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Bill Belichick Press Conf.Transcript 8/31/04

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BB: We have one transaction to announce today. We released Tim Provost this morning. So, we're just trying to wrap up the preparations for Jacksonville today, just kind of pulling everything together. This is a short week. [We are] trying to pull together a lot of loose ends, but it's pretty much that they are in the same boat, too. That's the story for today.

Q: Can you talk about Benjamin Watson and how he has progressed in camp?

BB: Ben has been here a couple of weeks. I think he's coming along. He's got a long way to go. He missed a lot of time. He's behind on a lot of things, but he's starting to catch up a little bit. I thought last week's game was a little bit better than the week before, and hopefully he can continue to build on that and try to get ready for the season.

Q: Can you compare Roman Phifer to anyone you have coached in terms of longevity?

BB: Clay Matthews. Clay played until he had to be close to 40 [years old], 18 or 19 years, whatever it was. Clay was really pretty much never injured other than early in his career. He missed a few games one year before I got to Cleveland, but he pretty much played for a number of years without any real significant injuries, maybe a broken arm or something like that, but it wasn't major knee surgery or anything like that. I think Roman, in terms of longevity and durability, is similar. He has played a long time. He has been relatively healthy and has avoided any major-type injuries. I think both guys are pretty athletic. Both guys are really smart. They train well. They're in condition all year round. You don't see the fluctuations in their physical training. Smart guys, in the right place at the right time to do a lot of different things. Clay was a little bit bigger. He was more of a pass rusher. He was probably low 250s. Roman is more of a coverage linebacker. Other than that I would say there are a lot of similarities. [They are] both California guys, USC and UCLA, so I don't know if they would want to be too closely connected.

Q: On final cuts, there were some scenarios that are a little bit unique. Could you elaborate on those a little?

BB: Well, just in terms of the timing of the final cut-down. Normally, when you come into the final week of preseason you play on Thursday, Friday, Wednesday, whatever it is, and then you finish up with that game, you make your roster moves over weekend, and by the time you start practice on, let's say, Tuesday for the opening game, you're pretty much set. You're probably 99 percent set. Maybe you do something at the end of the week, but your practice squad is set. You come in on Tuesday, and you're ready to march forward. Here, those final cuts are on Sunday, which for us, Friday is a Monday, Saturday is a Tuesday, Sunday is a Wednesday, so Sunday starts our Wednesday preparations for the Thursday game, which that is the heart of the preparation, that Thursday and Friday preparation. So, Sunday and Monday are our two biggest preparation days for that game, and they are the two biggest days in the roster reductions. The waivers have to be in. Cuts have to be in Sunday at four. Then, the waivers come out Monday at noon, and the practice squads are Tuesday at noon. So, your final cuts, the other teams' cuts, any kind of roster movement, that type of thing normally takes place before the full-scale preparations for your opener occur. In our case and Indianapolis' case, it will be right in the middle of those preparations, so I think that's unique. I haven't talked to other teams that have played in that game, like San Francisco, the Giants and Washington, teams like that that have been through it. They have just talked about how it's a week where you're right in the middle of getting ready for a game but you're also right in the middle of the biggest day in terms of player movement in the entire calendar NFL year. That's unique.

Q: If you could write your own script for Thursday night in terms of playing time and execution, what would it be?

BB: It would vary from player to player, from group to group. We're going to play players that, I feel like some players need more playing time than others in this game, and we'll try to distribute that accordingly and evaluate what we see. There are different cases. Some guys are coming back and haven't played in awhile. Other guys have played a lot, and they've been out there for every practice and every preseason game and they've done a lot. You have guys in different scenarios, and I don't think we can just sit there and say this is what it is for everybody because it's not all the same. The most important thing is to A, evaluate your team and try to get the right 53 people on your roster including the additional practice squad spots, and 2, prepare your team for opening day and, as much as you can, the start of the season. So, some guys need that preparation for opening week. Some guys are in more of a roster evaluation situation. Other guys maybe need a little bit less preparation because they've had so many snaps in the other games and in practices. It kind of varies a little bit. In [Rohan] Davey's case, that's definitely somebody we want to see a lot of. [He] didn't play at all last week, and he's going to get a lot of playing time, I'll tell you that right now.

Q: What is the status of Troy Brown?

BB: I feel good about Troy. I feel good about him, let's leave it at that.

Q: Do you think he will be ready for Indianapolis?

BB: I don't think I can estimate what anybody's injury length is going to be. It could be day-by-day, and that's what it is. It's day-to-day. I certainly think he'll have a shot, but I can't predict what's going to happen. If I did, I'd probably be doing something else.

Q: Can a guy who is on the fringe of making the team play himself on or off the team in the game on Thursday night?

BB: That depends on where he is. If it is close enough I think he could. If there has already been a pretty clear-cut establishment of that player's performance, then it would probably take a lot to swing him one way or another. But I think everybody that is here is in competition for some type of spot on our roster, whether that is a 53-man spot, whether that is a practice squad spot, whether it is somebody we would want to come back to in an emergency situation, even if they were released on the 53-man roster they could come back if something came up, or a player that we kept and their performance dropped and we though a player that we released, maybe now we were wrong on somebody and we want to bring somebody else back. So, I think everybody is in the mix for some type of, at some point, some type of roster spot. And that would include even a couple of people that have already been released.

Q: Going into this preseason is there a sense of anxiety of who you should play and the possible injuries?

BB: Well you want to go through the whole year without any injuries, including the first training camp to the last regular-season game or beyond that if you are lucky enough to be in it. But, you have to get your team ready, you have to get your players ready. We could probably sit around here and talk about it and never get anybody hurt and I don't think we would be any good. At some point you are just going to have to go out there and work on your techniques and prepare your team to play as a unit, and, unfortunately, due to the competitiveness of the sport and the game, there are probably going to be some guys hurt. I don't know. It has been that way for a while. I don't think we are going to be able to change it now.

Q: What made Vince Wilfork a good candidate to move to end?

BB: We just feel like he can do it for all of the reasons—physically, mentally, his playing experience. He has had a lot of playing time off of center out onto the guard, even some time to the inside shoulder of the tackle. Three-four end is similar to a 4-3 tackle that plays in the guard-tackle gap. There are some similarities there, so we felt like we have seen him do things pretty similar to that in the past, particularly in college, not so much here, and thought that we would take a look at it and see what it looks like. I think he is fairly comfortable out there. He hasn't had as much work as he had inside, but now is the time to take a look at it, as opposed to some Thursday before a regular-season game where all of the sudden there is a need for it. 'Gee, what are we going to do?' You want to have some kind of background with it.

Q: You have overhauled the roster and lost some key guys. Do you feel like you are better equipped than four or five years ago as far as leadership in the locker room?

BB: I don't know. I think each player on our roster, and every player in the NFL for that matter, certainly has a lot of strengths and a lot of positive things that they bring to the table for that team. That is why they are on it. If they are not on it, then you lose those strengths, and if somebody else is on it, then I think they bring their own set of strengths, whatever they happen to be. So, if any team makes a roster move then they are obviously losing something or the guy wouldn't have been there in the first place, but they feel like they are gaining something from whoever it is they are bringing on there. And that is how you have to look at it. It is a total package. You can't bring on size without bringing on the guy's speed, without bringing on his playing experience, without bringing on all of the other things that you bring along with him. You just can't do that. When you take a person or a player and put him on the team, you get the total package—all of the things that that guy brings you. You have to feel like you are getting some positives when you put him on the roster, otherwise why do it? You might as well get somebody else.

Q: Do [Benjamin] Watson and [Daniel] Graham have the same responsibility at tight end?

BB: Sometimes. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't-- it depends on the play, it depends on the formation. At times they would or at times there is a crossover, other times that player has more of a fullback responsibility, he has more of a receiver responsibility and it could switch back and forth a little bit. So it depends on the formation and it depends on the play.

Q: Do they have different skills that make you want to use one to do one thing and the other to do something else?

BB: I would say at this point that I wouldn't say that. Maybe it will turn out that way, I don't know. At this point we are trying to get them to both pretty much be able to do the same things. Now, how much we ask them to do those, that remains to be seen. They are both going to have to pass protect, they are both going to have to run different routes, they are both going to have to block, block on the line of scrimmage. I think you want to be able to train the players in all those things, then how much you want to ask them to do it depends on your game plan and on the plays that you are calling. The problem with going the other way, is 'okay, you do this and you do that', if you ever get into the problem where you lose somebody, then now you are trying to start from scratch and say 'well we have never really asked you to do this, but now here is all the stuff you need to do because you are that body type, you are that size'. You can't move a wide receiver to tight end, and you are not going to move an offensive lineman to tight end, so basically a tight end is going to have to replace a tight end and you are going to end up having to teach them all of that stuff anyway. So, I think it is easier to start at that point and branch off as you move along, rather than the other way around.

Q: Have you ever seen guys not go full speed so that they don't get injured in the preseason?

BB: Well, I think that when everybody is playing at the same speed, whatever that is, then you probably have the least chance of injury because everybody is fully prepared and expecting whatever that tempo is. I think when you get a differential in tempos, then players are a lot more at risk because they are surprised, and whatever they are expecting, they get something different. And that is why practice is so important. Practice tempo is so important that everybody on your team goes at the same tempo, and we don't always go at the same tempo, but everybody needs to know what the tempo of the drill is and then go at it accordingly. So, if one player is going half speed and another guy is going three-fourths speed, and I'm going half speed and I don't really expect that type of collision and he is going at a different tempo, then I am not prepared for it and that is not where you want to be. If we are all going at the same tempo, whatever that tempo is, whether it is half, three-quarters, full speed, whatever you define it as, I am expecting what I am going to get and I am going to get what I am expecting. But, when it doesn't go that way, I think that is a problem. It starts at practice. If somebody were to play a game at one tempo, and somebody else were to play it at another tempo, I think you could have a problem.

Q: Is Jim Miller eligible for the reserve PUP list?

BB: Jim Miller? Yes.

Q: Does he have a shot at practicing this week?

BB: Yeah, I would say he has a shot. He is getting better. He is getting close. So, yeah, I would say he has a shot.

Q: How do you feel that Tyrone Poole has responded to the competition at that position?

BB: I think he responded well. I think Tyrone proved last year that somebody is going to have to come in here and play better than him to take that spot. I think he has come in with a lot of confidence and he has played with confidence, and that is the way it is. Somebody is going to have to play better than Tyrone Poole to play ahead of him. Somebody is going to have to play better than Ty Law to play ahead of him. So, those guys started, whatever it was, 15, 18 games last year, and until somebody can outplay them, that is who will be playing there

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