Bill Belichick met with the media on Monday as the team prepared to turn the page to their third preseason game against the Panthers on a short week. As the team evolves from training camp to a more regular-season-like schedule, this is an opportunity to mimic what they can expect to face come September.
"Another big week for us," Belichick said. "We had two good weeks on the road, two really competitive practices with both Tennessee and Detroit and then the games. This week will be a little different for us. Get ourselves ready to go against Carolina on a short week. We want to maximize the opportunity we have here and be ready against a very talented, well-coached and good fundamental football team as the Panthers are."
The coach acknowledged it's a shift in gears going from joint practices to a style of preparation more akin to what they'll see in one the regular season begins, especially when it comes to knowing their opponent.
"It's a lot different than the last two weeks, when we were actually practicing against the guys we were playing. Now we have to try to learn through film and simulate them in practice. That will be a big change from what it's been."
Here are some other tidbits of note from Coach Belichick:
Philip Dorsett is now in his third year with the Patriots and despite suffering a hand injury in joint practices and sitting out the game against Titans, the receiver was in attendance at Monday's practice. Dorsett is one of only two active receivers on the roster to have caught a meaningful pass from Tom Brady, giving him an advantage as roster cutdowns loom.
Belichick pointed out Dorsett has been dependable when his number has been called.
"Phil's been a pretty steady player for us. He's a smart kid, he knows the offense, knows all the positions. And he's been able to play in a number of critical situations for us through the years. Either due to injury, gameplan or whatever the circumstances were he's been a solid player. Great kid, works hard, does everything we ask him to do."
Sony Michel has seemed far more active in the passing game in preseason practices than he was last year, when he had just 7 receptions. It's an enticing thought to imagine how a balanced Michel could add a new dimension to the Patriots offense.
Belichick pointed out how important experience is for the second-year players.
"Sony's more comfortable with everything his second year," said Belichick. "All those snaps of pass protection, and recognizing coverages, zone coverage, man coverage, leverage, timing of plays and routes. He didn't have a lot of that last year. His foundation is must better this year because of it."
Belichick embraced the pressure that the short week would put on his team and coaching staff. Not only does the quick turnaround force everyone to simulate how things will be in the regular season, but also requires more focused preparation.
"It's a situation similar to what we'll be facing in the regular season," said Belichick. "It is an opportunity for everybody to get on an accelerated schedule that we'll need to be able to get on in the regular season. It's a good time to do it - physically, mentally, preparation emotionally being ready for the game both as a coach and a player. This is a good opportunity for us."