Pepper: Staff closer with no coordinator

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- One of the big Patriots storylines this offseason was how the dynamics of the defensive coaching staff would work with no official coordinator, and Bill Belichick increasing his involvement on that side of the ball.

Through the first 20 practices of training camp, the picture has started to come into focus.

Bill Belichick is leading the installation and has final say, linebackers coach Matt Patricia wears the headset and calls in the play, and defensive line coach Pepper Johnson manages the substitutions with the big guys up front.

After this morning's joing practice against the Saints, Johnson was asked to describe the dynamics of the defensive staff and how it was working with an official coordinator.

"It's just bringing us closer together," Johnson said. "Eveybody has their foot and their hand in on the different things we're doing on the field. It's not just one guy coordinating the defense. Of course, Bill Belichick is, but all of us have a little input. It's definitely helped us, and calls for longer hours [working]."

Johnson was asked how the communication works between the coaches.

"No bickering or anything like that. We have an understanding," he said. "Plus, the head man is up there and he's making the final say.

"For the most part, we all have experience with him and have an understanding with him. I have 23 years of experience with him, so we know what he wants and what he's looking for, and things like that. It's working well, a blessing in disguise."