Patriots first-year special teams coach Scott O'Brien held a Q&A with reporters today at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. Here's a transcipt, as provided by the Patriots' media relations department:
Special teams coach Scott O'Brien (AP)
Q: What was the connection between you and Bill Belichick? Did you know him before you worked together in Cleveland?
SO: No, it started in Cleveland. I was at the University f Pittsburgh at the time and they had just finished the Super Bowl and he called one day and the relationship really started there.
Q: What was your motivation for participating in the slip and slide the other day?
SO: I don’t know if there was any motivation behind it, but I think it was like everybody else. You’ve heard about it and the players can kind of persuade you into doing things you may not want to do. I kind of went along with it. It was kind of neat.
Q: Were you the only one they were trying to get in there?
SO: I don’t know. All I know is when my name was called, I hesitated a little bit, but then I kind of went out. I think they try to get everybody in there. It’s just part of the break up of camp, I think.
Q: Can you talk about the battle at long snapper between Nathan Hodel and Jake Ingram?
SO: Right now, they’ve come in, they’re working hard. Right now, we’ve got a long way to go and every day is an evaluation. Every week will be an evaluation. Right now, we’re getting evaluated in team situations. The next step will be the preseason. So far, they’re both doing good and need to keep improving like any other position.
Q: What’s the biggest change you’ve noticed in Bill Belichick since his time in Cleveland?
SO: Besides a little more gray hair, like we all have – or less hair? Not a lot. There were a lot of things I loved about Bill, as a young coach learning the National Football League, from an assistant coach’s standpoint, especially situational football. I mean, situations that win and lose football games. And that’s really our responsibility, as coaches, to be able to give our players the opportunity to have the best chance to win. I think being with him the first time [in Cleveland], really getting a head start on that, really helped me as far as situational games that come right down to the wire that maybe give you a little bit of edge.
Q: Can you break down the battle at returner?
SO: Well, I mean there’s really not a battle right now. We’ve got punt returners working – everybody knows Wes Welker, everybody knows Kevin Faulk – but we’ve got Julian Edelman, who is trying to develop into one. And he’s learning, not only catching the ball, there’s a lot more to it. There’s field awareness; where did you catch it at? Where did you start? What do we have on the field? Are we singling outside? There’re a lot of things going through his mind, but he has to understand and we have to teach him situations based on trying to stay a step ahead. There’s nothing more important than catching the football and protecting it, don’t get me wrong, but there’s more to it than that. So we’re kind of bringing him along. Obviously, we have Joey Galloway who has done it in this league too. The more [punt returners] you can have, the better it is. Don’t forget about Patrick Chung. We keep working with Darius Butler, who was a kickoff returner in college, but he has great skills. We’re just going to keep developing everybody we have until it starts to get closer.
Q: How do you like Laurence Maroney at kick returner?
SO: I loved Laurence when he was at the University of Minnesota. though he didn’t return a lot his last year there. When you first saw him, you knew he was an explosive runner. He has size and I know he had a good year his first year. So far so good with him. I like him. He’s getting into it. It’s a little different scheme schematically, so they’ll need to get used to that a little bit, but I think they’re doing a good job.
Q: How has the wedge rule changed things from your perspective?
SO: I mean, the rule itself I think will change – I mean, it will change everybody. Not only what we do, but what we’re going see every Sunday or every week. There’re different looks that you have to be able to deal with anyway, and we’re all in for protecting the players and taking care of them. If we feel that’s going to help or they changed the rule for that reason, then we’re going to work with it. But overall, schematically, it will change, but there’s really not a lot of change based on what we do.
Q: Do you feel that the rule is clear? Bill Belichick has said he thought it might be hard to officiate.
SO: I think anytime they change a rule or try to bring in a rule, I think in the preseason you’re going to find out [how it is officiated]. We try to do as much as we can to teach the players the rule itself and the techniques within the rules that we’re trying to accomplish. There is gray area there because for coaches, we see it a little bit differently. We can see it in our mind when the rule comes out or when an official talks to us about a rule, when they give that to us, we can almost determine, ‘ok, what if this happens?’ Because we don’t want our players in that situation. We don’t want to be forced into that situation, so I think [during] preseason, we’ll get a better feel for it.