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Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 6/14

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick

Video Press Conference
June 14, 2021

BB: We're headed into our final phase of the offseason program. We'll finish up with rookies. They'll continue after this week, but as far as formal team activities, this is the final week here. It's always good to be able to pull things together here at the end and try to prepare the team and the coaching staff for training camp and the start of the work that's ahead in July and August prior to the start of the season. Had a little weather here. We're working through some travel arrangements, so we'll see what the full level of participation is here today and for this week but I'm sure we'll have a pretty full roster. It's good to see a couple of new faces here. We've made progress throughout each of these OTA practices and so we'll continue to build in some things that get us a little bit closer to real football, involve other new situations and so forth. So, progressing in the teaching and I feel like the players are getting more comfortable and acclimated with what we're doing. As I said, we have a long way to go, working a lot of different people and working people at different positions, so they can get a background and the entire structure of the play or the concept of what we're doing and we'll continue to do that again this week. So, just keep trying to stack some days together and see if we can get as far as we can until we break and then head to training camp.

Q: Is Stephon Gilmore one of those new faces today?

BB: Yeah, like I said, we're kind of scrambling to get things going this morning. So, I didn't really get a chance to see everybody myself, so we'll see where we're at.

Q: We haven't seen him [Gilmore] during the voluntary portion of OTAs, how important is he to your backend and what he brings to the table?

BB: Well, there's a lot of players we haven't seen an OTAs and all the players are important and we'd like to have all of them. 

Q: Did weather prevent players from coming to this and given that they are mandatory, will they be excused from today?

BB: Yeah, it was just the travel arrangements over the weekend. So, not sure exactly how all of it worked out. We were close on a couple of guys this morning but we'll catch up on that after we get done here and see where we're at.

Q: Are you saying that it's not that big of a deal that not everyone shows up?

BB: No, I'm saying today's the first day. They just got in here a little while ago. I'm not sure if everybody is here. We didn't take attendance at the meeting but we'll find out who's here and who isn't soon enough. That includes the players that were here last week and the players that weren't here last week and everything else. 

Q: In advance of the camp, did you have any excused absences that you gave any players?

BB: All the communication between me and the players I'll keep between me and the players. 

Q: You've mentioned that this is a teaching time versus an evaluation time, but from a point of roster composition, how do you view what you've put together on defense?

BB: I don't know what that is. We're just trying to teach the players that are here what we can and we're not game planning. We'll just see how it goes.

Q: How is Cam Newton progressing after hurting his hand the other week and do you expect him at practice this week?

BB: Yeah, he practiced last week. I'd expect him this week. We'll see what he can do. 

Q: How has Jarrett Stidham done, developmental wise and what have you seen from him in this offseason?

BB: I think all the players that have been here, have been out on the field and have been in the meetings are progressing as they should and we'll see what happens when the competition starts.

Q: Is there more value in the guys that had been here and had success like Devin McCourty, Matthew Slater, David Andrews, James White and how do you go about utilizing players to create an environment and culture that you wish to have?

BB: Experience is always helpful, but there's new players every year on every team. That's just the way it is in the NFL. So, it's nothing different this year. The most important thing for all of us, whether we've been here or we haven't been here, is to prepare and to be ready to do our jobs and that's what we're all trying to do right now. We, players, coaches, head coaches, assistant coaches, position coaches, coordinators, veteran players, rookie players, players that have been signed from other teams, I mean, we're all doing the same thing. We're working on getting back to putting our game at the highest level, whatever those responsibilities are and it'll be that way for a while. That's what we need to do for the 2021 season.

Q: Will you talk to those guys individually as captains or do you just want them to be themselves and create the environment that they normally create?

BB: We do a number of different things and it's fluid. It's not the same every year.

Q: You mentioned the OTAs and minicamp being a learning period, but will there be more competitive or evaluations drills and reps this week?

BB: The practices are basically a continuation of what we've been doing. The rules structure on the mini camps are a little bit different in terms of time and what we can do and so forth. So, that's the difference but again, because this is a little bit of a different situation than what it's been with some new players coming in, we have some try-out players here, we have some players that are on our roster that haven't been here, with the physicals that we've done this morning and trying to get everybody going here, we have a fixed amount of time that we can work in. There's a little bit of a reorganizational period that today is, especially this first couple of hours here in the morning, but fundamentally when we get to training camp or to the minicamp practices, we're not going to go back over everything that we've covered. The players that have been here are going to continue to move ahead and the guys that haven't been here will be in a little bit of a catch-up mode. Most of them have quite a bit of experience, so I don't think that's a river that can't be crossed. I think that it just will take a little more time and there'll be a level of catching up to do but that's what it is. So, we're not looking for a competitive camp. We can't do that. We don't have equipment on and that's not the purpose of the camp and it's not really allowed anyway. So, we've never really tried to do that.

Q: What do you want the veterans to accomplish this week to be ready for training camp and how does mandatory minicamp fit in with the rookie's stages?

BB: Well, I think at the end of the week and for the rookies at the end of the rookie development program, which will last a little bit longer, the each of us will leave here with a list of things that we need to work on, we need to do, prepare for, for the start of training camp. And then, when training camp starts, then hopefully we'll all be ready to do those things and to improve them as we go through training camp to help the team. So, that really is the case for all of us. We'll all be at a certain point and hopefully we can gain some ground between this period of time and when we come back again. And again, that'll be the case for all of us.

Q: What were your thoughts on Dont'a Hightower being back and how did he look to you physically after not playing last year?

BB: It's good to have all the players that we have and yeah, it was good to see [Dont'a] High [Hightower]. High's worked right in very quickly. He's obviously a smart player with a lot of experience and has a lot of leadership force on the team. But again, we're not really in an evaluation mode here, so we'll see how all that goes for everybody when we get to that point.

Q: Mac Jones said something last week about trying to acknowledge everything and that it can be difficult at times. As a coach and especially for a player at that position, do you almost want it to be difficult for him knowing that the harder it is now, the more prepared he'll be later?

BB: Well, I think when you're trying to build a foundation, you want to build on solid footing. And so, there are things that come up that might be pretty advanced or things you might see on a practice field that he won't see during the year and then there are plenty of things that he will see and then there are some things that he won't see on the practice field, but he definitely will see during in the year. And that's true for every player at every position. So, we just do the best we can to try to prepare the players for what they see but the main thing is to build a solid foundation and that's something that comes up for any player, a new player, veteran player, anybody is a little bit of an exception or something that's kind of outside the norm or outside the guidelines that we have on a certain play or a certain concept. Then, sometimes you'd kind of have to brush over that, knowing that it's probably not going to come up a lot. But that's just part of the process of learning and understanding, not only the plays, but the concepts and then we try to emphasize that with everybody. That's why we play players in a lot of different positions, so they can understand not only what's happening at their primary spot, but what's happening around them and help them have better understanding of the overall concept of the play and where their particular position fits into it and it could be more than one spot. So, I'm trying not to move too fast and get too many exceptions and move ahead on too many things for anybody, or it just becomes confusing. I think the best thing you can do is build a solid foundation. Sometimes there's some exceptions that you have to work around but if a foundation's solid, then you can build off it. If it's not, then the player doesn't really have a lot to fall back on and it's nothing to anchor into. So, we try not to do that, but yeah, there's definitely things that come up on the field that are learning experiences for Mac and every other player out there. It's just the job of the position coaches and the assistant coaches to try to put it the right way, put it in the right category and help the players understand how fundamental some things are and how much of an exception or one-timer another situation might be.

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