PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
BB: Well, we're closing in on it here. We've put a lot of time into this game. I think the players have done a good job dealing with all of the multiples that the Texans present, which are considerable. We'll try to boil it down as much as we can here and finish up a few things here situationally today and then be ready to go on Sunday. I think everybody's looking forward to getting started. We're closing in on it.
Q: How much did Riley McCarron's kick return ability weigh into the decision to sign him to the 53-man roster?
BB: I think each player has his own contributions to the team, so it's the combination of all of them relative to the other players on the team. Everything counts.
Q: What have you seen from Cordarrelle Patterson this summer as a kick returner?
BB: Well, not much. They didn't kick it to him. We'll see. He has a lot of experience doing that in the league. We'll see how it goes.
Q: Was placing Duke Dawson Jr. on injured reserve just a matter of running out of time with a player? Were you hopeful that his status would improve but ultimately had to make a decision on the roster spot before this Sunday?
BB: That's probably a fair characterization.
Q: James White and Patrick Chung were announced as first-time captains yesterday. What kind of leadership do those two players bring to the team?
BB: We have a lot of good leaders on our team. I think it's a very deep group, so I think the leadership extends far beyond the guys that were elected for that. James has done a great job for us. He's given us tremendous on and off-the-field leadership, as has Pat. We have a very strong room at safety with Duron [Harmon], who has been a captain, Nate Ebner, Chung, [Devin] McCourty. It's about as strong of a room as you can have. But yeah, those guys all do a good job.
Q: As a receiver, has Cordarrelle Patterson been the same player that you saw on film in previous years?
BB: We watched him obviously and played against him in Minnesota and Oakland. Different offenses, different systems, so I really can't comment on that. But for us, he's come in and done everything we've asked him to do. He has different skills than some players that have played his position or the position that he's played. Some of those things are the same. Some of them are different. We'll see how it goes.
Q: James White didn't play much as a rookie and now he's a team captain. What have you seen from him since his first season here?
BB: Well, that was a big jump for him. Obviously, he had a good player playing ahead of him his rookie season. I think he was only active for two games. As we've seen from a lot of players, there's great development and jump from Year One to Year Two. It's pretty common. Again, he's done a great job for us both on and off the field. He's one of our most dependable players. Everybody has a lot of confidence in him because he's earned it. He's earned that confidence and trust from his teammates and his coaches by doing it on a consistent basis. There's no real magic to that. It's just going out there and being consistent and dependable. He's done a great job of it.
Q: It seems like James White has taken as big of a jump in the past few years as he did from Year One to Year Two. Is that rare to see a player to continue on that climb even into their fourth or fifth year?
BB: It depends on what the player is asked to do, where he's coming from. James carried the ball a lot at Wisconsin. He was involved some in the passing game. His development in the passing game has grown as he's had more experience and more opportunities in it here. I think when you look at it in that context, that's the explanation. Not that he couldn't do it, he just has more experience and more opportunity to do it.
Q: How have you seen Bill O'Brien evolve as a coach since he left New England?
BB: Yeah, well I haven't been on Bill's staff for a while. We haven't been together, so that's just been from a distance. But I have a ton of respect for Bill. He's a great coach. He did a great job for me and he's done a great job at the other two programs that he's been at - Penn State and with the Texans. He's had consistent, winning teams. His teams are always well prepared. They play hard, they're tough, they're physical. They're always a hard challenge to play against. He did a great job with the Penn State program in a very difficult circumstance. I think he's an outstanding coach, but the specifics of what he's done from year to year, you'd have to talk to somebody that's been on his staff who would know better than I would on that.
Q: Have you seen his offensive scheme evolve at all since he left?
BB: Well, he's always done that. That's the way it was here. That's the way it was at Penn State. That's the way it's been at Houston. He's, again, a very good offensive coach that has a lot of vision and adaptability and takes players that have skills and utilizes them, I'd say, pretty much to the fullest. If he has [DeAndre] Hopkins, he's going to use Hopkins. If he had somebody else, he'd use somebody else. That's the way it was here too. I don't think that'll be any different. It'll just depend on if it's a different offense with the quarterback he has now compared to all of the ones he's had prior to that. He did a good job with [Christian] Hackenberg at Penn State. He's a good coach.
Q: Is Patrick Chung one of the more vocal leaders you have?
BB: He's got an element of that. Pat's maybe down the middle. He's not the most outspoken but he's certainly not quiet. He's tough. He's a tough football player. He has a great football-playing mentality, very competitive, plays well, has played against a lot of good players, plays against good players every week and competes hard every week. He's out there on everything. He's out there on defense, special teams. He runs a lot of scout-team plays for us on offense, kind of like Rodney [Harrison] used to do. He just loves to get out there and play and compete. He's in great condition. He can go all day. He can go hard all day. He's a very well-conditioned athlete with good playing strength, good instincts, good toughness. He's a very versatile guy, does a lot for us and does a lot for our team, whatever we ask him to do.
Q: Who are some of the more outspoken players on the team?
BB: Again, leadership comes in a lot of different forms. Being vocal is one, competing - I mean, there's probably ten different, 12 different ways you can be leaders or have leadership elements. Some have a lot, some have not as many, but they're very strong in certain areas. There's leadership from every player on our team. Everybody that's part of the team has an element of leadership and that's with their attitude, their attitude that they come in with every day, their commitment to the team every day and their work ethic. Each player controls that. So we have 53 guys that have good leadership.
Q: How unique is it for a guy who plays on the opposite side of the ball, like Patrick Chung, to jump in there and play offense on the scout team for you?
BB: Yeah, he jumps in there. Guys that come to mind like that are Harrison, [Mike] Vrabel. They're just kind of out there on every play, whether it's their period or somebody else's period. I mean not every play, but out there on a lot of plays even when it's not there period. They just like to play.
Q: Is that at quarterback on offense? What position would he be playing on the scout team?
BB: Anywhere. Wherever we want him. Not in the interior line, but yeah, he can play anywhere.
Q: What did Vrabel play on the scout team?
BB: No, I'm talking about Vrabel on defense - free safety, strong safety, defensive end, linebacker, inside linebacker, outside linebacker. I'm sure there were probably times he was out there at corner. Safety, for sure. He would drive Tom [Brady] crazy playing safety. If we played against a safety that we didn't know what he would do, we would tell Vrabel to just go out there and read the quarterback and do whatever you want, and Mike would do that and do it well.
Q: You could almost see that when you guys did the joint practices with Houston last year that Vrabel was ready to jump in there even though he was a coach.
BB: Yeah, Rodney too. Rodney - linebacker, safety, corner. If there's a fast pass-rusher on the edge where we were playing against somebody, he'd jump in there and take reps and beat that guy. Rodney was a good blitzer. He was an excellent pass-rusher. He didn't get to do it very much because of the position he played, but he'd jump in there on scout team and rush off the edge. I mean, if we're playing [Dwight] Freeney or somebody like that for [Matt] Light, "Hey, I'll take a few of these. You want speed off the edge? I'll give you speed off the edge." And he did. I'm just saying, those guys, they would come to mind when you say that, guys that just love to play, are out there all the time, great condition, go all day. It's never like, "Hey, I need a rest. Get somebody in here for me." [It was] "What more can I do?"
Q: When you're trying to simulate speed and size on the scout team with a mobile quarterback like Deshaun Watson, how challenging is that aspect of preparation?
BB: Yeah, well it's hard. There's not many guys like that in the league. We had the same thing a couple of weeks ago when we were talking about Cam Newton. The same thing - guys that are big, fast, athletic, can throw the ball all over the field. There's only a couple of them in the league and so to have them on your team would be unusual. You just do the best you can on that and try to give the defense the best look as you can at what they do. Sometimes that might be putting a receiver or somebody like that at quarterback, or we've used offensive linemen at running back against big backs to simulate that type of an athlete carrying the ball. But yeah, if you've got guys that are unique players that have special skills then you can't replicate them. Neither can anybody else except for the team that has that guy. You just try to do the best you can and take what you have and try to simulate it. Maybe it's two or three guys. Maybe one guy simulates the speed, maybe another guy simulates his passing skill, maybe it's not the same guy.
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