- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The top takeaways from Bill Belichick's news conference before the team's second practice of training camp:
Having Stallworth around team a plus. Belichick compared what he's seen from Donte' Stallworth so far this year to when Stallworth was last here in 2007. "He's matured a lot. He's been a very positive example and influence with what he does on a daily basis, but also some of the things he's done with other players on the team. I think he's shown a lot more leadership and he's a very professional athlete. He really takes his job seriously and acts in a very professional way. He's a great example for all of us on a daily basis. I'd say that's definitely grown since he was here in '07. He's been through a lot, but he handles himself very well, and very professionally."
Hightower praised for his smarts. Bill Belichick has previously made the connection between rookie linebacker Dont'a Hightower and Jerod Mayo in terms of smarts. He once again highlighted Hightower's football IQ, in addition to praising his versatility/flexibility. "He's a smart kid. He definitely understands football and football concepts. That comes pretty quickly to him," Belichick said.
Dowling with a "good spring." Asked about second-year cornerback Ras-I Dowling being back on the field, Belichick said he thought Dowling had made progress last year before being knocked out because of injury. "Hopefully he'll be able to do a lot more of it this year. He had a good spring. He was able to perform throughout the spring in our practice sessions, so that was good," Belichick said.
Slow down on the minute-to-minute evaluations. For those in attendance at training camp, there might be a temptation to evaluate each and every play and make a definitive judgment on a player. Belichick explained his thinking is different than that. "I think you try to keep from making minute-to-minute evaluations on anybody," he said. "You look at a body of work. I would expect everybody after the first day to get a little bit more refined, a little bit better timing, a little bit better football playing -- anticipation, execution, all that. ... You try not to evaluate play to play at this point in the season." Later in his news conference, Belichick made a similar point when asked how a specific player looked on the first day of camp.