FOXBOROUGH — Bill Belichick used a bit of comic relief Wednesday when addressing the recent scheduling snafu that resulted in the NFL docking the Patriots a pair of organized team activity practices.
“They got a good long weekend,” the coach said with a quick smile, when asked how the missed practice time affected spring preparations.
“That’s in the past, we moved on,” added Belichick, who took responsibility for the incident, for which he was fined $50,000.
According to a league source, the infraction did not involve any impermissible contact or on-field activities.
During Phase 2 of the voluntary offseason program, players are not allowed to be in the facility for more than four hours per day, and club officials are not allowed to indicate to players that any workout or meeting is mandatory.
Belichick said the infraction involved three Phase 2 meetings, and he declined to blame any of his coaches or staffers.
“The whole situation is in the past,” he said. “It’s resolved and we’ve moved on. I’m responsible for it. So, that’s it.”
With Phase 3 beginning, Belichick fielded questions from the media for the first time since the draft.
The coach touched on a number of subjects, including his revamped coaching staff, the depth chart, the quarterbacks, and the rookies.
On the subject of Joe Judge, who has served as special teams coordinator, wide receivers coach, and quarterbacks coach during two tenures with the Patriots, Belichick said he will serve in a number of capacities this season.
“He’ll do whatever I ask him to do,” Belichick said. “It might change from time to time. He’ll be involved in a lot of things.
“Joe’s great. Smart guy, a lot of experience. He’ll do whatever we need him to do, and he can do a lot, so he will.”
Judge worked mostly with the special teams Wednesday, along with Cam Achord and Joe Houston.
Belichick also lauded the return of offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, whom he called “smart, detailed, and experienced.”
It was hard not to notice O’Brien’s presence during the practice. He’s an authoritative presence who gets his message across quickly and efficiently.
Despite O’Brien taking over, said Belichick, the offense will not be starting from scratch. He said that goes for all three phases of the game.
“Every year is different,” he said. “You always make adaptations to your system, at least we always do. I shouldn’t say everybody does.
“We do make adaptations to our system on offense, defense, special teams, based on either trends, things that we want to do, things we’ve seen other teams do that we want to incorporate, things like that.
“This year, we fall into that category on all three phases, as well. A lot of things are the same, some things we’ve modified. We’ll see how it goes. I’m sure we’ll make other adjustments as we go through the spring and training camp.”
Belichick said these practice sessions are not about establishing a pecking order. They’re about getting on the same page.
“We’re just trying to get familiarized, re-familiarized with our system, new players, and getting to know each other,” he said. “It’s not about stars or starters, stuff like that. It’s really about all of us building a good foundation.
“It’s been a while since any of us have played or coached, so it’s good for all of us to get back out there and sharpen our skills, whether it be players, coaches, whatever it happens to be.”
As for Mac Jones, Belichick said he sees continued growth from his third-year quarterback.
“I think Mac works hard every day,” said Belichick. “He puts in a lot of time in the weight room, in the classroom, works hard on the field. His work ethic is really good and hasn’t changed.”
Belichick has been impressed with how the 16-member rookie class has jumped right into formation.
“They’ve come in, they’ve worked hard, trying to acclimate themselves to professional football, to the Patriots, to the New England area, and so forth,” he said. “We’ve got a long way to go, but we’ve covered a lot of ground, and make progress every day. Getting there.”