Official website of the New England Patriots

replay
Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Fri Apr 09 - 12:00 AM | Sun Apr 11 - 11:59 PM

Bill Belichick Press Conference

BB: We made a couple of personnel moves over the weekend. We released Giradie Mercer and Jeff Paulk today. As we're coming into this third preseason game, we've got to make some decisions about who we can play in the game and who we can give reps to in practice and that kind of thing. Our numbers are still kind of high, so some people are getting squeezed out, that's just unfortunately the way it has to be. We're at 65 after the game and we're pretty far above that right now. We'll have to make a few decisions here in this upcoming week, but if we can make a couple of them now, ahead of time, then that just lightens the load a little bit in the future. The big thing for me really is just getting the team adjusted back to Foxboro, getting into a regular season routine, which means just changing the practice schedule a little bit, changing the meeting times, changing the emphasis towards game planning and away from the training camp regimen of just kind of working on our stuff, getting our plays down, doing the things that we needed to do to build a good solid base. Now we have to try to fine tune it a little bit, so that's where we're at. We went out and had a walkthrough yesterday. We're going out in just helmets today. I want to give the team a little opportunity to get their legs back. We're in for a pretty long haul here coming up, with no bye week or anything like that in sight. We need to be ready to go, but still a little bit well-rested for the marathon of the season. So some of the injured guys coming back, we'll try to get them some work even on a walkthrough, less than full-speed tempo and try to make a decision on them tomorrow on how much they can do in padded practices and what their availability will be for the Tampa game, so we'll probably hold off on some of those injury situations until we can give them one more day of rest and hopefully try to string some of these days together and that could help clear it up. The two players that got injured in the Carolina game, Ray Hill and Adam Davis, I don't think either one of them will be available for Tampa. Ray's injury looks like it will be a little more serious. We should know some more details on that in a few days.

Q: What are your options and what are your plans for the shotgun?

BB: Well, if we can show that we can use it, we'll use it. I think that there are certain advantages to it, but if the snap is a problem it's not worth it. So we'll have to make a decision as to whether we feel like the snap is too much of a problem that we can't be in it, or feel that it's okay and we're making some progress there. But based on where it is right now, it just looks like the snap is going to be too much of a problem for us to effectively operate everything else.

Q: Is [Mike] Compton still an option there?

BB: Well, it's not an option right now, because Mike's not out there. Maybe it's an option down the road when we get Mike out there, but if we were playing tomorrow, it wouldn't be an option.

Q: Is Damien [Woody]'s level of play at that position so good that it's not worth moving him because of his snapping problem?

BB: That's a consideration. It's a possibility.

Q: How much longer can [Andy] Katzenmoyer's situation go on?

BB: Not much longer. I don't have anything today, but not much longer.

Q: Can you put him on injured reserve?

BB: I'm not even sure what the options are right now. But I think that pretty soon we need to get it resolved to the point where we know definitively what our options are. There are a lot of things that we could toss around right now, but I'm not even sure how realistic some of those things are.

Q: Same deal with Edwards?

BB: No, it's different. It's the same but different.

Q: How so?

BB: In Robert's case, it's more clear what the physical situation is, whereas in Andy's case, I don't think that that's totally clear. But in both cases, the sand in the hourglass is dropping out, and you can't put it back in. They're running out of time.

Q: Would they have to play this week?

BB: I don't know, but they can't go too much longer.

Q: It's obvious Robert Edwards wants to play. But does Andy Katzenmoyer 100 percent want to play football?

BB: I'm not a psychologist or a psychiatrist, so I don't know exactly what everybody else thinks. I think you'd have to ask somebody else what they're thinking. I don't think I can speak for what's in somebody else's mind.

Q: Is Katzenmoyer medically cleared to play?

BB: I don't know.

Q: Is he medically cleared to play by the Patriots doctors?

BB: Andy's situation hasn't been resolved, so until it gets resolved, he's not going to play. And it's definitely not resolved, so…

Q: Have you given Andy a deadline?

BB: No, I don't think anybody's trying to hold this up. Everybody wants to have this resolved. The Patriots, Andy, the doctors, everybody. And I think everybody's trying to get it resolved, and hopefully, it'll be done in the near future.

Q: But at the same time, there must come a point when you have to move on.

BB: Absolutely. There's going to be a point in time when something's going to have to happen, and that point isn't very far away. But it's not right now, either. But it's not very far away.

Q: If you were on the highway, could you see that exit from there?

BB: [Chuckles] It depends on how many hills there are between the car and the exit. You might be able to. There's not much left here. We're under two weeks to the final cut-down and the start of regular season preparation.

Q: Do you expect to see one or either at practice today or this week?

BB: Not today. This week, I really don't know.

Q: Do you feel confidence building after two wins in a row?

BB: I think there's some confidence. Any time you go out and perform well in game conditions, that raises the confidence level a little bit. It's got to be moderated though, to understand what the conditions are. It hasn't been perfect on defense. We've had a few problems. Some of them have gotten exposed and some of them haven't. It's kind of like the story about a guy who doesn't file his tax returns. Until they audit you, everything's great. As soon as they audit you, then you have a problem. Sometimes it's like that on the football field, too. You can get away with some things that don't show up, and then those things start showing up where there's a problem. Then it looks like 'Oh, where did this problem come from' but sometimes it's been there all along. It hasn't been perfect. I don't think it's been bad, don't get me wrong, there are a lot of positive things to build on, but there are still some things that we need to iron out and be a little more precise on. The big message I tried to give the team yesterday (and we'll approach it this way for the next two weeks) is that if the team will continue to work hard and approach their job and this team the way that they have, I think we'll be alright. I think we'll continue to make progress and I think we'll be okay. If they don't, then I think we'll probably have our share of problems. I think that the team has had a good approach to training camp. I think they overcame some difficult situations and some distracting situations in training camp and they've remained focused and diligent and they've worked hard and they've worked as a team. It's not just a bunch of individuals running around out there wearing the same uniform. But, I don't think we're there yet and they need to continue to take that same approach. Sometimes when a team changes its normal daily routine (for example, moving out of training camp and moving back into the stadium, into a regular season situation) sometimes there's a temptation or an opportunity for things not to be the same as they've been. I think that's what we need to guard against. That's what I need to guard against happening to this team. if they continue to work hard and they continue to take a good approach to the game, like they've been doing, they'll continue to make progress and we'll get better as a football team. That's what we need to do, but we're not there yet.

Q: How has the approach been different from last year?

BB: Well, the players, from day one, are in better condition. They have a better understanding of the system. I think it's a harder-working group overall. I think they're more dedicated to each other. It's more of a team than it was last year, so there are a lot of positive signs. But that stuff doesn't just happen, just parachute down in Foxboro. A football team just doesn't parachute down and show up. It's a long building process that starts in the offseason in the weight room, and in the conditioning and the spring camps and the mini camps and in training camp and in two-a-days. There's a lot of times when those players walk out on the field when they don't really feel like practicing or they don't really feel like meeting, when they're sore, they're tired and they certainly feel less than 100 percent. But you fight through it and you keep going. And that's when you start to build something and I think they've done that. But I certainly don't think that the process is complete.

Q: You've said that you will keep the best 53 players. Are you likely to keep four running backs?

BB: That's a good question. I think that there are more possibilities this year, generally, from what I've seen in the past. I think that the depth has gone from a major weakness on the team to a major strength. I see competition between players 40 and 60, or maybe 65. I think that a strong case can be made for a lot of players to be on this roster or to be in this league. Some of it depends on what time frame you're looking at. Who's the better player now? Who will be the better player in midseason? Who will be the better player next year? There's some of that. But there's also good, strong, legitimate competition, where one player has there strengths, another player has those strengths. Whichever guy you keep, you're going to have something, but you lose a guy who clearly brings something to the table. Depending on how much those strengths mean to you, how important they are, that will determine whether the player plays for you or plays for somebody else or doesn't play at all, but it doesn't mean he doesn't have any. Sometimes you just release players and say, 'They're not good enough. They're not going to be able to play in this league.' Now it's a much more competitive situation. I think there are a lot of players who have played in the league and who will play in the league and they can't all be on our team. We just don't have enough spots.

Q: With Katzenmoyer, are you refusing to put him on the field, is he refusing to practice, or is it a third party?

BB: The reason he's not practicing is because, medically, I don't think anybody's comfortable with him practicing right now – practicing with contact. We've seen him run back and forth across the field, we've seen him do non-contact drills and all of that, but right now, I don't think anybody is 100 percent comfortable with him in full-speed contact. But that could change in a matter of hours. It's not a situation where we're waiting for an injury to heal. A guy pulls a muscle and can't run, in a certain period of time, the muscle heals and he can walk, then he can jog, then he can run, then he can play. So there's a time frame. This is a situation where Andy and the Patriots and everybody involved – his family, everybody – are trying to determine exactly what it is, what he can do, what he can't do, what's a problem, what isn't a problem, and that's really what this is about. I'm not trying to give you the runaround or dodge you or anything else. I legitimately don't know. But it's not like we're talking about a healing process that's going on. That would be a lit easier to identify and put a time frame on.

Q: Because it's his neck, that's a more serious situation.

BB: Could be. Could be. I don't think that's what we're talking about here, though, but I'm not a neck doctor.

Q: So your medical people checked him out since his operation?

BB: We've examined him, yes.

Q: And?

BB: A final determination has not been arrived at. It's obviously more of a complex issue. It's not something that's cut-and-dried. I don't know enough medically to understand what it is, let alone explain to anybody else exactly what it is. But people have evaluated it, they've done tests, they've done what they can do, whatever that is, and at some point, once all the returns come in, we're going to have to count the votes and do something.

Q: Does it come down to being Andy's decision at the end of this?

BB: Oh, he'll be a part of it.

Q: But it's not solely his decision.

BB: Well, I don't even know what we're talking about. I don't know what the options are. I don't know what the decision is. So he'll certainly be a part of the decision, because he's the one that's playing. Once we know what the options are, if the club has to make [a decision], if I have to make one, then we'll make one. But I don't know what those [options] are yet.

Q: We used to have a coach here named Eddie Khayat, who said that if a guy thinks he's hurt, he's hurt. Do you believe that?

BB: I understand what Eddie's saying, sure. Guys like Lawrence Taylor , he was never hurt. Until he tore his Achilles, or whatever it was, I wasn't there when that happened, but in the 10 years I coached him from 81-90, he was never hurt. Even when he was hurt, he was never hurt. He just didn't acknowledge it. I don't care what it was. And I know there were times when he was hurt. But he never acknowledged it. There are other players who don't have that approach. We have guys on our team who I'm sure have been hurt. But they never acknowledge it. They just keep going and you don't know whether they're hurt or not hurt because they're always the same every day, they're always out there and if something's bothering them, they just play through it. But then there are other situations that are different from that. No matter how tough Lawrence Taylor was, when he tore his Achilles, he tore his Achilles and he missed the rest of the year. There's a point there for everybody. We're all mortal.

Q: You said it's Andy's decision because he's the one playing. But he's not playing right now, so does it become more of the team's decision or does the team have more input because he's not playing right now?

BB: Well, right now, there's no decision for us to make. We're under our 80-man roster limit and there really isn't anything we have to do. We can stay where we are for right now. But at some point, that's going to change and at some point, the team is going to have to make a decision based on what Andy's situation is and what his availability may or may not be for the season and beyond. But that point hasn't come yet, but it's not far off.

Q: Given the time he's missed, how effective would he be if he came back today?

BB: I don't know. That's a good question. The best way I can answer that would be to put him out there and see how he looked. Andy's missed a good deal of time. I'd say from the third preseason game last year on, he's only probably been 100 percent healthy maybe for three or four weeks in there. I'm talking about 'football healthy' not 'run around the track healthy.' In terms of 'football healthy' it's only been a few weeks. Time's starting to add up.

Q: How big of an obstacle will it be to replace Katzenmoyer?

BB: Well, the only two players who have played in Andy's absence, one has been Bryan [Cox] playing inside linebacker and the other one has been Roman [Phifer] who's worked with [Tedy] Bruschi and some of our off-the-line linebacker sub defenses. Those are the two spots where Andy played for us last year, when he played.

Q: What have they done to replace him?

BB: I think that overall, the team's performance in those areas has been pretty solid. Bryan's been working with Ted [Johnson] and with Tedy Bruschi inside. We've been rotating them the last couple of preseason games and that seems to be going pretty good. It's similar to what we did last year with Andy without Bryan where Ted, Tedy and Andy kind of rotated in those three spots at the beginning of last year when Ted Johnson was coming back and before Andy went out. On the third down defenses, last year we used Bruschi and Katzenmoyer to do that and this year it's been Bruschi and Phifer who have been doing that along with Rob Holmberg. So that's kind of where that slack has been taken up.

Q: Do you feel confident that his position is replaced and you can put him on injured reserve for the season and say come back next year?

BB: No, I wouldn't say that.

Q: Would you look at a guy like Gabe Northern who's a free agent?

BB: This is a time of year when a lot of players come across the waiver wire and there's going to be more coming soon. We're ready for them. It's like the cattle crossing. They'll all be coming and we'll look at all of them. We will have information on every single guy that's in the league and whoever gets released, we'll follow that up with either our scouts' evaluations from preseason games, or whatever their last exposure to them was. We try to evaluate each guy. We talk about it every night.

Q: Were you satisfied with the way he played last year?

BB: Well, that doesn't really make any difference. It's not about last year. It's about moving forward. It's about where Andy is and where he'll be in the future. That's really what it comes down to and that's what we can't answer. It doesn't really matter what anybody did last year.

Q: But you have to be able to project what he's going to be if he comes back.

BB: Well, when he played last year, he played in the first three preseason games, then he was in a rotation with Bruschi and Johnson inside. I thought that was going along fine. It was a good rotation. It was similar to what we have now with Bryan. And he was also splitting some sub duties. We weren't unhappy with the way that was going, but that was last year. What it will be this year, I don't know. And it will be harder to evaluate this year. I wish I could answer the question better. I'm frustrated myself, not just with you, but I'm frustrated myself not to have a more definitive response, but that's all I've got.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.
Advertising