INDIANAPOLIS - The Patriots made a headline-grabbing addition to their coaching staff yesterday, hiring 22-year NFL veteran and former head coach Dom Capers as a special assistant/secondary coach.
Capers was one of the more sought-after assistants this offseason, previously declining an offer from the Cowboys.
A former head coach in Carolina (1995-98) and Houston (2001-05), Capers, like Patriots coach Bill Belichick, has extensive background in the 3-4 alignment. Yet Capers's 3-4 has traditionally been more of an attacking, pressure-based defense.
Capers's presence could give Belichick more time to spend elsewhere. It was common to see him huddled with defenders during games while the offense was on the field. Although Dean Pees remains the defensive coordinator, Capers figures to play a major role.
"I have known Dom for a long time and respect him tremendously as a coach, particularly defensively," Belichick said in a statement. "To add a coach of his caliber is an outstanding opportunity for us. I look forward to getting to work with Dom and Dean immediately."
The addition of Capers isn't the only change on the Patriots' staff.
Joel Collier, who served as secondary coach from 2005-07, will not be back, and receivers coach Nick Caserio, who began his tenure with the team as a personnel assistant, is moving to the front office to serve as director of player personnel under Scott Pioli.
The Patriots lost director of college scouting Thomas Dimitroff, who was hired as Falcons general manager. Longtime personnel veteran Larry Cook has been filling much of Dimitroff's role.
"Nick has exemplified versatility and loyalty to this organization," Pioli said in a statement. "We are happy to welcome him back to the personnel department where we will benefit from his great understanding of our program."
Andover native Bill O'Brien, who in his first year with the Patriots in 2007 served as coaching assistant, will coach the receivers.
Report quashedBears coach Lovie Smith, who served as Rams defensive coordinator in Super Bowl XXXVI, addressed the Feb. 2 Boston Herald report that a Patriots official had taped St. Louis's walkthrough.
Did he ever feel the Patriots had information that helped them be a step ahead?
"No. Not at all," Smith said. "What I recall is that we were beaten by a good football team that year. That's about all I remember."
Smith was asked his reaction when he first learned of the report.
"I don't go into accusations an awful lot. I think it's dangerous to do that," he said. "I trust our NFL office and I'm sure that if there is something to it, No. 1, that will come out later on. Time has a way of taking care of all things."
Former Rams coach Mike Martz said he is "going to assume, like anything else, that this is totally false."
However, Martz did say if the Patriots taped the walkthrough, it would have to be considered cheating.
"First of all, I doubt that this happened, I really do," said Martz. "I don't think the point is ever whether they got something out of it. The whole point is, were they cheating or not? Isn't it? Isn't that really the point? I think so.
"But I'm going to choose to believe this is all not true. I just have too much respect and admiration for Bill, and I just don't think it's true. But I guess when I hear people say it didn't affect [the game], well, it probably didn't. No, it probably didn't affect it at all. But that's really not the point, now is it?"
Support from PolianMembers of the league's competition committee were briefed on the Patriots' taping procedures and the NFL's investigation of the team yesterday, which resulted in the Patriots having an unlikely ally - Colts president Bill Polian.
"From my perspective, that was a thorough, fair, efficient process with lots of integrity," Polian said. "I think it's fair to say we [as a committee] were satisfied with the explanation, satisfied with what was done, and at least I am anyway. It's behind us. It's time to move forward."
The five competition committee members who spoke agreed that there was nothing from a rules perspective that needed to be further addressed.
Izzo will be backLinebacker Larry Izzo, 33, whose contract expired after the 2007 season, isn't ready to retire. He is expected to re-sign with the Patriots for another season.
"Larry will be back with the team," his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said. "He's had a great career there. He loves the coaches and the continuity, just everything about the situation."