FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots had wrapped up their 11-member NFL draft class late Saturday night and coach Bill Belichick seemed pleased upon arriving at his early-evening news conference.
One of the final questions he was asked was, "What's the next biggest challenge for all of these rookies?"
His answer provided some insight as to the "humble pie" that some of the team's prospects are about to receive.
"The biggest challenge for all these players is to get on our program," Belichick began. "For the last six months, they've been a man without a country. They have no team, they have their own individual situation, and they're trying to figure out, 'How do I best get ready for the NFL?' And that is all 32 teams or however many it is showing interest in them and trying to figure out, 'How do I prepare for that?' Each guy has been an independent contractor; they've been on their own whatever it is -- their own trainer, their own training system, their agent, whatever they've been doing. And right now, that's all changed and they can forget about all that and they need to become New England Patriots.
"That's what we're going to start getting to work on. They've got to get out of that mentality of 'I'll get up when I feel like it. I'll go to work when I feel like it. I'll eat where [I feel like it]. All that. I'll train the way I want to train.' They're done with that. That will be a huge adjustment for them.
"I don't care where they came from, I don't care what position they play. None of that makes any difference. They haven't been doing it and they're going to start doing it and they're going to start doing a lot of it. They're going to be doing it for day after day after day for a long time going forward -- if they can, if they're successful. That will be a big adjustment for them. It will be a big adjustment for every rookie because none of them have been doing that.
"Welcome to the NFL. That will start Thursday. They'll get a big dose of New England Patriots football over the next whatever we've got, six weeks -- however long it is. We'll give them everything we can in heavy doses, try to get them ready for training camp and they'll get even more then.
"The strong will survive. The other ones will fall off. And we'll keep going."
When it was mentioned to Belichick that "the train doesn't stop," he agreed.
"Sure doesn't. Sure doesn't," he repeated. "We've got 31 other teams competing just as hard as we are to do the same things. Yeah, we're going to have to outwork people, out-hustle them and just do a better job. That's what our business is. Beats working though."