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Bill Belichick happy with condition of players as final 2 roster spots filled

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Bill Belichick's opening news conference of training camp was highlighted by him saying that the team's priority is to get Jimmy Garoppolo ready for the start of the regular season and that Tom Brady will be the starter upon his return.

With that topic well covered, here are a few other areas of note:

Happy with condition of team. In his opening remarks, Belichick complimented first-year strength coach Moses Cabrera, as all players reported Wednesday and went through the annual conditioning test. "All the guys that were able to run, ran well. I think the team looks like it's worked hard," he said. "They look like they're in good football condition. I think Moses has done a real good job with the training of the group."

Roster exemption for Ebner. Core special-teams player Nate Ebner has a roster exemption and the blessing of Belichick and the New England Patriots organization as he plays for the U.S. rugby team in the Olympics. "I've talked to Nate several times and wish him well in his endeavor. It's a great opportunity for him to follow his passion and participate in the Olympic Games. So we're pulling for him to bring something back around his neck."

Halapio and Pascoe signed. With a roster exemption for Ebner, the Patriots entered the day with 88 players on the 90-man roster. Belichick said the team is filling those two spots by signing offensive guard Jon Halapio (2014 sixth-round pick of the team) and veteran tight end Bear Pascoe (seventh year, Fresno State, most recently with Detroit).

An early stumble, then smiles. En route to the dais, Belichick tripped on the riser, which served as a reminder that he isn't in midseason news conference form. But that didn't stop him from smiling as he looked out at a packed room of reporters. "Everybody ready for camp?" he asked. "We have our camp haircuts and everything." Belichick called it a "good offseason" and noted that everyone has "put in a lot of work going back to January." Later, he stressed how the Patriots are currently at the bottom like every other team and the work starts now. He called it "exciting" to start that process, with two non-padded practices Thursday and Friday, followed by full-pads work over the weekend.