Bucs a better fit for Clark than 'class act' Pats

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Bucs a better fit for Clark than 'class act' Pats

No one was really surprised when Dallas Clark didn't end up a Patriot this week.

The tight end's May 18 visit to Gillette didn't raise eyebrows so much as shoulders. New England kicked the tires on many a vet this offseason, so what's one more? Especially when, before Bill Belichick made the call, Clark's phone wasn't ringing. His agent is Belichick's former lawyer after all.

The decision came down to the Bucs, Patriots, and Chiefs. Clark picked Door Number One -- though not before debate.

"All three very, very good organizations," he said to ESPN Radio's Doug Gottlieb. "I had a feeling when I made the decision it was just going to be easy and it was going to be clear cut, but man it was -- when you have these three teams involved, these three organizations -- it was extremely hard and it took me a few days. But at the end of the day, it just felt right down here in Tampa."

Who's to argue? It's not like the Patriots are hurting for tight ends, as the rest of the league's defenses have been made painfully aware.

There's also the hated rival aspect.

"It was really weird..." Clark indulged before getting serious. "After a few minutes of just kind of getting over that, it was about just focusing on the opportunity and the option to play for the organization. Then you start really getting really excited and geared up.

In the end, he couldn't have been more complimentary.

"What a class act organization -- coaches and everyone involved, the players over there. It's a special place, that's for sure. It just didn't make sense to go there compared to Tampa."

The Patriots probably agree. A team with 12 receivers on the roster can't argue against creating positional depth. But stockpiling bodies isn't really a sexy sell.

Belichick sarcastically praises media's ability to evaluate talent before padded practices

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Belichick sarcastically praises media's ability to evaluate talent before padded practices

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick took some time during Friday's press conference to remind reporters, and anyone else listening, that now isn't exactly the time for evaluations. Players are still in their shorts. Pads have yet to be introduced. 

In essence, pump the brakes. 

During his almost three-minute spiel, he made a few sarcastic quips about the talent "evaluators" in the media, and asked them to try to understand that what they are looking at for the first two days of training camp isn't REAL training camp. 

After fielding a few questions about subjects like the pass-catching ability of his running backs, the skill set of Brandin Cooks, and the versatility of undrafted rookie defensive back Kenny Moore, here's how Belichick made his point. 

"You know, you guys are asking a lot of questions about what we've seen from this guy, what we've seen from that guy," he started. "We've yet to put on pads. I understand that, you know, there's a pretty talented group of evaluators in this room but in all honesty our evaluations come more in training camp when we actually practice and we can fully execute the techniques and the plays that we're trying to do.

"The main thing we try to get done in the spring, and the main thing we're trying to get done in these two days is to teach the players what to do, to give them the most fundamental instruction that we can given the restraints that we have on practice. And then when padded practices, and I would say real training camp starts tomorrow, and will continue for quite a while after that including preseason games, is when the real evaluations start.

"I know everybody's all excited when a guy catches a pass, but when the defense doesn't jam him or they're not allowed to really because we don't want heavy contact out there, [they] aren't competing through contact at the end of the play, then it's not quite the same as when all that's going on. I'm not taking anything away from the receiverss. I'm not taking anything away from anybody. I'm just saying it is what it is. The competitive level out there's not what it's gonna be starting tomorrow.

"To evaluate players competitively when they're not on a competitive level, I have a hard time with. But I know a lot of the people are real good at that, and they can make a lot more out of it than I can so I can respect that. But due to my personal limitations, and my personal inability to make those evaluations, I don't make them. We can keep asking about how everybody does on this and how everybody does on that, and the main thing for me is to see if they're doing the right thing, doing it properly, how we can correct that, and then there will be a point in time where everybody will be able to go out and do it to the best of their ability against very competitive players on the other side of the ball, and we'll see what happens.

"That's when the evaluations really start, other than if a person can't take the intstricution and do whatever you've asked him to do or do it properly, you can evaluate that. But in some cases it's hard to evaluate how they do them competitively against somebody else when it's not a competitive situation."

Belichick: Ninkovich, Cardona miss practice for personal reasons

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Belichick: Ninkovich, Cardona miss practice for personal reasons

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick explained on Friday morning that Rob Ninkovich and Joe Cardona missed practice on Thursday for personal reasons. 

Ninkovich's absence was perhaps the most worth of attention on Day 1 of training camp simply because he has been one of the most durable players in the franchise's recent history. Now 33 years old, Ninkovich is going into his 12th NFL season. His experience and his willingness to pass own his knowledge has already been cited by younger teammates as priceless. 

Cardona continues to have Navy obligations to attend to and is often fulfilling those any time he misses Patriots activites. Belichick would not say when he planned to see either Ninkovich or Cardona back on the field.

Kony Ealy, who was not spotted at yesterday's practice, did not fall into the "missing for personal reasons" category, Belichick explained. That seemed to be an indication that Ealy is being held back by the team at the moment.