Patriots Coach Focused On Defense

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was intent on getting a good look at the young players invited to rookie minicamp this past weekend. Yet, it was the defense that received his personal touch.

Foxboro, Mass. -- Head Coach Bill Belichick's defenses have always been known for their aptitude in making the proper on-the-fly judgments on the field when reacting to opposing offensive play calling during games.

At rookie mini-camp last weekend, several of the new defensive backs got a lesson in Defensive Play Calling 101 during some defensive backfield drills. For almost 40 minutes, Belichick and the other Patriots defensive coaches went step-by-step through the different offensive formations NFL teams could run during a game. The rookies, such as cornerback Michael Richardson, Denny Poland, and number one draft pick Brandon Meriweather, were asked to show their abilities in recognizing an opposing offensive line formation while having the wherewithal to make the proper in-game reads and adjustments.

The coaches ran several kinds of motions and formations to try and confuse the young defensive backs. While reading several offensive formations, the backs had to communicate with each other, the linebackers, and the defensive line through hand signals. Once an offensive formation was read it was up to the defensive backs and the linebackers to make the proper defensive play call.

The defensive backfield seemed to occupy Belichick's entire focus throughout the two-day mini-camp. Belichick was assisted in the drills by Defensive line coach Pepper Johnson, Linebackers coach Matt Patricia, and Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees.

Denny Poland (L), Brandon Meriweather (R) and Mike Richardson (Center) communicate during an alignment drill at Patriots minicamp May 13, 2007 (Photo: Kevin Saleeba /

The exercise obviously went well for Poland who was in Foxboro for a tryout with the team. The former Air Force Academy graduate was signed by the team on Monday.

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