Bill Belichick addressed a large media contingent at Gillette Stadium Wednesday and detailed his team's Week Three opponent, the Kansas City Chiefs, who boast the leagu'es best tight end in Tony Gonzalez and the NFL's 2001 leading rusher, Priest Holmes.
"I think this is a really explosive offensive football team," Belichick said. "This is a team that is averaging over 400 yards a game offensively and they deserve it because they are well balanced. They can run the ball and they can throw it. "
"Defensively [Chiefs defensive coordinator] Greg Robinson is the type of coach that has always been high in the league in turnovers," Belichick said of the Kansas City defenders. "They are a ball-hawking type defense. The strip the ball well and take it away from you. They also have a good defensive line. They rotate a lot of people in there and they've got some guys that can be very disruptive. It's a defense that is going to blitz you. They are going to pressure you and they can make you look bad in a hurry."
One majorconcern that the Chiefs do pose to the Patriots is the fact that they are an opponent that isn't as familiar as they first two that they have faced. The two teams haven't met since Dec. 4, 2000 when New England pulled out the 30-24 victory on Monday Night in Foxboro. Both teams have had significant changes since that time, making them a more difficult learning experience for the players than both the Jets and Steelers.
"It's a team with a lot of new faces for us, especially compared to our last two opponents," Belichick said. "One that I have already talked to our team quite a bit about in terms of bringing our level of familiarity up with the Chiefs like it has been over the division teams and teams that we've had more of a recent history with. So we have a lot of work ahead of us this week."
An area that Belichick spent significant time discussing was Gonzalez. An extremely athletic and physically gifted tight end, Gonzalez is probably the best player at his position in the NFL. The last time these two teams met, Gonzalez set career highs that still stand with 11 catches for 147 yards receiving.
"He's really a receiver playing tight end in the passing game," Belichick said of the Chiefs All Pro multidimensional player. "He does a good job in the running game too. He'll stick it in there and block. But in the passing game he is really a receiver, he is not a tight end. He's really a special player. It's impossible to match up with him."
But regardless of whether Belichick is exaggerating the Chiefs talents or not, they are by no means a walkover. The Patriots have a legitimate challenge this week in not only facing a rather potent offense, but maybe more importantly staying focused early in the season coming off of two impressive victories. When the team focused on the early season in training camp by "Targeting September," a 3-1 record in the month may not have looked so bad. But now after dominating both the Jets and the Steelers and with the Chiefs and Chargers remaining in the first month, even a 3-1 record may be looked at as a let down. As it stands right now, the Chiefs may be a legitimate opponent, but the defending Super Bowl Champions are simply a dominant team in all facets of the game. As much of a challenge as Priest Holmes and Gonzalez do present, let down and over confidence may just by the Patriots biggest enemies at this time.
Hitchcock back in the mix
The team announced that they had re-signed corner back Jimmy Hitchcock on Wednesday. Hitchcock fills the roster spot opened up when the team released linebacker OJ Brigance late Tuesday.
Hitchcock signed with the team in training camp but was released on Sept. 6 after the team had signed another veteran cornerback, Terrell Buckley. Hitchcock originally spent the first three years of his career as a Patriot before being traded to the Vikings on draft day 1998 for a third round pick. The 5-10, 187-pound corner said Wednesday that he is happy to be back in New England for the third time, regardless of what his role turns out to be.
"It's like I never left really," Hitchcock said. "There was a possibility I would be back. I had to get healthy, I wasn't healthy in the preseason time that I was here."
"I just want to contribute the best that I can and compete as hard as I can. I just want to play in some games, because it has been a while."
While Hitchcock said he had contact with a few other teams, when he left here in early September he knew he still wanted to be back in a Patriots uniform.
"I didn't want to go to any other teams." Hitchcock said. "I wanted to be here. I could tell it's going to be very special here when I was here for the short time in preseason. I could see that this was going to be a special team and this is where I wanted to be."
The team also added wide receiver T.C. Taylor to the practice squad on Tuesday. Taylor had been with the team in training camp and showed flashes of potential as well as a big frame at the receiver position. … The Patriots listed three players on the Wednesday's injury report. Linebacker Roman Phifer was listed as Questionable with a leg injury, Phifer was inactive for the Jets game. Linebacker Tedy Bruschi (shoulder) and wide receiver David Givens (leg) were both listed as Probable. Givens was also inactive for the Jets game, while Bruschi filled in for Phifer at outside linebacker in the game but was injured in the first half and did not play in the second.