Bill Belichick reveals fielding punts as one of his hidden talents
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick revealed a hidden talent on Friday that pertains to a topic the typically tight-lipped coach actually enjoys discussing, apparently: Catching punts.
The revelation came amid a broader discussion about who will be fielding punts in Sunday’s Week 2 showdown with the Jacksonville Jaguars in an AFC title game rematch. The Patriots have cut Riley McCarron, who handled the duties in Week 1.
“It comes easier to come people than others. You can learn how to catch punts,” Belichick said, via MassLive. “I feel like I can catch punts — just because I can know where the ball’s going to go. I mean, I might drop it, but I can pick up the direction and get under the ball.
“It can be a learned skill. I don’t think you have to have had a lot of experience doing it. I think once you understand where the ball’s going to go, where you need to be to catch it, it’s a matter of concentration and being able to catch it.”
Belichick was a lineman during his short-lived playing days, but was nevertheless asked by a reporter if he ever served as a punt returner in a real, live game.
“In a game? No,” Belichick said. “But on the practice field? Hundreds of them. That’s all I’m saying, it’s certainly a teachable skill. It’s a learnable skill. It’s not three or four, it takes a lot.”
Perhaps sensing that Belichick was in good humor, another media member asked Belichick if he intended to trot out against the Jags and handle the punt return duties himself on Sunday.
“We don’t want that,” Belichick responded to the inquiry, eliciting a smile out of the curmudgeonly coach.
Belichick has something of an adversarial relationship with the media, tolerating reporters more than anything. So, anytime a reporter can make Belichick smile — the old stink eye is a more Belichickian response — it’s been a good day in Patriot Country.