Bill Belichick: 'Welcome to football season'

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Top takeaways from Bill Belichick’s Wednesday morning news conference, leading into the first training camp practice on Thursday:

Setting the scene. Belichick arrived at the podium in shorts and a gray Patriots hoodie and said, “Welcome to football season. We’re here. It’s always an exciting time of year to start training camp. I thought we had a real productive spring, with a lot of our players and a couple new coaching staff members [DL coach Brendan Daly and OL coach Dave DeGuglielmo], kind of pulling it all together. That’s really kind of to put us in position to start camp and kind of get it going today with some conditioning stuff.”

From teaching focus to more competitive setting. Belichick stressed how the spring camps were more about teaching and the focus shifts at this time on the calendar. “Now we start competing,” he said.

Better feel for condition of team in a week. Asked if it was too early to assess the general condition of the team, Belichick said it’s something he’ll have a better idea of after a week of training camp. The team won’t be in full pads until Saturday.

Following up on Armstead’s retirement. Belichick was asked if he had been prepared for the retirement of defensive lineman Armond Armstead, or if it was something the team had to react to. “Armond had a problem, an issue, come up later in the spring. Then it was resolved when it was resolved. It was a little bit of a process, but I think after everything had come through, it was the decision that he made. As the process was going on, we realized that was certainly a possibility.”

Deflecting questions on Hernandez. The news conference ended with three questions on former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, specific to text messages that had been exchanged between Belichick and Hernandez. “I think that was addressed by a lawyer last week, and I don’t have any further comment on it.”