FOXBOROUGH — The question was a simple one with a fairly simple answer given.
But it was important because the answer speaks to the way the team, and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick in particular, is setting expectations for this week's three-day mandatory minicamp.
Belichick was asked if there were one rookie that had impressed him somehow, either by his studying of the playbook or his abilities on the field after 10 days of organized team activities. He then went ahead and broke down his thoughts on the offseason process and when he begins to even judge players.
"With all due respect, we haven’t really done anything on the field," he said. "We talked a lot, hopefully we’ve learned a lot, but we haven’t had the competition that we’re going to have in training camp. It’s just not the same. And on top of that, we have a lot of guys who even though they may know what to do, they haven’t had much experience doing it.
"But by the time we get to training camp, we’ll be in a little bit different position where the players will have a better understanding of what to do," Belichick continued. "They will have done it at least in a controlled setting. And then we’ll see based on competition how they’re able to do it against somebody else who is competing at that same level. That’s when we’ll really see that. We’re not really going to see that now. Nor are we looking for that now. We don’t want to go out there and have a bunch of piles, have guys rolled up. We’re trying to teach ‘em, get 'em to understand what to do to have some confidence, so they can go out there, when we do get to training camp, they’re able to go out there and do it at their best level and compete against the other guys trying to compete against them. So that’s what this is really about. Now is not the time for [anything else]."
So it appears the young players just have to show up, be attentive, learn a little, and prepare themselves for training camp. Sounds simple enough. Because, you know, that's when the real competition starts.