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Belichick talks Ward, Haynesworth, Bon Jovi & Junior Mints

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff  August 25, 2011 10:25 AM

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This morning's press conference with Bill Belichick was about as wide-ranging as you can get. It began with asking his relationship with boxer and Lowell native Micky Ward, who addressed the Patriots yesterday. The team also watched "The Fighter" the acclaimed movie based on Ward's life.

"I'll just leave it that I think he's obviously a legendary sports figure and fighter around here that everybody knows, sort of, and...great guy, had a great career and (that was) something that our team enjoyed last night," Belichick said.

Last night wasn't the first time Belichick has done something a little different for his players, and he said he did so in part as a reward for their hard work to this point.

"Look, we've been in camp for a long time, been watching a lot of film at night, practice film, opponent film, everything, so we decided to go to the movies and make it a little more enjoyable - popcorn, candy out there, let them relax a little bit...I think sometimes when your team's worked hard, they deserve a break. I think they enjoyed it. It was a good night," Belichick said.

Belichick faced a series of questions about Haynesworth and his 19-day absence from participation in padded (or shelled) practices. Here's part of the exchange:

Did Haynesworth miss time due to injury or conditioning? "He missed practice because he wasn't ready to practice."

Did he show up in shape? "Look, that's as much as I can tell you. Players that are ready to practice practice, the ones that aren't don't practice. When they're ready we put them out there."

In Washington, he had the issue... "Yeah, I can't really say what happened anywhere else. I'm sure you can get a lot of details on that from somewhere else. I'll just tell you here when the players are ready to practice, they practice. When they're not ready to practice they do what they need to get ready to practice. When they're ready to get on the field we put them on the field. It's the same for everybody."

Was it a coincidence he (returned) to practice the day after his court case was settled? "I don't know."

Here's a bit more from Belichick:

On playing time in the third and fourth preseason games and how it might be affected because of the "hurry up" nature of the preseason thus far (because of the lack of offseason workouts):

"It's a combination of both; it's a tough balancing act. There's not really enough plays, not really enough games to be where you optimally would like to be, but everybody's got the same schedule, so it's how each team does it relative to their competition. In terms of evaluating players, in terms of figuring out who you want on your team, how it's going to be composed, part of it's getting players ready that you know are going to play for your team and getting them working together in groups, but you want to make sure it's the right group - you don't want to put in one group and then a few weeks later find out you need to change it because you made a mistake in putting it together in the first place, so that's not really the most productive way to go. If you know how it's going to turn out, you're better off to try to get it right in the first place. So it's a tough balancing act."

On Matt Light's progress back to playing strength after offseason shoulder surgery:

"He's been out there; he's been able to do anything. I think his lead-up to the start of practice was good and since he's been on the field he's been able to do everything we've asked him to do, so he's coming along. We'll see how it goes today and see where we're at...I think he's close, I'd put it that way. If he doesn't play this week, I think he'll be ready to play soon. Maybe he will be ready to play this week; I don't know."

On his level of concern with Mike Wright and his current (undisclosed) injury, coming off last year's concussion:

"I don't think anything that happened last year, right now, is related to what's going on this year. Look, you can ask the same question about any player that's not out there - would we like to see them all out there? Absolutely."

What kind of guy do you think Albert Haynesworth is?

"He's done what we've asked him to do." [So he's been a good soldier to this point?] "He's done what we've asked him to do. Do you want me to rephrase that?'

On a lighter note - Jon Bon Jovi was at practice yesterday, does he get upset when you play Bruce Springsteen when he's there?

"No, Jon and Bruce are Jersey rock stars. They have a pretty good relationship...mutual respect for each other. It's Jersey rock-n-roll....It was a pretty big day for us yesterday to have a guy who's sold 120 million records and (Boston College hockey coach) Jerry York out there, who's won 800, 900 games - I don't know, a lot more than I have, I'll tell you that. It was an interesting day."

Since he was at the movies yesterday, what's his candy of choice?

"Put me down for the Junior Mints."

On whether the team has had to change any plans yet because of Hurricane Irene:

"No, it sounds like we're going to be out before it comes in, hopefully we'll be back in before it comes in. But definitely we'll have to keep an eye on it...I think, at this point, it looks like we'll be in and out before it hits, but we'll definitely have to keep an eye on it."

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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