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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Tue Jan 18 | 02:00 PM - 11:59 PM

Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 8/28

BB: Just kind of finishing up the week here. The players will be off tomorrow. Just trying to continue to put things together from a team standpoint so that we'll be ready to play a game. This would have been our third preseason game last night, so generally that's the point where things are starting to come together a little bit from an operational standpoint. So, we hit some of that yesterday, we'll hit some more of it today and early in the next week before we start turning to more of the regular season preparation. Definitely making progress and moving ahead. I think we can all kind of see how quickly this is all going to pull together here in the next, call it, 10 days or so when we'll be in full regular season preparation mode. So, we've got a lot of work to do, but players have really worked hard and have had a great attitude. We had a great tempo yesterday on the field and we learned a lot from that, and we'll just continue to build on it.

Q: How does limited or no fans in the stands this year affect preparation and game day for you guys?

BB: Well, I think the biggest effect will be the crowd noise situation. We've experimented with some of that, working through that, so not sure exactly how that will go, and it may be different when we go on the road, depending on how other teams handle it in their stadiums. So, I think we'll just have to see. We in the past handled everything. We've played when it's quiet at home, we've played when it's loud on the road and vice versa, depending on what side of the ball we're on. So, I think we're ready if it's somewhere in between, which is probably what it will be, then we'll adjust to that. I mean, we can only control what we can control. So, really, the crowd noise and then I would say if there if there isn't much energy in the stadium, which we're not expecting, then obviously it's up to us to not count on the fans to give us that energy boost, which we don't have on the road anyway, but now we have to obviously bring our own energy at home.

Q: What about the fact that two of your opponents are scheduled to have some fans but most other games won't have fans? How do you feel about the competitive aspect of some teams having fans and some not?

BB: Yeah, all that's out of our control. I mean, that's all governed by local laws and ordinances and so forth. So, nothing we can do about that.

Q: Over the past couple months, a few of your players have spoken about how you've opened the floor to discussions within the team on issues of race and inequality. You said you looked forward to increasing your role in that process. What for you has that looked like? What have you learned in your time listening to Black players? And what sort of actions or discussions have you and the team had these last couple days with the news around the Jacob Blake shooting?

BB: Yeah, well, I'll keep the things that happened within the team private within the team. That's kind of the forum that we had, so I'll maintain the integrity of that. But, I've certainly learned a lot, continue to learn a lot and we have an incredible group of players. I'm so proud of this team and the players that we have on it – the way that they're involved in each other's lives as teammates, the way that they raise their families and are involved in the community on a number of different levels. We've always prided ourselves in doing things right and not only being a good football team but being a pillar in the community. That continues to be our goal and our expectation, and I'm so proud of what our players do on all those levels.

Q: When we've discussed specialists over the years, 'consistency' is a word that I've heard a lot from coaches on how you would determine when to transition to a lesser-proven specialist. With that in mind, I was curious about the kickers. With Justin Rohrwasser, is there just not enough time to have a body of work for you guys to feel comfortable turning it over to him based on the dynamics of what you're dealing with here?

BB: Well, as you know, this is not an uncommon situation for rookies. We can both remember countless examples of guys that come to training camp as rookies and have an injury and they're not able to play in preseason or they're only able to play in the last preseason game or something like that. In those situations, you have to make a decision, just like we will this year. We'll have to make a decision. This year, some of the personnel rules are a little bit different, so we'll take those into consideration. But, ultimately, we'll have to make decisions and do what we feel like is best for the football team. So, that's what we'll do.

Q: N'Keal Harry got off to a slow start last year after missing time due to injury. How has he done this year with the offseason you guys have had, and what type of development and growth have you been able to see from N'Keal heading into his second year?

BB: Well, as I've said a couple times this summer, I think our players in their second year have all made a significant jump of growth in their knowledge, both of our system and what they see on the other side from other teams in the league and our opponents and general maturity into professional football. They all fall into that category, and that's certainly the case from N'Keal, as well. He's much more comfortable, has a much better understanding this year than what he did last year. He's been productive for us on the field. He still has a lot of football in front of him and a lot of growth and he works hard every day. He's a physical, tough kid that likes to compete. You can see his competitiveness out there on the field and that allows him to get better. And with his work ethic and toughness and competitiveness, I think those are all good qualities for players to improve and that's really where all players are in their second year. They're not where they're going to be, they're on the way up, and if they work hard and continue to work on the skills and techniques of their craft, they'll be able to get closer to achieve their potential.

Q: Jarrett Stidham mentioned yesterday that he was feeling pretty good and it looked like he got more work on the field yesterday. How important is it to you to get him as much work as possible now, not just for this year but to evaluate him for the long term?

BB: Right, well, yeah of course. Every position is important and every player is important and every evaluation is important, so we want to do the best we can to get all of them right at every spot. So, that's what we'll try to do. We have a certain amount of time and a certain amount of reps in practices that we can allocate to evaluating the players and also getting our team ready for the opener and getting our team ready for the 16 game regular season schedule. So, it's really a combination trying to balance all those things. Whatever we do is going to impact some other area. We'll try to do the best we can to balance it and try to get enough information so we feel like we can make the right decision. That doesn't always come in equal installments. That could be quite different depending on the players, the position or the situation or the development of the team. We might be further ahead in one area than another and so forth. So, in the end, we just have to try to figure out how to balance that out, how to compensate and get to the best place we can be competitively, not only for the opener but to put ourselves in position to compete for 16 weeks in the regular season. So, that's what we're trying to do, and again, it's a balancing act. There are choices we have to make, and we'll try to make the ones that we feel will in the end most benefit the team and will give us the best opportunity to make the best evaluations we can make.

Q: You did an interview the other day with Rich Eisen in which you said you'd like to see more consistency in the rules between the NFL and college football. One of the things you brought up was the pass interference rule. It sounded like you're more in favor of the college pass interference rule. Why is that?

BB: Well, I was asked a very general question and I do think that the more those rules can be consistent – I mean, right now, there are over 60 differences between the college and professional playing rules. I think that's somewhat confusing for fans. In all honesty, the rulebook is difficult for coaches and players at whatever level they play in, just because of the volume of rules and not only just rules, but sometimes examples or what they call case studies. So, it can get kind of complex, as you know from covering it. Sometimes you've just got to go in and really read the fine print in there. So, I think the more that we can make it consistent for players and coaches in all leagues and the fans, as well, that that's a good thing. The one thing about the colleges is that they have players at a younger age than we do, so they can train them in certain areas. So, if they're being trained in those areas and then for us to change the training – things like defenseless players and personal fouls and rules like that, roughing the passer and all that – the more there's consistency, the more that flows for the training of the player. When you go from one thing in college to the same situation, but now it's officiated differently at our level, then that can be somewhat challenging and confusing for players until they get adjusted to it and adapt to it, which eventually they will. But, I just think the process could be – or I would like to see the process smoothed out a little bit. I understand that they're two separate bodies and it is what it is, but I think the question was if I could have a change what would it be, that would be kind of along the lines that I would be thinking.

Q: So you don't have a preference one way or the other?

BB: Yeah, well, the pass interference rule, I think it's a big penalty for pass interference. But, whatever it is, it is. I mean, it's the same for every team. But, I do think that if it was the same in college and professional football, that would be a lot easier on the fans. Especially – like the hard core fans, yeah – but I mean, there are millions of fans that watch TV, that watch pro football and college football that don't know every single rule in the rulebook. I think sometimes it would make it a little smoother flow for them.

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