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Bill Belichick Conference Call Transcript

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Friday, September 2, 2011.

BB: We went to the film this morning and made a handful of roster moves here and we'll try to spend the afternoon and tonight and tomorrow figuring where the rest of it lies. There were some positive things last night. There were definitely some things we didn't do as well as we had hoped too as well - some good, some not so good. I met with the team this afternoon and I think everybody's definitely ready to put all this behind us and start moving ahead to Monday night in Miami, a division game on the road. It doesn't get much bigger than that, so we have a lot of big challenges ahead of us. I think everybody's looking forward to stepping up and stepping up to the plate and [we'll] see how we do here.  

Q: What did you like from Nate Solder last night? What did you like about that? Can he play right tackle in the near future?  

BB: Well if he's our third tackle, our swing tackle with [Matt] Light and [Sebastian] Vollmer, then that's what he's going to have to do. But no, I thought he did some good things. I thought his run blocking was good. I thought his pass blocking was good. He had a couple plays that, like everybody, could have been a little better. But the kid's learned a lot. I think he's had a lot thrown at him in the last month. I think overall he's handled it very well, very maturely. His techniques improved. He's worked hard. He's a tough kid. This is part of the experience, playing on the other side [of the line] and then actually coming back to the left side in the second half. He got good work on both sides of the ball. I think all those snaps in the long run are just going to help.  

Q: How does health of players factor into deciding the 53-man roster for tomorrow? If you have some guys that are banged up at one position, maybe you keep an extra guy around? Or does health play no factor?  

BB: I wouldn't say that. I think it does play a factor. Each situation is different. Each player and each injury situation is different from the next - how that relates to that particular individual player, how that player relates to the group at his position or the groups that are in are interrelated to that position - each one is unique. It's certainly part of the discussion. It's a much bigger part of the discussion when you're talking about long-term injuries, guys that are out for a couple months or that type of thing. When it's a week or two weeks or a shorter amount of time and you're talking about making a decision that impacts a team for 16 weeks, I think it goes without saying that it would have less of an impact there even though we'd be concerned about that injury or that situation for the first game. I think we try to take a little longer view than that and figure out what's best over the long haul.  

Q: Matthew Slater has shown a willingness to do anything in his career. How has his helped him maintain a spot on the roster?  

BB: I think it has helped him a lot. The more things a player can do and the more ways a player can contribute, the more value he has and Matthew's such a hard working player. Nobody outworks him. He's gotten better every single year and we've moved him around a little bit. We've played him at safety. We've played him at receiver. He's done some kickoff returns. He's been a short returner. He's been involved in all the other phases of the kicking game as well. But he keeps working hard. He gets better and he's had a real good training camp. The versatility helps him and the fact that his performance has been good, that helps him too, so he's got some things going for him.  

Q: Do you have any idea who is going to be returning kicks in Miami?  

BB: Well, we have a number of guys that have done it on this team, so I'm sure it will be somebody from that group. We just have to figure out how it all fits together in terms of our game day roster and how we want to break those responsibilities up - for not only who can do it, but how to divide the responsibilities up for the game so that we give everybody, hopefully, a good role and try not to overload any one individual with too much stuff. So we try to find that balance and still get good people or get our best people out there, hopefully, doing what they do well. But that's part of the 53-man discussion because the 46 comes in the 53, but it's also, I'd say, a little bit of a later discussion after you get the 53 and then how that fits each game with your opponent and the circumstances that surround that specific game.  

Q: Where did you see the breakdowns and what can Ryan Mallett learn from the offense's struggles on the final drive?  

BB: I think that's the NFL. Things happen in this league fast. They get disguised so it looks like one thing and then when the ball is snapped, it turns out to be something else. That's something that all players have to constantly work on: seeing the right keys, reacting to them quickly and not being deceived or not misreading the situation, but getting the read properly so that we can all be on the same page with the execution. I think that's something that every quarterback needs to see and definitely a young quarterback needs to see and can learn from. Practice is practice and we can watch film and have meetings and all that - and that's good for preparation - but seeing it in game speed in game conditions is a great learning tool. Tom [Brady] and Brian [Hoyer] and Ryan [Mallett] all saw that last night. That's the great part about preseason games: you're able to get those live game exposures at that tempo, so it's a good learning situation that we need to handle better all the way around.  

Q: What kind of preseason has Brandon Meriweather had and what was the thinking behind playing him in the fourth quarter?  

BB: He was on the field in the beginning of the game last week, so we mixed our rotations up like we usually do. That's how it went.  

Q: And how has he performed in training camp?  

BB: It's been good. Brandon has been out there every day. He's worked hard. He's been able to do everything and I think he's gotten better, worked a lot on his man-to-man coverage. He's out there practicing like everybody else is.  

Q: How tough are these couple days when you call guys into you office to tell them you're going to release them?  

BB: It's the worst part of the job. You start with 90 players and you know you're going to have to release 37 of them or 37 of them can't make your roster - it's usually more than that because other players come and are part of that process, too. Guys work hard, they give you everything they've got, they go out there and compete, and not everybody can make it. It's always a tough time of year for myself and all the other position coaches as well, because those guys spend a lot of time with those players in meetings, watching film with them, out on the practice field in smaller groups, and really try to develop a good working relationship with those players and it's hard to see it end. But unfortunately, we all understand that's part of the process and the business. It doesn't make it any easier, but it's something - I don't want to say you get used to it - but it's something you have to deal with every year. It doesn't really get any easier. It's always a grouping of people and you're affecting their lives and their families and their careers and trying to do what's best for the team, but that still can be tough. It is tough.  

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