Gunner position a hot topic

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- One indication that we’re deep into the football preseason and training camp is that one of the dominant topics in Bill Belichick’s Wednesday news conference was on gunners.

The Patriots have one of the best gunners in the NFL in special teams captain Matthew Slater. Belichick detailed some of the traits that are necessary to be an effective gunner (e.g. aggressiveness, toughness), who is the player that is detached from the punt formation and often the first down the field, and had praise for Slater.

“He almost always draws two guys out there,” Belichick said of Slater. “Deservedly so. He does an outstanding job of covering punts. It’s a tough position to play.”

A few other soundbites from Belichick:

Opening statement. “We had a good day with the Bucs yesterday. Looking forward to getting back out there today. Keep working on some situational things as wella s a lot of normal things, 1 on 1s, things like that. It will give you an opportunity to really see some matchups. The teamwork and situationalstuff was really good. We’ll get another dose of it today.”

Visiting other facilities, and also hosting teams, in joint practices. “I think it’s interesting to go see another team, not just their facility, but their utilization of it. And vice versa, when teams come here, they look at our facilities and we reciprocate that. It’s definitely interesting information that comes out – you see how people are doing things. A lot of times you see what they’re doing but you’re just doing it a different way for whatever reason that is. Sometimes you see something that you think is a good idea and you implement it. And vice versa, they ask you about something you’re doing and you share that with them.”

On right tackle Sebastian Vollmer. “He is a real smart guy. He is not only intelligent but he understands football concepts, so when you explain something to him from a football standpoint, it registers with him very quickly. He’s a very flexible person, so if you ask him to change something he can change it and still be comfortable doing it, as opposed to having a bad habit and not being able to break it. He’s been a very good person to coach. … He’s been a great teammate, very popular with the other members of the team because of his work ethic and commitment, and he has a good personality as well.”