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Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 8/24/2003

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BB: So we have a few roster moves. We released four players today: [Antwoine] Womack, [J.R.] Redmond, [Ken] Kocher and [Buck] Rasmussen. The squad doesn't have to be down to the 65 limit until Tuesday at 4 p.m., so we are working our way there. We have a short week obviously with Chicago, a team that we have a little bit of familiarity with from last year. They got ahead on us pretty good in that game after three quarters. Fortunately, we were able to pull out enough points in the end to win it. I want to address some of the things, the problems, that we had in the regular season game with them last year and hopefully not get that far behind. I think this is a good test for us. The Bears have a good attack offensively with the scrambling quarterback. That adds another dimension for us there with [Kordell] Stewart. Defensively, they are a tough team with a good middle linebacker obviously, with a good front. This will be a good test for us again this week. It will be a good way to conclude the preseason. We have seen four good teams here. We still have a lot of things that we have to work on. Some things went well on Friday night, but there are other things that we are still going to sharpen up. Obviously, any time that you turn the ball over four times, statistically you are not going to win many of those games. We were probably fortunate to be able to come out on top against the Eagles.

**Q: Did J.R. Redmond just not show you the toughness in his career here?

BB:** No. I think J.R. is a good, tough player. I think he has shown a lot of toughness. I wouldn't say that at all. That would be the last thing that I would say about J.R. I think he is a tough player.

**Q: Could he just not get back on the field?

BB:** We have to reduce our roster. We can't keep everybody. I think in J.R.'s case that was the way that it was going to end up this time. This gives him a little bit of time before the final cuts maybe where something can happen for him somewhere else. The other players have moved ahead of him.

**Q: Was it a tough call to let him go?

BB:** It is tough to release any player. It is always tough. The guys come in, work hard and give you all they have got, but we cannot keep everybody. It is never an easy thing to do.

**Q: You have two games in a short period of time. After this game you have a long time off before the first game. Is that the best-case scenario that you have that much time off?

BB:** With every long week comes a short week, with every short week comes a long week. There will be some extra time after the Chicago game, prior to the opener, and we will try to take advantage of those extra days. I think that we have a number of guys that have gone through a long camp with a lot of bumps and bruises. When we get to that point we will try to take advantage of those days, and I am sure we can use a little bit of rest at that point. In the meantime, we are not really thinking about that. We have only a short time here to prepare for the Bears, and again there are still a number of things that we want to try to get corrected and right with our last preseason opportunity here.

**Q: Chad Pennington had a broken wrist in the Jets last preseason game, Michael Vick's injury and with all the Eagles that got knocked out of the Philadelphia game. Do you play off injuries as part of the risk in the preseason?

BB:** It has been that way since around 1978 or whenever we went to a 16-game schedule, about 25 years. That is the way that it has been.

**Q: Do you sense anyone saying anything that losing marquee players in games that don't count in the standings affects the product before it gets to the regular season?

BB:** I don't know. I think you would have to talk to the people on the competition committee and the league that make those decisions and recommendations. It is out of my control and not something that can I do anything about other than the games that we have scheduled and decide what is best for our football team. It comes back to the same thing. You are trying to get ready for the regular season. You are trying to get ready for the opener and the only way to do it really is to play. I don't think that we can get ready by just sitting around and talking about it. Sooner or later you are going to have to go out on the field and get ready. You try to balance it, but that is really the way that we approach it. We approach it the same way every year because we think generally it is the best way to do it. I don't know that there is a perfect answer to that one.

**Q: Does it matter what your record in the preseason is?

BB:** That will all be erased after the fourth preseason game.

**Q: We talked about the difficulties of preparing your team for a short week when you have a 53-man squad. Is it more difficult when you have a huge squad? When it is the last chance for the younger players?

BB:** You really are trying to get twice as many people ready. During a regular season game, you have basically your first group and then you have some guys that have to be ready to go in as back-ups. In a situation like this when you are going to play probably just about everybody that is on the roster for this game, you are really trying to get more than one group ready. That stretches you out a little bit thinner. They are in the same boat, but you are trying to take your practice reps and divide them as much as you can between all the people that are going to play rather than just basically getting one group ready during the regular season. That makes it a little bit tougher.

**Q: Are the firsts going to play less because it is the last chance for a lot of the younger players?

BB:** Again it is more of a case-by-case basis. The people that we think need to play more will play more, and the people that for whatever reason we don't think need to play as much will play less. Some guys that we want to look at in terms of roster spots… we are still trying to work through how everybody's role is going to be defined as we start into the regular season. It is kind of on a case-by-case basis.

**Q: In terms of trying to get Antwoine Womack back, is this all related to what happened to him before?

BB:** That is a good question. I'm not sure how much of it is related, but I think that any time you have a serious injury whether it is a knee or a hamstring or a back or ankle or whatever, sometimes there is a residual effect to another area. We saw it with Robert Edwards. That was another one where it really wasn't his knee, but he had some problems with other muscles. Whether those were directly related or not, I am not really sure, but there may be some correlation. That is frustrating. It is tough. We have had two or three of those. Edwards was a case in point. Brock Williams is another one and Womack. It is just hard when they don't get a chance to go out there and show what they can do. It is unfortunate. It is not what we want. It is not what the players want, but the clock is running and we have to make decisions. We just can't keep everybody. That is a good question. There may be some correlation there. We looked at it and talked about it, but it is hard to say definitively that this problem caused another problem. It might happen anyway, you don't know.

**Q: Do you think he has the ability to play once he gets over the injury?

BB:** He might. I would like to see him get the chance, but we are running out of time.

**Q: Has [Adrian] Klemm shown anymore in the Philadelphia game that he has improved from last year?

BB:** I thought Adrian had a solid effort against Philadelphia. I thought all of our tackles did a really good job in that game, Tom [Ashworth], Matt [Light], Brandon [Gorin]. I though that it was a solid effort all the way around from that position. Adrian has really been able to zero in at the right tackle spot this year in training camp. We flipped him over last week against the Redskins. He played a little bit on the left side, but most of his time has been at right tackle. He has had a good offseason and I think that he is definitely a lot further ahead than he has been at any other time since he has been here. Has he shown any more in the Philadelphia game? I don't know, but it has been pretty consistent and it was a solid effort. The more of those that you can keep stringing together, the more it helps a player's confidence, his consistency and the rest of the team as well. I think for Adrian to be able to work with Joe [Andruzzi] a little bit was good. We also put Tom in there in the first quarter so that he could get some snaps on that side too. We have gotten a little bit more consistency on that right side of the line the last couple of weeks since Joe has been in there. That has been good.

**Q: Patrick Pass has a lot of versatility having played halfback and fullback. Is that something that helped him compared to J.R. being the fact that he can play those two spots?

BB:** I think that is fair. Patrick has probably been the beneficiary of extra opportunities in this training camp when compared to some of the other ones. I think that he has helped himself. He has taken advantage of those at times whether it be on offense, and Patrick has played both spots for us halfback and fullback. He has gotten involved on special teams in the return game. He has been a special teams player for us through the years. I am not saying that is anything new. He has gotten some opportunities and for the most part he has been able to help himself with those reps. I think just looking at that running back situation, I think the point you bring up is a good one. We were sitting back here in June and it looked like there were a lot of people there, but then [Mike] Cloud got hurt, Womack got hurt and J.R. missed a little time. What looked like too many people all of a sudden became not enough. We brought in Frank [Moreau]. Those things can turn around in a hurry.

**Q: Obviously you are looking for anybody that can help the team, but does running back become a little bit more of a priority in the waiver system?

BB:** I think that we will look at them all about the same, but realistically 65-cut it is hard to expect a lot on the wire. It really would. You are talking about players that are on at that point that chances of them coming in and really upgrading a position… it happens, I'm not saying that it doesn't happen, but it is hard to expect that. We will evaluate everything that is on there and look for anybody that we think may have a spot or role on the team potentially. I don't think we are sitting here saying we probably have a couple of backs that aren't on our roster now that in couple of weeks will be and we don't know who they are. I would really be surprised if that happened. I'm not saying that it couldn't happen, but I would be surprised if it did.

**Q: Who tells a player that he has been released?

BB:** Scott [Pioli] and I talk to every player and then a lot of times the position coaches or the strength or special teams coach or anybody else talks to them. It varies from player to player. They are not all the same. Some guys once it is over just hurry up and get out. Other guys want to talk to other people they have been with. I don't think that there is any set rule on that. It is a tough time for everybody. It is tough for a player. It is tough for the coaches. It is tough for his teammates. There are other people that when they see somebody else leave, they probably are going to be able to stay. It is a bittersweet taste there. That is pro football. It has been like that every year that I have been in the league. I don't think that it is going to change. It is a hard part of the business, but it is part of the process.

**Q: I just wanted to know who told the players individually?

BB:** I think that when a player comes in here like J.R., we won a lot of football games with him playing. He made some significant contributions to this team through his career here. He has worked hard. I drafted him. I certainly feel like I was the one that brought him here, I should talk to him about what the situation is when he leaves. We are not trying to hide anything from anybody. It is what it is. I'm sure that every player that gets released most don't agree with the decision. That is okay. That is what a good competitor should feel… that he can still play. Nevertheless we still have to make them and that is what we do.

**Q: Do you have a feel for you team yet or is it still too early about what it can do if they stay healthy?

BB:** I think more than health, although that is always a factor, is the performance of the team and how it plays. That is really what I am concerned about. We are a long way off in that. We were 3-0 last year. Forget about the preseason, we were 3-0 in the regular season. It is a long season. There is a lot of football left to be played. We will just take it one day at a time and one game at a time and try to do the best we can with each opportunity that we get. We will play and let everything else take care of itself

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BB: So we have a few roster moves. We released four players today: [Antwoine] Womack, [J.R.] Redmond, [Ken] Kocher and [Buck] Rasmussen. The squad doesn't have to be down to the 65 limit until Tuesday at 4 p.m., so we are working our way there. We have a short week obviously with Chicago, a team that we have a little bit of familiarity with from last year. They got ahead on us pretty good in that game after three quarters. Fortunately, we were able to pull out enough points in the end to win it. I want to address some of the things, the problems, that we had in the regular season game with them last year and hopefully not get that far behind. I think this is a good test for us. The Bears have a good attack offensively with the scrambling quarterback. That adds another dimension for us there with [Kordell] Stewart. Defensively, they are a tough team with a good middle linebacker obviously, with a good front. This will be a good test for us again this week. It will be a good way to conclude the preseason. We have seen four good teams here. We still have a lot of things that we have to work on. Some things went well on Friday night, but there are other things that we are still going to sharpen up. Obviously, any time that you turn the ball over four times, statistically you are not going to win many of those games. We were probably fortunate to be able to come out on top against the Eagles.

**Q: Did J.R. Redmond just not show you the toughness in his career here?

BB:** No. I think J.R. is a good, tough player. I think he has shown a lot of toughness. I wouldn't say that at all. That would be the last thing that I would say about J.R. I think he is a tough player.

**Q: Could he just not get back on the field?

BB:** We have to reduce our roster. We can't keep everybody. I think in J.R.'s case that was the way that it was going to end up this time. This gives him a little bit of time before the final cuts maybe where something can happen for him somewhere else. The other players have moved ahead of him.

**Q: Was it a tough call to let him go?

BB:** It is tough to release any player. It is always tough. The guys come in, work hard and give you all they have got, but we cannot keep everybody. It is never an easy thing to do.

**Q: You have two games in a short period of time. After this game you have a long time off before the first game. Is that the best-case scenario that you have that much time off?

BB:** With every long week comes a short week, with every short week comes a long week. There will be some extra time after the Chicago game, prior to the opener, and we will try to take advantage of those extra days. I think that we have a number of guys that have gone through a long camp with a lot of bumps and bruises. When we get to that point we will try to take advantage of those days, and I am sure we can use a little bit of rest at that point. In the meantime, we are not really thinking about that. We have only a short time here to prepare for the Bears, and again there are still a number of things that we want to try to get corrected and right with our last preseason opportunity here.

**Q: Chad Pennington had a broken wrist in the Jets last preseason game, Michael Vick's injury and with all the Eagles that got knocked out of the Philadelphia game. Do you play off injuries as part of the risk in the preseason?

BB:** It has been that way since around 1978 or whenever we went to a 16-game schedule, about 25 years. That is the way that it has been.

**Q: Do you sense anyone saying anything that losing marquee players in games that don't count in the standings affects the product before it gets to the regular season?

BB:** I don't know. I think you would have to talk to the people on the competition committee and the league that make those decisions and recommendations. It is out of my control and not something that can I do anything about other than the games that we have scheduled and decide what is best for our football team. It comes back to the same thing. You are trying to get ready for the regular season. You are trying to get ready for the opener and the only way to do it really is to play. I don't think that we can get ready by just sitting around and talking about it. Sooner or later you are going to have to go out on the field and get ready. You try to balance it, but that is really the way that we approach it. We approach it the same way every year because we think generally it is the best way to do it. I don't know that there is a perfect answer to that one.

**Q: Does it matter what your record in the preseason is?

BB:** That will all be erased after the fourth preseason game.

**Q: We talked about the difficulties of preparing your team for a short week when you have a 53-man squad. Is it more difficult when you have a huge squad? When it is the last chance for the younger players?

BB:** You really are trying to get twice as many people ready. During a regular season game, you have basically your first group and then you have some guys that have to be ready to go in as back-ups. In a situation like this when you are going to play probably just about everybody that is on the roster for this game, you are really trying to get more than one group ready. That stretches you out a little bit thinner. They are in the same boat, but you are trying to take your practice reps and divide them as much as you can between all the people that are going to play rather than just basically getting one group ready during the regular season. That makes it a little bit tougher.

**Q: Are the firsts going to play less because it is the last chance for a lot of the younger players?

BB:** Again it is more of a case-by-case basis. The people that we think need to play more will play more, and the people that for whatever reason we don't think need to play as much will play less. Some guys that we want to look at in terms of roster spots… we are still trying to work through how everybody's role is going to be defined as we start into the regular season. It is kind of on a case-by-case basis.

**Q: In terms of trying to get Antwoine Womack back, is this all related to what happened to him before?

BB:** That is a good question. I'm not sure how much of it is related, but I think that any time you have a serious injury whether it is a knee or a hamstring or a back or ankle or whatever, sometimes there is a residual effect to another area. We saw it with Robert Edwards. That was another one where it really wasn't his knee, but he had some problems with other muscles. Whether those were directly related or not, I am not really sure, but there may be some correlation. That is frustrating. It is tough. We have had two or three of those. Edwards was a case in point. Brock Williams is another one and Womack. It is just hard when they don't get a chance to go out there and show what they can do. It is unfortunate. It is not what we want. It is not what the players want, but the clock is running and we have to make decisions. We just can't keep everybody. That is a good question. There may be some correlation there. We looked at it and talked about it, but it is hard to say definitively that this problem caused another problem. It might happen anyway, you don't know.

**Q: Do you think he has the ability to play once he gets over the injury?

BB:** He might. I would like to see him get the chance, but we are running out of time.

**Q: Has [Adrian] Klemm shown anymore in the Philadelphia game that he has improved from last year?

BB:** I thought Adrian had a solid effort against Philadelphia. I thought all of our tackles did a really good job in that game, Tom [Ashworth], Matt [Light], Brandon [Gorin]. I though that it was a solid effort all the way around from that position. Adrian has really been able to zero in at the right tackle spot this year in training camp. We flipped him over last week against the Redskins. He played a little bit on the left side, but most of his time has been at right tackle. He has had a good offseason and I think that he is definitely a lot further ahead than he has been at any other time since he has been here. Has he shown any more in the Philadelphia game? I don't know, but it has been pretty consistent and it was a solid effort. The more of those that you can keep stringing together, the more it helps a player's confidence, his consistency and the rest of the team as well. I think for Adrian to be able to work with Joe [Andruzzi] a little bit was good. We also put Tom in there in the first quarter so that he could get some snaps on that side too. We have gotten a little bit more consistency on that right side of the line the last couple of weeks since Joe has been in there. That has been good.

**Q: Patrick Pass has a lot of versatility having played halfback and fullback. Is that something that helped him compared to J.R. being the fact that he can play those two spots?

BB:** I think that is fair. Patrick has probably been the beneficiary of extra opportunities in this training camp when compared to some of the other ones. I think that he has helped himself. He has taken advantage of those at times whether it be on offense, and Patrick has played both spots for us halfback and fullback. He has gotten involved on special teams in the return game. He has been a special teams player for us through the years. I am not saying that is anything new. He has gotten some opportunities and for the most part he has been able to help himself with those reps. I think just looking at that running back situation, I think the point you bring up is a good one. We were sitting back here in June and it looked like there were a lot of people there, but then [Mike] Cloud got hurt, Womack got hurt and J.R. missed a little time. What looked like too many people all of a sudden became not enough. We brought in Frank [Moreau]. Those things can turn around in a hurry.

**Q: Obviously you are looking for anybody that can help the team, but does running back become a little bit more of a priority in the waiver system?

BB:** I think that we will look at them all about the same, but realistically 65-cut it is hard to expect a lot on the wire. It really would. You are talking about players that are on at that point that chances of them coming in and really upgrading a position… it happens, I'm not saying that it doesn't happen, but it is hard to expect that. We will evaluate everything that is on there and look for anybody that we think may have a spot or role on the team potentially. I don't think we are sitting here saying we probably have a couple of backs that aren't on our roster now that in couple of weeks will be and we don't know who they are. I would really be surprised if that happened. I'm not saying that it couldn't happen, but I would be surprised if it did.

**Q: Who tells a player that he has been released?

BB:** Scott [Pioli] and I talk to every player and then a lot of times the position coaches or the strength or special teams coach or anybody else talks to them. It varies from player to player. They are not all the same. Some guys once it is over just hurry up and get out. Other guys want to talk to other people they have been with. I don't think that there is any set rule on that. It is a tough time for everybody. It is tough for a player. It is tough for the coaches. It is tough for his teammates. There are other people that when they see somebody else leave, they probably are going to be able to stay. It is a bittersweet taste there. That is pro football. It has been like that every year that I have been in the league. I don't think that it is going to change. It is a hard part of the business, but it is part of the process.

**Q: I just wanted to know who told the players individually?

BB:** I think that when a player comes in here like J.R., we won a lot of football games with him playing. He made some significant contributions to this team through his career here. He has worked hard. I drafted him. I certainly feel like I was the one that brought him here, I should talk to him about what the situation is when he leaves. We are not trying to hide anything from anybody. It is what it is. I'm sure that every player that gets released most don't agree with the decision. That is okay. That is what a good competitor should feel… that he can still play. Nevertheless we still have to make them and that is what we do.

**Q: Do you have a feel for you team yet or is it still too early about what it can do if they stay healthy?

BB:** I think more than health, although that is always a factor, is the performance of the team and how it plays. That is really what I am concerned about. We are a long way off in that. We were 3-0 last year. Forget about the preseason, we were 3-0 in the regular season. It is a long season. There is a lot of football left to be played. We will just take it one day at a time and one game at a time and try to do the best we can with each opportunity that we get. We will play and let everything else take care of itself

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