Belichick Offers Effusive Praise for Burgess

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Bill Belichick has plenty to say about newly-acquired outside linebacker Derrick Burgess.

Speaking at a press conference during Patriots training camp on Friday, the coach praised his club's newest addition to an area that desperately needed some offseason attention.

"[He’s a] very athletic guy, competitive, tough, hard-working guy that I think has a good playing style," Belichick said. "I look forward to having him join our team and compete with the rest of our guys defensively there to try to put the most competitive group on the field that we can."

Belichick coached Burgess in the Pro Bowl in 2006 and he has coached against him plenty of times when New England has faced Philadelphia or Oakland.  He feels fortunate to have him on his side of the gridiron now.

"I think he’s a good football player," he said. "That’s why we got him. We think he’s a good football player and he’s been productive in this league. I expect that he will be productive in this league for us."

Belichick said that he and Raiders owner Al Davis talked about a deal that would bring Burgess to New England as early as the 2009 draft, but nothing was set in stone until recently.

The Patriots' once-formidable linebacking corps, which has featured Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel and Willie McGinest in recent years, was the cornerstone of a franchise that won three Super Bowls in four years. The veterans have moved on, aged, or gotten traded, and the defense has struggled ever since. Belichick hopes that Burgess will help restore the unit to dominance.

"Since I’ve been here, we’ve tried to improve our team any way we can at any position we can," he said. "Wherever we can find good players, we’re interested in acquiring them and trying to put them on our team. If it’s the right fit and the right situation and we feel like they can do well in our system, it doesn’t matter what position they play."

In 2008, Burgess, 30, registered 24 tackles (16 solo) with 3 1/2 sacks and one forced fumble.

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