New England Patriots

May 23, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) heads to the practice field for the team's OTA at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

  • On Monday, the Patriots held their first OTA practice of the year. With that, a number of players spoke with the media after practice – some talking for the first time since the end of the 2021 season. Here’s what stood out from their press conferences.

  • Head coach Bill Belichick

    May 23, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick watches players practice at the team's OTA at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    May 23, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick watches players practice at the team’s OTA at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    Opening statement: “To start off, I’m just extending my personal condolences to the Cappelletti family, and Sandy and on behalf of the team, as well. Gino was just a great person, had a great passion for the Patriots and for football. I was very fortunate to get to work with Gino when I came here and he interviewed me every week — had trouble with the tape machine, they kept changing it on him. But he was a great, great friend, and I was also close friends with Joe Bellino so that was a great connection there. Just our condolences to his family, appreciation for all that Gino did as a player, coach, taught one of the former players here, ten years in the NFL and never missed a game. MVP, leading scorer, just incredible career.

    Transitioning to our newest Patriots Hall of Fame selection: Vince. Congratulate him, and certainly well deserved. With Vince and Seymour, getting a pretty good defensive line in that Hall of Fame now, that’s two cornerstones up front. Vince was great both on and off the field. Very athletic guy for his size and stature. And he was a great leader here, and still is. It was good to see him last year and hopefully he’ll be around. And go C’s tonight — big one. Two great teams, obviously two great guys at the top there with Brad and Pat Riley, so. Those two put together two great teams and I’m sure they’ll battle but, gotta go with the hometown guys.

    Good to get on the field today, with our group. We’ve had the phase two sessions which have been productive, players have done well there, but now we’re moving along, moving ahead. It’s a long process here, and we’ve got a long way to go. Working a lot of people, we’re doing some basic fundamental things here. Not trying to over-evaluate anything, just trying to get everybody comfortable with what they’re doing. We’ll have plenty of time for that here, as we go but, it’s good to get out on the field and good to see the — be good to be able to see us actually go out there and work against each other a little bit. Make some corrections and teach and improve and move forward. That’s where we’re at today.”

    On if the offensive coaching titles have been finalized: “Do we have titles? Yeah, look, there’s a lot of jobs that we have to do, we’re all working on those things now but – it’s May. They’ll change in June, they’ll change in August, they’ll change in September. So, we’ll evolve it to the things timely that we need to do. If you’re asking about game plans, we’re months away from that – months.”

    What attributes he looks for in a play-caller: “I don’t know. We’re all different. The execution of the plays, I think, are a lot more important than the plays themselves. I’ve called them, I’ve not called them. I’ve called them, I’ve not called them. And so has everybody else.”

    What makes a successful OTA practice: “Well, again, it’s like anything else: players that works hard and puts a lot into it will get a lot out of it. We have a good program, had a lot of success with our program. Guys that put a lot into it see a lot of results. Some players are more naturally gifted than others, but regardless, you put in hard training and you’ll get back results. So, guys that are here, that’s what the guys that are here are trying to do. Trying to improve their strength, their conditioning, their explosiveness, their flexibility, their habits in training. And that’s what they’re here for. And I’d say they’ve all made a lot of progress.”

    How he evaluates linemen in non-padded, non-contact practices: “This isn’t really that big of an evaluation, especially at those positions. It’s teaching, it’s instructions, understanding how to do things. There will be an evaluation period and that’s when we’ll really see how that looks. Yeah, we’re not gonna be able to do that out here for sure.”

  • Quarterback Mac Jones

    May 23, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) with the ball during the Patriots OTA's at Gillette stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    May 23, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) with the ball during the Patriots OTA’s at Gillette stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    How things are going without Josh McDaniels: “I think every season in football is a new season and people come and go, you get opportunities, players, coaches, support staff, so it comes with the business, and I was fortunate to have a lot of different coordinators throughout my college time kind of running a similar system. I just learned from that and take the good from people that gave me the good, take that with me and then just move on and try and grow with the new set of coaches we have. We have a great group of players and coaches and like I said it comes with the territory playing the sport and I’m happy for Josh and his family, and we’re excited to open up the next chapter.”

    On Bill Belichick working more with the offense: “Obviously he’s a great defensive mind, but he also has great offensive knowledge, they’re all helping out and making things really easy for us and just teaching us what they know. It’s been really good just to be able to stand up in the meetings and talk through things with everybody, and everyone’s on the same page, regardless of who’s talking or who’s saying what. We have a very good group of guys. I think it’s obviously always about the players and having great coaches is obviously very beneficial too. But we have a great group of guys — old guys, young guys, and we’re excited to come together and work.”

    What physical changes he’s made this offseason: “I think every year you want to do like a self-diagnosis of how you felt for the games, your body fat and all that stuff. For me, it was just cleaning up my diet and I’ve learned more this offseason than I probably ever have about nutrition, sleep, wellness, all that stuff. I’m kind of taking what I’ve learned that I feel will help me, and apply it, and obviously listening to Ted and everybody, just following their plan, eating healthy, taking out a lot of the things that are bad for my diet but, at the same time, I need to maintain my weight and be able to take hits, so there’s a fine balance for every player, every player’s different and for me I’ve definitely trimmed down on the body fat a little bit and I’ll get a chance to bulk back up before the season starts and be able to absorb the hits.”

    Reaction to the Patriots drafting Bailey Zappe: “We have a great group of rookies. It made me look back at a year ago and realize how thankful I am to be here, in a great organization. And obviously we have great players from that rookie class, they’ve come in and worked hard. You can see them out there trying to win the sprints and doing all that stuff. We had a good group and I’m happy to have Bailey, obviously he had a great college career and provides good knowledge from his experience, and I’ll always be able to help him and mentor him in any way I can. I was fortunate to learn from Hoyer last year as a rookie and hopefully me and Hoyer can help Bailey out in any way possible and help him develop to where he feels like he’s a better quarterback. We have a great group right now and I’m really excited to work with those guys and our coaches.”

    Working with Tom House: “Yeah, I got a chance to work with a lot of different people. It was a good experience for me, like I said, any throws – short, intermediate, or long, you want to get better at, you want to have people that have knowledge of the game. He did a great job helping me there. Obviously, I’ve worked with the people I’ve worked with since I was very young but at the end of the day you’re out there by yourself. You’re the quarterback, and that’s what you want to be able to do is go out there and feel comfortable doing what you want to do and continue to grow.”

    On the Patriots’ receivers group: “I’m really happy with the group we have. I got a chance to work with all of them in the offseason at various locations, here and all that, so I’ve been very pleased with everybody. They have a tight group once again. DeVante’s done a great job coming in, working in a new system, there’s some familiarity, you know, with the Dolphins and all that, but we’re happy to have him and anybody that can contribute to our team. We’re ready to go, so it’s a good group and we just have to keep elevating each other and push each other and compete.”

  • Safety Devin McCourty

    Nov 18, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; New England Patriots safety Devin McCourty (32) celebrates after an interception against the Atlanta Falcons in the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

    Nov 18, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; New England Patriots safety Devin McCourty (32) celebrates after an interception against the Atlanta Falcons in the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

    On the first day of OTAs: “It’s a good first day. I think when you put all the days together, between guys being here and guys working out on their own, coming back for the offseason I think it’s all about foundation. Bent [Ja’Whaun Bentley] hit on that today about just building something. Whether it’s good or bad, when you’re out here Day 1 you’re laying a foundation. It’s up to us each day to come out there and put in the work. This time of the year is big to just get the knowledge. Learn the defense, get to know guys, get to know who you’re communicating with, and this was the beginning. So it felt good being out here.”

    On re-signing with the Patriots: “Being able to continue to play this game and have fun has been phenomenal. Then obviously, to stay here throughout my career going into Year 13 – it’s an honor to come here, to put on this jersey and play with these guys. And I think now, 13th year is about being a mentor. Helping each one of these guys, getting to know these rookies, trying to teach them all the things that guys taught me. The Vince Wilforks, the Jerod Mayos, the Kevin Faulks, all those guys who taught me when I first came in, that’s what I think about coming back here, is kind of passing the Patriots tradition down to these younger guys to try to continue that goal.”

    On Bill Belichick coaching into his 70s: “I’ve always told people when I’m outside of here and people ask me ‘what’s Bill [Belichick] like? How is Bill?’ To me, he’s the model of consistency. I think that’s what we all try to do as people, showing up to your job every day and having the same attitude, the same messaging, and being able to do that over and over again is hard. And I think we all know that. But he continues to come in here, Day 1 of OTAs for however many years it is – 47, 48 years – and it’s the same intensity, it’s the same message. It’s fundamentals. It’s doing the right things, the small things over and over again. He never slips up on that. And obviously, this being my 13th year, I’ve seen that over and over again. It’s hard to replicate, but I think getting an opportunity as a player to play for him and see that day-in and day-out has made me a better player. And I think that these guys will see soon that the more you’re in it, the more you listen, it’ll make you a better player too.”

  • Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne

    May 23, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne (84) works with a training aid at the team's OTA at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    May 23, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne (84) works with a training aid at the team’s OTA at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    On Mac Jones’ offseason progress: “He’s in the best shape his life. I think he’s been here all offseason with Moses [Cabrera, strength and conditioning coach] so he’s he looks really good. His stomach is gone and he looks really good. He’s definitely a, pro’s pro now. When you’re a rookie, you just don’t know until you go through it for a year. So he’s definitely a lot more in shape than he ever was. He’s just dominating in conditioning and it’s just dope to see. So he’ll just be able to endure more in a game and go through more.”

    On changes to the offense with the departure of Josh McDaniels: “The challenge is always learning something new. It’s like – I learned something new last year and then learning something new again. It’s just a challenge in itself. But football is just football. It’s all kind of the same, just different terminologies. Joe [Judge, offensive assistant] has different words. He uses different terms. So football is football and it’s just about knowing the new words and taking those old words away and applying the new ones.”

    On his confidence level heading into Year 2 in New England: “Really confident. Even though with a new offense, it’s just – I’m more comfortable. Relationship with Bill [Belichick], relationship with everybody in the building is just more locked in now. The ice is kind of broken already for all of us all of us new players. It’s dope. So now it’s just about pushing the rookies and all the new players this year, about helping them get acclimated faster than than we did.”

    On Tyquan Thornton: “Yeah, Tyquan’s dope. We’re gonna get some weight on my guy, but bro is blazing, though. Good attitude, also. He’s bought in. You can tell he cares. I think it was a dope pick, man. We need speed and we needed to add that downfield threat, so I think he gives us another [target in] that part of the field. That’s another thing, learning from him, too. I can learn from him, he can learn from us, and he’s in the right place. If he has the right attitude and applies itself, this type of place will take you to another level.”

  • Tight end Jonnu Smith

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 12: Jonnu Smith #81 of the New England Patriots carries the ball against the Miami Dolphins during the first half at Gillette Stadium on September 12, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – SEPTEMBER 12: Jonnu Smith #81 of the New England Patriots carries the ball against the Miami Dolphins during the first half at Gillette Stadium on September 12, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

    On the benefit of taking part in the full offseason program: “For me, I think it’s such a great team bonding element to it. Just being here and being around the guys and building that chemistry. To me, that’s what it’s about. And to me, I think if we can improve that, I think everything else on the field will take care of itself. For me, I’m just a big believer. I’m seeing it come to fruition. So, it’s good.”

    On how its coming to fruition: “I’m talking about from April 19 [the first day of the offseason program]. I’ve been here since then, every day. Just grinding and trying to be a part of the team-building chemistry. Just being part of that element, man. Seeing guys, just laughing with the guys, being in the locker room with the guys. Even outside of here. A lot of guys in Boston, we see each other at the games – at the Celtics games, at the Red Sox games, just that team bonding atmosphere. Get those guys together. We finally come out there, we were all anticipating Day 1, so to finally get us out here, you could feel the energy, there was a lot of great energy out there, man. That was good for a first day.”

    On missing time during the offseason program last year: “I had a baby…Minicamp I had a ding [hamstring injury], so my offseason was choppy. I had some great things, like my baby girl being born, but then I had some unfortunate setbacks as well. So I definitely missed some quality time here. And I recognize how valuable that time is. I’m just here to take advantage of that.”

    Will there be ‘new wrinkles’ in the offense for him this year: “Maybe? I don’t know. You might have to see opening day.”

  • Defensive lineman Christian Barmore

    EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - SEPTEMBER 19: Defensive tackle Christian Barmore #90 of the New England Patriots celebrates a tackle against the New York Jets in the second quarter of the game at MetLife Stadium on September 19, 2021 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

    EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY – SEPTEMBER 19: Defensive tackle Christian Barmore #90 of the New England Patriots celebrates a tackle against the New York Jets in the second quarter of the game at MetLife Stadium on September 19, 2021 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

    What he wants to improve in his second year in the NFL: “Finish the quarterback, really. That’s really my thing right there. Finish. Really, that. And better footwork.”

    On former college teammate and Patriots UDFA signing LaBryan Ray: “He’s gonna be a great player man. I’m really excited for him to be here. We’ve played with each other for three years. It’s really a blessing for him to come in. It’s crazy. We’ve got a lot of them [Alabama] guys here, but LaBryan Ray, that was my guy. We were in college together, roommates and everything. I’m really excited for his future.”

  • Linebacker Raekwon McMillan

    Jul 28, 2021; Foxborough, MA, United States; New England Patriots linebacker Raekwon McMillan (46) during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    Jul 28, 2021; Foxborough, MA, United States; New England Patriots linebacker Raekwon McMillan (46) during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    On returning to the field after missing last season with a torn ACL: “I’m blessed, man. It’s been a long year for me, but we’re moving forward. I want to thank the strength staff, the whole physical therapy staff, everybody in the building, helping me get back to where I am today. But moving forward, not thinking about last year.”

    On the chemistry in the linebacker room without last year’s veterans (Hightower, Van Noy, Collins): “We’ve got a lot of young guys – a lot of good chemistry though. A lot of the old veteran guys that had a lot of Super Bowl runs, playoff runs, you name it, those guys did a lot for this team and for this organization. But we’ve got a young group coming up, and I like where we’re at.”

    On his status coming off of his knee injury: “I’m pretty much full go. It still takes me a little bit of time to warm up and whatnot, but other than that I’m full go…any time I’m able to walk out on this grass with these cleats on, it’s a blessing. I remember just a couple of months ago I wasn’t able to move left and right, and now I’m out here taking team reps with the team. It feels cool, it feels good.”

    On the defensive coaching staff: “Steve [Belichick] and Jerod [Mayo] are some of the best coaches I’ve had while I’ve been here in the NFL. Jerod, coming from his pedigree of how he played and led some of these teams out here. And Steve, his last name says it all. Having those two in a room with you and just picking their brains and seeing how they see football, it helps me when I come out there and play football.”

  • Linebacker Cameron McGrone

    Michigan linebacker Cameron McGrone lines up against Indiana.

    Michigan linebacker Cameron McGrone lines up against Indiana in Big Ten action in 2020. (Michigan Athletics)

    On getting back on the field: “Last year was a long year. A lot of learning. A lot of hard days working out, trying to get back, rehabbing. But the time is now. I’m back out on the field. Still a lot to learn, still a lot to improve on, but I’m very excited just to be up here with the rest of the guys working.”

    If he still has any physical limitations: “With my knee there’s no problem, that’s a thing of the past. I’m just looking forward now.”

    On the benefit of being able to join the team for practices late last season: “It definitely helped a lot, spending all that time in the rooms with the older guys, watching film, just learning there. Then to be able to put it on the field for just a couple weeks toward the end of the season was really good, to get my feet back, and just getting to it. And now, coming in with that knowledge, I’m just really excited.”

    How different his approach was last season not having to prepare for a game each week: “It’s definitely different. You can spend a lot more time focusing on the little things. Since you’re not gonna be in the game, you can really look at the little things, help your teammates out, because they might not be paying attention to everything like that. So, I got to spend a lot more time watching film on the couch while they’re out playing the game, and just really dissect from that point of view. With all that knowledge, I’m really ready to put it back out on the field myself.”