Patriots Team Notes

Bill Belichick held his second annual media film session on July 17 and explained very basic defensive principles using diagrams as well as practice and game films as visuals. He also fielded questions in the nearly two hour "Football 101" type session. It was very informative.

It highlighted a media day at Gillette Stadium in which the Patriots organization also hosted a media touch football game featuring the electronic media vs. the print media. The print media shocked the more athletic electronic team, 28-24.

--The Patriots signed a pair of NFL Europe alums while still negotiating with several rookies draft picks. Offensive lineman Corey Mitchell, 24, who started for the Frankfurt Galaxy last spring, and defensive lineman Brad Harris, 23, who registered 23 tackles and 1.5 sacks for the Rhein Fire, joined the club on July 16. Undrafted rookie free agent wide receiver Rob Milanese out of Pennsylvania was released.

--Belichick believes this will be a big season for the 2002 draft class that featured tight end Daniel Graham, wide receiver Deion Branch, defensive lineman Jarvis Green, quarterback Rohan Davey, wide receiver David Givens and running back Antwoine Womack. The first three will have to play major roles for the team to reach its potential. Graham battled injuries last year that limited his effectiveness while Branch emerged into a solid contributor who should continue growing in the offense. If Graham can become a threat down the middle of the field, he could create some match-up problems for defenses.

"I think he had a good offseason," Belichick said. "I think he's much more comfortable in what he is doing than he was a year ago. Tight end is a position with a lot of moving parts. There are defensive linemen, linebackers and safety blitzes. There are a lot of things that happen around that position in terms of the configuration of the defense and the scheme. I think he's a lot more comfortable and confident. I'm looking forward to seeing him in training camp."

--The Patriots tore down the old practice bubble adjacent to the natural grass practice fields that will be used during training camp and throughout the season. In place of the bubble, a new 80-yard FieldTurf surface was installed that will serve as the rain field during training camp.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think he has the body type for it. He's got the quickness for it. He's just going to need experience. We're not going to know until training camp when he can get reps in pads. It will take awhile." -- Bill Belichick on whether Jarvis Green can make the move from defensive end to nose tackle.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL


It appears the Patriots will not re-sign veteran safety Victor Green to add depth to a safety spot that appears thin with only Lawyer Milloy and Rodney Harrison as proven commodities at the position. The Patriots forfeited their right of first refusal on Green, which means he is now an unrestricted free agent. Belichick is confident that former Titan Aric Morris could fill in as well as Antwan Harris and perhaps Otis Smith in a pinch.

From a health standpoint, New England enters camp in decent shape. Offensive linemen Kenyatta Jones and Joe Andruzzi will not be ready to go full time at the start of camp, but others who underwent offseason procedures like Daniel Graham, Rosevelt Colvin and Rick Lyle should be ready to go.

DRAFT PICKS

Rd. 1/13, DE Ty Warren, Texas A&M -- Warren will vie for playing time on the end opposite Richard Seymour and will push incumbent starter Bobby Hamilton. He could supplant Hamilton as the starter by the end of September, which would likely give the Patriots a rookie, a second-year man (Green) and a third-year pro (Seymour) starting across a young defensive front.

Rd. 2/36, CB Eugene Wilson, Illinois -- It's not easy for a rookie to come in and grasp Bill Belichick's complex coverage schemes, but Wilson has impressed through the mini-camp season. He will play in sub packages early on, but don't be surprised if he is starting by the end of November. Belichick likes his potential.

Rd. 2/45, WR Bethel Johnson, Texas A&M -- Johnson will not likely step in and be a major offensive factor, but if he can catch around 20-25 passes with a handful of big plays among them, he will be doing his job. He has the uncoachable quality known as speed and gives the team the stretch-the-field receiver it lacked.

Rd. 4/117, DT Dan Klecko, Temple -- Klecko will likely rotate in to give the starting nose tackle a breather and could see action as an interior nickel rusher. His role as a rookie won't be much more than that unless he proves to be a major surprise.

Rd. 5/164, OL Dan Koppen, Boston College -- Koppen will get a chance to prove himself at guard early in training camp while Joe Andruzzi is coming back from his knee injury.

Patriots Insider Top Stories