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Bill Belichick Press Conference

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BB: I just have a couple of updates on the team. We're kind of winding down the preparations today and going through a review of all the things we've covered this week. We've had quite a bit of time to get ready for this opponent and one of the things that I think we have to be careful of is that we don't over do it in a way. In other words we spent so much time I don't want to get away from the real fundamental things that are important. That's what we're trying to go back and emphasize today those things that we know we need to do in this game. There are a lot of things that could come up, but there are some things that we know are going to come up like [Corey] Dillon running the ball, the zone blitzes, we know we are going to get those things and we need to be ready to handle those. An update on the injury situation, it is basically the same as it was yesterday. I spent some time yesterday at the hearing and I've been instructed by the arbitrator not to make any comment on that so I won't be able to do that.

Q: Outside of the hearing in passing did you get a chance to talk to Terry?

BB: Outside of the hearing I can't comment on anything. I can't make any comments.

Q: Is there anybody specific on the Cincinnati defense that concerns you in terms of a real matchup problem?

BB: I think their linebackers are a real strength to the team. [Steve] Foley plays outside linebacker on regular and rushes on sub. Then getting [Brian] Simmons back in there who is a good coverage linebacker and [Takeo] Spikes is really a good playmaker for them. I think those guys do a good job. They're active, they're tough, they're physical, they rush well. They like to blitz those linebackers inside a lot, both Simmons and Spikes and Foley comes from the edge. I think that is a real strength on their team. I think Cory Hall is a good strong safety. He is kind of in that same mold. He is a real physical player. More athletic than the linebackers, but that type of a player, aggressive, fast, hard-hitting guy that has a lot of range. So I think those people are pretty active and they are usually the guys who are down in the front, the three linebackers and the strong safety, they are usually down in there at the second level. As a group they're pretty hard to get and they do some damage when they get there.

Q: On Richard Seymour, you said you'd get a look at him out at practice yesterday?

BB: I think he will probably be a game time decision. He didn't do too much yesterday. We are still bringing that one along, but that will probably be a game time decision.

Q: Who would go at nose tackle if he can't?

BB: The people we have worked there are Brandon [Mitchell] and of course Jace Sayler. Riddick [Parker] has worked a little bit in there too. It is part of the reason we moved people around a little bit at the end of the preseason so we could make sure that we have depth at both the nose and end position. Really everybody has worked in there except for [Bobby] Hamilton and [Anthony] Pleasant.

Q: Was it encouraging to you at all the fact that you were able to do a good job against Corey Dillon in last year's game?

BB: Last year was last year. We have had experience against him, we know what it's like to play against him as a runner, but he hasn't had all the snaps in preseason and I am sure that he is fresh and I'm sure is going to be ready to go. So it will be a big challenge for us. He's playing at home. He's pretty good.

Q: When [Jon] Kitna is on his game what does he do well?

BB: John is a product of the West Coast system. He has good foot quickness. He makes pretty good decisions with the ball. He's a smart guy. He's just a good solid quarterback, I wouldn't necessarily say spectacular in anyway, but I don't think he has any major weaknesses. He handles himself well in the pocket. He's accurate. He's got a decent arm. He's got good experience and makes good decisions.

Q: Earlier in the week you compared Cincinnati's offense with the number of weapons they have to Minnesota, who will be key on defense to combat that?

BB: I think it is going to take team defense. I think it is going to take a good solid effort all the way around. You have to key in on [Corey] Dillon, but their receivers Darnay Scott and [Peter] Warrick are big play guys. It is not like they are going to catch little three or four yarders, they can go the distance and I wouldn't want to underestimate Chad Johnson at all either. Chad has shown the ability to make big plays in the preseason. I think both their tight ends are very good in the passing game, [Tony] McGee who has been there for quite awhile, eight, nine years whatever it is, he has been there awhile and [Marco] Battaglia also can get down the field. They are threats in the passing game. Again they're not just running the short little intermediate routes they can stretch the field. So the combination of the speed and size of the receivers and their ability to go down the field forces you to spread out a little bit for them and that gives you a problem with Dillon. Then if you pack it all in on Dillon then you don't have much help on the perimeter of the field against their receivers or the tight end running those flag routes and that kind of thing.

Q: Would you say that Ted Johnson is behind the other injured players?

BB: The question when a guy is making progress and coming along towards game time the question is whether you want to put him out there on the field, just say for example, now I am not saying Ted Johnson but just to pick a number, whether you want to put a player out there at 80 percent on Wednesday or wait to hope that he is 95 percent on Sunday. That is kind of the decision you have to make. In Ted's case he is making good progress. He is definitely getting better each day. He's doing a little more each day and I think it will come down to the game time whether he's a 95 percent or 85 percent, whatever the numbers are, but it will be a game time decision.

Q: So he'll make the trip?

BB: It will be a game time decision.

Q: Related to that, Bryan Cox I assume will be picking up most of that slack, is he somebody that is ready to play three downs?

BB: I think Bryan can play in all those situations, whether we will want to play him every play or not, I doubt it. We have a little bit of depth at the linebacker spot and that carries over into some of our sub defenses so we do have a little bit of flexibility there and we may need it.

Q: Have your coverage and return teams improved since a couple of weeks ago when you identified them as a little bit of a weakness?

BB: Sunday at 4:00, that is when we will know. We have certainly worked on them. Part of the coverage is the kicker and kicking, hang time, placement on both punts and kickoffs that's part of it. Part of it is getting down there and being in position to make the play and then part of it is making the tackle. With a guy like [Peter] Warrick you can have a good, you can have good coverage, getting him on the ground is still going to be an issue. He's very quick and elusive. He is a real tough guy to handle even in close quarters, but he's very dangerous in the open field. They are really three steps along the way that we are going to have to perform well in and any one of those could be a problem. We spent plenty of time on it. I think the players are aware of what the threats are and how we want to handle it and we will see Sunday how we do. That's a challenge for us.

Q: How closely have you been following the official's saga and were you disappointed that they turned down the latest offer?

BB: I haven't really spent too much time focusing on that. My attention has been on Cincinnati. Whoever's there to do it I'm sure they will try to do a good job. We have our job to take care of we can't do there's regardless of who it is.

Q: Do you know what the weather forecast is?

BB: I think a little more humid then we have been used to seeing the last few days. We are emphasizing hydration.

Q: How happy are you with this team as it stands right now?

BB: Sunday at 4:00. We will start to find out here when the games come in how we are doing. I think there are some pluses and minuses of some things we have had trouble with. There are some things that we need to work on, some things that have been okay in preseason, but in the end we will just have to see how all that comes together when the live bullets start flying.

Q: I know Sunday at 4:00 is a big day, but compared to a year ago?

BB: I think there are a lot of positives. There are a lot of things that I like about the direction of the team, the work ethic, the character, the attitude, playing together as a team as opposed to individuals wearing the same jerseys running around out there. I think we have gotten good leadership from a lot of players, a lot of players that were here and some new guys that have come in, but I think that has been a real positive too. The team has had some distractions and some things that it has had to deal with in training camp that are maybe a little abnormal, they were definitely abnormal, I think they have tried to work through those in the right way. So there are some things that I have been encouraged with, but it all comes down to performance and production and that's really what we are here for.

Q: Has any one person emerged at the running back spot?

BB: I feel like we have two starters there. I think both Antowain [Smith] and J.R. [Redmond] will get significant time. I think Kevin [Faulk] can provide a good change of pace for us. We have seen him in preseason make some plays in the return game, but I think that Antowain and J.R. both will play and I think to a certain degree they compliment each other and I am sure that we will need both of them.

Q: I know preseason doesn't mean much, but you had a pretty successful preseason, is it possible to ride the momentum of preseason into the season?

BB: It's a clean slate. I am not really sure if anybody has any momentum right now or lack of it. I think it is a clean slate. If you look back at those Buffalo teams in the '90s they never won in the preseason. They played in the Super Bowl it seemed like every year there for four about four or five years and they never won in preseason. Other teams, when I was with the Giants we won in the preseason in the late '80s and we won during the regular season and we had some playoff appearances and so did the Redskins. I don't think that is much of a set formula. I don't really think there is much momentum going into this game. I think everybody is starting from scratch.

Q: What is your gut feeling about this team, are you comfortable with it, are you nervous about it?

BB: I think you're always going to have butterflies going into the season opener, you never know quite how it's going to turn out. We just haven't seen the real bullets start flying yet, preseason is preseason.

Q: You have seen what you have here and you have seen other teams do you feel comfortable about this team's position right now? In your gut what do you think about this team?

BB: I am anxious to see us play the regular season games. I am anxious to see us play those games, because that is when we will really know.

Q: You don't have a feel like, maybe we have got something here?

BB: I said that there are a lot of positive things. There are a lot of positive things that have come through in training camp. I mentioned most of those some character, some veteran leadership, some hard work, team not being distracted by some difficult emotional and other situations that came up the last six weeks or however long it has been. I temper that with what our real job is and that is to go out and win football games and produce on the field. Nobody has had an opportunity to do that in the league yet when it really counts so we will see what happens when we do and the other 30 teams do. That's really how I feel about it.

Q: Is there an area like the offensive line where you don't have a handle yet of how good or bad?

BB: I really think we need to establish that in every area of the game. Once the season starts you have to establish what you are as a team. What you can do and you will probably try to play into those strengths and the things that you see that you are not real good at then you probably should try to stay away from them. Certainly we have plans going into the game on things where we think we can attack Cincinnati and I am sure that they have the same things for us. We will start to find out this week and in coming weeks how those things are going and whether they really are legitimate strengths or whether they are not. That's opening day, that's the opening weeks of the season. Then you build through the year obviously trying to win as many games as you can. That's really what it is about. I remember a couple of days ago, within the last week, it seemed to me like the Red Sox and the Mets were the same number of games out of first place and one team was feeling like they were really slipping away and the other team was feeling like they were really closing in. Two totally different outlooks on the exact same situation, but in the end whoever wins enough games whether you win them early or win them late, start fast and hang on or start slow and catch up or whatever. After 130 something games a couple of teams were really in the same spot in the race and had two totally different outlooks on it. Things can change in a hurry. They can go up and down or back up again or back down again.

Q: Would you pitch Pedro [Martinez] the rest of the way?

BB: You know what I would do, I think I would take a fan poll and wait for those results to come in before I made the decision.

Q: You mentioned that your team has gone through a lot in the preseason one being the loss of Dick Rehbein, how has that adjustment gone on the coaching staff? How much time do you spend game planning on the offensive side of the ball, more than usual?

BB: Charlie [Weis} and I talked about this situation after it happened. There were a lot things going on in the preseason, there wasn't that much game planning, but then there were a lot of other things that we had to take care of in terms of the roster and so forth. I think on a weekly basis we have kind of started to fall into a little bit of a groove this week. So I am going to spend time with the quarterbacks on a daily basis while he does some other things with the team. Charlie certainly spends a majority of the time with them, but I also have spent some time with them and I think that is the way it will continue. To answer your question directly, yes I have spent more time offensively then I did last year or even then I did in training camp, but that was kind of for other reasons in training camp and I think that is probably the way it will go. That is kind of the way it is broken down.

Q: Last week Marc Edwards referred to Ned Burke as the running backs coach, is he?

BB: Ned spends quite a bit of time with the running backs, but Charlie coordinates the overall offense and in a lot of those meetings either the whole team is in there together or the skilled players are in there together, the receivers, the running backs and the tight ends. The quarterbacks may or may not be depending on what is being covered and then Charlie runs those meetings. When it breaks into just the positions then usually Charlie goes with the quarterbacks and Ned goes with the running backs to take care of some of the individual points that you want to cover just with that group.

Q: In this game, will you call the plays?

BB: No, Charlie will call them

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