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Bill Belichick Press Conference

Foxboro Stadium - Foxborough, MABill Belichick speaks to the press.



            Here is our schedule for the weekend: we are going to be going over the game tape today and then put the players through a light workout. It has been pretty busy the last ten days or so. I am going to give them the weekend off. We are going to be on an informal schedule on Monday and then Tuesday will start as kind of a regular season Wednesday. We have got a lot of important decisions to make this weekend in terms of personnel and the roster cuts and that type of thing and that has to be done by Sunday. We probably won't make any moves until then. I never would really want to say never because you never know what is going to happen, but I don't anticipate making any major decisions on that today or tomorrow or anything, so you don't have to stay up all night tapping the phone.  

I thought that, looking back on the preseason a little bit, that we have definitely improved during the preseason. I think we are a better football team than we were against San Francisco. I think there is still quite a ways to go. I don't think that we are there yet, but I think that there has been a little bit of positive progress every week. Certainly nobody is basking in last night's win. There is too much ahead of us that we have to be concerned about. We got away with some things last night and we did some things that were positive, so there was certainly some things to look favorably upon, but on the other hand there is still a lot of work to do. Our focus is more about what's ahead than what's in the rearview mirror.

Yesterday we did make one roster move, we placed Todd Rucci on the NFI reserve list, that is the basic equivalent to the physically unable to perform category, so he won't be able available to practice with the team until mid-October, or be activated until then so he will miss the first six games.

Q: Non- football injury, does that mean he didn't get hurt playing?

B: Right. He wasn't here when the injury occurred.

Q: You brought in a couple of free agents in the last couple of days, how difficult is it to get a good look at them with such little time?

B: It is tough, you don't have much time, but it is all you have so you just try to make the best use of it as you can. Josh (Rawlings) we have spent meeting time with and we had a walk through out there and practice Wednesday prior to the game and went through the assignments and all of that. He was able to play most of the fourth quarter at right tackle so at least we got a look at him doing some things. Olrick Johnson was here a day earlier and it is kind if the same thing. Rob and Pepper spent some time with him going over it, and Brad, and he played on special teams and defense. I mean it is tough, but it gives you a brief window. You have less information, but you just have to make a decision on less information rather than more. Some of these guys have been out there everyday and played in five preseason games and we just know more about them than when a guy comes in like that. But really we didn't have too much choice at linebacker with Munch being injured we needed somebody to play and Olrick Johnson played quite a bit last night.

Q: How inclined are you after you make the final cuts to comb the waiver wire or is your 53 your final 53?

B: Again we will do whatever is best for the football team and I really don't know whether there will or won't be somebody on the waiver wire that will help us. I haven't seen it and I don't know whether we think those people will add more than the people we already have here. My guess would be that there probably would be somebody. There probably would be a move or two in there somewhere, but I certainly wouldn't want to commit to it. I'm not even sure I could tell you what position it would be at because I don't know who the players are and there are several factors that are involved there too.

Q: How about the wide receiver position, have you thought about the number you would like to keep?

B: We don't make cuts officially until Sunday and as we all know this is the time of year when there is also conversation through the league about players that become available that teams are going to release or trying to trade, so it is really hard to say what is going to happen. I feel like we have been going on the treadmill here for the last few days trying to get ready for Tampa and then turn around and try to get ready for Carolina. We are going to show the players the tape today and then we are going to take some time as a staff to sit back and digest the personnel decisions and where are football team is going and who the best people would be, at this point anyway who it looks like the best people would be for it, and kind of mull them around again on Saturday. Once we make those decisions then we will move and start getting ready for Tampa. So I can't really commit to a number on the roster at this position or that position, we are just really going to start that process now in terms of our final process later on this afternoon and on into tomorrow and then make the move Sunday.

Q: How important is it to you that you have seen the guy who may be in question play as opposed to, for instance a Henry Thomas who hasn't played yet?

B: The players that you don't see, they are tougher. Clearly it is just speculation, what you think the player will be able to do is a lot easier when your eyes have actually seen it and you can place a value on the performance and put a price tag on it.

Q: But in the case of somebody like Henry Thomas who has 14 years experience in the NFL are you inclined to say, 'well he has been a productive player for 14 years or does all of that not count?

B: I wouldn't say that it doesn't count, but I have been through a lot of training camps and have seen a lot of professional football players and with older players you just never know when it is going to end. Some guys they play five, six, or seven years and you think, well they have one more year and they are still playing at 15. Clay Matthews, when I got to Cleveland had been in the league, I don't know 12 or 13 years and played 17. Probably not a whole lot different the 17th year than the 10th year. Brad Denson, when I was with the Giants he went to the Pro Bowl and blocked Dexter Manley as well as anybody could block Dexter Manley in 1986. He just wasn't the same player the next year. His hip bothered him and he ended up having it replaced a year later. It didn't bother him during the 1986 season, but it bothered him in the 1987 season. It ends for everybody you just don't know when.

Q: From what you have seen on the film does anything stand out in your mind that you might not have noticed last night?

B: Sure, yes a lot of things, believe me from the sidelines you just can't see what everybody is doing. A lot of things that happen, particularly in the interior line, you just have no vantage point on the play other than the guy that is closest to you.

Q: Any particular players stand out?

B: I think that most all of the players that played, as they usually do, did some good things, did some positive things and there are some plays that I'm sure they wish they could have back that didn't look as good. We will just try to evaluate the total performance, not just one play or one game, but what they have done through the whole preseason and probably more importantly what rate they are at. What is their rate of improvement. Is it starting to level off or is it starting to climb up. Some guys have only been out there a very short time so it is a shorter evaluation on that, but you just have to take whatever you have to evaluate and evaluate it. Some guys you have tons of plays and tons of practices, other guys don't have anything. Other guys you just have a week, or maybe a day of practice and one game. We just have to do the best we can. It is not a perfect world.

Q: You said earlier in camp that it is very difficult for a player to be rushed right into action if he hasn't played in a preseason game, in a case like say Ted Johnson, would he be worked back in gradually and not necessarily start right away and where is he at this point?

B: He's is better yesterday than he was the day before. It's day-to-day. What I said was that is not the ideal situation in terms of putting a player who hasn't been in training camp in the first regular season game. It is not an ideal situation. Sometimes it is still the best alternative depending on what your other options are. I have done it, I've seen it done many times. You would like for the player to be in camp and have those practices and preseason games under his belt, but sometimes it doesn't workout that way. I have seen it go both ways and that wouldn't be my preference, but it still might be our best opportunity to win.



            **Q: How much improvement did J.R. show from last week?**  

B: J.R. was better this week. He had a little bit more opportunity, but he showed a little more feel both in the kicking game and on offense than he did the week before.

Q: You have spread the carries between the running backs pretty evenly in the preseason would you rather see one guy get the bulk of those come Tampa Bay or will it continue the way it has been?

B: Whatever gives us the best balance offensively, if it is one player great. If it is not than that could be effective too.

Q: If you had your preference would you rather it be one guy?

B: Yes, Jim Brown. Give it to him forty times a game that would be my preference.

Q: Is there any leader to this point at that position?

B: I think the players at that position have some different skills. I think they definitely have some positive attributes. It is a question of how they can be blended together for the team, one guy in one situation and another guy in another situation. One guy all the time, one guy all the time getting a break from somebody else, there is a lot of different ways to do it. Again a part of that depends on who the other players, the receivers, the tight ends, the fullbacks, there are other parts to that puzzle that have to be considered. We have tried to give everybody an opportunity in training camp at those positions the tight ends, running backs, fullbacks, receivers, I think the playing time has been fairly evenly distributed and we have seen some different combinations. We saw some different combinations last night and now we will have to try to focus on the ones that we feel will be most productive for us.

Q: At the beginning of camp you said you thought (Kevin) Faulk was more like a Dave Megget than a Joe Morris. Is that still the case or has he shown you more than you thought he might?

B: I still think he is an elusive, quick back that catches the ball well and can return well. Joe Morris carried the ball every down for quite a few years and Kevin may do that, but he didn't do it in preseason and he wasn't asked to do it, so I don't think that you could say that he couldn't do it. That would still remain to be seen.

Q: He did it in college at that level of competition, he ran the ball and returned it and it didn't seem to effect his durability is that a concern for you?

B: It was a concern last year because he didn't make it through the season. This isn't college. I mean I respect what players do in college, but this just isn't college. We have all seen good college players that can't play in this league, plenty of them. I'm not ruling it out, I'm not ruling it out by any means, but I also can't sit here and say he has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he can carry the ball 25 times a game for 16 weeks, I mean he just hasn't done it.

Q: How do you know that he can or can't do it until he has a shot at it?

B: That is the $64,000 question. That is what you have got to decide is how effective will he be if you ask him to do that, how effective would he be doing it versus how effective would he be doing it if handled the ball 10 or 15 times a game. Some players would have the same production on 15 touches as they would on 25, certain type players. I'm not sure I know exactly the answer to that question.

Q: How do you determine that?

B: Again your running back is part of the puzzle, but so are your other positions and what you do in those positions and what is the most effective way to move the ball and play offense is going to determine a little bit what you ask those people to do.

Q: Do you think it would hurt if was playing every down that you wouldn't have that lift that he gives you when he comes in on third down?

B: Those are all considerations. Those are all the kind of things that you want to try. You just want to try to maximize your team's effectiveness and when a player can do two or three different things then you have to decide whether you are better off really trying to get him pretty good at one thing or maybe two things or whether you want to ask him to do everything and then will the performance decline a little bit if you ask him to do that. You go back and forth on those.

Q: Does his situation compare with Troy Brown's?

B: Sure, a special teams player. Both Troy and Kevin have been productive on special teams so what do you do on the returns. Do you return them or not return them. Do you play them on every down, or not play them every down. You know you want to use them, but those are the things that we have tried to see in the different situations during the preseason and I think they are trained to do everything so they have the versatility to use them in different roles. We will have to determine what we think the best situation is and again that might not be the same every week. It might change. It might be different one week than it is the next depending on the team we are playing and what we want to try to do.

Q: What are some of the advantages of having like a running back by committee, or do you find it better in your experience to have just one guy, can you work with three or four guys?

B: If you have one guy that can do everything then it's no problem. If he is good enough and durable enough then that is great.

Q: But as far as the committee thing how do you feel about that?

B: It is not a committee thing, it is a question of using our players effectively. If you ask a player to do something that he really isn't able to do, I mean if you ask a guy to carry the ball 25 times a game and he gets worn down and he can only play three or four games, I don't know how effective that is. Unless those three games are playoff games.

Q: A certain past head coach said he felt held hostage by the center position, do you feel that way about the tight end position? Are you comfortable with those two guys?

B: I don't feel like I'm a hostage if that is what you are asking.

Q: Are you comfortable with those two guys?

B: I would say with any position on our team, any football team, you are always looking to improve it. So, if there was a way to improve the position you would always have to consider it and as a head football coach that is your obligation to the team. If you can improve a position you have to consider whether or not it is going to help the team, then you are under an obligation morally to do that. So I wouldn't rule out any position there. Again, the tight end position, the two players we have there have different skills and I think last night's game was a good example. They both showed some effectiveness doing things they can do. Eric (Bjornson) had a key third down conversion for us. Rod was at the point of attack on a number of plays. They both contributed in the passing game and the running game from time to time. We will try to find a way to be productive offensively and everybody may not have the same numbers in that role when it comes out, the important thing is the ball is in the end zone at the end of the drive. That is what our goal is.

Q: Sometimes you can see guys come up on our waiver wire or that are available for a trade, other times you can actively look for a player at a certain position, is tight end some place that you are actively looking for somebody by having your scouts concentrate on that area?

B: We try to scout them all. At the start of the preseason you look at each roster and identify some guys that you think may be available on their roster and then as they start playing games you reexamine that list. The guys that you think are kind of on the way out on a certain team then you evaluate them and see whether or not you think that they have any possibility to help your team. If you decide that they do then you study them a little more carefully and if you don't then you move on. That is the way it is at every position. We don't know who is going to be on the waiver wire, but every guy that is on the wire we need to have an opinion on and an evaluation on and that is the job of the personnel department and that is what they have been doing. I would say all positions are the same. Teams contact you about guys that they are shopping and guys that they can move off their team because they have extra depth there. You consider those players whatever position they are at.

Q: Based on the fact that you have one tight end who is a better blocker and the other one is a better receiver do you have to be a little more diligent in self-scouting to make sure you are not being predictable?

B: Absolutely, yes.

Q: Going into the season is there one position or one area of this team that concerns you most?

B: The overall depth.

Q: At any particular position?

B: Overall, the overall depth of the team.

Q: Did the doctors give you any indication about when Ted Johnson, though he is better today then he was yesterday, because yesterday it was just a tight hamstring, did he try to come back too soon and re-damage it or aggravate it?

B: In 1996 that is what it was with Vincent (Brisby). It was tight for twelve weeks. Each week you would keep thinking this is the week and it took a long time. Other guys have had hamstring injuries and come back a sooner than that. I really can't tell you when Ted is going to be 100 percent ready to go on the field. He is doing better, he's running better, he is certainly getting closer. Whether that's Tuesday, I'm not sure. I hope it is, but I can't sit here and tell you it is going to be Tuesday, I honestly don't know.

Q: What is an informal schedule? You said Monday is an informal schedule, what is that?

B: The players will be in they are going to have to do certain things, talk to the coaches, work out.

Q: Will you be available?

B: I wasn't planning on it. We are planning on doing a conference schedule on Sunday.

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