Coaches arrived last week while rookies, quarterbacks and injured veterans came in on Monday. Today, the rest of the New England Patriots’ roster has reported to the team’s 2017 training camp. And as has been the case in the past, head coach Bill Belichick held his yearly press conference talking about the upcoming camp.
The event, which took place 25 minutes behind schedule, featured typical Belichickian non-answers but emphasized the team's general mind-set: “What people have done some other year it’s really meaningless for the 2017 season.” New England's head coach made this much clear during his opening remarks when he spoke about the team having entered a new year with new challenges ahead.
Belichick also dropped an interesting, previously unreported bit of news during his opening statement: Prior to their August 25 preseason game against the Detroit Lions, the Patriots will hold joint practices with the team. New England already has joint sessions scheduled against their first two preseason opponents, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Houston Texans.
Before fielding questions, the future Hall of Fame coach also talked about how the team will now be able to work on aspects of the game it has not been allowed to during earlier phases of offseason workouts. Belichick talked about contact, technique and leverage as examples for points the team will address in the upcoming weeks of practices with the goal of building “good fundamentals”.
After finishing his opening remarks, Belichick's press conference became a bit less informative. He neither gave an update on whether all players reported to camp (“We'll have an update on the roster at some point”), nor if the team had filled its two vacant roster spots (“I don't know). The 65-year old also dodged questions about his team going undefeated – as if he would answer them – and blocking distractions out (“We're focused on one day at a time”).
Belichick did, however, offer a little bit more when asked about two players – one that had recently joined the team and another that had just left: David Harris and Sebastian Vollmer. Regarding Harris, Belichick called him an “experienced guy” that has had “a very productive career” before adding the typical “we'll see how it goes”). When speaking about Vollmer, the head coach noted that he was a “great teammate and a great player for us”, one that had come a long way: “He played good football for us on both sides of the ball”.
Before leaving the podium after about 15 minutes, Belichick was also asked about the coaching staff remaining unchanged for yet another year: “We've had a lot of consistency on our entire staff. I thought that was very helpful this year with a relatively short offseason.” He pointed out that the entire staff has a level of experience when it comes to working with each other.
One coach in specific was pointed out: strength and conditioning coach Moses Cabrera, who took over after the 2015 season. Belichick noted that Cabrera has changed the program “quite a bit” when it comes to rest and recovery and helping players work on their speed, strength, power and explosion.
The final question of the day was a personal one, whether or not the coach still enjoyed the process and starting from scratch. Belichick's answer was today's press conference in a nutshell: “I don’t really think we’re going from scratch.”