Patriots

Belichick remains silent about benching of Malcolm Butler

Belichick remains silent about benching of Malcolm Butler

FOXBORO -- You may have heard. Bill Belichick isn't a big fan of delving into that which is not relevant to today. Or this week. Or the upcoming opponent. 

Outside of the occasional stroll down memory lane -- including but not limited to topics pertaining to Navy's football program or the 1980s Giants -- the Patriots head coach is more of a in-the-moment kind of guy. 

But during Belichick's press conference on the first day of training camp at Gillette Stadium, he was met with a mini-barrage of questions about Super Bowl LII and Malcolm Butler's lack of playing time in particular.

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"I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't ask about last year," the Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy began.

"Last year's last year," Belichick said, interrupting. "I'm not focused on last year."

Shaughnessy persisted, arguing that fans are still curious about the decision not to play Butler (outside of one special teams snap) against the Eagles with a Lombardi Trophy on the line. 

"We talked about that," Belichick said. "That's multiple months ago."

Will there be any explanation as to why Butler didn't play, Shaughnessy asked? 

"Focused on training camp," Belichick said.

Shaughnessy once more brought up the fact that fans and others are still curious about how things played out in Minnesota in February. 

"I'm focused on doing the best that I can for the 2018 New England Patriots," Belichick said. "That's my job. That's what I'm going to do. That's what I've always done in the past. Every day that I've coached here, I've done the best that I could for this football team. I'll continue to do that, and right now my focus is on the 2018 season. Not 2017, not 2014, not 2007, not 2004, not 2001, not 2000. I'm not focused on any of those seasons. They're done."

Belichick was asked, finally, if he thought it necessary to address Butler's playing time in the final game of the 2017 season with this year's club. Veterans reported to camp on Wednesday, and their first practice will be held Thursday.

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The train is about to leave the station. Time for one last, longing glance backward in front of the almost 90 players currently on the roster? Is that important to Belichick? 

"It's important for me to have a good season in 2018," Belichick replied. "I'm going to do everything I can to do that. Because that's what I can do for our football team. That's my job. That's my responsibility. That's what I'm going to try to do. Hopefully you can respect that, but maybe not."

Shaughnessy did his job, representing the still-nagging interests of Patriots fans. Belichick did his, focusing on what's ahead on the eve of his first on-the-field workout with this year's team. 

For fans who have come to terms with the fact that Butler's playing time in the Super Bowl will forever be classified as "unsolved," Belichick's answers Wednesday may have been enough. For others? Probably not. And for them, the wait for an explanation continues. 

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Bill Belichick tells media to ask Robert Kraft about Antonio Brown apology

Bill Belichick tells media to ask Robert Kraft about Antonio Brown apology

One of Bill Belichick's cardinal press conference rules is that he only talks about players who are in the building.

So, it's no surprise he swatted away a question about one of his former employees Wednesday.

The Patriots head coach was asked about former New England wide receiver Antonio Brown apologizing to team owner Robert Kraft on social media Tuesday and quickly deferred to his boss.

"You'd have to talk to Robert about that," Belichick said.

"I mean, every week you guys ask me about a player who's not on our team, and every week it's going to be the same answer."

Brown was on the Patriots for about two weeks before New England released him amid allegations of rape, sexual assault and sexual misconduct.

Brown's conduct as those allegations came out reportedly "enraged" Kraft and may have been the last straw for the Patriots in releasing him.

Considering Brown directed his apology at Kraft, the Patriots owner may in fact be the best person to ask about the 30-year-old free agent, who is under NFL investigation but reportedly is hopeful he'll be cleared to play later this season.

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Patriots punter Jake Bailey wins AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after great performance

Patriots punter Jake Bailey wins AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after great performance

New England Patriots punter Jake Bailey might be the most impressive rookie from the team's 2019 NFL Draft class. 

The NFL announced Wednesday that Bailey is the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week winner for Week 12. He also won this award after the Patriots' Week 3 win over the New York Jets.

Bailey put on a punting clinic in New England's 17-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday. The Stanford product had six punts inside the 20-yard line and five punts that went over 50 yards. His punts helped the Patriots win the field position battle and forced the Eagles to go on long scoring drives. Bailey's kicks were among the primary factors in the Patriots holding the Eagles scoreless through the final three quarters.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick praised Bailey's ability to pin the Eagles deep in their own territory amid the difficult kicking conditions in Philly.

“Yeah. I’d say at Stanford, not a lot of tough conditions out there – out there playing Arizona State and Arizona and UCLA and all. But he’s had a lot of, I would say, challenging conditions out here – both in the spring, and then as we’ve gone through the regular season," Belichick told reporters after Sunday's victory. "This year there have been days out there where it’s been cold, rainy, windy and I think he learned something every day. There’s cross winds and there’s winds in your face and it’s kicking with the wind and all that. There’s challenges in every one of them. If you’re kicking with the wind, that’s an advantage to the punter, but handling the snap, which is coming back into the wind, wobbles and things like that. It’s a little tougher snap for the snapper.

"He’s done a good job of, I would say, adapting to the conditions. He’s still got a long way to go. I’m sure he’ll learn a lot more as the season goes along, but between the holding, the kickoffs and the punting in various conditions and certainly situational football, which came up today. You know, the end-of-the-game punts and backed-up punts and plus 50-punts and the kickoffs and so forth. There were a lot of situations. But he’s a great kid. He works hard. He’s really played well for us this entire season and he’s been so valuable to this team and he proved it out there today. I wish he could have recovered that fumble, but he’s been great for us.”

Belichick doesn't often give that level of praise to a rookie, but it's certainly warranted in Bailey's case. He's been a tremendous asset to the Patriots not only as a punter, but also as the holder on field goals and player handling kickoff duties. That's the kind of versatility Belichick values so much.

Phil Perry: Jake Bailey, special teams excel in Week 12 report card>>>

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