BOSTON (CBS) — It’s a big day in Foxboro, as the Patriots hit the field for the first day of mandatory minicamp. And when speaking with the media, head coach Bill Belichick had but one message he wanted to share: The Patriots are going to work on getting better.
“Each of us individually has an opportunity to improve,” Belichick said to a crowd of reporters on the practice field at Gillette Stadium. “Each day we get a chance to do that is an opportunity that we’ll all try to take advantage of.”
Of course, with Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski making their first on-field appearances of the offseason, reporters had a lot of questions about two of the most important players in franchise history. Belichick artfully cast aside the barrage of questions he faced.
The Brady And Gronkowski Questions
Is it good to have Brady back?
“It’s good to have all the players here. It’s always good to have all the players.”
Does the coach expect a lack of progress from those who missed OTAs?
“The OTA system is voluntary. … It’s a voluntary program. That’s the answer.”
Will those who missed OTAs need to be brought up to speed?
“Yeah we have players that are in various stages of participation. So everybody does what they can the best they can.”
Will there be an adjustment period for Brady and Gronkowski?
“Yeah, look, everybody’s out here, just, we’re all, myself, the coaches, we’re all trying to do the same thing, we’re trying to get ready for the season and trying to put ourselves in the best position.”
Is your relationship with Brady in a good place right now?
“I’ve always had a good relationship with Tom.”
Is it different that Brady missed OTAs?
“He’s done that before. Yeah if you go back a few years, there’s times where — look it’s a voluntary program. You’ll have to ask him about it.”
Can you do more in practice now that Brady is present?
“Our practices are structured in such a way that we just move forward from the first day of OTAs to the last day. I include the minicamp in the OTAs.”
Did Brady’s absence helped Brian Hoyer and Danny Etling in the OTA sessions?
“Again, I don’t think it’s really about who is or isn’t anywhere. It’s about each of us trying to make the most of our opportunities getting ready for the season.”
Is it good to have Gronkowski back?
“It’s good to have all the players here.”
Is your relationship with Gronkowski in a good place right now?
“Yeah. You gotta talk to Rob about that.”
Are you concerned about the dedication level of Brady and Gronkowski to the football team?
“Yeah you’d have to ask them that question. They’ve always been that way ever since they’ve been on our team.”
Do you have an all-or-nothing policy on OTA attendance? Or can players attend some of the sessions if they miss the start?
“Those policies are all covered by the league.”
Have you sat down with Gronkowski to discuss a new contract?
“I wouldn’t discuss that publicly.”
The Eagles/White House Questions
What are your thoughts on the White House cancelling the Eagles’ trip?
“We’re focused on what we’re doing today. We want to try to have a good day.”
Did your previous White House trips mean something to you, and is it disappointing to see the trips becoming politicized?
“Yeah. We’re focused on what we’re doing today. Not worried about what everyone else is doing.”
Have the White House visits meant something to you in the past?
“Today we’re out here on the practice field for OTAs.”
Player Protest Questions
Safety Eric Reid remains without an NFL job. In your opinion as an NFL evaluator, should he have a job by now?
Yeah, right now I’m focused on evaluating the players on our team. That’s what I’m doing.
Will Patriots players be fined or punished for kneeling during the national anthem?
“I don’t think we’re doing that today. We’re in OTAs. … We’re focused on today, we’re focused on having a good practice today. That’s what we’re out here for, that’s what we’re going to focus on.”
Bill did give a couple of expansive answers on Tuesday. When asked about Ivan Fears’ coaching style, Belichick said the veteran coach’s enthusiasm and passion for the game makes it fun for players and coaches alike to be around him. And when asked about Devin McCourty, Belichick said it can be challenging to tell Devin apart from twin brother Jason when the two are not in uniform.
Other than that, though, Belichick wasn’t offering too much, outside of stating that his team is just trying to get better every day. Business as usual.