New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick surprised a lot of players today by canceling their practice on day three of the team's mandatory minicamp. Players still had to attend team meetings before their early dismissal.
Nonetheless, today was an eventful day at the team's training facilities, as the members of the 2011 team received their AFC Championship rings. Belichick called the moment "bittersweet", before adding "whatever it was last year, it was. So, it's time to move on."
During his time with the press today, Belichick touched on a variety of subjects. For one, he confirmed that new tight end Jake Ballard arrived in Foxboro yesterday, and that he is continuing his rehab from offseason surgery. He also confirmed that he is in talks with New Orleans Saints interim coach Joe Vitt about possibly doing a joint practice.
The subject of Andre Carter also came up. Carter recently told CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora that he believes he'll be fully recovered and ready to go by Training Camp, and that his first choice is to return to the Patriots in 2012. Belichick said he didn't have any updates to offer, but left the door open for Carter to return next season.
"Nope. We'll see how it goes. The players who are here on the roster are on the roster. We're at 90 so if somebody comes on, somebody else will have to go off. Might happen, might not, I don't know. We'll do what we think is best for the football team. We'll evaluate whatever our options are. If we make a move, then there isn't a spot there to make it so somebody would have to move off if somebody moved on."
Check out more from Bill Belichick, after the jump!
Over the offseason, the Patriots decided to sign linebacker and NFL journeyman Bobby Carpenter to possibly help with their front seven. As he did for Jemaine Cunningham on Tuesday, Belichick had a lot of praise for the former Ohio State product.
"It's been good. 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."
Another surprise that happened this offseason was the Patriots bringing not one, not two, but three fullbacks into minicamp. The Patriots decided to utilize a fullback midway through last season, something they haven't done for several years now. On Thursday, Belichick gave some insight on the trio of Spencer Larsen, Tony Fiammetta and Eric Kettani.
"We'll see. We'll see how it goes in training camp. With Eric [Kettani] there, we have three guys that kind of have some degree of fullback experience, a little bit of tight end experience, a little bit of running back experience, so there may be some crossover there. All three of those players have some value in the kicking game. We'll see how all that plays out. I think that's a possibility. That's why they're here. They're here to compete for that role on offense and that role in the kicking game. How that compares to what other players do, we'll just have to see. We'll have competition from that spot relative to linebacker, tight end, possibly running back and in the kicking game."
Finally, Belichick touched on one of team's forgotten wide receivers: third-year receiver Britt Davis. Davis, who spent the majority of 2011 on the Patriots' practice squad, has been turning some heads during these early workouts. Belichick too offered his praise.
"He's been an interesting guy to work with; one of our bigger receivers. He has good size; [he's] a good target, he's had some experience in our system through Josh [McDaniels] and some familiarity. I think he's adapted well, he's shown up well here and he's put himself in good position to go to training camp. We'll see how the competition goes there. He's done fine."