FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Quick hits from Bill Belichick’s news conference Saturday at Gillette Stadium:
1. Big week ahead. That’s what Belichick called the next four days of practice, leading into Thursday’s preseason game at Tampa. To use Belichick’s analogy of building a house – which he talked about with Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald – the foundation is being put in place and now “we have to start stacking some things on top of that.” He said there will be “a little bit of an expansion in our system” this week.
2. Cannon in all meetings. Fifth-round draft choice Marcus Cannon, the offensive lineman from Texas Christian who has opened camp on the active/non-football injury list, is taking part in all meetings. As for physical workouts, Belichick explained, “He’s on his own workout program. He does the things that everybody does, but they are specifically for him. That’s all based on medical supervision.”
3. Lot of Mayo talk. Belichick was asked to reflect on the time he was scouting linebacker Jerod Mayo at Tennessee, and when he lined up as a weakside linebacker in the Volunteers’ 4-3 defense. That could be where Mayo lines up in a new-look 4-3 Patriots defense, although Belichick said he didn’t view it that way. “Maybe the next coach will put him there,” he cracked. “I think he is going to play off the line of scrimmage and in the tackle box somewhere. Whatever front we’re in – over, under, 3-4, 4-3, 2-4 – he’s going to play in the tackle box off the line of scrimmage. That’s what he’s always done. He’s one of the best I’ve coached, one of the best in the league at doing that, I can’t imagine him playing anywhere else at this point.”
4. Kickoff return disappointment. Belichick said he was disappointed in the kickoff return game Thursday night. The unit had five returns for 100 yards (20 avg.). He also said the team needs better play from its specialists as a group, although one could assume he was specifically referring to long snapper Matt Katula (high snap on botched point-after attempt) and kickoff man Chris Koepplin (kickoff out of bounds for a penalty).
5. Gostkowski on schedule. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski has yet to take kickoffs in practice, but he is on schedule to do so. “Eventually he’ll do it. The recommendation we have, as far as his schedule, it’s a progression and I feel like we’re on track on that progression,” Belichick said. “We haven’t had any setbacks.”