Belichick huddles with rookies before bye

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Patriots coach Bill Belichick talked to his rookies in advance of the bye week Wednesday morning.FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Patriots coach Bill Belichick routinely huddles with the team's rookies to assess their first-year performances, but also to aid their acclimation to the professional level.

As the Patriots prepare to enjoy five consecutive offdays as part of their bye week (four of which are mandated by the new collective bargaining agreement), Belichick gathered his rookies before Wednesday's final session of the week to remind them of expectations while away from the team.

"I actually met with the rookies this morning for about 40 minutes, so we told them quite a few things," said Belichick. "It’s just different for them. It’s a different experience. What they did in college, and what happens in college relative to an NFL season, is just different. It’s the kind of thing you can’t really prepare for. You just have to go through it and experience it. [The coaching staff tries] to talk to the players about some of things that they could expect, some things that they might experience in future weeks. We’ve had players talk to them along those same lines. Players who have been through it, ‘Here’s what the coaches are telling you and here’s what a couple of my experiences were.’ It might be helpful for them to hear those or to let them ask questions, that kind of thing."

Rookies, who have been locked into the NFL grind from almost the instant the lockout was lifted, are about to enjoy their first extended time away from the team and the structure of the day-to-day schedule. With higher profiles and a comfortable income, it's a potential recipe for danger as many trek back home, and the coaching staff simply stressed mixing fun with being ready for the second half of the season.

"[The message for the rookies was] just get ready to finish out the season strong," said first-round pick Nate Solder. "Do whatever it takes this week to be ready to finish out the season."

Belichick noted the rookie meetings are pretty standard, especially when crossing a new NFL bridge.

"We do that on a pretty regular basis anyway," he said. "Whether it’s the start of training camp, beginning of the regular season, bye week -- we spend a lot of time with the rookies, trying to help them acclimate themselves to a new area, a different working environment, a different team structure than whatever structure they were on before... They have to understand it and be able to utilize the opportunities and tools that we give them to try to help improve themselves on and off the field, in and out of football. It’s a pretty extensive thing."

Echoed Solder: "The meetings are informative. The point of those meetings is to teach us rookies how they do things around here, how coach Belichick wants things done."