PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
BB: It's another big week for us. We had two good weeks on the road, two really competitive practices with both Tennessee and Detroit, and then the games. So, this week, it'll be a little bit different for us. We've got to get ourselves ready to go against Carolina – short week – and try to maximize the opportunity that we have here and be ready against obviously a very talented, well coached and good, fundamental football team, as the Panthers always are. You know, Coach [Ron] Rivera does a great job with that team. They're always one of the least penalized teams in the league, play very sound, make you earn everything. They're extremely well-coached with Coach [Norv] Turner, Coach Rivera on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, [Chase] Blackburn, special teams. They have a good core group of guys and they're very talented. So, this will be a good opportunity for us to get a little closer to a regular season routine, and be ready to go on Thursday night.
Q: How much of your regular season routine is having the players getting familiar with Panthers personnel, or is it just game planning?
BB: Sure. It's a lot different than the last two weeks, when we were actually practicing against the guys we were going to play against. Now we have to try to learn them on film and simulate them in practice. Yeah, so that'll be a big change from what it's been. Obviously, we have to be ready to do that during the year, but this will be the first time really that we've had to do that.
Q: Is there any message you have to the players to get them moving with only two weeks left in camp?
BB: I think everybody's well aware of that. Unless they're living under a rock somewhere.
Q: Have you had a chance to meet with Josh Gordon this morning?
BB: I meet with the players every day.
Q: Is he in good spirits and excited about his opportunity?
BB: Yeah, I mean, I released a statement on that. I have nothing to add to it. That's where we're at.
Q: Did he come in in good shape?
BB: Yeah, I think I've already covered all of that. Did you get a copy of the statement?
Q: I saw it on Twitter, but it's been a couple days.
BB: Yeah, sorry. I don't do "MyFace," but I mean, we'd be happy to give you a copy of it. Really, that's where I'm at.
Q: Is there any uncertainty about Gordon's role or future with the Patriots, based on your statement?
BB: Well, I mean he hasn't even been on the field yet. I think I covered it. There's nothing more to add. Is there another line of questioning, or can the witness step down now?
Q: What have you seen from Hjalte Froholdt so far?
BB: Similar to all of our rookies. He's a hard-working kid. He's gotten a lot better; he still has a long way to go. There's a lot of things he can improve on, but he's made progress. He's gotten a lot of playing time the past couple of weeks. Hopefully, he can benefit from that and continue to improve.
Q: You had Sebastian Vollmer here as well. What does it bring to the team to have someone from a different culture in the locker room?
BB: I don't know. We're all different. There's a lot of different people in the locker room from all different shapes, sizes, geographic, ethnic, religious, socioeconomic – I mean, that's pro football. It's a good mix. He's a good teammate. That's really all we can ask is that people buy into the team and support the team regardless of where they're from or any of the other circumstances that none of us can really control – that they be a part of the team and contribute to the team. That's all I ask.
Q: How would you assess the competition in the wide receiver room?
BB: I think the guys that have been out there have improved. There's still a lot of people we haven't seen actively on the field. I mean, we've seen them, but they haven't participated. So, to be determined.
Q: Will we see Julian Edelman back out there soon?
BB: He's been here every day. If we change his status, you'll be the first to know.
Q: Do things ramp up in practice once it's closed to the fans?
BB: Not really. I mean, we do what we need to do. Look, we need to have as productive a practice as we can have every single day. We don't really have that many of them, so our focus is on what we can do to get better. I don't see that changing.
Q: Martez Ivey came to camp late. Is he catching on?
BB: Yeah, he's catching up. As you said, it's late. He's got a long way to go, but he's catching up. We'll see what he's able to do this week.
Q: Was he dealing with an injury situation before he came and that's why he went unclaimed for so long?
BB: I don't know. You'd have to ask the other 31 teams. I'm not sure.
Q: What improvements have you seen from Phillip Dorsett in his third year here?
BB: I think Phil's been a pretty steady player for us. He's a smart kid. He knows the offense, he knows all of the positions, and he's been able to play in a number of critical situations for us through the years – either due to injury or game plan, whatever the circumstances were – so I think he's been a solid player. Great kid. He works hard, does everything we ask him to do.
Q: Do you think his approach has had an influence over some of the new guys?
BB: Yeah, he does a good job. I think it's a positive – new, old, coaches, players. He comes ready to work every day. He's well prepared, he's smart, he doesn't make a lot of mistakes. He tries to work on things to make him a better player, and I think everybody respects that.
Q: What have you seen from Terrence Brooks that has allowed him to carve out a role on defense?
BB: Well, we've given everybody an opportunity to perform throughout training camp, in practice or in preseason games, and both. We'll see what roles everybody has. I don't know. I don't know what those are. Some of that will depend on game plan and matchups and so forth. We definitely haven't gotten to that point yet, so we'll just let everybody play and see how it goes.
Q: Do you get the sense that Sony Michel has been more comfortable in the passing game?
BB: Yeah, I think Sony's more comfortable with everything, like probably every other second year player is. It's always good to go through it the first time, learn from the experience, know what you need to do and how to improve it, anticipate things, react quicker because you've seen it before. But, I think that's true of all of our second year players.
Q: Has his increased involvement in training camp led to more progression for him and comfort within the offense, specifically as a running back?
BB: Yeah, definitely. Absolutely. That's what we're out there for. All of those snaps of pass protection, and recognizing coverages – zone coverage, man coverage – leverage, timing of plays, and routes and so forth. Yeah, absolutely. He didn't have a lot of that last year. His foundation's much better this year because of it.
Q: You mentioned there being a limited sample of Byron Cowart in a pass rushing role. How do you gain insight into his potential as a pass rusher when there are few snaps of him doing that in college?
BB: Well, there's nothing you can do about college. So, we teach him what to do here and give him instruction to do it. And when he gets an opportunity to do it, whether it's in practice or in one-on-one drills or in games, then we evaluate it and correct it and improve it. I mean, it wasn't like he never saw any pass plays at Maryland, but the position he played, his responsibilities, and kind of the game it is – it's just a different game at that level. The things he's doing now are a little bit different, and he's picking them up. He still has a long way to go, but he's improving.
Q: Do you expect to have Derek Rivers at practice?
BB: Yeah, those injury reports – is that in two weeks? Yeah, I'm pretty excited to be able to give those out when they come out in a couple weeks. Yeah, so until then, we're not able to do that, but I'm looking forward to those injury reports when we get to give those out. We'll make sure you guys all get a copy of them. We don't want everybody to be left behind.
Q: How is Keion Crossen doing in his second year?
BB: Similar to the other second year guys we've talked about. Again, another small school player – big jump for him schematically and I'd say just culturally. From Western Carolina to the National Football League is just a big change in lifestyle and football and so forth. But yeah, he's doing well.
Q: Does the short turnaround give you another way to evaluate players, seeing how they react physically and mentally to a short week?
BB: Yeah, it's definitely an opportunity for them to do that. It's a situation that's similar to what we'll be facing in the regular season. So, today's Monday. We were off yesterday, so there's an extra day there, but we'll be coming in on Monday and playing on Thursday night during the regular season, so from here to there is where we are now. Now, not everybody played Saturday night. A lot of players that took a heavy practice load had less of a game load. A lot of players that had a lesser practice load took a heavier game load, so it's not all quite apples-to-apples here. But, it is a short week. It's an opportunity for everybody to get on an accelerated schedule that we need to be able to get on at some point here that we'll have to get on during the regular season. So, this is a good time to do it. Whether it's physically – as you said – mentally, preparation, emotionally being ready for the game both as a coach and a player, this is a good opportunity for us, and we'll take advantage of it and try to prepare ourselves the best we can.
Q: Do you think Tom Brady needs to play Thursday night to be prepared for the regular season?
BB: As always, we'll do what's best for the football team – for each player, and for the team.
Q: What have you seen from Lance Kendricks since he's been back on the field?
BB: Well, Lance is an experienced player. He's been in this offensive system with Josh [McDaniels] and with the Rams. It's not the same, but it's similar. He certainly has a good background on it, and he picks things up quickly and has quite a bit of experience in the league anyway. So, he's done well, and it was good to get him back out there last week. Good to see him have a chance to play against Tennessee, and we'll build on that going forward this week.
Q: How have you noticed Danny Shelton handling everything that's been thrown his way during his second year with the team?
BB: Good. Same thing. I mean, I think he's a lot more comfortable with the scheme. We have more experience with him as a player. There are certain things that we can do to put him in a good position to be productive, and he's worked on things that he knows he needs to do in our scheme that may be a little bit different from other scheme's that he's played in. He's better prepared, he's in good condition, he's had a good camp and a good spring, so I'm glad he's here. I think he'll help us.
Q: Do you notice that even after a full year with a guy, you find new ways that you may be able to fit him into the scheme of things?
BB: Sure, sometimes, yeah. I think there's always a period of growth. I mean, I've been with one player for 20 years, and I think there's still growth. Tom and I talked about a lot of things the last couple weeks just relevant to the offense, plays, evolution of different things that we're seeing, how to adjust to them, how to handle them. So, I think that's ongoing. Certainly, if we do it, I would think that would be true of any player, or any coach for that matter. It's an evolving game. It changes every year, it changes week-to-week, so I don't think you're ever just stuck in one spot.
Q: What sort of role did the Senior Bowl play in Jakobi Meyers' evaluation?
BB: It's one piece of a big puzzle. It's like everything else is. I mean, some players play in that game and some players don't, but in the end you take the mosaic of all the things that you have, all the information you have on players and put it all together. Some pieces might be larger than others, but in the end, you've got a lot of information there that you have to just try to evaluate as a composite and put a value on it.