A few morsels at breakfast
Belichick touches on Patriots topics
PALM BEACH, Fla. - Bill Belichick met with reporters Tuesday for the first time since Super Bowl XLVI, taking part in the AFC coaches’ breakfast at The Breakers resort, where the annual NFL meetings are being held.
Initially, Belichick’s comportment indicated that he’d rather be anywhere else, with no fewer than a dozen reporters waiting for him.
It perhaps didn’t help that the first question came from a New York reporter who wanted his thoughts on Tim Tebow being traded to the rival Jets.
“I’m just concentrating on our team,’’ said Belichick. “Just trying to get better in the offseason like we always do. I’m just trying to get ready with what we’re doing. Not really worried about the other 31 teams right now.’’
Belichick has spoken highly of Tebow in the past, and during the predraft process in 2010, he famously took Tebow to Tresca in Boston’s North End. But now that Tebow is the league’s most talked-about backup quarterback, and, more important, playing for New England’s fiercest rival, Belichick clammed up.
He was a bit more expansive on some Patriots-related topics, saying of recently signed receiver Brandon Lloyd, “He’s been a productive player, especially the last couple of years, in an offense similar to ours. We’ll see how that goes.’’
Lloyd played for Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels in both Denver and St. Louis.
With the signings of Lloyd, Donté Stallworth, and Anthony Gonzalez as well as Deion Branch, the Patriots currently have nine receivers on the roster.
“You always try to have competition at every position,’’ Belichick said. “We’ve always had about that many receivers going into camp - 10, 11, somewhere in there.
“We’ll see what the roster ends up being this year. Some guys at that position might not even be on our team right now and we’re not even talking about it. It’s just a process.’’
One of those receivers is Chad Ochocinco, who recently redid his contract and took a pay cut but has the same expected of him as any Patriots player.
“I think I have the same expectations for all our players, doesn’t matter who they are, doesn’t matter what year they’re in,’’ said Belichick. “Come in, work hard, be prepared, go out there and compete on the field. No difference for any player.’’
New England has seen running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis depart in free agency, and Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley, both of whom were rookies last season, remain, with Danny Woodhead.
Asked if he is confident that the young players can fill the void left by Green-Ellis, Belichick said, “We’ll see how it goes with those guys. We drafted them. We obviously like them enough to draft them.
“Neither one of them played a whole lot last year. They played some, but we’ll see how it goes. I’m sure there’ll be competition at that position.’’
Elsewhere in the offensive backfield, the Patriots seem to have taken a liking to what seemed to be a dying position: fullback. They have two in Tony Fiammetta and Spencer Larsen, and had three before releasing Lousaka Polite Monday.
As he did when other positions came up, Belichick said the fullbacks will be given a chance to compete, and they will “possibly’’ get short-yardage and goal-line carries.
When the conversation circled back to Tebow and having to prepare for the Wildcat-type offense the Jets may use with him, Belichick again responded that he is focused on his own club, particularly at this time of year, when it’s about team-building.
“We have a lot of respect for all the teams in our division,’’ he said. “They’ve all made changes. I’m sure they’ll all be very competitive. We’ll have our work cut out for us.
“I think right now, we need to focus our attention on what we’re doing and not worry too much about what everyone else is doing, and I think we’d be better off doing that.’’
Belichick arrived fashionably late to the event, though after last year, when he famously skipped the breakfast, late was better than nothing. To his credit, he did stay a couple of minutes over the allotted time to answer some final questions.
Some of those moments were Belichick at his best.
Asked if he knew about Logan Mankins playing at least part of the Super Bowl with a torn ACL and whether it adds to the legend of the left guard’s toughness, Belichick said, “I don’t think anybody’s ever questioned Logan’s toughness or his competitiveness. We’ll just leave it at that.’’
The follow-up came: Who is the toughest player you’ve ever coached? Belichick hesitated, saying there would be at least a dozen players he could name. Egged on, he acquiesced and offered some of the players he coached with the Giants.
“[Phil] Simms. [Lawrence] Taylor. I mean, Pepper [Johnson] went 13 years and never missed a practice. And then another three years in college without ever missing a practice. I think that’s up there. [Carl] Banks. Jim Burt. Pound for pound, Curtis Martin.’’
Martin was with the Patriots and Jets when Belichick was an assistant with those teams.
One last question came: Has he received his invitation to Ochocinco’s July 4 nuptials?
“So there’s some Giants . . .,’’ he said, drawing laughs.
Shalise Manza Young can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.