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Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 8/1

Read the full transcript from Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's press conference on Tuesday, August 1, 2023.



August 1, 2023

BB: Good morning. Grinding through camp. Same time, same place, right?

Q: Bill, I'm curious, yesterday there was a team session around midfield where half the line was playing and the other half wasn't, and some of us were remarking that we haven't necessarily seen in 11-on-11s too often. Was that sort of a load management situation because of some of the injuries yesterday?

BB: No. No, it didn't have anything to do with that. Just a different drill we did. We did it out at the East-West game.

Q: How do you balance the physicality of padded practices with trying to make sure that everybody stays safe?

BB: Yeah, that's it, try to balance it. We talk to the players, show them examples of what we want and what we don't want, just keep talking about it so everybody understands. Generally, I think the players do a good job of practicing. I think our practices have been good. But, there are things that we correct and try to make sure that everybody is working competitively, but we're doing it as safely as we can.

Q: What are the challenges of installing a new offense when you have shuffling around the offensive line?

BB: Yeah, training camp is training camp. You start all over again, build a foundation, put in the building blocks and fundamentals. There's always new players. You start all over again every year.

Q: For the guys who are on the side field, what kind of stuff can they do to stay on track with the learning process of the playbook?

BB: The side field?

Q: The lower field.

BB: Yeah, they do the conditioning that they can do depending on what their participation status is. It could be volume. It could be straight ahead running, not side-to-side running. It could be a number of things. Whatever it is they can do, they do. Whatever they can't do, then we rehab that. Some of them, when they finish their running down there, if they can, they come up and watch practice so they can see the plays and see the things that are happening on the field. It's a case-by-case basis. It all depends on the individual person and what his situation is, what he can or can't do, what his limitations are or aren't.

Q: What was it like seeing Jahlani [Tavai] on offense a little bit yesterday, and what went into the decision to move him there?

BB: Yeah, we'll see how it looks. First day, well we've walked through it a few times, but first day we've run it. We'll see.

Q: Shades of Elandon Roberts, maybe?

BB: We'll see.

Q: Are you guys in pads today?

BB: We're not.

Q: Yesterday on Sirius [XM], you were talking about the quarterbacks, and you said that we'll give them a chance to compete and see how that goes. Is that implying that the quarterback position is kind of open for a competition during camp?

BB: Everybody is out here competing, all 90 guys. That's what we're all here for is to go out and compete.

Q: So Mac Jones isn't necessarily your day one starter?

BB: Everybody is out here competing. Everybody is out here competing, that's what everybody is doing.

Q: We asked Mac the other day about his relationship, is it good with you, and he said I think so. Just curious, what's your characterization of your relationship?

BB: I think my relationship is good with every player.

Q: Including Mac?

BB: Yeah, of course. I talk to him every day.

Q: I know he was an offseason award winner. Have you seen a lot from him this offseason?

BB: Yeah, he had a good offseason, really good. That's why he was recognized. On and off the field, participation, production, yeah.

Q: What have you seen from Jahlani's progression, just from where he started to where he is now as far as –obviously, has a good background with his mom and aunt and his whole family – but …

BB: Did they play football?

Q: Yeah.

BB: Yeah, well when Jahlani came here, he knew a lot about our system from being in Detroit. A lot of things we do are sort of similar to what he was doing with the Lions. The learning curve hasn't been a big one for him. He's been a really solid player for us, both in the kicking game and defensively. He's got a lot of versatility, good size, can play off the ball, play on the ball, play in the kicking game, smart, signal caller, can run the defense. He has a lot of value.

Q: On Calvin Anderson, with his NFI status, is that the type of situation that could threaten his availability this season, like long-term, or is that something that you think will resolve itself at the beginning of the year?

BB: Yeah, we'll see how it goes.

Q: Do you have any concern there, or is that – seemed like it came out of nowhere a little bit?

BB: Yeah, look, I'm not a medical doctor. I have my doctorate degrees that were honorary, but I'm not a medical doctor. Look, it's always hard on those situations. If everything goes perfectly, then that's one thing. If something comes up and there's a setback, or there's a change, then that's something else. So, I'm not going to sit here and try to play fortune teller and look into the crystal ball and say, 'Oh, well this guy is going to be healthy on X date'. I can't do that. Day-to-day. If they're better today, then we do more tomorrow. If they're better tomorrow, then we do more the next day. If they get set back, then we review it, revise it and go forward, so I don't know. You tell me how it's going to go. I'm not sure.

Q: I wish I knew.

BB: I wish I did, too. That's the way it is with every injury.

Q: I knew he had a good offseason, right, and then …

BB: Yeah, hopefully things will be great, and again, I don't have a crystal ball.

Q: I know Sidy Sow mostly played guard over the last few years in college. How have you seen him move back to offensive tackle and how has that been going for him?

BB: Good. Yeah, I think that's where we're going to start to work him, where we've been working him all the way through the spring. I think he's made a lot of progress, and keep going.

Q: What was it that made you like him more at tackle than guard?

BB: I just feel like that's the right spot for us. That's why we're putting him there, but he played tackle in college his freshman year, then he played left tackle in the all-star game. So, he's played a little bit of tackle.

Q: We saw Atonio Mafi getting some reps yesterday, just what have you seen from him this offseason?

BB: Good. Another guy that, similar to Bill Murray, has only been playing offense for a short amount of time, converted defensive lineman. Obviously played a whole year at UCLA on offense, but in terms of long-term experience, he has less than a lot of other players. But yeah, he's a smart kid, well coached at UCLA obviously with Chip [Kelly]. He's doing fine.

Q: Coach, talk a little about Anthony Firkser, local kid that played at Harvard. You know what you have in [Hunter] Henry and [Mike] Gesicki in terms of what types of tight ends they are, but what does he bring to the table?

BB: Yeah, he's done a nice job for us. Obviously, we played against him when he was at Tennessee. He's a smart kid, has some versatility. We are working him in there and he's done a good job. He's showed up positively in the opportunities that he's had, so we'll see how it goes.

Q: Bill, I know Andrew Stueber got in some work, memory serves, late last season, what have you learned with him more consistently available this year?

BB: Yeah, he's like 50 times further along than where he was last year. He got hurt before we even got to rookie minicamp and basically missed the entire season, as you said, other than a few practices at the end of the year. He's had a full offseason. He's good to go; it's good to have him out here. He gets better every day. He really missed a full year of football, but the reps and the training, he's kind of rebuilt his body a little bit. He's definitely improved in that area, strength, overall conditioning, body composition, all that. He was a good football player at Michigan, and he's gotten a lot of reps out here and he's done well with them. It's good to have him. We'll see how he develops. It's like having an extra draft choice.

Q: Bill, similar question with Kevin Harris, what have you seen from him?

BB: All these second-year guys are well ahead of where they were last year in terms of understanding what we're doing, understanding what goes on with the other side of the ball, being in a training routine, understanding the level of competition. Again, most of the players that come from college are just obviously better than the guys they played against. I mean, they are just better than them. Here, it's obviously a much more level playing field and the players they are playing against are way more experienced than the rookies are. So, those guys have only been out here a handful of practices, those guys have played multiple years and know a lot more about what they're doing than rookies do. It's a big jump for every rookie, just the level of competition that they're facing. Look, I mean Kevin saw good competition in the SEC, I'm not saying that, but it's still a lot better up here. He's doing way better than he was last year. He's way ahead of things; he's in good shape. He's had a good offseason, so he's ready to go. He's a guy that plays well with his pads on. We'll see how that goes as he gets those opportunities.

Q: Have you seen improvement from the offense that you want to be seeing?

BB: We've seen improvement from everybody, every player, every unit, sure. We're doing more, doing more things better and that's true for the other side of the ball, too. We make some plays on offense, make some plays on defense, there's good and bad things in every practice and for each player it's the same thing. We've got a long way to go, but we're chipping away at it.

Q: Bill, speaking of tight ends, Matt Sokol was a guy who was here all year on the practice squad for the most part and got a late call-up. What did he exhibit last year in that role, you know, his work habits, his acumen?

BB: Matt's a hard worker. Very diligent, kind of a first in, last out type of guy, very smart, studies well, has good size, has good skill. Obviously got a good background here, but he's shown up positively, both in the passing game and in the running game a little bit last year. We were just getting starting here yesterday, but I think that'll be something that he will be competitive in. It's good to have him. He gives us another quality depth player at that position. He's good to work with, and he's ahead of where he was last year, too, by a lot, so that's another big positive for him, second year in the program.

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