Belichick acknowledges competition in defensive end group

FOXBOROUGH – Patriots coach Bill Belichick is going to have some tough decisions to make when it comes time to pare the team’s roster.

He’s got 16 defensive linemen and, unlike in years past, the team is deeper at defensive end with a strong competition brewing for backup spots behind starters Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich.

Belichick, in discussing Marcus Benard and Justin Francis Friday, acknowledged as much ahead of the team’s seventh training camp practice.

“There’s good competition there with all those guys,” he said. “I think all those guys have something to offer. In the running game, pass rush, there’s a variety of skills involved in the competition. They’ve all been working hard. It started in spring and it’s continued.”


Belichick said don’t count out 2012 third-round pick Jake Bequette.

“Jake’s a smart guy. He definitely understands what we’re doing, what they’re doing.”

The coach added: “He’s in a real competitive situation. … He’s definitely holding his own.”

The Patriots appeared to have abandoned the cameras on each quarterback’s helmet Thursday. However, the coach said there was some good that came from using the film.

“There’s some aspect to make note of that’s good,” Belichick said. “It certainly doesn’t give you the whole picture. I’ve coached 38 years without ’em, it’s not like it’s an absolute necessity. I think you’re always looking for something a little bit better.”

Belichick was asked whether Ras-I Dowling, Jermaine Cunningham, Marcus Cannon, or Dan Connolly would practice Friday.

“We have a lot of guys who are in the day-to-day category.”

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