FOXBORO — The way Bill Belichick spoke after Friday night’s in-stadium practice, he was half-tempted to ask Ty Law, Rodney Harrison, Otis Smith and Lawyer Milloy to suit up and join his current Patriot team on the field.
Certainly, that foursome has the competitive desire and attitude if not the youth and talent left to go out for one more practice. That’s why Belichick spent a good portion of the practice over the sideline chatting up all four, including Milloy, whom he infamously jettisoned before the 2003 opener in Buffalo.
All four were in town together of course to pay tribute to Law, who became the latest Patriot inducted into the team’s hall of fame Friday night.
“It was a good group here tonight, it really was,” Belichick said. “It was awesome to see those guys. It’s a pretty good secondary standing over there with Ty and Otis at the corner, Rodney and Lawyer at safety and then we’ve got Troy Brown could be our nickel back. That was an awesome group of guys, plus a bunch of other ones but that’s an awesome group of guys.
“So deserving for Ty. He was a great player here and I had the opportunity to coach Ty when I coached the secondary in ‘96 and really met with him every day, coached him every day. He and Lawyer are special players to come back. Ty played great obviously when I was head coach in those championship years. It’s good see him and well deserved for his recognition. He’s truly one of the great Patriot players and a champion.”
They’re obviously done but can they provide leadership just by example from what they did as past Patriots?
“Well, I think we’re all proud of the tradition of this team in the past ‘ the coaches, the players, all of us that were involved with it,” Belichick said. “I think that’s always something you want to be proud of and sustain but it’s really up to this team to be this team. We’ll see what we can do.”
Belichick said rookie running back and punt returner Roy Finch will be evaluated after having to leave practice midway through after suffering an apparent lower body injury. The Boston Herald reports that the injury was a knee but is not believed to be serious.
The Patriots will have a players’ day off on Saturday before traveling to Richmond, Va. on Sunday. The Patriots will practice Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday against the Redskins before opening their preseason next Thursday night at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. against the Redskins.
Here are some other Belichick takeaways from Friday night:
BB: Always nice to be out tonight with the fans of Foxborough and our season ticket holders. [There's] a lot of energy in the stadium. I think everybody enjoys the environment. It’s good for us ‘ first time on the new turf so it’s good for us to get out here and experience the field, the stadium, the kicking game, under the lights, the way it’s going to be in preseason and so forth. I think it was a good night for us tonight. We’re looking forward to heading down to Washington [and] competing against the Redskins next week. I think it will be a good opportunity for us so hopefully we’re ready for it.
Q: Talking about joint practices, you’ve done that before. What’s the value for you to work against another team?
BB: Just getting a different look, looking at different schemes, different players, different matchups. Hopefully it will help our evaluation of our team.
Q: Are you concerned about any risks? Players on different teams go at it, it gets competitive. I know you’ve had situations before where potential injuries occur.
BB: We’re only putting 11 of our guys out there now, instead of 22.
Q: It looked like a conscious effort to get Ryan Mallett and Jimmy Garoppolo some more work tonight. How do you think they responded?
BB: It’s training camp so everybody has some good and some they’d like to have back. That’s part of the process ‘ just trying to learn and improve and keep working at it. We’ll find out a lot next week, where we’re at.
Q: Brandon Browner got into it with a couple people at practice the other day. Do you like to see that intensity?
BB: Football is a competitive game.
Q: Can you talk about the challenges Washington will give your defense in practice?
BB: Obviously we’re not game planning for them or anything. We’ll just go down there, do what we do and they’ll do what they do and we’ll kind of figure it out as we go. It will be a good experience for us to work against Coach [Jay] Gruden’s offense, Coach [Jim] Haslett’s defense and see some different matchups. We’ve seen our guys go against our guys a lot and now we’ll get to see them go against somebody else. I think we’re all looking forward to it. I think it will be a helpful evaluation for our team.
Q: How is the chemistry of your secondary coming together after adding established veterans like Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner?
BB: Everything is a work in progress. We’re just a week into training camp. We’ll see how it all plays out. Those guys have all worked hard. They seem to work well together but we haven’t played anybody yet. We haven’t done it under pressure. We’ll see how it all comes together.
Q: Do you sense it’s been more competitive with the defensive backs against your passing game at this point?
BB: It’s always competitive. It’s training camp.
Q: Any different from the past?
BB: It’s been competitive in the past and I’d say it’s been competitive this year.