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Bill Belichick Q&A, 8/9

08.09.10 at 12:24 pm ET
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Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here’s the complete transcript of Bill Belichick’s Q&A with the media from this morning at Gillette Stadium:

BB: I hope everybody had a good weekend. We’re back at it here. We’ve got a big week ahead of us, a lot of things we need to do and start pulling together as we get ready for our first game on Thursday. I think the rest certainly did everyone good both physically and mentally and today will be a big day for us in terms of getting back on track and building on what we put down as a foundation last week. Injury-wise, Ty [Warren] and Nick [Kaczur] have both missed a number of practices and are both being evaluated by our medical staff and we’ll see what comes of that. We’ll just have to wait until we get a little more information there. Otherwise, I‘d say everybody is pretty much in a day-to-day situation. We got some guys back at the end of last week and we’ll hopefully see more back this week as we get closer to full strength. That’s about where we are today.

Q: Logistically, how is it going to work Tuesday and Wednesday with the Saints here? Is everything going to be together?
BB: We’re going to start apart at the beginning of practice and warm up and go through whatever individual periods or drills or group periods each team wants to do and then we’ll come together and start working, probably about maybe one third of the way through practice and then we’ll work together the rest of the way.

Q: Have you been talking with Sean Payton the last few weeks to work everything out?
BB: Yes.
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Training Camp Report from Monday morning practice

08.09.10 at 11:48 am ET
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FOXBORO — The Patriots just wrapped up their Monday morning practice, a walkthrough on the fields behind Gillette Stadium. It was their 18th practice of training camp, and their first since Friday.

It was hard trying to find out who was in attendance and who wasn’t — walkthroughs are conducted in t-shirts and shorts, and almost everyone is wearing a baseball cap. But we didn’t see defensive end Ty Warren and linebacker Gary Guyton. In their place, Mike Wright and Brandon Spikes appeared to take most of the reps at their positions. And with no Logan Mankins at left guard, it went about as expected, with Dan Connolly and Ryan Wendell getting most of the reps.

•Cornerback Leigh Bodden was on the field, and afterward, told the media that his injury was nothing major.

•The Patriots have a second practice scheduled for this afternoon from 3 until 4:30.

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Quick hits on Schobel, Kaczur, Warren and Barrett

08.09.10 at 10:42 am ET
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FOXBORO — If you’re thinking the Patriots are going announce their interest in Aaron Schobel publicly, think again.

While the veteran pass rusher would certainly fill a need with the team, coach Bill Belichick was very strategic with his answer on Monday morning in the first media availability since players were given the weekend off.

Schobel has reportedly been in discussions with the Houston Texans and has indicated an interest in signing there since being given his release last week by the Buffalo Bills.

“Nick [Caserio] and the personnel staff look at all the players that are out there,” Belichick said. “Any player that’s not on the roster, we’ve evaluated. He has some sort of status with us, whatever that category and there are a number of different categories but that’s what the personnel staff does, they look at all the players. The ones that are on other teams, we keep track of them and the ones that aren’t with any team, we keep track of them.

“I’m sure, depending on what his situation is, he would some value to different teams but again that’s all relative to a lot of other circumstances and that would vary from team to team. I can’t speak for other teams.”

Belichick also confirmed that safety Josh Barrett will have shoulder surgery after being claimed on waivers on Friday from the Denver Broncos.

Nick Kaczur and Ty Warren are being evaluated by the team medical officials, Belichick announced Monday. Specifically, Kaczur’s knee injury is of particular concern since the team was hoping that he would be able to begin preseason games playing at left guard, filling in for Logan Mankins, who is in a contract holdout.

“Injury-wise, Ty and Nick both have missed a number of practices and they both are being evaluated our medical staff and we’ll see what comes of that. We just have to wait to get a little bit more information there. Otherwise, I’d say everybody is in a day-to-day situation.”

“We’ll deal with his situation when we know more about it.” Belichick said of Kaczur.

The Super Bowl champ New Orleans Saints come marching into Foxboro today, beginning two days of practices against the Patriots prior to the preseason opener for both teams on Thursday night at Gillette. This marks the first time in nine years Belichick has brought in another team during camp to help with practice. The last time was in 2001 when he invited the New York Giants to camp.

“It’s just part of the whole structure to get your team ready for the the season,” Belichick said. “I haven’t really thought about 2001 too much. We do it against each other and this will be a chance to do it against somebody else, their schemes and players are different than ours, so it just creates some different match-ups and we’ll see it again Thursday night. It gives us a chance to create some situations that may or may not come up during a game.”

NFL officials are also making their annual visit this week to Gillette to inform players and coaches of changes, like moving the position of the umpire during games.

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Five Patriots who might be feeling bubblicious

08.08.10 at 5:25 pm ET
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With 17 practices in the books and the first preseason game of the season looming Thursday, it’s not too early to start making roster predictions. While there are mortal locks to make the team (and mortal locks to be cut loose) there are always a few players who are on the bubble at this time of year. In particular, based on what has transpired so far, these five players might need a positive preseason to help land themselves a final roster spot:

Wide receivers Torry Holt and Sam Aiken: Their fortunes are tied together. When it comes to Holt, it’s not that the new veteran has necessarily had a bad training camp — it’s just that he hasn’t done much of anything to show up on anyone’s radar screen, positively or negatively. As for Aiken, he does have special teams experience over Holt, but last year’s special teams captain appears to have been usurped by a variety of candidates for the role of punter protector. If Aiken’s role on special teams is lessened, so are the chances of him making the team. But the bottom line is that right now, with youngsters Taylor Price and Brandon Tate both having a good camp, it could come down to Holt and Aiken for the final wide receiver spot.

Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis: Seems like we’ve been here before. Green-Ellis was considered someone who was on the bubble the last two preseasons, but in each case, ended up doing enough to merit a roster spot, thanks in large part to some impressive production in the preseason. (In his defense, he’s also managed to put up some good numbers when called upon in the regular season — he rushed for 50-plus yards on three occasions in 2008, including a 105-yard performance against the Bills.) With four running backs in front of him on the depth chart (Laurence Maroney, Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk and Fred Taylor), his fate could be tied to how many wide receivers they decide to keep — if they go with an extra pass catcher, Green-Ellis could be on the outside looking in when cuts come down. He could also sneak in if the team feels Taylor isn’t durable enough for another 16-game season.

Cornerback Terrence Wheatley: He’s seen a lot of time this summer with the special teamers, and could nose his way onto the roster if he continues in that direction. But there’s no denying the fact that Wheatley is starting to run out of time. There have been some positive moments for him, but they’ve been few and far between.

Defensive lineman Ron Brace: Brace is the only player currently in camp who hasn’t been pads yet, which means it’s a pretty safe bet that no matter what happens with him this week in the days leading up to the Saints game, he won’t play on Thursday night. I don’t think the Patriots would release him after one season, but what has transpired for him thus far has to be considered tremendously disappointing, especially after he told the media in training camp that he was embarrassed after what transpired his rookie season and wanted to re-commit himself to the game.

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Report: Patriots have expressed ‘strong’ interest in Schobel

08.08.10 at 11:22 am ET
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The Patriots have “strong” interest in pass rusher Aaron Schobel, but the former Bill is seeking “big” money, according to Comast’s Mike Giardi. (Giardi quotes a source as saying Schobel’s situation isn’t like that of Junior Seau, who a contract that was below market value to come out of retirement and play for New England.) Schobel, who became available last week when he was released by Buffalo, is one of the best pass rushers currently available — the 32-year-old had 78 sacks over the last nine years with the Bills.

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Who are the Patriots most frequent trade partners?

08.07.10 at 3:17 pm ET
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Al Davis and the Raiders have made eight trades with New England since 2000, more than any other franchise. (AP)

If the Patriots were going to try and swing a deal to try and create more depth either at outside linebacker/defensive end or left guard, who is New England’s likeliest trade partner? Based on how the Patriots have operated in recent years, here are a few of the prime candidates:

Oakland: Ah, yes. The Raiders. Since Bill Belichick took over the Patriots in 2000, the Patriots have made eight trades with Oakland, more than any other team in the league. New England and Oakland have made blockbuster deals (sending Richard Seymour to the Raiders last September in exchange for Oakland’s No. 1 pick in 2011), as well as relatively low level deals. There doesn’t appear to be a wide variety of possible trade scenarios, but as we know, when it comes to dealing with the Raiders, all bets are off. Oakland does have Robert Gallery penciled in as their starting left guard, a 30-year-old who has spent the last six seasons with the Raiders. And at outside linebacker, one intriguing name is Kamerion Wimbley, a pass-rusher for the previous four seasons in Cleveland before he landed with the Raiders this past offseason. It’s unlikely Oakland would deal him so quickly after acquiring him, but again, with the Raiders, you never know. The 6-foot-4, 255-pound Wimbley had 11 sacks in 2006 with the Browns in their 3-4 scheme.
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Jonathan Kraft on D&H: Brady relationship ‘stronger’

08.07.10 at 11:30 am ET
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Jonathan Kraft

Jonathan Kraft

The Dale & Holley show aired live from Patriots training camp Friday afternoon, and the hosts talked to Pats president Jonathan Kraft about the NFL from the front office perspective. Kraft talked about the urge to increase the regular season to 18 games, any kind of change that could be made to the oft-criticized rookie pay scale and the quality of the relationship between Tom Brady and the front office.

“From where I sit, the relationship we’ve had with him and the relationship that I’ve had with him has always been the same and if anything, it’s stronger,” Kraft said. “I’ll echo what [owner] Robert [Kraft] has said a bunch of times, I really believe that Tom Brady is going to be the quarterback of this team for a long time to come.”

Below are highlights. To listen to the full interview, click on the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

On expanding the regular season to 18 games:

At the end of the day, we’re all in a business where we want to serve the fans’ needs, and right now it’s pretty clear that the fan base is no longer enamored [with] the 16 [game regular season] and four [game preseason]. To be really frank about it, I’m not sure the players need [four preseason games].

When you look at it right now, [to cut] two of those games, they’re going to need to be more efficient in managing their time and using practice right and probably they’ll end up doing what we’re doing here with the Saints next week, where you bring a team in and you really see a lot in practice. What I think you’d see in those practices they’ll use the rookies a fair amount — the younger guys — and see how they’re doing there. At the end of the day, the players and their conditioning and what they do in the offseason has evolved to the place where we just don’t need four preseason games.

The economic model has built up over time where it’s a 20-game season. It’s not like you can go and play a 16 and two. You can’t take that out of the mix with what the NFL annual product is, but taking two of the games and making them regular-season games feels like it’s the right thing to do. The fans want it, I think our business partners do and the commissioner is working with the [players] union to make sure that the players have a say in this thing, too.

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