FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick always seems to enjoy his annual training-camp interview with Sirius XM NFL Radio’s “Movin’ the Chains” program, as he provides high-level insight on personnel and other thoughts.
In addition to Belichick saying the wide receiver competition is “probably as good as it’s been since I’ve been here ,” here are some other things we learned from Belichick’s interview, which aired Monday:
1. "Big personality" and impressive start for Bennett. When asked about veteran tight end Martellus Bennett, Belichick first touched on his “big personality” before addressing his unique traits on the field.
“Very talented. Marty has shown up well in all phases of the game -- blocking, receiving -- and he’s a good downfield receiver, a big target who can go up and get the ball,” he said.
“So he and Rob [Gronkowski] are different, but they are kind of interchangeable. They can both block and can both catch down the field, they can run the intermediate routes, they’re both huge targets. I know the quarterbacks love throwing to them.
“I think it gives us a little variety, just in terms of having to match up against one guy is hard, now having to match up against two of them hopefully we can put some pressure on the defense, both in the running game and passing game.”
2. Safety position might be strongest on roster. Breaking down the defense, Belichick said, “Our safety position might be the strongest position we have on the team, from top to bottom.” The group is headlined by Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, and Jordan Richards; and with Nate Ebner at the Olympics, Brock Vereen, Cedric Thompson and Vinnie Sunseri round out the depth chart.
3. Rookie Jones has "great skill" as a returner. Discussing top draft pick Cyrus Jones and his return skills, Belichick noted, “After we lost [Julian] Edelman and [Danny] Amendola last year, we turned the ball over a couple times in the return game. He definitely gives us some depth there, we’ll see how the competition turns out between him and Julian and Danny when they’re out there. He had great skill in college, and again, that could be a real weapon for us -- if you can combine good defense with a good punt-return game, you have a chance to really create some field position for the offense.”
4. Trickle-down effect of Scarnecchia’s return. Calling it “pretty seamless” to have offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia transition back to the staff after a two-year retirement, Belichick noted the chemistry between Scarnecchia and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. “I know Josh is very comfortable with Dante in terms of game-planning and that kind of thing,” he said.
5. Rookie guards Thuney and Karras make early impression. Joe Thuney, the third-round pick out of NC State, has been lining up as the first-unit left guard through the spring and opening of training camp after playing all five spots on the line in college. Belichick said, “He seems to be a very intelligent and adaptable player -- change, moving him around and doing different things doesn’t seem to bother him.”
As for Ted Karras, the sixth-round pick out of Illinois, Belichick noted that “he’s starting to show up a little bit” as both he and Thuney “have a good playing style, aggressive, they like to finish blocks.”
Belichick said it’s been good to get Thuney and Karras in the mix with second-year interior linemen David Andrews, Shaq Mason and Tre’ Jackson, as Andrews “had a real good year for us at center [in 2015].”