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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Thu Apr 15 | 02:00 PM - 11:59 PM

Bill Belichick Press Conference

BB: The personnel move we made this morning, we added Roman [Phifer] to the team. Roman is a…he gives us a little more depth at the linebacker position, particularly the outside spot. I just think he is a good player and it is good to add him to the team. He's got good, a lot of experience. He's a real athletic guy and kind of is the antithesis of Bryan Cox in terms of his playing style, so I feel like that will be a real compliment. They'll really fill different roles for us on the field. You know we are starting to get a few guys trickling back out here. I think we'll be able to add one or two more back by the start of next week. Today was our sixteenth straight practice and I think the players have gone hard. They've worked hard. I think overall the team's in decent condition. And I just felt like they needed a little time off to try to get refreshed, get their legs back under them, get a little rest, and we've got a big week coming up--three practices against the Giants. Three practices first by ourselves and then three practices against the Giants. We all know they are a good football team. They've got some real good players. But the idea really is to work with them; I've talked to Jim [Fassel] a number of times over the last, well really since the owner's meetings in the last couple months. We've talked about practice schedules and scripting things so that we can get things done that we need to get done but against some different faces and a different scheme and a different look and that kind of thing. We are really looking forward to working with the Giants as opposed to it being some kind of on the field war. We'll save that until Friday night. I think this is something that will help our football team along and Jim feels the same way. So that is why we did that. I talked to Andy [Katzenmoyer] this morning and, of course Andy was back out on the field today. I think that this situation is still a little ways from being resolved, but for what we did today, things like that I think he can participate in as far as moving forward into contact in practice and that type of thing. That's still…I think we are a little ways off on that in terms of making a decision on how we are going to handle it and what we are going to do. So as far as being able to run and do some cardiovascular things and staying tuned with what we are doing football-wise, Andy can do that and will do that. But taking it beyond that, we'll just go day by day on that.

Q: Bill, have all the tests been done?

BB: From our end, yes.

Q: Did the results come back OK?

BB: No, I wouldn't say that everything is totally resolved at this point. No, not as far as contact and as I said those aspects of it, but in terms of just conditioning and running and working with the team, that kind of thing, he can do it.

Q: ???

BB: Well I didn't say that. I didn't say that. What I did say is that the tests have been completed and I think the information is in as far as what we can do. You know there are some decisions to be made and we think those will rest with Andy and whatever other people he wants to consult with, be it other family members or whatever it happens to be.

Q: Is one of the options another surgery?

BB: Well I don't know what all the options are, but I think whatever they are Andy will evaluate then and we'll get together and move forward on this in consultation. But it is…you know it is not a team decision, it's partially Andy's decision. A big part of it is Andy's decision. We can make our recommendations, but in the end it will be…he'll have a big input on the decision. So we'll just wait until we get to that point.

Q: Does the fact that he is out here indicate that as far as the team is concerned, that he could play?

BB: He's only out here to do what he can do today. We had no contact or any type of…

Q: But if there is a hint that he can't play then why do that?

BB: Well it just…it hasn't been resolved. And when we get to that point, I don't know. I don't how it is going to turn out. I don't know what exactly is going to happen. There are some decisions that Andy is going to have to make and we'll try to give him some direction and work with him, but in the end it will be his decision.

Q: There is a certain fearlessness that has to be in a linebacker's heart. If that is not in his heart, can he be effective and should he be out on the field?

BB: I am not sure that that is the issue. I mean that is hypothetical. I don't know whether that is in his mind or not. You'd have to ask him that question, but I don't think that is really the issue.

Q: You mentioned Phifer's playing style being the anti-Cox, can you explain that a little?

BB: Well Roman has made his career as a coverage linebacker. He is very athletic. He's you know borderline, through his career he has bordered on defensive back responsibilities. Whereas Bryan has been more I would say of a linebacker to a defensive lineman, I would say Roman is more of a linebacker to a defensive back. You could use it in those terms.

Q: Is he a guy you had interest in throughout the off-season and just didn't get it done until now?

BB: We've talked to Roman periodically, but we had him in for a physical and there were still some things to be worked out about maybe three weeks ago. And things ended up getting resolved this week. So that's the best time frame really I could give you.

Q: Can you assume on cases where it does happen this late that it is a negotiating situation, where in August the player doesn't have a job?

BB: I think that is very often the case. In this case I don't think that was any part of it. I think it was much more of the overall situation both from our end and from Roman's end. This was a lot more about working things out, off the field and in some non-football logistics and the timing of it, then it was financial negotiations and that type of thing. That really was never an issue in the discussions; it was more of the fit. Roman's a west coast guy. He went to UCLA. He played for the Rams and has spent a lot of time on the west coast and he is near the end of his career. I am not saying he is at the end, but he is a lot closer to the end of it then he is to the beginning. He's been in the league ten years and so there are a lot of other considerations that he had and also that we had in terms of our overall defensive scheme and what our fit for him would be. And those are the kinds of things that go worked out; it really was never a financial issue.

Q: Does that also mean you had to kind of figure out who you could cut first?

BB: No. Not so much who we were going to cut, because I think that in all honesty Roman is better than quite a few players we have on this team right now. I don't think he is our 86th player or 85th player. I think he is a little better than that. No, but more to do with what things we expected of Roman and what things Roman was looking for in his end of it and how we were able to meet on those. And I don't really foresee any problem, I've been with Roman and coached him and he's a good guy to coach, a real good person. He's got high character and it was just a matter of working it out. It was never any confrontation or highly negotiated.

Q: After looking at the tape, did anything strike you from last nights' scrimmage that you didn't realize live?

BB: I would say just some little things and that is what we did out here today. We ran about thirty plays to try to correct some little things. Not making the right call on a protection or not making the right defensive adjustment or not seeing a play quickly enough and try to let them see it again. But any time you look at the film you see more little things both positively and negatively. I thought overall…really I thought overall the offensive line did a pretty good job in that scrimmage. They didn't have many mental breakdowns or missed assignments and got beat a few times physically, but overall not bad considering the way it was kind of patched together.

Q: How is the running back situation shaping up after that first real contact in the scrimmage?

BB: Competitive, very competitive. All four of those guys that are out there can do some things real well. They are different kinds of packages. They have different styles, but they are all competitive. They've all been making plays consistently in practice and it is shaping up as a very competitive position. It depends a little bit on what you are looking for, but overall they all have I think a pretty solid package.

Q: Bill, would you comment on a couple of free-agents, your impressions of them so far? Mike Vrabel and Torrance Small.

BB: You know Torrance had a pretty good night last night. He caught several balls. He made some plays on third down and in sub-situations as an inside receiver, which is where we felt like his strengths would be. Mike's had a real good camp. Mike's been rushing for us in sub-situations and playing outside in regular downs. He's been very, very steady and consistent. Both those guys are smart. They are good team players. They understand the team concept and they work very well within a…neither one of them has made very many mistakes at all. They are pretty close to being error-free. I think they've both had solid camps to this point.

Q: Do you think that Torrance, a big inside receiver, is something that you missed last season?

BB: Well I think we missed production from the inside receivers on the field, regardless of who they were. Whether they were tight ends or backs or third receivers or whatever the case might be other than when Troy [Brown] was inside. So if he can fulfill that for us I think that would be great. I know our quarterback will throw it to those guys if they are open. So that is a good outlet for them to have and a good way for us to balance-off the offense.

Q: Bill, are any of your guys going to the Korey Stringer funeral on Monday?

BB: I haven't talked to anybody about it, no.

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