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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript 8/31

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Monday, August 31, 2015

BB: We have to make a number of roster moves by tomorrow at 4 [p.m.], so some of those may be made today. We're in the process of working through some things. There are some moving parts. Some things play off other things, so whatever we have, we'll just give you at the end of the day once it's all finished for today. Then we'll deal with tomorrow, tomorrow. We're just trying to balance a lot of things here at this time of year between roster, the Giants game, obviously the Pittsburgh opener, and a number of other things. Each coach, each player all is kind of in their own individual situation - whatever the circumstances are that surround it here in the next couple weeks – and we just have to try to work through it the best we can and try to get as much done as productively as possible. That's what we'll try to do.

Q: How closely aligned do you view the tight end position to the fullback position?

BB: I think everything is interrelated with everything.

Q: How challenging would it be for a tight end to play fullback?

BB: Some guys do; some guys don't. I don't know.

Q: With James Develin's status up in the air, is it a realistic thought that a guy like Michael Hoomanawanui could do some of those things? Has he done it before?

BB: We've kind of had James in our system here for a while. I mean, I'm sure there are a lot of different possibilities. There are different possibilities; we've talked through different options. I don't know. But the tight end plays off of the other skills positions, and with a player like Mike, who has played on the offensive line, maybe he plays in the offensive line positions or the offensive line plays into the tight end position, as we've used offensive linemen in that spot. So, I don't know.

Q: How much does it complicate things to play the opener on a Thursday as opposed to a Sunday?

BB: Quite a bit, yeah, it changes a lot. In the normal situation, you go through your roster changes at the end of the week there, Saturday, Sunday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday – whatever it is – set your practice squad on Sunday and then you play the following Sunday. Now, that will be in the middle of our preparation, so it will be into our Wednesday-type practice day. We don't have a practice squad until Sunday, so it's just different. It's the same for both teams, but it's different than 30 of the other teams in the league. [I'm] glad we're playing that game. There's a good reason for us playing it, so that's good, but it definitely complicates things on a number of levels. It's the way it is.

Q: How valuable is it to have someone like Devin McCourty in the secondary, and do you think the younger players look up to him?

BB: Absolutely. I think the older players look up to him. I think everybody looks up to him. Devin, like [Jerod] Mayo, which is unusual, was a captain in his second year on the team. You usually don't see that. It certainly takes a pretty special person to do that, earn that kind of respect from his teammates. So, I think Devin's communication, his position flexibility, his work ethic, his toughness, his dependability are all huge positives that are appreciated by everybody in the organization – players, coaches, veteran players, rookie players , all the people in the organization that work with him – training staff, equipment staff – everybody. He's a huge plus.

Q: There are a few former Browns on the roster that were with Cleveland when Mike Lombardi was there that are also playing well this preseason. How helpful has Mike been to not only the personnel side of it, but also the day-to-day operations?

BB: Yeah, Mike has been a big help to me personally and definitely some of the experience that he has, some of the guys that he's familiar with – guys like Dion [Lewis] and Rufus [Johnson] and Eric Martin – less Martin – but guys like Dion and Rufus are good examples of guys that there's very little film on from last year. You can't see them, but he was familiar with those guys and [Brian] Tyms from the year before. When you've been with a player – I've done that before – you change organizations, you're with a player, you know the guy, regardless of what anybody else knows that wasn't on that team, and sometimes those players can have a fit or not have a fit depending on what the new team was. When I came here from Cleveland after the 1995 season, guys like [Pio] Sagapolutele, Tom Tupa, [Chad] Eaton was another guy, that if you have a knowledge of those players, then sometimes it kind of helps you identify somebody that might fit if you have a need there. I don't think it's like trying to bring guys or that type of thing. When I left the Giants and went to Cleveland, it was kind of [like] the situation with [Matt] Stover. Stover didn't play at all for us. [Matt] Bahr was the kicker with the Giants in 1990. [Stover] went on to have a pretty good career with the Browns and the Ravens – whatever it was – 20 some years. There are guys like that sometimes you don't really … If you're with a guy, you know a lot more about him than the other teams that don't have that opportunity. I've asked Mike to do some things on an individual [basis] – projects or things that I've asked him to do – and he's done a great job of that for me.

Q: Do you see Malcolm Butler as the same guy he was last year?

BB: No, much improved, much improved on everything. He worked hard in the offseason. It's obviously just his second year, the change of lifestyle, becoming a professional athlete, working at this job every day, becoming more mature, more dependable, having a better understanding of what we do, having a better understanding of what our opponents do or the passing game in the National Football League. He's made a huge jump from year one to year two as most of our other players have, too, that are in that same category. I think that's where players make the biggest leap is A, you have that understanding of what it's going to be like. It's not new, you at least know what training camp is going to be like, what a regular season is going to be like, what a game is going to be like, what the coaches expect – all those kinds of things. So you have a little bit better idea of being able to plan or anticipate for it, but then the knowledge that you have about yourself, about your opponents, about how things worked, and that's a huge amount of information that those second-year players have that the rookies just don't have no matter how smart they are or how hard they work or whatever they've been exposed to in the past, some more than others. But going through it and experiencing it is invaluable, really.

Q: When it comes to guys like Dion Lewis, Brandon Bolden, James White – all the so-called third-down backs – they've all either played well or had their nice moments this preseason. How much more difficult does that make it to make cuts or decide how they'll be used during the season?

BB: It's definitely made it hard. We've had a lot of guys do that. I think Troy Brown made a comment a couple weeks ago when he said, "I knew that when I come into the league, I knew it was a longshot for me to make a team and I was probably going to get cut and all that, but I felt like my job every day was to make it as hard as possible for Coach [Bill] Parcells to make that decision. I wanted to make his job tough for him to cut me." And I'd say there have been a number of guys that have done that this year in preseason. They've taken that phrase that Troy used, and really they've done that. They've forced us to make some hard decisions because of how competitively they've played. And vice versa, guys at a spot where there is a lot of competition, instead of one or two guys rising up and one or two guys kind of fading out, in some cases several members of that group have all competitively risen the level of their game to make some very tough decisions. I would put the running back position in that [category]. We've pretty much had the same group. We added Tony [Creecy] a couple weeks ago. We've pretty much had that same group since we lost [Tyler] Gaffney, but we have pretty much the same group of guys since the beginning of the spring, with no rookies in that group other than Tony coming in a couple weeks ago. But those guys have all competed well, they've all improved, they've all pushed each other, they've all worked really hard, and they've all been productive. It's a good example of that – they're making it hard on us.

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