|Bill Belichick Q&A, 6/15||06.15.10 at 2:16 pm ET|
Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here’s the complete transcript of the Q&A between Patriots coach Bill Belichick and the media this morning at Gillette Stadium:
BB: We’re in our ninth day here of the veteran passing camp extending here into mini camp. I think we’re moving along. We’ve still got a long way to go, but it gives us a good foundation for training camp, which is kind of just around the corner. It’s good to have the level of participation that we’ve had. I think our guys are working hard and we’ve made a lot of progress. We still have a long way to go. We’ve had some good warm weather. That’s helped with the conditioning and I think the overall tempo of practice. Getting a good day of that today.
Q: You mentioned this gives you a good foundation for training camp, but some teams have mini camps closer to the draft. Do you do it closer to training camp so everything is fresh in the players’ minds going into the break?
BB: We really don’t start any of our offseason workouts until the rookies get here. We do some individual things as part of the offseason program, but group and team things pretty much hold until then. So the rookies came in and we had a week with them to kind of get them caught up with some information and some walkthroughs and things like that, and then we were able to include them with some of our younger veteran players and then the guys with more experience came in later. I think that’s a good way to build it. I’m not saying anybody else doesn’t do it well – I don’t mean that. It’s just that it works for us and it gives us a chance to start the younger guys and try to get them caught up and then bring everybody in. It’s a big gap to close, but I think that’s our best chance to get everybody on the same level at the beginning of the year.
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|With no Mankins, Connolly will be in spotlight||06.14.10 at 4:39 pm ET|
Whether it will be as result of a holdout or trade, if the Patriots are forced to go without Logan Mankins at left guard for the foreseeable future, expect to see a lot of Dan Connolly.
Connolly, who entered the league as an undrafted free agent out of Southeast Missouri State when he signed with Jacksonville in 2005, took the majority of snaps at the left guard spot with the starting offense during the most recent round of OTAs, and has a couple of years experience in the New England system as an interior lineman.
The 25-year-old is 6-foot-4, 313-pounder who is set to enter his fifth season in the NFL and his third with the Patriots. After being waived by Jacksonville in Sept. 1, 2007, Connolly was signed to the Patriots’ practice squad on Sept. 13, 2007, where he spent the remainder of the season before being re-signed to a future contract on Feb. 5, 2008.
He was then waived by the Patriots on Oct. 20, 2008, and was re-signed to New England’s practice squad on October 22. He was promoted to the active roster on Dec. 13, 2008, and has been a part of the 53-man roster ever since. Since then, Connolly has stepped into the role of No. 1 backup, and started four games last season when right guard Stephen Neal went down with an injured Stephen Neal. In fact, he participated in every offensive snap in Week 11, 13, 14 and 15 for the Patriots at right guard, according to our friends at Pro Football Focus, and was the likely candidate to take over at right guard if Neal had decided to retire. Connolly also played some center when Dan Koppen was out.
Connolly garnered praise from Patriots coach Bill Belichick after stepping in for Koppen during a November win over the Dolphins, and was rewarded with a contract extension last year that will keep him in Foxboro through the 2011 season.
“I thought Dan Connolly did a real good job of playing when he’s had an opportunity,’’ Belichick said. “I said after the game, I think Dan’s a pretty fast healer and hopefully he’ll be back out there soon.”
“I’ve taken so many snaps from [Koppen] over the years and we have such great communication between the two of us and he’s one of my best friends on the team,’’ Tom Brady told WEEI when he was asked about working with Connolly instead of Koppen. “Dan [Connolly] stepped in and really played very well. It’s always tough to do and that center-quarterback exchange is something that you have no play if you can’t get that.’’
While Connolly has proven to be durable when given the chance, it’ll be a tall order to try and replace what Mankins has given the Patriots — in his five seasons in New England, the Pro Bowler hasn’t missed a single game, and only missed nine offensive snaps this past season.
|Patriots providing boost during C’s title run||at 1:53 am ET|
There was a distinct football flavor to Game 5 of the NBA finals Sunday night at the Garden, as Patriots coach Bill Belichick was in the stands as well as current players Wes Welker, Stephen Gostkowski and Pat Chung. In addition, former New England linebackers Tedy Bruschi and Larry Izzo were also in attendance.
And Celtics’ star Paul Pierce was able to flash some football skills late in the game, when he ran a fly pattern along the sideline to haul in Kevin Garnett’s inbounds pass with less than a minute to go and Boston clinging to a five-point lead. Pierce caught the ball high above his head and neatly missed stepping out of bounds before throwing it crosscourt to Rajon Rondo, who connected on a layup that helped seal the win.
“I was just showing off my Randy Moss and my Tom Brady in one play, that’s all,” Pierce told reporters. “Going up to catch it, then I went to my Brady mode when I was falling out of bounds to find Rondo for the receiving end.”
The Patriots have been a constant presence throughout the Celtics’ postseason run — Tom Brady also made an appearance courtside earlier in the series — and that includes players as well as coaches. Earlier in the series, C’s coach Doc Rivers talked about the support he gets from other coaches throughout the city, including Belichick.
“The fellowship of the coaches is terrific,” Rivers said. “You know, we all share texts and calls together, so it’s really a neat thing. I don’t know if you can get that in any other city. But it’s in our city, and it’s great to have.”
Belichick has addressed the Celtics on occasion, and Rivers has spoken to the Patriots as well.
“When you look at Doc, there are very few people that have done what he’s done and experienced what he’s experienced in his life. He’s a remarkable man,” Belichick said in 2009 after Rivers spoke to the team. “As I told the team, I think he could probably take any ten of us in that room, put us together and not have experienced as many things as Doc has in his career. We all learned a lot from him, and it was one of the best presentations that we have heard.”
|Belichick’s philosophy: Ideas should be innocent until proven guilty||06.09.10 at 8:00 pm ET|
Earlier today, I blogged about the continuing influence that ex-Patriots Matt Cassel and Charlie Weis are having in the building of the Kansas City franchise. The same is true in Denver, where former New England coordinator Josh McDaniels is attempting to craft the Broncos into a winner. In the latest issue of Sports Illustrated, Peter King goes behind the scenes with Denver as McDaniels and the rest of the offense work with rookie quarterback Tim Tebow and try and get him up-to-speed in the offense as quickly as possible.
In the story, McDaniels shares an interesting thought with King, one he said he picked up in his time with Patriots coach Bill Belichick, and one that sheds some light on how Belichick operates when it comes to working with his assistant coaches.
“Bill [Belichick] taught me that ideas should be innocent until proven guilty,” McDaniels told King of his former boss in New England. “Some people think ideas are guilty until proven innocent. You might suggest a play or an idea to a coach, and it gets shot down right away — like, ‘Your idea is no good because I didn’t think of it.’ But if you do that too often, people stop coming up with ideas. And then you might be shutting off the flow of pretty good thoughts, and you’re stunting everyone’s development. I don’t want to be dictating. I want to be having conversations.”
McDaniels also shares with King a bit of a nugget when it comes to play-calling, using the point to illustrate what is successful in one place doesn’t necessarily mean it will translate to another locale: the former Patriots’ offensive coordinator said that in his first season as head coach of the Broncos, he installed a misdirection screen that Cassel had completed 29 out of 30 times with the Patriots in 2008. Denver struggled mightily with it through the early stages of the 2009 season — McDaniels said they didn’t run it perfectly until Week 13, against the Chiefs when Kyle Orton hit receiver Brandon Marshall for a seven-yard touchdown.
|Weis brings more Patriots’ flavor to Kansas City offense||at 12:13 pm ET|
It always seems like there’s something Patriots-centric going on with the Chiefs, and this week’s series of OTA’s is no exception. First, Matt Cassel addressed the media on Tuesday and touched on a number of topics, including being a father for the first time (he says he didn’t call Tom Brady for any advice) and working with new Kansas City offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, who left the Patriots to become head coach at Notre Dame months before Cassel was drafted by New England in 2005.
What sort of advice did Brady give him when it came to working with Weis?
“Tom is a dear friend of mine and I talk to him constantly, not just about Charlie, but also about life in general,” Cassel told reporters. “He has talked a lot about Charlie, and said that Charlie has been one of the big keys to his success over his career especially when he was a young quarterback. What he has said about Charlie is that he is going to push you and push you and push you and it is just to make you better. At the end, all the yelling and sometimes getting on you is all for the betterment of you as a player.
“Charlie pushes you each and every day and he is a guy who doesn’t let anything slip by. He is very meticulous in how he coaches. Yesterday, like we were talking about earlier, he was very tough on us because we can’t let that happen. We can’t have any lulls and that is important for us as we move forward. As a quarterback, that is what you need. You constantly need someone to push you and strive to get better even when you have a good day.”
Not every young player can work with Weis — in New England, he was known to rip off an R-rated diatribe at the drop of a hat, and it doesn’t sound like much has changed.
“You just have to take it in stride,” Cassel said. “What point is he trying to get across? What message is he trying to get to you as a player? From there, you have to take that as positive coaching and the negative part you kind of have to let go by and move forward.”
What’s easier — working with Weis or changing diapers?
“Changing diapers is difficult, but I’d have to say it’s working with Charlie,” Cassel said with a smile. “He’s a competitive son of a gun. If we come out and something doesn’t go right, he wants to win every single period and he’ll let you know that. That is something that has stuck out to me since we been work together.”
Also this week, Chiefs head coach Todd Haley talked a little bit about his experience working with Bill Belichick when the two were on Bill Parcells staff with the Jets more than 10 years ago. Haley was offensive quality control coach, and part of his duties each week was preparing the diagrams of opponent’s plays for the offensive scout team to use against the New York defense, whose coordinator was Belichick. The plays are printed on cardboard cards and shown to the practice offense before they ran each play.
“I was running cards, coaching the show team receivers and Belichick would scream at me for having a play one-yard out of line on the cards,” Haley told reporters. “At that time I had no idea. I said ‘Why is this guy being a jerk to me? I’m trying my best.’ Now I understand … now I know how important those details are. That’s how you learn all that.”
|Pats sign seventh-round pick Welch||06.04.10 at 5:04 pm ET|
The Patriots announced Friday afternoon that seventh-round pick Thomas Welch has signed. The third draft pick to ink a deal with New England, the offensive lineman out of Vanderbilt joins third-round selection Taylor Price (who signed May 18) and sixth-round draft choice Ted Larsen (who signed May 25).
Taken in the seventh round with the 208th overall pick, the 6-foot-6, 307-pound Welch is one of the biggest players the Patriots have ever selected. Welch was a two-year starter for the Commodores and was originally a tight end, but made the switch to right tackle. He played 13 games at right tackle for Vandy in 2008 before moving over to the left side in 2009.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick indicated that one of the things that attracted the Patriots to Welch was his toughness. The lineman struggled with an ankle injury through the final month or so of the season, but still managed to keep his game at a high level, something that impressed the New England brass.
“He played a good part of the year on an injured ankle,” Belichick said of Welch, “so he showed a lot of toughness during the season.”
Welch enters a crowded tackle position, but Belichick and the Patriots love versatile offensive linemen, and that could be the rookies’ greatest asset at this point of his career.
|Pats back to work today with another round of OTAs||06.01.10 at 10:43 am ET|
The Patriots get back to it Tuesday morning with another session of organized team activities, and while last week was more about having the new veterans and rookies get as up to speed as they could, this week, expect to see more veterans thrown into the mix as the intensity level starts to increase.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick spoke to the difference in the level of play last week — talking with reporters at the 2010 Community MVP Awards, he described the first week in relatively subdued terms.
“It’s going all right. We have a long way to go. Just taking one step at a time,” he said. “We had some nice warm weather. It’s been nice, work on our suntan a little bit, get out there and break a sweat. It’s been good.”
For the new guys, it was all about trying to process as much as possible before the veterans arrive.
“For me, [last week is] learning my teammates, learning the coaches, learning the playbook, learning all the ins and outs of the playbook, as much as you possibly can,” said newcomer Torry Holt. “Because as things progress, things have a tendency to pick up.”
This week, things will most certainly start to pick up as many of the veterans are expected to be taking part, including quarterback Tom Brady and wide receiver Randy Moss. One guy who probably won’t be around is left guard Logan Mankins, who is upset with his contract situation, and could potentially steer clear of all 12 OTA sessions.
The Patriots are scheduled for four days of organized team activities this week (the media will have access to Wednesday’s session) and another four sessions next week (with media access scheduled for next Monday). The workouts are part of the buildup to the team’s mandatory minicamp, scheduled for June 15-17.
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