some quarterback movement and all of those so those are all things that a quarterback needs to perfect in order to have a good lower body, to have his feet under him and be able to throw the ball accurately.
Q: What did you see about [Major] Applewhite that made you want to sign him?
BB: well Major has been a winner. He has got real good leadership skills. He has taken that team, which is a good team, but he has taken it very successfully when he has been the quarterback. I think he has got a good sense of how to play the position. He makes good judgements on the field, he is a pretty accurate passer and he has had a lot of production. You just can't deny the production that he has had when he has been in there. Those are the main things that he brings. He has played at a high level of competition, he's played well and he has been very productive.
Q: You seemed to focus a lot of offense in this year's draft, is that because of a need or they were the best players available?
BB: No that is just the way it worked out. We certainly wanted to address our skill level on offense. We also wanted to address the age that we have on defense and try to get some younger players there. With the picks that we had we did the best we could. We couldn't do it all, but we did get skill players on offense and we got a defensive linemen in the fourth round. If we could have drafted more defensive players we would have, it just didn't work out that way.
Q: Seems with the quarterbacks you have here, at least among the three younger guys, they all have leadership as maybe one of their first character traits, that's a necessity with a quarterback, but has that grown since you have been in the NFL as the trait you would want first?
BB: Well I think it is an important trait and I think that leadership comes in a lot of different packages and I am not saying that one is better than another. There are a lot of different ways to be leaders. Joe Montana wasn't necessarily a real vocal leader yet he was probably one of the best quarterback leaders that ever played and then there are other types of players that show more vocal leadership and then there is a whole range in-between, but I think that it is an important characteristic for that position because you do have to run the team, you have to manage it in critical situations like two minute and third down situations and crowd noise and all of those types of things, so it is an important characteristic, along with a lot of other ones, but that is at the top of our list. Having the intelligence and the overall understanding and I am not saying that's textbook intelligence, but just having an understanding of the game and how to manage the game and how to manage the team combined with leadership and all of those things mixed together. There is a bottom line that it's important to do well in the sum of all of those areas.
Q: In weighing the chemistry and competition that you have at that position, you are going to have three guys who are leaders who are all going to want to be the number one guy and have you thought about whether these guys might be less than satisfied being a secondary role?
BB: I think what is more important is the leadership they provide when they step into the huddle. That is really what is important. For a quarterback, I think he has to be able to step into the huddle, whichever guy it is and there will be one of them in there, but whoever it is that steps into the huddle needs to have confidence, needs to have a certain command of the field and the situation, not only as teammates, but also the coaches, knowing what we want and knowing what the situation calls for in that specific situation and that's really what we are trying to get to in terms of coaching the quarterbacks and that is what we need them to do when they are on the field. So however that get's done, it get's done, but it is a very important element. I think that how they work together and what the chemistry is between that group is something that, as it is every year at every position, those players will develop it and as we go through time and sometimes circumstances or events that will happen during the season that will help to shape it, but it isn't something that as a coach you can ever take three people or four people or 53 people and put them together and say, 'Okay this is the way that it is going to come our.' You just can't do that. They develop their own chemistry and their own relationships to try to give some direction and you try to keep a team standard that everybody is accountable to, but you can't tell everybody how to act and interact with everybody. That just has to take its own flow.
Q: How about the two receivers [Deion] Branch and [David] Givens, how do you look at those guys in terms of what their skills are and what they need to improve on?
BB: Deion played both outside and inside receiver in college. He played in the slot, he played outside, he has got pretty good speed and he has been a vertical player and he has also been a guy that can catch and run with the ball after the catch, which he has done both offensively and on the punt and kickoff returns. He has been a return guy. I think he has kind of multiple skills, where exactly he will fit we will have to wait and see, but I think that he has some versatility both on offense, on third down and on fourth down which are good qualities for him. Obviously he has got a lot to learn in all of those spots and we will have to decide just how much realistically he can do. Givens is a player who also has some versatility. A little bit of a different type of guy. Bigger receiver, stronger receiver with a running back, has been a productive player for Notre Dame in the kicking game and so he also is guy that can run with the ball, but a different style of running. He is a bigger runner, whereas Branch is a quicker, faster guy. I think Givens is a bigger, stronger guy and his role on special teams would be more as a blocker and a cover guy then a return type of player. I think he brings good skills to that area. Hopefully he will be competitive with some of our other players that are also doing those type of things.
Q: What prompted the switch of Ivan Fears from receivers coach to running backs coach when he has spent most of his career with receivers?
BB: Ivan coached running backs at Syracuse actually. He has had experience coaching different positions on offense. We just thought overall that that was the best mix moving Brian [Daboll] over to receivers and working Charlie and I there and Ivan coaching the running backs. We felt like that was a position where his experience would be a good addition to that group because there are so many things involved there with the running backs. They are really right in the middle of every play whether it is reading the hole, blitz pickup, pass patterns and all of those type of things. It is a very difficult position to coach because as I said every single play the running backs are right in the middle of, not that receivers aren't important, but Charlie, Brian and I collectively will work in those areas.
Q: Did you like what you saw of Daniel Graham today…?
BB: To anoint him today, yeah I think it would be a little early for that. I think Daniel, again he is a guy that has to come in and learn a lot of things in this league that he just didn't see in college. The people that he will be blocking are bigger and stronger and faster and you are running patterns against people of higher level, but he has produced well and hopefully we can get him indoctrinated into the system, learn the offense and learn some of the techniques on how to beat the things that he will see at this level, but he is a talented kid and if he'll work hard I think he will develop and I think he will be okay.
Q: Do you talk to any of your veteran players and make the suggestion that they could serve as a mentor to these rookies or is that something that you let develop on it's own?
BB: Sometimes you see how it goes or you just sit back and see how it goes other times you might try to provide a little bit of direction and say, 'This is what we are looking for and this is what we want this younger player to do.' Talking to a veteran, 'I know you don't know him very well, here is what we want him to do, can you steer him in that direction?' We will have several of our veteran players, I know a lot of them already talked to some of the rookies, especially the one that they know, but also we will have a couple of our veteran players talk to the rookies individually and groups specifically to…not necessarily that we are trying to tell them what to say, but just to try to convey their feelings and their experience from what they have learned since they have been here and maybe how that could help this new younger group that is coming in.
Q: With Graham on board, the improvement that [Jermaine] Wiggins showed and the signing of the two veteran free agents what opportunity really does Jabari Holloway and Arther Love have?
BB: Well they have been working for a whole year too so we will give them all opportunity from the mini camps and on into the training camps and we will see what they can do. We will play the best players. We don't have any set number on how many tight ends are going to be on the roster or not be on the roster. A couple of years ago we had depth at quarterback and we kept an extra player there, maybe this year it will be an extra tight, maybe it won't. Maybe it will be some other position. Maybe it will be quarterback again this year who knows, but we will put them out there and let them compete. We think that they all have something to offer and they all have some strengths and they all have some things they need to work on. When we get out there on the field that will all take care of itself and unfortunately neither one of those layers really got a chance to perform much at all last year mainly due to injury so a big part of their opportunity will be being healthy and staying on the field as it will for most other positions too, but in particular those guys.
Q: Is 2002 compared to 2000 night and day because then when you drafted guys and brought in free agents everyone had a spot, now guys like Holloway and Love really need to show something now because there are not many spots open on the 2002 roster?
BB: Definitely I think the competition on the roster, it is not even comparable to what it was in 2000 and in 2000 we actually kept more rookies on our team through the course of the year including the draft choices, free agents, I think we had 21 rookie players totally in our system or something like that, whatever it was, it was a very significant number and yeah this year those spots will be a lot fewer. I told these guys last night that the guys that are here most of them are back, we had a good year and those guys are going to fight hard to keep those spots. We didn't have any graduation ceremonies like they have in college where guys use up their eligibility and leave, most of these guys are back and nobody is going to give up a spot easily. They are fighting for a job, it is not a four-year scholarship program. You can tell them that and hopefully they understand it, but I am sure that it will become more evident to them as they really see the competition unfold on the field, but yeah there is no question, in 2000 we were just filling out rosters with rookies because that is all that we could have on the team and that was really a tight fit too especially from a cap fit standpoint.
Q: With all of these tight ends you have does this give you the chance to use two tight ends more in a game?
BB: If they are good enough. If they are good enough we will put them in there. I think we have got good depth at back and I think our depth receiver looks like it might be better than it was last year, hopefully it is, but we will see. So we might have more receivers on the field, we might have more tight ends and it looks like we might have a couple of backs and depth in the backfield too. So that will all take care of itself on the field. If they are good enough they will play, if they won't then guys who are better will play more.
Q: Considering the 4-3 is going to be your base defense, do you have any early plans for Tedy Bruschi in the middle and how you are going to do that are you planning to keep him there?
BB: I think our linebackers, as they did last year, have some position flexibility. Tedy played both inside and outside. Ryan Phillips has played really all three positions, he's played Mike, Sam and Will. Willie [McGinest] has played some outside linebacker, he has also played some defensive end so I think that we have some flexibility with those guys and we will probably need it through the course of the year one way or the other.
Q: How are you going to start day one?
BB: Well to make sure that they understand and get some crossover in those positions so that we are just not locked into one spot. Some of that was built last year by the 3-4 because when you are playing a four linebacker system when one guy rushes then the other three become Sam, Mike and Will, however that unfolds. So sometimes depending on which guy rushes, sometimes the wil becomes the Mike, sometimes he becomes the wil and vice versa. So from that standpoint we have a lot of natural carryover in this system. I think this year Tedy will play some Will, Ryan will play some Sam, he may play some Mike too as well as Will. Last year Ted Johnson played a little bit of Will towards the end of the year as well as Mike, so I think that we will have to build our own depth there and McGinest will fit into that too in terms of being a in to outside linebacker type of depth. Just like we have guys like [Anthony] Pleasant who play end to tackle in some passing situations, we are going to have to build that with our linebacker group as well. Another option that we did a little bit last year, maybe we will do a little more of it this year, I don't know, is the safeties moving down to that Will linebacker position. Where Lawyer [Milloy] comes down and plays in the box really like a Will linebacker in some of our nickel defenses. That is kind of how you have to build both from a depth standpoint, but also situationally when you want to try to match-up with a team. If you have some position flexibility it is a lot easier to do.
Q: Do you see [Andy] Katzenmoyer fitting into this at all?
BB: Well I think until Andy can get out there and establish something, he's got to get out there and do that and he hasn't.
Q: Have you spoken to him?
BB: Yeah. I think he hasn't been able to do that the last couple of years so until he does it he hasn't done it. He is going to have to do that.
Q: Did you get a chance to see Drew's [Bledsoe] thank you letter to the fans?
BB: No I didn't. I mean I heard some of the comments he made, but I didn't see the letter.
Q: Would linebacker be your potential priority when the next wave of free agents comes out?
BB: If we can improve it we will. I don't know what that will really consist of and we will have to see what happens with [Roman] Phifer, where that situation goes, but sure if we could competition to that position we would add it, no doubt about it.
Q: What role do you see Drew Inzer in and has there been any progress?
BB: I think that Drew has made a lot of progress. I think that he really came a long way last year from where he started. At the beginning of training camp we worked him at, he played tackle in college, we worked him primarily at guard in training camp. He also played a little bit of center. Then as the year went on he spent most of his time at guard which is really what I think his best position is and I think that through the course of the year he really improved in that. He is having a good offseason and I think that he can be real competitive there, but we won't know until we get the other 21 guys out on the field and the real bullets start flying, but I like all the things I have seen from him. He has worked hard. He's improved technique-wise as a player through the course of the year and in the offseason. I think he has really got a chance to challenge those other guys in those spots, but again we will have to wait and really see how that turns out when we get out there in training camp, but I think he is coming along well, I think he has got a chance. He has worked hard.
Q: What is going on with Phifer is this strictly about his personal situation and are you surprised that it hasn't been resolved yet?
BB: No I am not surprised. He didn't sign last year until July. When it gets done, it gets done. If it doesn't get done then we are still working on it.
Q: I know you want him back, have you made a personal plea or anything to him?
BB: We have talked about this many times before until it is done it's not done. You can come close and then it can break apart and you can start far apart and it can come together in a matter of hours. We want him back. I have all of the respect in the world for Roman. I hope that he is back with us next year, but it needs to workout on both sides. When it does it does. If it doesn't then it doesn't and we will take another course of action, but I think that it is something that we would still like to happen and hopefully he feels the same way, but it is not done so it's not done.
Q: There seems to be greater urgency on the part of people like us and the fans then there is on your part, he seemed like such a vital part of the defense last year that is why I think it keeps resurfacing, do you see it the same way?
BB: Sure, look, Roman played almost 95 percent of the defensive plays. He was on the field virtually every play just like Lawyer and Ty [Law] and some of those other guys were. Everything involved him. Goal line defense, third down, first down, every week, so he is a key guy, there is no question about it, I am not in anyway trying to minimize anything he did or take a nonchalant attitude to it I am just telling you that right now he is not signed with us. Hopefully he will and it is not that we don't care, but it is not done. We do care and we are working on it, but it is not done so I can't sit here and tell you that he will be here because it's not official.
Q: But you didn't answer my question?
BB: That was unintentional, I meant to answer it. Have I talked to Roman?
Q: Have you talked to him?
BB: Yes. I think it went well. I think we had a good conversation. I have always had a good relationship with Roman for the last four years or three years whatever it was going back to '98 with the Jets, four years and we had a good conversation and I understand where he is and I think he understands where we are. I think everybody is working toward the same point, are we there yet? No. Will we get there? I hope so, but you know free agency as well as I do, sometimes things get done, sometimes they don't.
Q: You better hope you know it better than I do?
BB: You've covered those stories some of them get done, some of them don't.
Q: Has Katzenmoyer been working out at all?
BB: Well he hasn't been working out here so I really couldn't tell you what he has been doing. You would have to ask him that. He has not worked out here, no.
Q: Will he be here for mini camp?
BB: I don't know. He is the only player that hasn't been here for workouts and the only player that we haven't talked to about being here. We don't know what his situation is and he is, again, not here.
Q: So you are not counting on him?
BB: Well he's not here so all of those questions that you are asking me about him you will have to ask him because I really don't know.
Q: Is Phifer still talking with Oakland or is it just between you and him?
BB: You would have to talk to Roman about that. There have been no three-way conversations between us, Roman and Oakland. Whatever Roman has done with Oakland, I don't know you would have to ask him about that.
Q: How eager are you to leave this building behind?
BB: Mixed feelings. I mean there is no question we are looking forward to getting into CMGI and I walked through there again for some final things, some touch up things that we are talking about. It is a great facility. There were some great memories here. So it will be a little sad to leave it, but on the other hand you look forward to a great facility and a great working environment that we are moving into. It will certainly make us more efficient in terms of our offseason program and or meeting situation and that type of things and the training room. I think we will be able to give the players more attention and also more treatment and be able to run a weight program where you can get more than 12 guys in the room at the same time. You know you like to work with a bigger group than that so we will certainly be able to it.
Q: Have you ever seen a locker room like that before?
BB: Not many. We can have an intersquad scrimmage in there