Q: Why didn't the situation with Reggie Wayne work out?
BB: I'm sure there will be a lot of transactions here – there have been in the last couple of days, there will be I'm sure going forward, so we'll just see how everything all turns out. We kept and are going to keep the people that we feel like are best for our football team. It's not an easy decision. We feel that everyone on our team has value. We just have to try to figure out the best combinations and the best mix for us. That's what we're in the process of doing, and how things finally turn out here in a few days, we'll just have to see.
Q: I know sometimes what is spoken internally is different than the perception externally. The move with Jonas Gray caught many on the outside by surprise. Where did that go wrong for him, and what are your thoughts with the running back group as currently comprised?
BB: Again, we kept the players on the roster that we feel like earned those spots and are the best players for our football team. That's not in any way critical of anybody else. We just have to do what we feel like is best for our football team.
Q: What did you see from Chris Harper this summer that allowed him to stay here in September?
BB: I think Chris has had a good year for us from the spring through training camp. He's been productive as a receiver and in the return game. He did all the things that we asked him to do and he did them pretty well.
Q: Guys like Nate Ebner and Matthew Slater – core special teams guys – when did you latch on to reserving spots for those kind of guys? Is this relatively new for you as a coach?
BB: I think probably every team in the league has players whose primary role on the team is in the kicking game outside of the specialists. When I was in Cleveland that went all the way back to Bennie Thompson and guys like that. Again, the kicking game is an important part of the game, and we need players to play that well. In some cases, those players, that's their contribution to the team. Some players contribute on offense and defense; some players contribute in multiple roles. Each guy is different, but it's the overall composition of the team that we have to think about.
Q: Looking at the roster, there are a couple positions that seem pretty deep right now, particularly the defensive line and the safeties. When you have that many at one position, how important is it for the players to have varied skill sets?
BB: Good question. It's probably a longer answer, but I'd say it comes down to you have to fill a lot of roles on your team. You also try to keep the best players. Sometimes you have more players in one group and fewer players in another group. Maybe that's not the ideal way that you would draw it up, but it works out that way for one reason or another. You want to keep the best players. Sometimes the best players aren't necessarily … The depth doesn't balance out perfectly, but at the same time, you have to have enough in everything to handle all those situations that you have to cover in the game. Once you get past that point, however many players that is, the extra players if you will, some of them are depth, sometimes it's a younger player you feel like may develop in time that you don't want to expose. So, it could be a whole combination of a lot of different things, that's why I said in the end, you're just trying to keep the best players you feel like are the best ones for your team. Sometimes that doesn't manifest itself on opening day. Maybe it's halfway through the season, maybe it's at another point in time, or maybe it's just depth.
Q: How will Pittsburgh be playing complementary football? They have such a great offense. Do they use that to set up field position?
BB: I think the Steelers are a well balanced team. As I said yesterday, kind of the composition of their roster is pretty I'd say heavy with veterans and returning players and experienced players on the offensive side of the ball. They drafted [Sammie] Coates, they signed DeAngelo Williams, but they have a lot of returning players really at all the positions – receiver, tight end, offensive line, running back. They're very experienced on that side of the ball. Defensively, some guys that have played a lot of football for them are no longer there – guys like [Jason] Worilds, Troy [Polamalu], Ike Taylor – guys like that; [Brett] Keisel. But they have a lot of good, young players that they've drafted in the last couple years that are getting playing time in those spots, and they're talented players. They're a big, physical defensive team, and they have very skilled players in the kicking game as well. Look, they won their division last year. They're one of the best teams in the league, they've been that historically. Like every team, like we are, like every other team in the league, there are some positions where you have veteran players and there are some positions where you have younger players who are becoming veteran players, and that's part of the transition of the game. We all have them in different spots. They're kind of separated by which side of the ball you're talking about, but they're good players and they're a good football team and they're well coached. They're sound, they're solid and they've been that way for a long time. That organization has done a good job of sustaining their success over a long period of time.
Q: What did you see out of Travaris Cadet over the summer that allowed him to make the team?
BB: Unfortunately, he didn't get an opportunity to play in the preseason games. Based on the information that we have, the way that he and all the other players performed over the entire course of training camp and the offseason, in addition to our evaluations of, in his case, New Orleans, those things all factored into it. But you're right, there is less information to go on with him relative to some other players.
Q: I know you've said in the past there are a lot of unknowns going into the season. How does your preparation change now that Keith Butler has taken over as defensive coordinator for the Steelers?
BB: It's the same, it's just different. It's just a different coach, but it's the same fundamental issue. Coach Butler is a very experienced coach. He's worked under Coach [Dick] LeBeau for 11 years. That goes all the way back with Coach [Mike] Tomlin back to Arkansas State, so they have a long history together. How it's all going to unfold, I'm not sure. Obviously, we've seen what we've seen in preseason, and that's definitely something to go off of, but I'm sure they'll have some specific game plan things that they want to do against us, and we won't know those until the game starts. I think it will be like that with any game or any coach, whether they're experienced or not experienced. The early part of your question about the unknowns, I don't think there are as many unknowns about schematics and that kind of thing. There is to a degree, but I think the unknown is just how teams will perform as teams – our team or anybody else's team at this point. We just haven't seen the same kind of competitive situation that we're going to see on Thursday night where teams are game planning and teams are pulling out all stops to do everything they can do to win. They're not looking at players. They're trying to play their best players and do their best things and really see how all that works out. I think that's an unknown that will last for several weeks into the regular season until teams start to really establish what they can and can't do on a consistent basis. That's true of all 32 teams in my opinion.
PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK CONFERENCE CALL TO PITTSBURGH MEDIA
Q: As far as Pittsburgh's defense goes, is there anything on tape that stands out about them?
BB: Yeah, they're a really good group of players. They've got good players at every position. The linebackers are an impressive group, the secondary has done a good job, [and] the defensive line is a talented group. They're well coached. They're fundamentally sound. They're tough; they're physical. We'll definitely have our hands full with that group.
Q: When it comes to Ben Roethlisberger, what are you preparing for?
BB: His best performance seems like it's always against us. He's a great player that has always given us a lot of trouble, so I'm sure we'll more than have our hands full Thursday night with him. He does everything well, is smart, accurate, tough guy to handle in the pocket, uses all of his receivers. He's a very experienced player and a very good one.
Q: What is Rob Gronkowski going to mean to your offense this season?
BB: I'm glad we have him. We'll see what we can do this year. We haven't done anything yet, so we'll see how it all turns out starting Thursday night against the Steelers.