PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
BB: Day 2. Just rolling along here. Each day we have a new set of things - we have something that we've done the day before that we want to build on, and then we have something that's new that we need to add in. It'll be like that for quite a while. It's the second day without pads and then we'll kind of turn the emphasis to some contact opportunities after that. There's certainly plenty of things that we can, and plenty of things that we need to work on between today and tomorrow. So, hopefully we can gain some ground on those.
Q: Can you just talk about what Stephen Gostkowski has meant to the leadership of this team and how much you've enjoyed working with him all these years?
BB: Yeah, sure. Steve's been great to work with. I think he showed an incredible amount of maturity and poise his rookie year. He came into probably as difficult a situation as any player that I've ever - rookie player - that I've brought on to a team with the expectations that were with him and, obviously, with what Adam [Vinatieri] had done before he was here. Steve's been really consistent through all of these years. [He's] a very hard worker, has earned the respect of his teammates, he does everything that the team does in terms of training and conditioning and so forth. He's not on a special kicker program or anything like that. [He's] very accountable, dependable, physically and mentally tough player. I've been very fortunate here to have two of the best kickers that have ever played in the National Football League as the head coach here, so I feel very fortunate to have had Steve and Adam.
Q: He said he doesn't get too high or too low emotionally regarding his play. Do you ever talk to the team about that as an example of never getting too high or too low throughout the season?
BB: I think, yeah, Steve's very even-keeled there. Sure, yeah, those things come up with the team. Steve's a good example for all of us; all players and coaches. He's got a very professional attitude. He's a good teammate but he works hard at his job, to do his job well to help the team, and that's really the motto for all of us - to be good teammates, but to do our jobs so everybody can count on us and put everything we have into it to be able to help the team. He certainly does that. Kickoffs - what we've asked him to do with kickoffs in the last couple of years. He's worked very hard at it. He's improved tremendously. He's one of the top kickoff kickers in the league in terms of kickoffs, placement, distance. He can do a lot of different things with the ball and helps our team out in a lot of different ways besides just kicking field goals and extra points. He's a very level-headed, even-keeled guy that's matured and has gone from a rookie to now one of our most experienced players and one of our top leaders.
Q: How important will his experience be in terms of adapting to the new kickoff rules?
BB: We'll see. Yeah, we'll see. I mean, I'm sure Steve will do the best he can with it. He's done a great job for us in the past. Every year is a new year. We've all got new challenges, but I'm sure he'll do the best he can with it.
Q: How important is the teaching aspect of camp to you, and how do you determine how much of a hands-on approach you personally like to have with the players at this time?
BB: Well, teaching's critical. We've done a lot of teaching and this is coming into the time period where I'd say there's a little less teaching, maybe a little more evaluation, a little more corrections. In a lot of cases, I'd say there aren't too many situations where players just don't know what to do. They might need a little refinement or a fine coaching point or something, but at this point we've been through a lot. They know what to do. It's now going to be an evaluation process where they go out and do it against other good players and we evaluate the performances. Look, I'm the head coach and one of the advantages of being the head coach is you can do whatever you want to do and coach whatever you want to coach, so I enjoy that. If I feel like I can be beneficial to the team or an individual player by interjecting something, then I feel like it's my responsibility to do it, and I do.
Q: You've talked about the spring being more of a teaching camp in the past. Are you already into the competition phase now or does that kick off when the pads come on tomorrow?
BB: No, not yet. Yeah, it'll start soon. I mean, look, we're all evaluated every day, but the real competition will start soon. Again, we'll see how it goes early in camp. A lot of times, in my experience, I've seen players that haven't done things well the first time or right off the bat, but as they gain a little more confidence or as they do things multiple times, which there are a lot of things we haven't done in pads at all, so that'll be a process. There's a certain point in time where everybody's had an adjustment and now it's true evaluation. I'd say we're still a ways from that.
Q: How important is the tempo during the first two days of camp to build up to the padded practices over the weekend?
BB: I don't know. You try to do the best you can with it, so that's what we do.
Q: You've said before each year is different. Does that include you for how you approach the team, or does that stay the same each year?
BB: Every year is different. I think there are some basic axioms and fundamentals that are the same as they were when I was the head coach in Cleveland, but there are a lot of things that are different, and each year is different. If you put those together and you find some kind of, I would say, sweet spot that you feel like is right for this particular year, this particular team and the challenges that right now we face, which will change as we go forward, then I know we'll have to make some changes and adjustments as they occur.
Q: With the departure of Matt Patricia, do you have to spend more time with the defense?
BB: Yeah, again, every year is different. Every situation is different. I feel like I need to try to do what's the most productive thing for me to do to help our team. So, that's what I do - whatever that is.
Q: Have you felt any need to change your approach as far as how you coach this team as opposed to last year?
BB: Yeah, I just answered that question.
Q: What's the most difficult challenge for a rookie running back during camp?
BB: Pass protection. The passing game and pass protection.
Q: How is Sony Michel coming along in that area?
BB: He's coming along. He's got a long way to go, but it's only been one day of training camp. We haven't had on pads yet, but we'll see.
Q: Is there any particular message behind the rookies still wearing the unusual numbers they had throughout the spring?
Transcripts are provided by the Patriots media relations department as a courtesy to the media and are edited for readability. All press conferences are posted and archived in their entirety at patriots.com.