FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Are Tom Brady and Bill Belichick feuding?

What’s going on with Rob Gronkowski’s contract restructure/extension?

Did Belichick really text Jimmy Garoppolo after every start he made last year?

Why on earth did Malcolm Butler not play in Super Bowl LII?

Will off-the-field drama curtail the Patriots dynasty?

In the end, does any of that matter?

Well, we’ll soon find out.

Wednesday marked the first day that veterans reported to Gillette Stadium as training camp is set to open up on Thursday morning. Belichick kicked off the summer with a morning press conference where he swatted away any questions about Butler, Garoppolo, contracts or trade talks. For the first time in a long time, people on the outside seem to doubt this 2018 Patriots team. As far as Belichick is concerned, ‘it is what it is.’

“I’m focused on doing the best I can for the 2018 New England Patriots. That’s my job,” Belichick said. “That’s what I’m going to do. That’s what I’ve always done in the past. Every day that I’ve coached here, I’ve done the best that I could for this football team and I’ll continue to do that. Right now, my focus is on the 2018 season. Not 2017, not 2014, not 2007, not 2004, not 2001, not 2000. I’m not focused on any of those seasons. They’re done.”

That response came after Belichick was asked if he cared that fans and player still cared about the decision to bench Butler in the Patriots’ Super Bowl loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Six months following the surprise coaching decision, people and players (at least the ones who talk publically) are still without answers. But in typical Belichick fashion, he’s vowed to turn the page to a new year.

On Wednesday, Belichick admitted he was actually impressed with his current team. Multiple players made “big strong jumps” in the spring that even surprised Belichick. Still, improvements need to be made throughout the next month – especially when you factor in the defense’s last performances and current holes on offense. The Patriots coach even admitted he feels like he has skills that need improvement before the Patriots open up their regular season against the Houston Texans.

“It’s important for me to have a good season in 2018. I’m going to do everything I can to do that,” Belichick said when asked if he would address the Butler situation with his team.

“Do the best I can for our football team – that’s my job and that’s my responsibility, so that’s what I’m going to do. Hopefully, you can respect that, but maybe not.”

Belichick loves to turn the page – at least when he speaks to the media. At this point, it certainly makes little sense to focus on Butler or even the events that surrounded Garoppolo’s departure last season. Of course, both storylines continue to hover over the Patriots like those annoying fruit flies that never seem to leave your kitchen.

For this Patriots team, several things need to improve before these kings of the AFC continue their reign.

Belichick and his staff need to figure out the offensive system without Julian Edelman, who opens up the season with a four-game suspension. With Danny Amendola in Miami, there will be many new targets for Brady to get on the same page with. In order for the quarterback to have time to throw the ball, the Patriots also need to figure out who replaces Nate Solder at left tackle. Then there’s the running back position. Who replaces Dion Lewis?

On defense, the Patriots need a better pass rusher and have to figure out who replaces Butler opposite of Stephon Gilmore. They also have to adjust to life without defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. Then on special teams, who is the punt returner?

n Belichick said the team has “moved on” following the announcement of Julian Edelman’s four-game suspension this upcoming season for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Belichick expressed disappointment Wednesday, adding his focus now is to do the best with the players he has. Edelman can practice this preseason and Belichick said he has had a good attitude since arriving early for training camp, which begins Thursday.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has doubled down on insisting that his players stand for the national anthem, saying he wouldn’t support anyone who chose to stay in the locker room.

Jones became the first owner to declare publicly that his players would not be allowed to stay off the field during the anthem.

COLTS: Andrew Luck says he’s feeling better than he has in a “long time” as the Indianapolis Colts opened training camp Wednesday.

He is expected to do all the usual quarterback work when practice begins Thursday, marking the first time since January 2017 that he has practiced or played in front of fans.

Luck has missed more than 19 months since having surgery on his throwing shoulder.

Jets: Cornerback Rashard Robinson has been suspended for the first four games of the regular season by the NFL for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

GIANTS: Star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. showed another sign he is prepared to put aside his contract talks for now. Beckham reported with fellow veterans for the opening day of Giants training camp.

49ers: Richard Sherman has been cleared to practice for the 49ers at the start of training camp.

Sherman joined San Francisco after getting released by rival Seattle following season-ending surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon.

He was unable to participate in the offseason program but pronounced himself 100 percent when he reported to camp Wednesday and will take part in the team’s first practice Thursday.


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