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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Fri Sep 25 - 12:00 AM | Sun Sep 27 - 10:40 AM

Bill Belichick Press Conf.

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            **B:** On the Drew Bledsoe update Drew took a couple, maybe one or two snaps yesterday and threw a few balls. I think based on that it is probably enough to say that it will be a game time decision.  Obviously if the game was today it would be one thing, but it is not and we will just keep moving along on this and see what happens when we get to Sunday at the stadium.  

Q: Did you talk to him this morning and how did it respond overnight?

B: It has pretty much been the same it is not anything dramatic it's just not worse.

Q: When he threw did he have that gizmo on his thumb or did he take it off?

B: I don't know. Whatever he had he had.

Q: He had that big thumb protector did he throw with it or did he take that off?

B: No he didn't have that.

Q: How has (John) Friesz looked throwing the ball are you encouraged from what you have seen from his full-time role with the first offense?

B: We have given everybody some more reps. I think that anytime that guys get a chance to play more they execute better. I mean that is generally the rule and so I think that is definitely heading in a positive direction. Still there is quite a difference between practicing and playing and seeing things at full speed particularly at quarterback where they get hit in the game and they don't get hit in practice. It has been okay, it has been okay I don't think we will really be able to gauge that until the balls start flying on Sunday.

Q: What percentage of the plays do you think he took with the first offense?

B: I don't know.

Q: Twenty percent, eighty percent?

B: Drew (Bledsoe) took a few, he (Friesz) took maybe half.

Q: How many did (Michael) Bishop take, what percentage?

B: I really don't know what the percentages are, but I mean all of the quarterbacks have gotten some work this week. Drew has obviously gotten the least, but they all have done something here or there I couldn't give you an exact number on them.

Q: Based on what you have seen Friesz is still listed as your starting quarterback for this game?
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B: If Drew can't start John will.

Q: How about (Tom) Brady is there any chance of him moving up or is Bishop second or third depending?

B: If your starting quarterback is out then everybody moves up.

Q: But he hasn't moved ahead?

B: Well no he hasn't done anything to. We will just have to evaluate where we are at game time and a lot of the whole decision will depend on where we are with Drew. So we are trying to keep all of our options open and try to have everybody prepared. We are not really sure which way we are going to have to go on this one, but we have given Brady some more work because he is closer to playing and it has been longer since he has played so he has a little bit of catching up to do.

Q: Friesz is on the injury report what is that from something Sunday or did it happen this week?

B: No it happened Sunday.

Q: What is the deal with the linebackers in terms of their availability, the guys that are on the injury report?

B: Obviously (Andy) Katzenmoyer is out we put him on injured reserve last week. Ted Johnson is probably I would say doubtful for the game and then we have a couple of other guys that are questionable that we will just have to see how they are.

Q: Did they practice yesterday, (Chris) Slade and (Willie) McGinest?

B: Yes they were out there they did a little not much. (Matt) Chatham is probably doubtful too. So I think there is obviously less chance that he will be ready to go.

Q: You spoke yesterday about having options depending on the situation, what can you do you are only down to a couple of linebackers aren't you? Do you have to restructure your whole defense if these guys can't play?

B: Oh yes we might, yes we would have to make some adjustments. We practiced this week with a little bit of anticipation that that will happen and also that it won't and fill it in with other guys so that we don't move everybody around so they don't get to practice in the spot that we hope they will be in on Sunday, but that is definitely up in the air. The whole linebacker situation it could be up in the air.

Q: Plus McGinest and Brandon Mitchell are from the defensive line causing a situation there too?

B: Yes the end position is that's right.

Q: Yikes.
B: Yes well it is what it is. It's questionable we will just have to see how it sorts itself out.

Q: (Larry) Whigham has played linebacker in a pinch have you ever think of moving him down?

B: Yes we would have to do something we would either have to do something with the defensive lineman or do something with the defensive back to try to cover it. Yes those are basically our two options and a little bit depends on what Cleveland is in, what formation they are in, how would you want to handle it.

Q: Because of his size would he be one of the top candidates?

B: Yes he has done that right. I mean yes you could do it with probably any of the safeties they are all pretty big. In relative terms I mean for safeties. They have pretty good size and they are a pretty physical group so depending on what Cleveland was in we could make a call that would in effect they would cover some of that.

Q: Have you ever played a 2-1-8 before?

B: In the Super Bowl in 1990 we played a 1-4-6 or a 1-5-5, yes I mean there were a lot of times out there where we only had one defensive linemen in the game. Five linebackers we might have trouble getting those. In fact here in 1996, I was going back through some of our old game plans in 1996 a couple of times this year and we played some 1-3-7 and 1-2-8. We played one down lineman I think it was Mike Jones and then we had Slade and McGinest as the ends and (Tedy) Bruschi. Sometimes we had Bruschi sometimes we didn't so it was either Slade, McGinest, Mike Jones and eight defensive backs or seven defensive backs plus Bruschi, 1-3-1-3-7 look.

Q: Was that on first and ten?

B: Against Jacksonville it was about the whole second half of the game. Baltimore it must have been at least a quarter and a half.

Q: What does (Chris) Eitzmann still have to do? I know he has to find a role, is being a blocking tight end enough?

B: Whatever his role is it is a start. Blocking tight end if he could develop that that will be a start. Anytime a player can add multiple dimensions to his game then that increases his value and that increases his role. I think as a rookie and as little playing time really as he has had he needs to establish all of it, run blocking, pass catching, consistency, overall decision-making on the field, I mean you try to put it in all of those categories.

Q: Have you seen any progress in him?

B: Yes we have seen progress from Chris from the beginning of the year to where we brought him up and activated him before the Indianapolis game and a little bit of progress from the Indianapolis game to the Buffalo game. I mean he still has a ways to go, but he is making progress.

Q: I know that when you prepare for a game you focus in on the opponents and stopping them, but the way your team is right now in terms of injury, is it more focusing on what you guys are going to do to get ready to play the kind of game you are no matter who the opponent is?

B: Well I think there is certainly an element to that no question. Yes part of it is getting our team on the field regardless of what they do and then obviously another part of it is competing against Cleveland and they do a lot of things that create some problems for you so a combination of the two. Sometimes in the game plan weeks you spend very little time talking about your team. You know who is going to be out there, you know who is going to play. You might want to try find a match-up here or there, but it is not a question of who you are going to put out there it is going to be how you are going to utilize them. Then there are other weeks like this week where definitely more time is being spent on not only how you are going to match them up and utilize them, but even who in fact it is going to be. That carries the most variables and the highest degree of uncertainty really in the kicking game because every time there is an uncertainty with a player it effects the kicking either directly or indirectly because anytime there is movement within the roster either from backup to starter or injured to not available then that effects the kicking game. So you lose one guy on the kicking game it is like losing at least four starters kickoff, kickoff return, punt, and punt return then you have to replace him there. Then if there is somebody else in question usually you just have one or two people to backup several spots in the kicking game so that's really where the biggest stress in terms of organizationally is.

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            **Q: As a coach where is the gray area in terms of you high expectations of every player you put on the field, but at the same time you know that you are going to have players that aren't as experienced and maybe aren't as talented as other players where is the gray area in how you manage your mind and what you see?**  

B: You have to do what you can do, right. If your team can't do something and that's the way you feel about it as a coach then you have to try to avoid it whatever it is. That could be a player, or it could be a group of players who haven't just worked enough together to execute it, right then you have to pull the plug on that. So that is the decision you have to make as a coach, but on the other hand realistically you face that every single week because on the first play of the game whoever is in there could not be in there for the rest of the game. You never know when that is going to happen. You can go into the game with whatever plan you have and by the middle of the first quarter something could change it dramatically. A player gets a cramp or he gets hurt or he is out, whatever happens then you are in that same mode. I think mentally as a coach you always have to kind of anticipate and understand what limitations you do or don't have when your roster changes or your team changes that you put out there. No question about that and all I am saying is that in the kicking game there are more changes. You change one position on offense then you understand what that change is and you can manage it. In the kicking game you have one guy but that changes your kickoff return, it changes your punt coverage, it changes your punt protection, it creates a lot more variables and a lot of times the same guy can't fill in for that player all the way across the board. Say a guy like Matt Chatham if he is not able to play then it might be one guy on the kickoff return, it might be another guy on the punt, it might be somebody else on the punt return, there are a lot more variables.

Q: Speaking of the kicking game Troy Brown has a terrific average, you talked about the scheming and the plays that (Brad) Seely has put in, is that scheme or is that talent on his part how come he is so successful?

B: Well I think it is a combination of both. I think as a coach you need to give the players a good opportunity. You need to give them a plan that has a chance to work and then from the players' standpoint it comes down to good execution. So good plans and bad execution is not a good result and good execution and bad plans is not a good result either, but I think it is a combination of both. I think Brad has done a good job this year. Overall in the kicking game our performance has been reasonably good in all areas. We had a few breakdowns here and there. In the return game, particularly the punt return game, it has been fairly productive and a lot of that has to do with holding people up at the line of scrimmage to get the returner started and then once he gets started a lot of that is the returner being able to make extra yardage by making guys miss or breaking tackles or that kind of thing and Troy has done a good job of that.

Q: Is (Chris) Gardocki one of the best because of the height of his punts, or because he directions a guy and keeps him from getting a good return, why is he so successful?

B: Yes he bangs them out pretty good. He has got a lot of distance and he will do both. He will put some air on the ball and also try to make it hard on your returner, particularly if you are a certain type of return team. If you are a middle return team, kick to the side, if you are a side return team kick it away from the side that you want to go, there is a little bit of that too.

Q: How about Cleveland what are they going to bring to the table that could be problematic?

B: The Browns first of all they are good on special teams, they are very good on special teams. They have good kickers, they have good returner and they do a good job in the kicking game. Offensively they have got a lot of speed and athleticism at the receiver position. They have added (Aaron) Shea he has had a bigger part in the game plan, (Dennis) Northcutt, Kevin Johnson, those guys are explosive receivers we saw that last year in the Patriots game when Kevin Johnson caught a two-yard pass and went 65 (yards) with it. That is the kind of player that Kevin Johnson and Northcutt and Shea is becoming that type of a guy too at tight end as they are using him more. Defensively they have improved their defensive line considerably from last year they have added three new guys. The linebacker group is the same. I think Romeo (Crennel) has done a good job of coordinating the defense and they play well together as a group. They hustle, they are aggressive, they knock some balls loose, and I think they really do a pretty solid job. They have had a little tough luck here the last couple of weeks. They ran into Denver when Denver was on fire, but their kicking game is a challenge and defensively they do a good solid job. They are leading the league along with Buffalo on defense on first down, so they don't give up a lot of yards on first down which means you are in second down and long and third down so it is a constant battle. If you can gain a lot yards on first down then you can kind of stay ahead of the drive. If you are always long on second down then that makes second down that much harder and third down that much harder. Cleveland and Buffalo are the two best teams in the AFC at that so that is definitely a problem. Their receivers are big play receivers. You can keep them down for awhile and then all of a sudden they break loose and it's a big play.

Q: With Drew's situation a game time situation is a black and white issue in your mind if he says yes or no after warm-ups or what are the factors that go into that game time decision?

B: Just seeing him do what he needs to do. Seeing him take the snap, drop back, throw different routes, throw inside routes, throw outside routes, throw deep routes and see that he can throw the ball the different types of throws that he is going to need to make in the game. Provided he could do that then I think he's our quarterback. If he can't do that then we will have to make either one of two decisions, we either have to decide to go without him or decide to go with him in a very limited fashion. Maybe that is as the third inactive quarterback, again depending on what he can do. It is a possibility that as the third inactive quarterback that he could go in there and finish the game and hand off and call the plays and all of that and maybe throw some limited type pass if we got into that situation. If we didn't get into that situation then maybe there wouldn't be any need to bring him in. Again those are just possibilities of what his role could be. I think it could be anywhere from the starting quarterback to the backup quarterback, to the third inactive quarterback, to if he is just not effective he would be one of the inactive players for the game and somebody else would be the third inactive, it would be the other three guys. It will just depend on what he is able to do on Sunday. I am just saying based on yesterday which is still pretty early, I think that he at least has a chance to get to that point on Sunday that is all I am saying. I think if yesterday had gone differently I could be saying, 'I just don't see any way he is going to be able to play he can't even throw the ball at all.' So that's not the case he can do a little bit and if he can do a little bit more than we might be able to play him.

Q: Is it similar to what you did with Chad Eaton in Indianapolis is bring him up before everybody else and put him threw the motions of what he would have to do would it be you, the trainer, Dick Rehbein, or just you and Drew?

B: Yes Charlie (Weis), Mike Woicik. Yes we have done that in probably in over half of the games this year. We have taken a player out before the game and depending on what the injury is we put them through a series of drills to try to evaluate where we think he is with that injury and what he will be able to do a few hours later. That's it we are not out there trying to wear him out or get him in condition, but just to try to let him do the movements and sometimes like with linemen sometimes it is running, sometimes it is moving laterally, sometimes it is the pushing and the shoving and loading on particularly with a leg injury. How much can he load and push on it and how much force can he generate that is all part of the evaluation. Obviously the quarterback would be different, but whatever we think that the things are then those are the ones that we will kind of look at. I have times guys before games. Guys that need to be able to run fast let's see how fast they can go because a lot of times a player will over estimate what he is going to be able to do like, 'I feel okay now but come game time I will really be able to juice it. I know I will be able to run fast, or I know I'll be able to push the pocket, or I know that I will be able to contain Barry Sanders or whatever the deal is that week' and I am sure their intentions are good, but a lot of times or I have had experience where as much as they want to do it and as hard as they try to do it they just don't achieve the level that they think they are going to achieve. Either we see it or we don't.

Q: Will he throw today?

B: Yes he'll try and we'll see where we are. The main thing I want to do this week with Bledsoe is not to set him back. We want him to play on Sunday and that's the most important day not Wednesday or Friday or that type of thing. So if there is anything that we are doing that we feel like has a chance to set him back in the process then we would rather let that go and try to test it on Sunday that's when we really need to make the final evaluation. So we will kind of nurse it along, do what we can do and then the final exam is Sunday morning.

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