|Bobby Carpenter on Bill Belichick: ‘I’m not trying to get inside his mind’||06.14.12 at 5:03 pm ET|
FOXBORO — A player new to the Bill Belichick program in Foxboro is well advised to stick close to the “Patriot Way” during minicamp, training camp and whenever he steps inside the walls of Gillette Stadium.
Linebacker Bobby Carpenter has apparently read the manual.
Asked what he thought of Belichick giving the team the day off on the third and final day of minicamp, Carpenter played it pretty safe.
“You’ll have to ask Bill on that. Maybe he was so mad everyone was doing so poorly he wanted to get us out of here,” Carpenter joked. “You’ll have to ask him why he does the things he does. I’m not trying to get inside his mind.”
So, what exactly was in Belichick’s mind in bringing the six-year NFL veteran into Foxboro for a look-see with the Patriots after spending the last two seasons with the Lions?
“It’s been good,” Belichick began. “Bobby has been here all spring. He’s worked hard. Good athlete, runs well, smart guy, has some experience. He’s done some different things in his career – played inside, played outside, played in sub, played in the kicking game. He’s been a pretty versatile player for a couple of different organizations, three [organizations]. He’s fit in well; he’s done a nice job. We’ve asked him to do some different things and he mentally, physically and experience-wise has looked pretty comfortable doing those. I think he’s in good position to go to camp and we’ll see what happens in training camp.”
Carpenter was signed by Belichick and the Patriots on April 5 as a free agent. Belichick was clearly impressed with the versatility he showed in the last two years with the Lions.
“Played more in their sub than in the regular defense, although he played some in there too,” Belichick continued. “He’s played inside and outside, so he’s played both middle linebacker and the Sam and Will, both on and off the line of scrimmage in a 4-3 and 3-4, going back to Dallas and Miami and Detroit was the 4-3 package with the off the line, three linebacker scheme, four man line scheme. He’s done a lot of different things. He’s a very versatile player and he’s smart so learning really hasn’t been a problem for him. He’s been able to handle multiple responsibilities so far.”
Versatility in the front seven is something already very apparent to Carpenter.
“We’ve got a lot of guys on this team that can do a lot of different things and I think they’re going to try to take advantage of that,” Carpenter said. “They’re moving guys around, doing all kinds of different stuff. whatever the coaches can scheme up and find that fits our talents the best, that’s probably what well do. hopefully it works pretty well.
“It’s been exciting. It’s been great being here with the guys, getting acclimated to everything, offseason program, OTAs and then minicamp. It’s been great just to kind of get a feel for how everyone plays, get to know guys, so when you’re coming into camp you ahve a strong relationship. I think that really helps.”
Carpenter has never really fulfilled the promise he showed at Ohio State, a potential that made him the Cowboys’ first-round pick – 18th overall – in the 2006 NFL Draft. In his four years in “Big D” he failed to establish a regular starting role, racking up 96 tackles. He was also the target of harassment.
During a 2008 episode of “Hard Knocks”, Carpenter was continuously beaten in a pads and shorts practice by Cowboys right tackle Marc Colombo. That was the episode Colombo referred to Carpenter as “Barbie Carpenter” as Colombo made fun of his shoulder length blonde hair (which he still has – see photo above) and his lack of toughness. Carpenter’s highlight came in 2009, when he was the primary nickel linebacker.
As for Thursday’s unexpected surprise day off, Carpenter said that shouldn’t affect his ability – or anyone else’s for that matter – to be ready for late July when training camp opens.
“We’ve got a lot in,” Carpenter said. “We do a good job getting installation in. Taking a day off, I don’t think it matters a lot. I think everyone in the league does it. When you’re coming out and working every day, putting a lot of things in and studying, everybody more or less has been at these OTAs and minicamps, so when you have that kind of cohesion, i think it’s going to help.”
Carpenter has been impressed with the Patriots locker room as he has become more and more familiar with his new team.
“It’s been exciting,” he said. “We’ve got a great team atmosphere. I was very pleased with how great the locker room was. We’ve got a tremendous group of players here and not only that they’re great people. So, it’s been easy to get acclimated.”
Helping him get acclimated are two products of The Ohio State University. Carpenter, who played on the great Buckeye teams of the mid-2000s, has already talked at length with linebackers coach Pepper Johnson (OSU ’86).
“He’s done a great job helping to coach guys in a way that really pertains to being on the field,” Carpenter said. “Very few coaches were as successful as players as he was so, I think he brings a unique aspect to that envoironent of coaching.”
On Tuesday, the Patriots picked up tight end Jake Ballard, (OSU ’10). On Wednesday, Carpenter chatted with Ballard.
“Interesting transaction,” Carpenter joked, alluding to the fact that the Giants were “frustrated” that the Patriots picked up the tight end who was rehabbing after micro fracture and ACL surgery after the Super Bowl. “Obviously, they want him here. He’s a little banged up, but I think he’s going to work hard to get get better.”
And thanks to the goodwill of Bill Belichick on Thursday, Carpenter and Ballard have a few extra hours to catch up.
“I will never complain, especially when we’ve gotten a lot of work in,” Carpenter said. “We’ve done some good things out here. Hopefully, this is a sign from him that we’ve done a good job.”
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