Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Monday, September 6, 2010.
BB: It's been a busy couple days here with a lot of roster things, personnel transactions - not only ours, but just keeping up with everything else that's going on, or trying to. Then at the same time, [we're] getting ready for Cincinnati. That's a team that we first started with in the offseason and worked on through the preseason. They had the five preseason games, so we've kind of been keeping up with them each week. They're a good football team: well-coached, a lot of good players, good scheme. They're aggressive and do a lot of things well and they had a real good season last year in the regular season. They won their division - a good division, tough division. I have a lot of respect for them and what they do. We have a lot of work to do. It's a long week and we'll get started on it today. We did a little bit of an introduction there yesterday, but basically we will get started on it today and just try to pull everything together here as we go through the week. There's always a lot to do in the first game. You have a lot of information going all the way back to the last times we've played each other and last year and preseason and a lot of 'ifs' and 'maybes' and 'what ifs' and all those kinds of things. But that's what opening day is all about: a lot of questions and then on Sunday there will be some answers. We just have to have a good week of preparation and be ready to go here against a good football team.
Q: Was the trade for Jarrad Page related to Brandon McGowan going on IR? Does he do some of the same kinds of things McGowan can?
BB: We'll see. We'll see. We haven't had Page, but he's played in the league. We've played against him. He's been a productive player and we'll see exactly how he fits in. I'm glad we got him. I think he will be a good addition to the group. I think he will help us. Looks like he's been able to do some different things in the past and we'll see how all that fits in with us.
Q: I'm sure you've had to make a lot of tough cuts in your career, but were Sam Aiken, Eric Alexander and Pierre Woods some of your hardest, given how hard they work?
BB: Sure. Yeah, they were tough. I mean, they're all tough, but yeah, those guys work hard. They are character guys. They played a lot of good football for us.
Q: Can you talk about the decision to cut ties with Derrick Burgess at this point?
BB: We had to reduce our roster and we kept the players that we felt were the best players for our team going forward. That's pretty much what it comes down to. Derrick came in and he worked hard. He got off to a late start this year, but he came in and really worked hard. We just went with different players.
Q: Was the year off last year for Tyrone McKenzie too much for him to overcome this year or were there different reasons for that cut?
BB: No, we just traded for Tracy White and that's really where that roster spot came from, along with the claiming of the tackle, [Steve] Maneri.
Q: Is Maneri a tackle full time? I know he played tight end.
BB: He was a tight end and he was converted to tackle.
Q: Does this move with Burgess and having Jermaine Cunningham mean you're comfortable with Marques Murrell playing outside linebacker? And can you talk about Cunningham a little bit going forward now that Burgess is gone?
BB: We'll just see how it goes for that whole group - Jerod [Mayo], Marques, Jermaine, Tully [Banta-Cain]. I think those players all do some of the same things. They also do some different things. There are a lot of factors to take into consideration there: all three downs on defense, which can have some variety to them, and the kicking game. When you look at all four downs and the players that play at those positions, they contribute in different ways. That's kind of the whole decision at that position: how to keep the right players, the best players, the best fit players that can help the team the most. Again, I think those players have different skills but they also have to do some of the same things, so it's a combination of that kind of conversation or decision on the roster, and then also as it relates to their ability to play on special teams and contribute on special teams.
Q: Does Logan Mankins' situation change at all now that the regular season beings?
BB: I'm going to coach the players that are here and we'll talk about the ones that are here.
Q: If he were to show up - and I assume he still can because the tender is out there - do you think that would be disruptive or would he be welcomed back in as a member of the team?
BB: Right now I am getting ready for the Bengals with the players that are on our roster.
Q: Do you ever consider doing something like Rex Ryan did going down to meet with Darrelle Revis?
BB: I'm really not familiar with all that. I don't really know what everybody else does. I'm just going to coach the team and do the best I can for our team here. That's what I'll do.
Q: You guys obviously played the Bengals last year. Does any of that carry over at all? Do you learn anything from preparing to play them last year?
BB: There're still some of the same matchups and there is some carry over with the players that played in that game or part of the game, both on their side or our side. We definitely look at that game. We've see all the games. But that has us against them to a certain degree with certain players. I don't think it's necessarily a great barometer because of the timing of the game and the number of people that played and so forth, but it's an interesting game to watch.
Q: What is a week like this like, after having a weekend with so many player cuts, to now have the guys you have getting ready for a regular season game? Do you get everything out of the way Sunday and Monday in terms of emotions?
BB: Yes, you kind of have to. It's always a tough time. It's tough to release whatever it is - 22 or more players, depending on how many you bring in in addition to that. Whatever the transactions are to take those players off your roster, that's hard on the coaches. It's hard on the players. It's hard on everybody. Every team goes through the same thing, so you have to get past that and move on. We all know that's going to happen. We all know there is a date for rosters to be reduced. It has to be complied with by every team. Everybody is in the same boat on that. It doesn't make it any easier, but that's just the way it is. And then you put that behind you and you move one. Again, part of the difficulty in the preparation of opening day is not only the unsettling of your own roster but the unsettling of your opponent's roster. They're doing the same thing we're doing and I'm sure they're trying to look at our new moves and figure out who's going to go where and who's going to do what and we're trying to do the same thing with them. Guys that have played in preseason and now aren't playing, how is all of that going to work? That's part of the preparation, too, and you really don't know how that is going to go until Sunday or today or even maybe going forward. There could still be things happening later on in the week. I'm sure there will be players signed off practice squads and maybe even from other places, I don't know, as the week goes on depending on availability and injuries and so forth. We'll see that throughout the league. That's part of the whole mix of trying to get past your roster and your movement into the opponent and also not only their schemes, but their players and their personnel, too. It's a busy time. There are a lot of unanswered questions. There is a lot of guesswork. You prepare, do the best that you can, and you have to be ready to adjust on Sunday. I'm sure there will be some things that we haven't seen or players line up in spots that we haven't seen them in before or we've got two or three guys there and [we're] not sure which one it is - that kind of thing. We'll have to see how it goes. It's no different for us or anybody else, but it is more uncertainty than after that first regular season game when you can start to see how the cards are being played.
Q: When you guys released Shawn Crable you left the door open saying that if he was healthy he might be back. So now that he's on the practice squad is it safe to assume he is healthy?
BB: Sure, yeah. We put him out there. He had to pass a physical and just normal procedures, so we'll practice him. He really didn't get a chance to do much here in training camp, but hopefully he'll have an opportunity to do that on the practice squad.
Q: What makes some guys more likely to make the practice squad? What do you take into account?
BB: That's another - I don't know if I can give you a straight answer on that, but a lot of things that you consider are one: the depth of your team. Who do you need? Where could you use extra players? The quality of those players; how close one of those players might be to actually playing for you versus being able to [practice]. Being able to practice is one thing; being able to actually be elevated from the practice squad to the 45-man roster or 53-man roster - whichever one it is - that sometimes is another thing, so you take that into consideration. You have players who are, in some cases, developing. So even though you release the player, you don't know exactly what his ceiling is. So if you think it's high enough, even though he may be further behind other players that you might consider for the practice squad, if you think that player might be able to overtake those guys eventually, that could be another consideration. It's kind of all of those combined. You're trying to improve your roster. You're trying to look at players that can help you, but at the same time, you have to look at the depth of your team. The best thing to prepare for a game is to have quality practices. So if you have good quality practices out there, that certainly is correlated towards better performance on Sunday. So you're trying to balance that relative to your depth and what you need from a practice standpoint
Q: What's the upside you see to Shawn Crable?
BB: Shawn really hasn't had a whole lot of opportunity to play, even though he's been here. As he gets a little more experience and plays more then we'll see how he does.
Q: Can you talk about the two undrafted guys that you kept - Dane Fletcher and Kyle Love?
BB: I think both players showed up early and were able to sustain a pretty good level of performance from early on, even in the spring, to the early part of training camp. They showed pretty early that they could compete and they were able to sustain that. Those are two positions that are hard to find and when you find guys that can do that, especially when they can make that transition relatively quickly... Especially in Dane's case - a guy that played defensive end [and] defensive tackle in college - to be on his feet playing in the kicking game, he's done a pretty good job making that transition. I think he should be able to continue to improve as long as he works hard and does the right things to improve himself as a player. But he's come a long way in a short period of time, so hopefully that will continue.