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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript 9/1

BB: Alright, so how are we doing here – ready for September? It's here. Whatever you've got, go ahead.

Q: Last week you said your goal was to prepare every player to be ready to play on opening day. You said that at some point that will change, but you're not there yet. Has that point arrived yet?

BB: Well, we've still got a long way to go on that. We don't even have a 53-man roster. We're definitely working on Pittsburgh, but there are a lot of loose ends. I'd say there are a lot of loose ends.

Q: With the uncertainty at quarterback, how does that affect how you practice and prepare?

BB: We do what we think is best for the team at every position. That's what we'll keep doing.

Q: If you could offer any advice to a judge down in New York, what would it be?

BB: I really am just focused on trying to get our team ready to go. That's my job.

Q: What are your thoughts on the summer Dion Lewis has had here?

BB: Good. Dion had a good spring, he had a good offseason program, did a nice job in OTAs. He's learned really all of our offense, all three downs, plus some stuff in the kicking game. Yeah, he's done a good job. He's picked things up well. He's been healthy for the most part other than one week there in training camp. But he's been out, he's gotten a lot of work in and that's been good for a guy who missed the season last year. He's done a good job. I like him.

Q: When you decide whether or not to keep a player, do you look at their injury history or is it a fresh start?

BB: That's a tough one. I think in the end, you've just got to, as I said before, take all the information, put it in a composite and do what you think is best. We have guys who were hurt in college that haven't been hurt in the NFL. We've got guys who were never hurt in college that have been hurt in the NFL. So, I think if it's a chronic injury, that's one thing. If it's an injury, those heal, and then they come back and they play. Usually it's not the same thing, but some guys have more issues than others. I don't know. That's a tough one. It's a case-by-case thing where I don't know if there is any right formula to it.

Q: Dominique Easley has battled back since suffering two knee injuries in college. How hard has he worked, and what kind of example has he set for the younger guys on the team?

BB: I mean, look, almost everybody who has played this game has had to deal with something somewhere along the line. He's done a good job and he's played well this training camp. That's been good, but I think if you go to pretty much every guy in the locker room, everybody has had something somewhere along the line. Unfortunately, that's part of high competitive athletics. Everybody is pushing themselves to the limits and sometimes there's a setback.

Q: Almost all of the guys in the locker room have said that the situation with Tom Brady hasn't been a distraction, but do you sense that they want a resolution just to have it over with?

BB: Right now, we're just focused on going out to practice and working on things we're doing today.

Q: When you evaluate players in regards to the practice squad, how do you balance having a reserve at a position and also having enough guys to carry a scout team to prepare your team on a weekly basis?

BB: That's a good question. In a way, the players that are on the practice squad are in the same positon as the players who are on the roster but not active. Obviously, you can protect the players that are not active that are on the roster and you don't have as much protection [for practice squad players], but either way they don't play in the game. They practice, but they don't play in the game, so in that way, it's similar. So your depth really is those inactive players and the players who are on the practice squad who are also inactive, even though they're on a little different list, if you will. Sometimes that's a team management thing. Sometimes there are other reasons for it, but in the end, that's where it is. Then there are some players who are your depth who are not on your roster – they're not on anybody's roster. They're available now. Whether they'll be available in a week, two weeks, a month, two months – that's another story. So, it's a combination of all those places, and honestly there are other players on other practice squads that are potentially available to you on your roster. They're not available to you on your practice squad because you can't go practice squad to practice squad, but you can go from another practice squad to your roster, just like somebody else can go from our practice squad to their roster. That's all in play. How do you find the right guys, what's the right mix and all that, some of it is the individual player, some of it is the circumstances that are surrounding him. Some of it is maybe your overall read of what the league perception is of that player or your position or whatever it happens to be, and you just try to do what you think is best. The exception rules on that for the two practice squad players add a little bit of a twist there because there are practice squad players and then there are practice squad exception players, so you're limited to how many exception players you can have, so they're there to a point but only a couple of them and then the rest of them have to come from the other pool. That's another thing for consideration. If you have three exception guys you really want, but you can only have two of them, then which two is it, and so forth and so on.

Q: When do you start seriously considering a player for the practice squad? Is it this week? Is it earlier in camp?

BB: It could be the draft. It could be a guy that you want to work with that you feel like probably has got too far to go to realistically be ready. You never know. Like we don't try to cut the team in April – I'm not saying that. But realistically, you take players or you bring them on to your team, whether it's draft choices or sometimes it's college free agents – guys that aren't drafted – with the kind of thought that it'd be hard for this guy to make our team, but a year from now, with a year of development and so forth, it might be a different story, and so that's a player you want to work with. Yeah, it goes back as far as that. It's certainly a lot easier to get one of your players on to your practice squad than it is to get another player on to your practice squad. The fact that a team has a player, a team has been working with that player, they release the player at the 53-man cut, unless another team claims him and then they have to carry him, which obviously frees up somebody else, unless they do that, it's a pretty high likelihood that you would be able to put that player on your practice squad – not 100 percent, but pretty high. Guys that we see get released that we would like to have on our practice squad, the question is, how are you going to get them there? You could claim him, put him on your roster and then maybe move him later or maybe you have to carry the guy as a roster player. But ideally that isn't maybe what you want to do, whereas it's easier to get our players from our team to our practice squad, just like it is for everybody else. If you really feel strongly about a guy and you want to put him on your roster then that's another story, then he's going on a roster. But in the pool of 320 practice squad players throughout the league, those guys are an important part of your team's depth or every team's depth, and so you want the best ones you can get there, but sometimes it's hard to get them if they're not on your team, or harder to get them.

Q: Is there still time for a player to earn a roster spot?

BB: I think we still have a lot of decisions to make. There are a lot of decisions that we still need to make. What will affect those decisions, I don't know – a practice, a game, other circumstances that right now maybe aren't even in play. Maybe something will happen over the next few days that right now we're not taking into consideration, but we will have to. And again, 53-man spots are one thing, practice squad spots are another thing. You're talking about going from 75 to 53 plus eight, maybe there is an injured player in there somewhere. It's really not that many … It's not as big as it seems, I'll put it that way.

Q: Tom Brady has played 12 drives over three preseason games. How do you evaluate the Tom-led offense when you have to consider who's out there and who isn't out there?

BB: I don't think we really worry too much about who is or who isn't out there. It's each individual player doing better at what they're doing, and coach – that's all of us. We all need to do a better job in all areas – offense, defense, special teams, coaching staff, the players. There's a lot of room for improvement from all of us individually, so if that happens, then collectively there will be improvement, too.

Q: What does Brandon Bolden give you when he plays running back?

BB: I think Brandon has shown the ability to play on all three downs. He can run. He can pass protect. He can play in the passing game and catch, and he's a smart player. He can handle a volume of offensive formations and assignments and so forth. I think he's a pretty versatile player. Again, some players, especially the running backs, basically there's only one in there at a time for the most part, most formations, so to play four, five or six guys, however many you have on your roster, in one game is chopping it up pretty thin. Sometimes we feel like it's better to give one guy a longer dose in this game and not play another player, and then maybe reverse or switch those around in other games. I think at that position, kind of like the quarterback position, you can only pretty much have one guy out there. Now sometimes their roles are different – the third down back and the first down back – so that's really two guys, not one, if that's the way the roles are chopped up. If they're not, if you're looking at a player like Brandon or several of the other backs on our team that are capable of playing all three downs, then it's hard for them to get enough work in one game unless you give it to one or two guys and change the batting order next time.

Q: Any updates on James Develin?

BB: I saw him yesterday, and he's doing well. I think he's got a good attitude. I was happy to see him. It's good to see him back here.

Q: How concerned are you that you don't have a starting quarterback right now? How much confidence do you have in Jimmy Garoppolo?

BB: We're going out to practice today with all the players who will be out there, and that's who we'll work with.

Q: Is it difficult for you not to know who will be your starter in Week 1?

BB: Right now we're practicing with all the players that are out there. We have good depth at that position. We have good depth at a lot of positions. Not everybody is out there. The players who aren't out there won't practice, obviously.

Q: Over the course of your career, what do you think is the most important thing you've done to evolve as the game has changed?

BB: I don't know.

Q: Tonight is the Patriots Charitable Foundation's annual gala. What does it mean for you and your team to take the time to support that event and give back to the community?

BB: Well yeah, it's one of the two big events for the Charitable Foundation. It's an opportunity for all of us to give back to the Foundation, which in turn gives back to the community. The Kraft family has been very generous, and they've done a great job touching so many people and organizations in this area on behalf of the team. We're all part of that, and it's always [fun]. Usually a few smiles come out tonight. You'll see some personalities from some of the guys who maybe haven't been seen in that venue before. And again, it's great to appreciate all of the individual people in particular, as well as the corporations and sponsors and so forth. Those are all people who make those decisions, so to talk and see and just converse with them is good, too, because we have great support on a lot of levels here. A lot of those people are season ticket holders or support the organization in other ways, so it's good to recognize them.

Q: How do Jabaal Sheard, Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich complement each other within your defense?

BB: I think they're all, kind of like you said, they're all a little bit the same – the position they play at the end of the line – but then they're all a little bit different because they can do other things besides that. That gives them added value. It also gives our defense a little bit more versatility, so whether that is moving to inside positions or whether it's moving to off-the-line or outside positions, or in Rob's case, the value that he also gives us in the kicking game. Snapping against Green Bay last year, that was a huge role for us in that particular game. It's great to be good at one thing. It's also great to have flexibility and versatility from those players who can help us in other areas. It's hard to play three guys on the end of the line when you only have two ends of the line, so finding something for that third guy where you have potential to have all three of them on the field at the same time or more, which I'd say there have been cases where we've had multiple defensive-end types if you will doing different things, then that can create some flexibility and I think change the look for the offense a little bit, too, with the type of athletes that those guys are. We try to build our repertoire with them – try to build a wide base so we can use them in different ways, so they can have more value to the team but also give our team some more flexibility. That's been a good position for us. [Mike] Vrabel was in that category, certainly. Rob has fallen into that category, [Willie] McGinest. Guys who have played that spot have been able to do, in some cases, quite a few things for us, and that's been helpful.

Q: Have you ever thought about Willie McGinest long snapping?

BB: He probably could, though. He probably could. He played pretty much every position on the front seven in college or at one time or another for us. He was outside. He was inside. He played outside linebacker. He played off the ball in certain packages – not on a long, steady basis, but in certain packages he was an off-the-line linebacker. He was a very athletic player with a lot of versatility, and he had the power and explosion to go with it, which made him able to play down against bigger people.

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