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Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 8/2

Read the full transcript from Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's press conference with the media on Monday, August 2, 2021.


August 2, 2021

BB: Just a quick intro here. Heading into kind of the next phase here as practices change a little bit, both in length and intensity and so forth, so it's a good opportunity for us this week to really work on our fundamentals and get used to playing in more real football-type conditions, so looking forward to that. A lot of work to do here. We just continue to build every day add a little something new. We need to add. Be ready to go here by hopefully the end of the week and then that'll give us a few days next week to start to prepare for Washington. That's really our schedule here. I feel like players are in good condition. Got off to a decent start last week. We'll just try to keep stacking days together and build it from there.

Q: Curious about Stephon Gilmore's rehab and if you think he'll be healthy enough to get back out on the field anytime soon maybe this week?

BB: Yeah let's keep taking it day by day. It's really pretty much the same situation with a lot of those players. Just see how each day goes, and if it improves, then we move ahead, and if it doesn't, then we might have to pause until we can kind of get things ready to move forward. Every day is kind of its own day and we'll just go day by day. 

Q: I wanted to ask you about Matt Judon. I know for some of these guys that you guys acquired in the offseason maybe you didn't get ton of time with on the field in the spring. Maybe a chance to learn a little bit more about them, but what have you learned about Matt specifically over the course of the last week or so since you've had him at training camp practice here?

BB: I think Matthew's done a good job coming in, picking things up. He's a smart player. He's an instinctive player. He's done probably everything that we've asked him to do earlier in his career. Just kind of putting it into the way it fits into our defense or the translating terms and so forth, but I don't think we're doing too much that he hasn't done before. But we're early. It's a handful of days really that most of all has been in the red area, end of the spring and then the start of training camp. Start working in some other situations and we've hit a little bit on third down, but that'll pick up as we go as well. We'll see. I'm glad we have him. Good player. Has a lot of skill. Smart guy. Instinctive, understands things, picks things up pretty easily and quickly so, it's been good. 

Q: You mentioned stacking days and understanding that it's not quite real football yet, it did seem as if N'Keal Harry over the first four days of camp was a fairly consistent performer for you so far. What were your impressions of him over the first few days? Certainly everybody's aware of the request that he had made. Do you foresee what he foresaw that he could absolutely be a part of this football team this year?

BB: I think N'Keal, like really all the other players that are out there, are working hard. They're improving. We're better than we were on Wednesday, which is a good thing. We just need to keep the arrow pointing up and stay on the field and continue to progress from a scheme standpoint as we do more things and from a fundamental and technique standpoint for each individual player at his position. That's really the time of year we're at now, so N'Keal's in good condition. He's working hard. Again, keep taking it day by day, and as the competition unfolds, see how things stack up everywhere, not just with him, but all the way across the board. It's really the same for everybody.

Q: I presume that, we mentioned to him [N'Keal Harry] the other day, after the discussion that his agent launched, would he like to be here and could he envision himself being here, and he said absolutely, and I would imagine that might be the way you feel as well if he's performing at a particular level?

BB: N'Keal and I have talked about it. I think we had a good conversation. We have a good relationship, so not going to get into all that.

Q: Christian Barmore. What have you learned about him in the time that you have had him so far?

BB: Christian's a very talented player. Just got a lot of physical skills. Size, strength, quickness, so forth. Obviously been in a good program. Been well coached. Some of the things we're doing are similar to what he's done. There are some things that are a little bit different, but he's made a lot of progress, but we'll see how that goes when the pads come on and when the real bullets start flying. It's hard to evaluate the offensive and defensive line without any kind of contact, which is essentially the way it's been, so we'll see how it goes for all of them when we get contact and blocking andthe feet and blocks and pass rushing and pass protection and so forth, so we'll see.

Q: I wanted to ask you about training camp. Obviously a big part of camp for you guys is the bonding and togetherness, and last year I think it was pretty difficult from what I remember for you guys to do a lot of just team bonding and building exercises. How's that going this year? Are you able to do more? How's that bonding going?

BB: Well there's no comparison from last year to this year. This year we had a lot of opportunities in the spring to do that, and so last year this was kind of the first time some of us even met the players or the players met each other or anything. We're a lot different than that, but relative to other years prior to '20. Just part of the process. The more time we spend around each other and do things on and off the field formally and informally. I'm sure that'll all happen. It's not something that is one day or one thing, but it's an accumulative effect so, I think that's happening. It is happening.

Q: Bill, this is somewhat related to that one and I guess Tom's [Curran] as well. We often talk about the one-year to second-year jump for players, but I'm curious your impressions of the second to third-year players now? Guys that are in their third seasons who didn't have as much time on the field last year in the spring. Of course, didn't have any time to see the field in the spring last year. Didn't have the offseason program where as now, they've had the offseason program and they were able to get on the field in the spring.

BB: I think, Bob [Socci], just the way you articulated it really makes those second to third-year players, in a way, first to second-year players because they didn't get the full first to second-year experience. Certainly they learned from a season and going into another season but, as you pointed out, without the spring, without all the foundation of laying that you do in the spring, both training, fundamentals, scheme installation, team building and communication and so forth and all those things are part of it too. So yeah, there's a big jump from year one to year two. The next biggest jump probably is year two to year three, but when you look at a year like last year that wasn't a normal year two to year three, maybe there's an element of that first to second-year jump as well that's also added in there. So yeah, I think that's really a good observation, and I think you can see that.

Q: Another question with regards to the communication, and in particular, in the red area from a defensive point of view I think you were asking about it from an offensive communication that's involved there. What have you seen from some of the newcomers on the defense? And I was thinking in particular, Raekwon McMillan, at times it looks like he's out there trying to correct the defense a bit. From that standpoint, being able to communicate and understanding?

BB: Yeah well that's always important for the defense but particularly important in the red area when obviously there's less space. Every yard is more important, and the offense does things. The game changes. Certainly there's not much of a vertical game down there now becomes some version of a horizontal game and making sure that you understand as a defense the transition and how things change down there. Not just from a yardage standpoint, but from an offensive scheme standpoint. That's all part of defensive awareness and it starts, of course, with the inside linebackers and safeties. Raekwon's done a real good job. I've been very impressed with his intelligence, his work ethic. He's locked in every day. He works extremely hard both on and off the field. Does a great of trying to get it just the way that it's supposed to be, the way he's been taught. He takes all that very seriously and handles a lot of responsibility in there, both with the front, the coverage, and a lot of the time the linebacker adjustments by formation and so forth. That area of the field and the overall defensive communication down there is heightened. It's important everywhere, but it becomes even more I would say stressful and difficult down there because again, it happens so fast. Just half a step down there is a touchdown. Half a step somewhere else might be an eight-yard gain or whatever lineup and go to the next down. In the red area, it just happens so much quicker, and the offense tries to obviously put the defense in a stress situation very quickly. When you're only talking about a couple yards, it's more challenging.

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