SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick spoke to the media for the first time during training camp and answered questions regarding the six Patriots players opting out, as well as the quarterback competition.

Belichick heavily emphasizing the importance of safety among his players, thanking the Kraft family for upgrading facilities, creating a safe environment before it's gone time, for players to make their way back inside.

A virtual training camp is seeing its end. Once the New England Patriots players have three negative COVID-19 test results, they have the green light to enter the team facility, something they're close to doing.

"We have a break-in period here, where the players can begin to train and acclimate themselves to conditioning and so forth, getting ready for the football season, and that will gradually ramp up into training camp," Belichick explained.

He spoke to media in a virtual press conference for the first time in the pre-season on Friday, said the number one priority here is safety.

"Players, staff, the organization all the support system, and so forth. The biggest thing is to start the season healthy, and that means healthy in a safe environment," he explained. "Robert and the Kraft family's responded with facility upgrades that are really at the highest level."

With six players opting out of the season, three of whom are starters, Belichick told Western Mass News he's supportive of their decision.

"I respect all of them. I respect all the players on our team, we all have to make decisions, and I talked to those guys, and they explained their situation, and they had to make the decision that's best for them, and I respect and support it 100 percent," Belichick said.

As for the quarterback competition between Cam Newton and Jarrett Stidham, Belichick said it's any men grab.

"I think that spot's the same as any other spot on the team, we got a long way to go," he said. "You know I can't control how players perform, that's up to them. We'll give everybody an opportunity, and we'll see what happens."

Belichick acknowledged the disadvantage of not having pre-season games this year but said they will simulate as much competition in the safest way possible.

Depending on COVID-19 results, players could be entering the team facility as early as tomorrow.

Copyright 2020 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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