Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday, August 31, 2010.
BB: We're winding down here in preseason. [This is] kind of the last preseason practice. We're looking forward to going down to New York and having a good experience here with the Giants [and] the new stadium and let it roll.
Q: How many practices have you had since camp started?
BB: I think it's like 38, something like that. Thirty seven.
Q: Is that right on schedule the way you mapped it out?
BB: Yeah, it's about right. It's not the 50-something we would have back in the 80s, but it's about what it's been.
Q: By the end of the year, you'll have about 200 practices?
BB: It would be nice to have 200. I think the top end would be about 120.
Q: Do you see how I set the bar high at 200?
BB: Well, we have certain restrictions on how many days we can practice and all of that.
Q: You've got question marks and unknowns every year, but are there more questions this year going in than there have been in the past?
BB: I don't know. I couldn't really rank one year with another or two years ago. [You] just deal with whatever you have to deal with the particular year and do the best you can with it.
Q: Any news on the five guys you have to cut today?
BB: No. That will be at 4:00.
Q: So when you mapped it out at the beginning, have you gotten done what you wanted to get done?
BB: We'll find out here in a few weeks where we're at. As far as an installation schedule and things like that, we have a lot of things installed. There are other things to do, but that's the way it always is. But we'll find out once we start the regular season competition. We'll find out where everybody is.
Q: Originally I think you were scheduled to practice in the stadium today?
BB: Yeah, we just decided to go out there. We just need a little more room here [for] kickers...We were going to go in there but just felt we'd be better off to go outside.
Q: Is it going to be weird at all going down to the Meadowlands and the new stadium since you coached there for so long?
BB: That's the NFL. It's that way in Detroit. It's that way in Indianapolis. It's that way in Philadelphia. It's that way in Denver.
Q: Last year in the Houston game you got Brian Hoyer some important snaps. You talked yesterday about how some guys carry experiences over better than others. Is Hoyer the type of guy who has carried it over and used it?
BB: I think Brian is the type of player that has really learned a lot from all of his experiences. Even last year when he was running the plays for the rookies against the other rookies, I think he got a lot out of those sessions. We've talked a lot about that. Even rookie 7-on-7 or rookie team drills, he's gotten a lot of out those drills as well as the game reps and all of the reps last year as the number two, whether it be in practices or scout team. I think he's learned a lot from all those different experiences and you definitely see him performing and doing things that, if you really look at it, you can relate back to something a while ago, a similar situation that came up in a game or a practice or a preseason game or something that he'll learn from - or a look or a read or that kind of thing.
Q: With all the roster stuff that is going to happen in the next week or so, how important is it that you your quarterback is 10 days away from going into the final season of his contract?
BB: Everybody that is out there is under contract.
Q: Tom has never been this far before -
BB: Every player on the field is under contract.
Q: So you wouldn't be concerned about someone being in the last year of his contact, even if it is Tom Brady?
BB: There are a lot of players on our team that are in the last year of their contract. There are a lot of players on every team that are in the last year of their contract. That's not an unprecedented situation.
Q: Is his contract a priority for the team right now?
BB: We're coaching the team. I'm coaching the team. Everybody out there is under contract.
Q: Would you say that Zac Robinson is at a similar level that Brian Hoyer was at?
BB: Brian did things pretty well pretty quickly. I don't know that Zac has had the opportunity that Brian has had. I think that Brian [and] Matt Cassel - those guys set the bars at pretty good level. I think it's hard to compare players' development. Players don't always develop at the same rate and that doesn't mean that the ones that start fast don't fizzle out. It doesn't mean the ones that start slow don't accelerate and become great. You can find plenty of examples of both. I think Brian was a fast starter and I think he caught everybody's eye pretty quickly.
Q: From a roster standpoint, you have a lot of guys whose main role for you is on special teams. How many roster spots do you carve out for those type of guys? Six or 10 or how do you look at that?
BB: I think you look at a player's overall value to your team. Not just his value, but also all the other people that you use to comprise that roster and then put together the most competitive team that you can. Just about everybody has more than one responsibility. Very few guys just do one thing, whether in the kicking game or not, depending on what that role is. Sometimes it can be, for example, offense and defensive linemen, who maybe don't have as big a role in the kicking game, have to play different positions on the line and that type of thing. Almost everybody really has some kind of multiple responsibilities, whether it extends onto special teams or whether it's at different positions on their side of the ball [or] sometimes a combination of both. It's hard really to say one guy just does one thing unless he's a true specialist or there are a few players that do that, but not many. The majority of them don't.
Q: From an evaluation standpoint, how important is the fourth preseason game for guys that are on the bubble?
BB: I think every opportunity to evaluate players is important in the preseason: the games, the practices. The fewer there are, the more important those final ones become. And again, a lot of young players the first time through it [and] the second time through it, they don't quite have the confidence [and] they don't have the full understanding of it. And then as that process builds through multiple practices, multiple games, they become more confident and their play improves, they're more aggressive, [and] they just have a better understanding. You keep going through that process as long as you can. When you had six games, you did it six times. When you have four, you do it four. You just learn a little bit more each time about the player and the evaluation. That's a good thing for young players but it's a good thing for any player. Any game experience is good experience at this time of year for any player. I don't think anybody is ready to play 60 minutes. I don't think anybody has really had all the full situation experiences that you'd want to have - that we'll have later on in the year, hopefully. So the ones you get now are good experiences for all of us and we should all take advantage of them: players, coaches, rookies, veterans, you name it.
Q: For those guys that are on the bubble and are just trying to earn a spot, does it make it harder to evaluate their performance because they're playing against reserves - assuming those are the players that play in the fourth preseason game? Do you take their play and their practices into consideration?
BB: Yeah, we take all the practices and all the games. It's a composite, but again, sometimes the arrow is pointing up [and] sometimes it levels off. You just have to do the best you can to evaluate the situation. It's very unscientific. There is no perfect way to do it. One thing you can't control in preseason games is who is out there. The other team controls that. Is that something you take into consideration? Yeah, absolutely, but it's not anything you have any control over, so you deal with it the best you can.
Q: Along that line, could you pick the 53 today if you had to?
BB: If we had to pick them a month ago, we would have picked them a month ago. But we didn't, so we wouldn't. You certainly have an eye on it, but that's what competition is for - to let it play out. Whoever plays it best, those guys play the most. Those guys get the most opportunity. Guys who don't do as well or who are behind have to show something that indicates they are catching up or they can compete or surpass the players in front of them. That's all up to the players. No coach can do that. The players have to perform and earn their opportunities. Whatever they get, they have to go out there and earn it.
Q: There is a lot of talk about an 18-game season. Vince Wilfork said he is in favor of it but thinks the players should be compensated for more games. What are your thoughts on that?
BB: Right now my thoughts are on the Giants [and] trying to get our team ready for the Giants and the regular season. That's where I'm at right now.
Q: It seems like Jerod Mayo has become the centerpiece of the defense, and he gave a lot of credit to Mike Vrabel and Tedy Bruschi saying that they were very beneficial to him as a rookie. Do you see any traits in him that you saw in those two players and how do you think they helped him?
BB: That's probably a better question for Jerod to answer than me, but I see a lot of positive traits in Jerod. How much of those came from somebody else or didn't come from somebody else or who they came from or whatever, I'm not really sure about that. Jerod is a hardworking player. He spends a lot of time in the film room. He knows his assignments. He understands the total defense and what the whole unit is doing, not just his position. He works hard. He's got a positive attitude. He's a winner. Whatever personal things [there] are at his position, he can put the team's success or the defensive unit's success ahead of those and focus on doing his job and communicate with the different people to get all of them to do theirs. I think that's what a good player, a good leader, a defensive captain type of [player] - I think that's what those guys do; they not only do their job well, but they help their teammates do, collectively, their jobs well. They understand the total concept of the defense and how we can best play as a team on that particular play or in that particular situation. I think Jerod does all of those things in addition to being a good player and a hard worker and being in good condition and being able to do all the things that he has to do at his position that are required of him.
Q: What have been your impressions of Tyrone McKenzie?
BB: I think Tyrone has had a good camp. He missed a lot last year. Really, he missed almost everything last year, but he was involved in the meetings and the installation and he saw a lot of film and watched the team go through game plans and preparations and all of that. So I think he did have, certainly, a head start relative to the rookies this year. Tyrone has done a good job in his assignments, his reactions. Kind of being away from football, I think that is something that a guy like that, somebody who hasn't played in this league, has to either re-gain or gain in the first place, however you want to look at it. I think he has done that. He's involved in a lot of things, defensively, special teams. He has a lot of responsibilities - calling signals and making adjustments and all of those kind of things. So he's got a pretty full plate, but I think he's handled it well. He's a poised kid. He doesn't get rattled. He's got a good focus. He's still got a lot to learn; he's got a long way to go. I would say he's handled all those things pretty well, but there's still a lot of work to do.