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Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 8/24

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media on Monday, August 24, 2020.

BB: So, we're heading into our second week here. This is a big week for us, individually in units and collectively as a team, to really start to show some progress. This will be multiple times, at least second, third, maybe fourth time through on a lot of things that we're doing, whether that's plays or techniques or situations, things like that. So, I think that the team is starting to feel comfortable with, again, whether it be their assignment or the way they're doing it or coaching points and so forth. Now, we really need to see those things start to come together this week on all levels in all three phases of the game, and also being able to manage and operate the game from a coaching standpoint. We all have a lot of work to do. I think we're in position, hopefully, to string some good days together and have a lot of little things start to fit together in the overall big picture. But, we'll see how that goes. That's where we need to be moving toward. We have a number of players that have been in or out of practice for short periods of time here. I'd say that's pretty normal for training camp. I don't think this has been anything necessarily out of the ordinary. You'd always love to have everybody out there and all the players want to be out there, everybody wants to be out there, but sometimes that's not always possible. So, again, I don't think it's really much different than what it normally is at this time of year. But, hopefully, we'll have as many out there as are able to go and the guys that are practicing, the guys that are continuing to do things repetitively are showing progress and getting better, and the guys that can't do that miss those opportunities. They just have to work a little harder to try to make them up. I know that's what they're trying to do, and we're trying to work with them in that process. So, that's again about normal for this time of year and for training camp. Hopefully, we can string some good days together here, continue to add different elements to how we would play the game and what we would need to play the game, rather than just going out there and running plays, but I think we're getting to the point where we can continue to pile on things that are going to be important in the overall game operation. Hopefully, before we get to the first week of game preparation, we'll have all that accomplished. So, that's where we're at for today.

Q: The NFL made a statement yesterday about several COVID-19 tests coming back from the lab as false positives. Are you confident that if something like that pops up in the regular season and impacts your team, that you would be able to recheck those tests and get any players onto the field that may have been impacted, especially if it's close to game day?

BB: Well, I think that's a question you should ask the league. They put out the statement. I'm sure they could answer questions about it if you have them. We're going to control what we can control and focus on that, so that's what we've been doing and that's what we're going to continue to do.

Q: In 2010, you had a good draft at the tight end position. This year, was there a conscience effort to restock that position, or is it just that Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene were the best players available? How would you characterize their camp so far?

BB: We're always looking for good players at every position, so I don't think that's the type of thing that goes year-by-year. You take what you can get and when you have opportunities to take good players and you feel like the value is right and you do it, there are multiple ways to acquire players and we look at all of them and try to do what's best for the team. Devin and Dalton have worked hard. They've been out there, they've taken a lot of reps, they continue to get better. They have a long way to go, as do all the rookies that we've drafted, but we're seeing progress. We'll see. Again, this week is a big week for everybody, but just in terms of guys doing things for the first or maybe second time last week in practice, again whether it's a play or a technique or a coaching point or something like that, I think we've gotten the bulk of those out of the way. And what's going to come up in the next few days will be things that we've practiced, that the players have practiced, they should be confident in, they should know what to do and we'll see how well they execute them. We'll see how all that goes going forward.

Q: Does the incident this weekend with the false positives affect your thinking at all about how you build a roster or make decisions, knowing what it could potentially do to a game day?

BB: Again, I think that's a question to ask the league about the process. We don't have anything to do with that. The testing is done by somebody else, it's analyzed by somebody else. All we get are the results. How all that works, that's something you really should redirect to them. From our standpoint, I think we're doing the right things. We continue to make adjustments and modifications in what we're doing, but I'm confident that we're doing the best that we can and when we find ways to improve it, then we've addressed that and we've done that since we came back to the stadium, whatever it was, three weeks ago. So, if we see something that we feel like needs to be upgraded, needs to be changed, needs to be improved, needs to be addressed because it's not being done properly, then we've done that I'd say on a pretty regular basis and we'll continue to do that. I'm not sure what those things will be going forward, but if we find a better way to do it, then we'll do it that way. So, that's what we can control. As I said, I feel like we've done a good job of that. We've had really almost no problems that we have any control over. Like I said, when we feel like we need to do something differently, then we address it or change it or modify somehow to make it better or get it right, and we'll continue to do that.

Q: Is it hard to project roles for young players who are missing time due to injury, like Jarrett Stidham and N'Keal Harry?

BB: Well, again, everybody wants to be out there, everybody wants to be on the field so they can work and improve their technique and improve their understanding of their position or their side of the ball. So, the players that can do that, do it. The players that don't do the things that they can do to help supplement that, and as soon as they can get back out there, then they get back out there. So, that's pretty much the way it's always been. I don't see it any differently this year than any other year in terms of those situations. I would say we all have to reestablish our own level of performance, whatever that is, whether you're a coach, a player who's played 15 years, played seven years or hasn't played at all. 2020 is a new season for all of us, and we all have to get ourselves to a level in this season that's the highest level we can get to to reach our potential. That includes every coach, every player, every support member, regardless of anybody's experience or what they've done in the past – like, none of that means anything for 2020 to any of us or to anybody else. We'll see what we can do this year, not what happened some other year, whether it was here or somewhere else. None of that really matters anymore. So, we'll just have to maximize our opportunities here and get to the highest level we can to be competitive. That's what we're going to do.

Q: After you drafted Kyle Dugger, you talked briefly about the jump he would be making from Division II to the NFL. Although it's early, what have you noticed about his transition to the NFL?

BB: I mean, Kyle's a smart kid and he works really hard. He takes coaching well and you can definitely see improvement, I would say not only from day-to-day, but in some cases from play-to-play. I think he's got a good understanding of football and he's a pretty instinctive player, so when you tell him something, he usually understands what you're talking about, especially if he's had any chance at all to experience it before. There are some things that he just hasn't seen that might take a little longer to explain to him, just because he's not familiar with them. But, he's very coachable, he picks up things quickly and the things that he hasn't seen before, once he sees them and can understand what the conflict is or what the situation is that we have to address, he's been very good to make those adjustments and handle it the next time. We'll see. You know, the wheel's not spinning as fast as it's going to spin. It's going to get a lot faster here in coming days and weeks as our volume increases, as the volume of the offensive plays and formations and personnel matchups increase and so forth. Then you add all the situations into it that become to a degree overriding – like, what the particular situation is for end of the game and end of the half type plays or certain yardage distances that change the situation. So, we'll see how all that comes together, but I'd say to this point, he along with all the rest of the rookies are making good progress, they're making gains consistently, but it's going to get harder than what it is now and it's going to get a lot harder. So, we'll see how all that goes as the degree of difficulty climbs.

Q: Paul Quessenberry has an interesting backstory, having not played professional football for the last five years. What made you want to take a look at him this summer?

BB: Yeah, well, we'll take a look at him and just see where he's at. He hasn't played football in a while and he's got some skills that may fit into guys that have been similar to him that have played that position – fullback/tight end, special teams, so forth – whether it be [James] Develin or Jak [Jakob Johnson] or players like that. We'll see how it goes. Again, I don't know, it's been a while. He had a pretty good college career and you could see some things from him physically, but how that all comes together and all – I'm sure it will be a while before we get a good evaluation of him. But, right now we have space on the roster to take a look at him. We'll see. I really don't know. It's too early to project anything. We'll just take a look at it here after a few days and see how it's coming. Again, I'm sure he's a smart kid, he's coachable, he does have experience, just not a lot recently playing football. So, we'll see.

Q: You mentioned this is a big week for you guys. Are there any plans to have a scrimmage at some point soon to make up for those reps you'd normally be getting in a preseason game?

BB: Yeah, we've talked about how to plan out the week. I think we're just taking it a couple days at a time here, so we'll look at the first part of the week here – yesterday, today, tomorrow – and then see where we are next week and then project that into the beginning of the following week. Of course, the week before the Miami game will be a Miami preparation week, so we'll just have to decide how we feel like we can best utilize our time and our opportunities to do the many things that we need to do prior to the start of the season. We know we're not going to be able to get them all in, so we'll have to prioritize what we can do and when and how much we want to do it. Those are interesting discussions. Everything has merit, but we don't want to stand out there and I would say overwhelm the players with a million things and do so much that we're not good at anything. So, we'll just have to manage all the things involved, including getting physically ready to go, but at the same time, trying to be smart about that and not doing too much, too soon. We'll have to take it here in short windows – two or three days at a time is really how we're looking at it from a coaching staff standpoint.

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