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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript 8/23

Q: Do you anticipate having Tom Brady back at practice today?

BB: [Yes].

Q: Was Donald Browns release today just a matter of him not being able to get out on the field due to injury?

BB: Yeah, he hasn't been available for a while. Yeah, it's unfortunate. He worked hard; he's a really good kid. We just never really got the chance to see him.

Q: How much has D.J. Fosters injury set him back and do you anticipate him being able to begin to catch up now?

BB: Possibly, yeah. He practiced yesterday so maybe he'll do a little more today. Hopefully he can keep going forward. We'll just have to see. I hope so.

Q: Is figuring out what you have with a player that has been injured and missed time when you are trying to trim down the roster in the coming weeks one of the more difficult aspects of the preseason?

BB: Absolutely. You don't have anything to go on. Yeah, that's hard.

Q: How much do you weigh the fact that a guy like D.J. Foster is young and may have more upside but you haven't seen much of him versus someone like Donald Brown?

BB: Well, I mean Donald has played in the league. You can actually see him play. You can't see D.J. Foster play in this league. You have Arizona State film but that's all you have. And some of the spring work that he did which is obviously encouraging. We still have him, but there's just no body of work. Donald Brown, you can see Donald Brown or E.J. Biggers, you can see those guys play. Players like D.J., it's hard. You don't have much to go on. But maybe he'll be able to do more. We'll get an evaluation of him soon, hopefully.

Q: How much of a balancing act is it to make sure you get enough reps for each guy in these final preseason games before cutting the roster size down?

BB: Well, the whole thing is really a balancing act between getting your team ready and evaluating players. Of course it's always good when you can evaluate – especially by this third preseason game, fourth preseason game – evaluate players against known players. It's one thing to play them in the fourth quarter against other players who don't really have much of a track record in the NFL, whereas if you put them in at other points of the game you'd be able to see them against a guy that you have a lot better idea of what their skills are and how a young player would matchup on that. But you have to get your team ready, so there's definitely a balance between that. We're just not looking at people; we're trying to get ready to play football.

Q: How much of a piece of the pie is looking at players outside of the organization?

BB: Well, there is a lot of player movement at this time of year. We all know that. There is going to be a ton, more than any other time during the calendar year, from Tuesday to Sunday, so within that five, six, seven day period and the days surrounding it I'm sure there will be a lot of activity. Let's call it in that 10-day period, that'll probably be 90 percent of the transactions the entire year other than the draft. So yeah, it is busy. We talk about it on a regular basis, try to keep up with it. Between the preseason game, this game, the Giants game, the Arizona game, even the Miami game – that's a new staff – roster decisions, other team's personnel, conversations, however you want to characterize that, the wheel is spinning pretty fast this time of year for the coaching staff and for the personnel department. It's just that time of year.

Q: What has allowed Joe Thuney to step in right away and earn the snaps that he has received?

BB: Joe has done a good job with what we've given him. There was a point where we felt comfortable making that, I'd say temporary move, it wasn't permanent. But he has handled it well, so I think he's certainly moving towards being able to lock something down at some point. I don't think we're there yet, but I think he is certainly gaining on it. He has had a good preseason; had a good spring.

Q: You've said you want to get Jimmy Garoppolo the most reps to get ready for the season.

BB: I don't think I said that.

Q: You said you wanted to get him more reps to at least have him ready.

BB: I said the priority was to get Jimmy [Garoppolo] ready. I don't think I said anything about reps.

Q: Correct, you said the priority was Jimmy Garoppolo.

BB: That's correct.

Q: Are you more apt to have Tom Brady play this week against Carolina?

BB: Nothing has changed. All three quarterbacks are extremely important. Jimmy [Garoppolo]'s preparation for the Arizona opener is the most important. Nothing has changed and nothing is going to change. That's the way it is going to be.

Q: How much are you already looking at Arizona for the season opener?

BB: We definitely have an eye on them. We'll tighten the focus going forward, but we're certainly aware that is where we're headed on opening day. So, we've got to look at our preparation relative to that, relative to Miami, Houston. I don't think we want to get into a situation early in the season where we're knowingly doing something or dealing with something on a high-percentage basis that we haven't even talked about up until that point. Things come up that we want to make sure we at least get a little bit of a head start, or give the players an awareness on, [then] we could do that.

Q: How difficult is it this time of year when trying to decide whether or not to keep a guy you may want to work with in the future but is being blocked on the depth chart while also worrying that if you cut him he could be picked up somewhere else?

BB: That's the 64,000 dollar question. That's what it is. It's been like that since the day I got into this league. From all of the personnel meetings I've ever been in it's a [matter of] a player who's more experienced [and] more ready to help the team now, versus a player that's not as ready now but at some point you think the pendulum will swing in his favor. Will you do that? Can you do that? What are the consequences of making that move? What are the consequences of not making that move? How likely, as you said, is it that you could keep both players in some capacity? That's what it's about, trying to balance now with later. We're going to field a team in November, we're going to field a team next year, we're going to field a team in 2018. Not that we're getting too far ahead of ourselves, but we're going to be in business in those years, so we have to sort of have an eye on those moving forward and a lot of the other factors that go into that. Those are all tough decisions. They're all things that you really have to think about. It's no different than acquiring – well it's different – but it's the same thing as acquiring a player. So, if you acquire a player who are you acquiring – a young player for an older player, an older player for a younger player, help now versus help later, development versus known performance – and so forth. They're all interrelated but it really gets back to the same key points. When its close it's tough. If it's not close then it's not really a tough decision. It's a relatively easy decision, but the ones that are close, some people in the room want to have one opinion, other people have another opinion. You kind of have a split camp there and both sides' arguments are good arguments. It's kind of your perspective. Is it today or is it tomorrow? I'm sure every team in the league is having a lot of those discussions about eight, 10 players; five and five, whatever it is, four and four, but that kind of thing.

Q: What have you seen thus far from Kamu Grugier-Hill both defensively and in the kicking game?

BB: You know, a lot of improvement. He, again, comes from a smaller program. He really played linebacker there. His role here has been more towards sub-linebacker if you will and the kicking game, so it's different than what he did in college. But he's a smart kid, he's athletic, he has got good work ethic, he has been a very dependable player for us on a daily basis, coming in [and] knowing what to do, being prepared, working hard to do it, correcting his mistakes, moving on to the next day, all of those kinds of things that are good qualities to have and he's making a lot of progress. We'll see where it goes, but there are definitely some new things for him. I think he has handled them fairly well. There have been mistakes but they get corrected and we move on, so that's part of the process. We know that's going to happen.

Q: How much consideration do you put into releasing a guy early who may not earn a spot on your roster so that he can try to catch on with another team?

BB: Well, I mean, I don't know. [We do] what is best for the team. If you need somebody to play then that's good for the team but it's also good for the player. Even if he's not going to make the roster it gives him an opportunity to play and the other 31 teams to see him and it gives him exposure. That's probably better than him being released and not playing and nobody sees him play. It's tough. That's a tough one. Look, to me every player that is here is competing and they're competing for us, but in reality they may be competing for a spot on another team's roster, too. Everybody is being scouted, we're scouting everybody, I'm sure everybody is scouting us. It's the player's opportunity to play and I think that's really how the players try to look at it. Veteran players encourage younger players like 'Maybe you'll be on the team, maybe you'll be on the practice squad, but if you go out there and do well then somebody else will see you.' Rob Ninkovich is a great example of that. I know he has talked to the team about that. It's just about opportunity, making the most of the opportunity. We can't control what happens but if the opportunities are available then I think that's all really any of us can ask for. I think that's what a player can ask for and once he gets it he has to do the best that he can with it. That's the way I look at it.

Q: Do you anticipate filling the roster back out to 90 players or is it part of your thought process to start trimming it down now to get ahead of the cuts to come?

BB: Well, we're definitely going to have to trim it down. We may release players before that cut down, before the game. Again, there is a lot of personnel movement going on at this time of year. We could acquire a player, or two, or whatever if the situation was right. I really don't know what's going to happen. It's not like I have five roster moves waiting back there in the office that are about to happen. That's definitely not the case. But look, it could be in 10 minutes, I don't know, or it could not be. But the intent of doing what we've done with the roster is because of where we are, what we feel like is best for our team at this point in time, although I think that some of the moves that we made are also best for some of the players as well, to be honest with you. Not that that's the main reason that we did it but it's a part of the residual of doing what's right for everybody. But yeah, we'll just have to see how it goes. We could have 84 or 85 [players] by the end of the week or we could have 80 by the end of the week, 78, I don't know. We'll just have to see how it plays out. Obviously injuries, they're a factor at this time of year for every team so there are some positions where you need depth, some positions where you have depth and you can't play everybody. I think that's definitely the case and in some positions for us we have more players than we can really play against Carolina, so if we're not going to play them and then we're going to have to release them at the 75 cut after the game, then there is an argument to just doing that now which gives the player an opportunity that kind of clears it up for us a little bit. I think there is some of that.

Q: What was the reason for sending Tom Brady out of the stadium last night Thursday once you decided he wasn't going to play in the game?

BB: What was the reason?

Q: He mentioned that if it was a regular season game he would have tried to play through it.

BB: I said after the game that it was my decision not to play him, and the players that were injured were not on the sideline, so what's the question? I don't understand the question.

Q: Are all injured players not in the stadium during games?

BB: Some are, some aren't, but what difference does it make? It doesn't make any difference. The guys that are out there playing are playing. The guys that aren't playing, they're doing something else, whatever that happens to be. They could be doing treatment, they could be at home, they could be here, they could be – you've seen them up in the press box – so it depends on what their situation is, what they need to do.

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