New England Patriots

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

When it came to the glaring absence of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski at the start of Patriots OTAs, Bill Belichick’s Tuesday presser at Gillette Stadium was going to go one of two ways. Either the head coach was going to address their situations head-on in his opening statement, or he was going to shut down any possible questions on the matter.

On Tuesday, he chose to take the latter route. When asked whether he’s spoken to Brady recently, Belichick declined to comment on him, Gronkowski, or any other absentee at OTAs.

“I’m not gonna talk about the guys that aren’t here,” Belichick said. “The players that are here are working hard. So those are the players that we’re gonna focus on.”

However, some of the players who are there include rookies like running back Sony Michel. But when asked about him, Belichick avoided talking about the draft as well.

“I think [director of player personnel] Nick [Caserio] covered all that,” Belichick said. “Nick did a great job on the draft with all the people. I would second what he said.”

May 22, 2018, Foxborough, MA, USA: New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick talks with the media prior to organized team activities at Gillette practice fields. Photo Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports)

May 22, 2018, Foxborough, MA, USA: New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick talks with the media prior to organized team activities at Gillette practice fields. Photo Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports)

Perhaps Belichick wanted to keep the focus on the team and steer clear of putting the spotlight on any one player, especially among the rookies. But it was clear from early on that Belichick wasn’t interested in addressing much at all, as the Patriots get rolling on the latest phase of their offseason workouts.

Take this for what it’s worth … in his opening remarks, Belichick referenced the returning Julian Edelman and Dont’a Hightower and their leadership, as well as the work of younger players who are “taking more active roles” on the team. It’s not much different from what Belichick usually says in these scrums, but it’s notable that the head coach went out of his way to commend the players who were present.

There’s obviously something going on with Brady – otherwise, as Jeff Howe told Toucher & Rich on Tuesday, he’d likely be with the team right now. With Gronkowski, the issue remains his contract, which is reportedly being restructured. It remains mostly unclear where either player stands with the team, but those answers certainly weren’t going to come from Belichick.

Clearly, the coach’s focus is entirely on football. Especially with the players who are there, playing football. But until that list includes Brady and Gronkowski, the discussion on those two will continue to swirl around everything else.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.