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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick took responsibility for the team having two organized team activities taken away by the NFL and backed assistant coach Joe Judge for his role in the violation that led to the team being punished.
The violation was a result of coaches’ scheduling that resulted in players spending more than their allowed time at the team facility, according to sources. Specifically, it was a result of special teams workshops led by Judge, sources said.
“The whole situation is in the past, it’s resolved, and we’ve moved on. It was three meetings [in Phase 2 of the offseason program]. … I’m responsible for it, so that’s it,” Belichick said Wednesday.
Specific to Judge, who will be working with special teams units among other responsibilities in 2023, Belichick added: “Joe is great. Smart guy. Has a lot of experience. He’ll do whatever we need him to do, and he can do a lot. So, he will.”
For the infraction, Belichick was fined $50,000 by the NFL, which stripped the team of an organized team activity on May 25 and May 30. The team was back on the field Wednesday, with Belichick cracking a joke when asked how losing two OTAs affected the team.
“We had a good long weekend,” he said.
Veteran Matthew Slater, the Patriots’ longest-tenured player (16 years) and a former NFL Players Association representative, said he believes the team wasn’t intentionally pushing the envelope.
“I believe the union is going to act on what they believe is in the best interest of the players most of the time, and I believe that our organization, regardless of its reputation, is always going to abide by the rules,” he said.
“Things happen and I can’t speak to that — I don’t know what went into [this violation] — but I don’t believe we’re an organization that’s going out of our way to break a rule or gain an edge. I don’t think that was the case here.”
Former NFL player Andy Studebaker, working for the NFL Players Association, attended the Patriots’ organized team activity on Wednesday.
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