By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Dealing with the media has never been the most exciting job requirement for Bill Belichick, and his press conference on Thursday at the end of Patriots minicamp showed almost every side of Media Bill that exists.READ MORE: Police Searching Woods In Abington For Missing 5-Year-Old Elijah Lewis
There were the curt, one-word answers, such as when he replied to a question about how the three-day minicamp went by simply saying, “Windy.”
There were the blank platitudes, such as “whatever we get, we get” followed up shortly thereafter with a “whenever it comes, it comes.”
But then, Football Bill managed to shine through, as he often does, when asked about the more intricate aspects of the game. He spoke in detail about the adjustments of moving from outside linebacker to middle linebacker, a move which Rob Ninkovich is apparently in the process of making. He spoke to why some talented players don’t end up fielding too many punts in college, and the increased challenges of catching punts off a professional’s foot as opposed to a collegiate punter.
And he even opened up his heart — relatively speaking, of course — when he said it was “good — really good” to have Dante Scarnecchia back out on the practice fields. That may not seem like much, but it’s more than he said about his own son a day earlier.
So without further ado, here’s a prototypically perfect Bill Belichick press conference.
Q: How do you think the past three days went?
Q: How good was it to have windy conditions like that today?
BB: Whatever we get, we get. We can’t control that, just like on game days.
Q: Is it particularly helpful in the passing game and the punt return game to see the ball take some different bounces in the wind and to see how the players react?
BB: Yeah. We’re going to get it sooner or later, so whenever it comes, it comes. We can’t control it. Whatever the conditions are, we’ll deal with them.
Q: Do you feel like you guys accomplished what you hoped to accomplish in these three days of mini-camp?
BB: It’s just an extension of the OTAs, so it’s just all part of the whole spring.
Q: What were some of the highlights for you over the last three days?
BB: It’s just the day-by-day progression. It’s just building blocks, just trying to get better each day.
Q: Are there any players who have stood out to you so far through OTAs?
BB: It’s really a teaching camp. We have OTAs next week too.
Q: What’s it like to have Dante Scarnecchia back on the field?
BB: Good, really good. Not just on the field but in meetings and just being around. It’s great.
Q: There was a report that Michael Williams suffered an ACL injury – can you offer anything more on that?
BB: I don’t think we’re doing injury reports here. Maybe the league will require us to do those.
Q: Can you talk about Keshawn Martin and Nate Washington at the wide receiver position and how they worked together where one is familiar with your system and the other is learning it?
BB: Yeah. Nate [Washington], they played it in Houston, so he’s kind of familiar with it. Those guys have done a good job. I think our receiver group overall has done well – gotten open, caught the ball. Nate and Keshawn [Martin] have both done a good job.
Q: Malcolm Mitchell and Aaron Dobson have also made some impressive plays out there…
BB: Yeah. Our receivers have been good. We have good competition at that position and they’ve all showed up and made plays down the field, caught the ball well. It’s been good.READ MORE: 'Plan For Alternatives': Toys May Be In Short Supply This Holiday Season
Q: What are your initial impressions on Clay Harbor after working with him?
BB: Professional. Works hard. He’s a versatile guy. He’s done a lot of different things. Philadelphia and Jacksonville, he did the same thing, special teams and offense. Hopefully a number of roles if he can do them and get an opportunity to do them.
Q: How valuable is it for scouts to see coaches working with players doing different things in these practices?
BB: I think it’s good for the scouts. They have to go out and compare guys to what we’re doing, project them against the competition here and also project what they’ll look like doing the things that we’ve asked them to do, which they may not have been asked to do at wherever it is they’ve seen them, so I think it’s definitely helpful.
Q: Do you think it helps the scouts better understand what coaches look for?
BB: Yeah, I think that’s part of it, just understanding our system, our coaching staff. I think that’s definitely part of it, sure.
Q: How valuable are these practices for the coaching staff in learning what you need to teach going forward?
BB: It’s important for us too. I haven’t coached since last January. I’ve been doing other things – evaluating players, working guys out, draft stuff, offseason projects and things like that. Now we’re back on the field coaching so we need to sharpen up our skills too.
Q: Is there anything specific that went into the decision of holding mini-camp in the middle of OTAs this year?
BB: We just did what felt like was best scheduling-wise.
Q: Do you see Shea McClellin as both an on and off-the-line player or is that still to be determined?
BB: Yeah, I think he’s a smart kid who’s got versatility. We’ll see how it all plays out, I don’t know.
Q: Is that a decision you have to make, whether to start him on or off the line, or will you just see how it goes?
BB: Yeah, you’re right. You’ve got to start him somewhere, but again, a lot of time in training camp and in these camps, we move guys around. We try to tell them that even know they’re playing one position, to pay attention to another position because they could end up there. I’m sure at some point, almost everybody moves around if they can.
Q: If you move a guy from outside to inside, what are the challenges they face from a physical standpoint?
BB: I think it’s just a different game. I don’t know if it’s a big physical difference. You’re seeing guards instead of tight ends and all that, but it’s the way you see the game. Things happen on both sides, but you’re playing the game from the inside out. As on outside guy, you’re really playing the game from the outside in. You just see one side. You see the whole game from a side view as opposed to an inside view looking from the inside out. I think it’s instinctively quite a bit different. Physically, there are some differences, but I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. I don’t want to say it’s like looking at it upside down, it’s not that dramatic, but it’s a lot different. It’s seeing the game inside out as opposed to outside in.
Q: Is it kind of like how centerfielders in baseball see the ball off the bat as opposed to the view when they’re playing left field?
BB: Yeah, except you’ve got a lot more guys you’re looking at. You’re not just looking at one running back. You’ve got blockers, receivers, it’s a lot different.
Q: What skills does Cyrus Jones have on the punt return that might translate to this level?
BB: I mean, he led the nation last year, so I don’t know, we’ll see. We have good punt returners. I don’t know who the best one is. We’ll let them compete and find out.
Q: Is this the time of year you like to get into more of the coaching aspect, getting into different groups and pointing things out to a bunch of different guys?
BB: Not consciously. You might have noticed that more than I did. I try to do that all the time. I try to coach the whole team, not just one spot or one guy.
Q: Does D.J. Foster have experience punt returning?
BB: Another skilled player. Some of these guys can do it but they didn’t do it in college because there was another guy doing it, or they wanted to use younger players doing it. Maybe they had done it earlier in their career, something like that, I don’t know. In the NFL, when you have limited guys, limited guys on your roster on game day, if a player can do an extra job or maybe even back up at the position, there’s value there. Especially in the kicking game, there’s a lot of that – guys that maybe they can do something for us, they just haven’t done it, so we’ll take a look at it and see what it looks like. [Julian] Edelman never returned punts. You never know until you get into it. Some guys have a good feel for it, some guys don’t.
Q: Do you remember when Julian Edelman first dropped his first few punt returns in camp?MORE NEWS: Lauren Astley's Father Works With Wayland Students To Raise Awareness About Teen Dating Violence
BB: Yeah, it’s a lot different catching from these punters, too than in college. These guys punt some tough balls; they’ve got a lot of hang time, plus the wind and all of that. But just an NFL punter, those balls are a lot tougher to catch than high school and college ones so it takes a little getting used to.