The priorities in New England Patriots training camp are beginning to shift.
In New England’s first week of padded practices, the focus was on teaching, introducing new concepts and getting players reacclimated after a long offseason away from the football field.
Now, Bill Belichick and his coaching staff will be expecting results.
“We’re heading into our second week here,” Belichick said before Monday’s training camp practice. “This is a big week for us, individually in units and collectively as a team, to really start to show some progress.
“This will be multiple times, at least second, third, maybe fourth time through on a lot of things that we’re doing, whether that’s plays or techniques or situations, things like that. So I think that the team is starting to feel comfortable with, again, whether it be their assignment or the way they’re doing it or coaching points and so forth. Now we really need to see those things start to come together this week on all levels in all three phases of the game, and also being able to manage and operate the game from a coaching standpoint.”
The Patriots are slated to kick off their regular-season schedule in 20 days (vs. Miami on Sept. 13) and won’t have the benefit of preseason games to prepare players and sort out roster battles. The 53-man roster cutdown deadline is Sept. 5.
“We all have a lot of work to do,” Belichick said. “I think we’re in position, hopefully, to string some good days together and have a lot of little things start to fit together in the overall big picture. But we’ll see how that goes. That’s where we need to be moving toward.”
Belichick spoke last week about finding ways to simulate a preseason environment during camp. He was asked whether the team has any intra-squad scrimmages planned for this week.
“Of course, the week before the Miami game will be a Miami preparation week, so we’ll just have to decide how we feel like we can best utilize our time and our opportunities to do the many things that we need to do prior to the start of the season,” Belichick said. “We know we’re not going to be able to get them all in, so we’ll have to prioritize what we can do and when and how much we want to do it.
“Those are interesting discussions. Everything has merit, but we don’t want to stand out there and, I would say, overwhelm the players with a million things and do so much that we’re not good at anything. So we’ll just have to manage all the things involved, including getting physically ready to go, but at the same time, trying to be smart about that and not doing too much, too soon. We’ll have to take it here in short windows — two or three days at a time is really how we’re looking at it from a coaching staff standpoint.”