Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick
Video Press Conference
July 27, 2021
BB: Hello everyone. Good to be back here and be starting training camp and starting the 2021 season. We're all excited to get going. Obviously we have a long, long way to go. We'll just take it one step at a time, but it's good to get the players in that have been in for a few days here, the rookies, and the quarterbacks, some of the other veteran players that are here, and we'll have the full complement of the team come in today. Really this is a continuation of the spring. It's kind of like the minicamp days were. We're obviously not in pads here for several days. The scheduling is pretty much what it was in the spring during that minicamp period. So we'll really be continuing what we did there until next week and kind of turn the corner and get into a little different tempo in practice. The setup on camp operationally is more like it was in 2019. We're still, of course, following all of the league protocols and policies on health and safety and so forth. There are certain requirements on vaccinated versus unvaccinated players and different tiers and so forth and access to the people in the organization and fans and so froth and so on. Whatever those are, they are. We'll follow those. Our staff and organization has done a great job of making those accommodations. I'm not really going to get into any of that. Whatever they are, they are, and we'll comply with them according to the policies as we're directed. From a staff standpoint, Carm [Carmen Bricillo] will be coaching the offensive line. Again, these are all things that play off the protocols from the league and so forth, so I'm not going to get into that any further. It is what it is. From this point on, I'm focused on football and trying to get our team ready to go. Trying to get our staff ready to go, including myself. We all have a long, long way to go. One thing that was evident from last week when some of our players reported early is that we'll have a number of players that won't be practicing or starting practice at the beginning of training camp that are in different stages of rehabilitation. They're all working hard and anxious to get back on the field and we'll follow the proper procedures and protocols as it relates to each of them individually and their particular situation. All be on kind of a day-by-day, case-by-case basis and we have a lot of work to do and evaluations with them, which we've begun but we're certainly a ways away from being completed there, so we'll just take those players individually day by day and move them along and when they're ready, then they'll be ready to go. And that's very much just see how they progress and see what time frame they fall into. That's where we are for today. We won't have any on the field activity except for the conditioning run for the players that have just come to camp, and then we'll be on the field tomorrow morning and really continue the process pretty much from where we ended up and left off in the spring.
Q: In your career, you've played a lot of young players, there's no doubt about that, but I'm just curious in a general sense when it comes to rookies, do you have a philosophy on dealing with rookies as you start training camp? And if you do have that philosophy, does it vary from position from position, from wide receiver to defensive tackle, quarterback, linebacker, etc.?
BB: I think, Alan, every year is pretty much a clean slate for me with everybody. Myself, other coaches that have a lot of experience, players that have a lot of experience, we all have to start all over again, new players, how fast, and what kind of impact they'll have. There's really no way of knowing or predicting, you just have to take it day by day and see how it comes along. Some young players start fast and fizzle out. Some start slow and come on strong. Some start fast and keep it at that level. Some players never really have a big impact. I'm not really big on the expectations. We'll go out there and continue as I said the process we started in the spring and see how all the players and our team comes along and how it all fits together. I don't know exactly how that's going to go, and I'm sure we'll see some things along the way that we haven't prepared for that we'll have to adjust to. That's part of football and part of coaching and part of the NFL season. I think we'll just have to see how it goes.
Q: Just a couple topics that we haven't had a chance to talk to you about that came up from the last time we talked in June. I know we had asked you a lot about Stephon Gilmore, and he since that time has said publicly that he wants to be paid what he's worth and hopes something can be worked out with the team. Where does that situation stand from the organization's perspective?
BB: Yeah we're not going to talk publicly about contracts.
Q: And then N'Keal's [Harry] agent, publicly, had sort of come out and requested a trade. What is the organization's response to N'Keal's agent's request and is [Harry] on board with what's going on here I guess?
BB: Yeah not going to talk about contracts and personal situations.
Q: My last one was just about no pads until next week. I think just watching training camp with the Patriots over the last 20 years, the rhythm we would always seem to see it like the third or fourth day you'd work on the running game because it was something you couldn't do in the spring. How do you adjust now with the pads not coming on for I think you said several days and turning the corner into next week? It seems like that's delayed I guess from what we've seen in the past.
BB: We'll follow the rules and be compliant with them and try to make the most out of whatever opportunities we have to prepare our team.
Q: A couple quick questions about COVID and the vaccine. Do you happen to know what percentage of your players have gotten the vaccine at this point?
BB: I don't know. Quite a few of them. Most of them probably, but whatever the protocols are we'll follow them, so those are individual decisions. There are categories for everybody. Wherever they fit, they fit.
Q: I'm seeing some teams, they're having vaccinated players wear one color wristband and unvaccinated wear another color wrist band. Are you guys doing something similar?
BB: Yes. It'd required by the league. It's required to differentiate them.
Q: So when you factor that, and then like we've seen some Buffalo Bills players already, some teammates kind of going back and forth on Twitter about it. Do you have to be weary of this issue splitting the team?
BB: Yeah again, a lot of those things that you're mentioning are out of our control, so we'll deal with the things we can control and go from there.
Q: I just have one follow up to Ben's protocol-related questions. The league obviously announced that there would be some new sort of team-related penalties this year as far as potentially having to forfeit games and some financial penalties if games can't be played. Have those rules impacted your team, do you know, to the point where maybe the rules have led to new vaccinations for your players?
BB: Yeah I don't know.
Q: Just one follow-up on Gilmore. I know you mentioned you're not putting anybody on a timeline in terms of the guys that are going through some different stages of rehab, but what have you seen from Stephon? I don't know how much you've seen him the last few days since he's been in, but in terms of just working to get back, what have you seen from him?
BB: Yeah that's what he's been doing and we'll evaluate the progress.
Q: Football question for you, will there be an open competition for starting quarterback during this training camp?
BB: Yeah as I said every one of us has to go out and establish our level of performance whatever our role or capacity is. It's a new season. We've done some things in the spring, but this is really the start of football season in terms of the team building part here in training camp. We all have a lot of work to do. That includes all of us. So we go out and do anything, so it's pretty much a clean slate.
Q: So a clean slate including the quarterback position as well?
BB: Including the coaches and all the players.
Q: Describe the next few days as an extension of minicamp as we've heard so many times as a term 'teaching period.' Do you plan to make a lot of evaluations here, or at least some based on what the players will do before you get into pads next week, or is this still a teaching period?
BB: Still pretty much in a teaching period. You know we'll evaluate how they're able to do the things that we ask them to do, but no pads on or anything, it's hard to evaluate. It's a big part of football is the actual football part of it, which could be a while until we get to that.
Q: Big picture, with the preseason condensed now from four games to three, also having joint practices scheduled before that third and final preseason game, and then a few extra days after that of prep compared to past years. Does that factor into how you look at the timetable, the schedule of this training camp when it comes to reps and just the different phases of evaluation?
BB: Yeah I think you articulated it well, Bob. That's really what it is. The start of training camp is really somewhat delayed based on the schedule, as I said a continuation of the spring and then it changes and it ramps up if you will, and with the preseason games, and the opportunity to have joint practices. That'll be kind of a different type of training camp in terms of what's going on and what's happening and the opportunity to evaluate and then we'll extend to some degree into the period after that prior to the start of the season. From a time frame standpoint, it's a little bit different from what it was in some previous years, but that's what it is.
BB: Thanks everyone. I look forward to seeing you out there on Wednesday.