PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
Q: Do you feel as if the roster decisions are fairly clear-cut after training camp, OTAs and the four preseason games or are there some close calls?
BB: There's always some situations that are more clear-cut than others. The more information you have, then the easier or maybe the more confident you feel that you are making the right decision. The less information you have, then more variables there are that you just can't be quite as certain of. It's always a combination of those things. We'll just do the best we can, see how it goes.
Q: If there was any kind of a deal made or player added that hasn't been with you, how important would it be for that player to be able to make an immediate contribution in the first game or first few games of the season as opposed to being a projection?
BB: Yeah, I'd say we've done both. That we just depend on - each situation is different. There's no standard answer to that. I don't know.
Q: Does your thinking on keeping the best 53 players on your roster change from year-to-year, meaning does it ever, based on the year, depend on filling a position or are you just taking the best 53 players overall?
BB: Well, I mean you want the best team overall so sometimes - again, every team's different, every situation's different. I don't think there's any, like again, set formula that I would follow. You just try to put the best team together that you can. There's some positions that are maybe not exactly the way you want them and so you work around those in some fashion. Other positions, maybe you feel are probably pretty good or as good as it's going to be and so that's maybe less of a conversation. When you have more depth in one position and less depth in another there's always a conflict of do you carry the better players that give you more depth versus position where you need players but maybe they're not as good at that position as other guys are at a position where you have more depth. Again, every situation's different. There's a lot of things that factor into it. It's under the total category of team building and as we all know, there are a lot of roster adjustments in the first month of the season and so even some of the things that get done tomorrow or Sunday, there's still going to be a lot of roster movement in the first week, two weeks of the season, even in the first month of the season through September on our team and throughout the league. That's the same way it is every year so I doubt it'll be any different this year. I'd be surprised.
Q: You got a long look at some of the offensive linemen last night. How do you view that group through camp and during the game last night?
BB: Well, you're right, we've got to look at a lot of players and that in combination with other opportunities we've had to evaluate them in practice and other preseason games. We'll try to put all that together and make the best decisions we can for the football team. That's a very competitive spot and they'll be some - it'll be challenging as it always is to set the final roster and that'll be one of the positions that'll be a little more difficult.
Q: Earlier this week when you referenced a watermelon roll, was that in regards to a menu item at Friendly's or an actual race that would be had?
BB: Yeah, the latter.
Q: It's been one year since Cyrus Jones injured his knee. Have you seen him in the spring and the summer start to return to the explosive athlete he was before the injury?
BB: Yes. Absolutely. I wish in these last two games we could have had an opportunity to get him started in the return game. He had a couple chances that I thought he did well with in Carolina but he really didn't have much yesterday. They were kick-offs or touchbacks and we didn't block well enough on the returns really to give him a chance to do anything but handle the ball. I thought he handled the ball well in some fairly challenging ball-handling situations. He did a fine job of that, that was no problem. I just - he really didn't get a chance to get started and of course we would have liked to have seen that but that's the way it goes.
Q: As the players adapt to the new helmet rules have you seen more arm-tackling or cases of broken tackles where guys are having to think a little bit more and is that impacting some of the plays?
BB: Are you talking about for us or for the league?
Q: In general.
BB: Yeah, I don't know.
Q: I think A.J. Moore on the sideline and J.C. Jackson on the long touchdown seemed it was non-competitiveness and I didn't understand how that came to be.
BB: Yeah. Well, Tom [Curran] you'd have to talk to the other 31 teams, I don't really know. I can't speak for any of them. We don't teach tackling any different than we have. This rule hasn't affected us at all. We've never taught tackling with our head down, we've never taught tackling with the top of our helmet. In fact, we've gone to great lengths to make those corrections before this rule was in place so honestly, I don't think it's affected our coaching at all. If anything, it just reinforces what we've been teaching. We've never taught that. In fact, I don't even know one coach that has. I don't know who does teach it that way. So not really sure what we're talking about here.
Q: Has J.C. Jackson always shown the ability when he was at Maryland and in training camp to find the ball and instinctively read the receiver and turn around? It seemed on both interceptions last night he did a good job of doing that.
BB: He did do a good job of doing that and I think overall, our defensive backs - that Josh [Boyer] and - Coach [Brian] Flores and Coach [Josh] Boyer and Steve [Belichick] have all worked hard the last couple weeks after the interference penalties we had in the Philadelphia game and there were other plays that we didn't play properly that weren't penalties but it was basically the same mistake that we spend a lot of extra time on that. I mean we spent plenty of time on it in the first place but obviously wasn't working or weren't doing it well enough. But we've addressed that not just with Keion [Crossen] who had the - was involved in those plays but all the other players. They all saw what happened, we all saw what happened and we worked very hard the last couple weeks to talk about those techniques and the proper way to play the receiver and the ball down the field. I thought J.C. [Jackson] did a great job of it in the game and he took the coaching and the examples of what we were trying to do on the practice field and turned them into productive plays in the game. So that was - I think our whole group has shown improvement on that. Not everybody gets the chance to do it in every game, there aren't that many deep passes, there aren't that many deep passes in practice either but when those plays come up, they're critical plays because of the amount of yardage that's involved and we need to plan properly and the opportunities that we had in the game, I thought we did a better job of it. So that's good.
Q: Can you give me an assessment on Derek Rivers and how he's done through training camp and the preseason?
BB: Well it's been great to have Derek out there. He's been out there every day, hasn't missed anything from the beginning of the offseason program through the OTAs in the spring to training camp and the preseason games. Nobody works harder than Derek and he has a good skill-set. He's worked to refine and improve that and he continues to make progress every day. Again, without a lot of experience, he's only played in four preseason games, so there's still a long way to go and sometimes things happen that haven't happened to him before so that's a little bit new or different or not quite the way - But he learns and adjusts very quickly and like any young player, the more they play, the more experience and confidence they get if they work hard, which Derek certainly does. They improve and things that they might have - when they see it the second and third time around, they do some things better than they did the first time around, that's normal and he's certainly in that phase. Derek's done a lot of things well. He's had a good camp, he's been very competitive and productive player every day in practice and in preseason games. Still has a lot of things to work on, things that he can improve on but he's done a good job and he's competed well.
Q: Would you say a lack of reps because of his injury played a factor in to why he played last night?
BB: I mean, not really. If something had been different last year, I don't know. But it wasn't, so I'm not going to worry about that. The decisions we made all through the preseason were again, to get players an opportunity and do what we feel like is best for the players and the team and to try to have as productive an opportunity we can with whatever it is we're talking about. Games, practices or meetings, walkthroughs and everything else. We can't do it for everybody in every game, every week, so it's broken up into different opportunities and that's the best we can do.
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