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Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 12/29

Q: We saw Malcolm Mitchell return to practice the other day. How impressed are you with what he has done to put himself into position to return to the practice field?

BB: Yeah, it's been a long road. We'll see how it goes. It's been a long time since he's played football, but it's good to see him back out there. We'll see how it progresses.

Q: Is it difficult to get a sense of how someone like him can adjust back into being out on the practice field this time of year compared to how practice would be during training camp?

BB: Yeah, definitely different than camp. I think it's a little more of a question mark; just the amount of time. It's been months, so that's a lot of time to make up in one or two practices.

Q: If he was going to return from the Injured Reserve list, is that something that needed to take place this week or can that carryover until the playoffs?

BB: We did it based on when the player is ready.

Q: I wasn't sure if that designation to return spot ended when the regular season does.

BB: Yeah, that really is not a factor. If he's not ready, then he's not ready. If he's ready - we won't really have any other moves to make.

Q: What has Brandon Bolden been able to give you guys over the years in situations where he is called on to run the ball or catch passes out of the backfield?

BB: Brandon's always been productive for us, both as a runner and a receiver. He's smart. He understands all of the plays - first down, second down, third down and, obviously, fourth down. He's been a good four-down player for us, very dependable, durable, athletic, good size.

Q: How does the cold weather change your plans for Sunday's game at all?

BB: We'll see what we get. I'm not going to base too much off of what it is two days before the game. We've all been down that road before. The weather changes pretty quickly around here. Even what we forecast for the day of the game on the day of the game isn't always what we get, so we'll see what we get and we'll deal with it.

Q: What are your first impressions of James Harrison after the first two practices?

BB: Yeah, he's worked hard. Got a lot of information to process but he's working at it. We'll keep stringing them together here and see how it goes.

Q: What are some of the nuances for a young player when it comes to preparing for an opponent the second time around in one season?

BB: I think learning from what happened in the first matchup, things that if, I'm a player, things that I had trouble with that they would try to do against me, and things that worked well for me that either I want to try and do more of or have a counter or complement to go with those thinking that they might try to take that away, then what would my adjustment to that be. So, yeah, it's definitely different. All of the college players talk about that. You don't see the guy until the following year and this is different where you see him within a few weeks, or in this case a couple of months but, still, it's the same season and it's a rematch of the same matchup. Now there's always things that are different, which there are this year on their offensive line. There's some moving parts there that are different from what it was in our first game. We have some differences. It's not the same, but there's certainly carryover.

Q: Tony Romo said on the broadcast after Nate Solder missed warmups that you don't like having a sick player use up his energy before the game. Does the same process apply during the week with practice?

BB: We always want to do what's best for the player and what's best for the team. I'm not really sure what Tony was referring to or wasn't referring to. I guess you'd have to ask him about what I said, but I don't think I would have ever put it that way. We'll do what we think is best.

Q: Is there any part of you that processes that there is some element of seeing a former rival like James Harrison in a Patriots uniform?

BB: This is the National Football League.

Q: Meaning national as in anywhere, any place for a player?

BB: I mean, look, at any team - this is the National Football League. Players change teams. We have David Harris. I mean, this isn't some kind of unprecedented event. That's just not what it is. We face somebody that's been on our team every week. We have somebody on our team that was with another team that we play against. That's the way it is every week. This is the National Football League. We're not talking about college now where players don't change teams. This is professional football. It's like that every year. It's like that every week. It's like that on every team. I don't know. I don't see it as some big historical event.

Q: I know James Develin spends a lot of time with the tight ends but if the situation popped up, would he be able to take on the role of a more traditional running back?

BB: First of all, we meet together a lot as groups or as a team, so there's a lot of carryover. So, people understand what other people are doing a lot of times, especially with the fullback-tight end-running back area. A lot of those are the same job. It just depends on which personnel group we're in and who does it. They're all pretty familiar with a certain assignment, whichever one of them has to do it.

Q: Harrison seems a little short for a prototypical end-of-the-line player. How does he overcome that or how does his height help him in that role?

BB: Well, he's been playing it for a long time. He's been pretty successful doing it. He's found things that work for him.

Q: Given their size, would Elvis Dumervil be a good comparison to Harrison at that position?

BB: I don't know. No, I don't really see those two the same.

Q: When you see players that buck the trend of prototypical size or speed, does it make you think twice when evaluating college guys or free agents based on their measurables?

BB: Good football players come in all different shapes and sizes. There's certainly a higher percentage of certain size, speed, size, height, weight, speed ratios that correlate to certain positions higher than others. So, that's what's playing in the league. That's basically what's playing on our team. Are there exceptions to every positon and every rule? Yeah, sure.

Q: What are your thoughts on Cameron Fleming and his preparedness to step in fill the role needed at right tackle?

BB: He's done a good job for us, yeah, as he always has. He's done a good job for us. He's played left tackle. He's played right tackle. He's played some other positions - guard, tight end - stuff like that. But when he's played tackle he's consistently done a good job for us. That's been all four years. More at right than left, but he's played left, too. He played left against Arizona last year for Nate [Solder] and I thought he played well again against Buffalo last week. He's a good run blocker. He's a big guy. He's strong. He's hard to get around, but he definitely is that player that you might not play for a while, and then you put him in there and he plays pretty good. Yeah, we're fortunate we have him. Depth at tackle this year has been important. All four of those guys really have played. I mean, Marcus [Cannon] is obviously out now, but LA [LaAdrian Waddle], Cam, Nate, Marcus; they've all played good for us when they've played and we've needed them all.

Q: Are there any special precautions you're taking to keep the players safe during the cold this Sunday?

BB: There's nothing more important than the health and safety of our team, so we always take that into consideration. You can't play football without football players.

Q: How similar is Bryce Petty to Josh McCown from a mobility standpoint?

BB: Yeah, that type of player. He makes some plays with his feet. He extends plays with his legs. He's got a good arm. He can throw the ball. He can make all the throws. He can extend plays or he can run for yardage, either one. He's got a long stride. He eats up ground like McCown. He eats up a lot of yards in a hurry.

Q: Are they designing specific plays for him to use his feet to make yards?

BB: Well, again, it's about, I'd say, the same as McCown. They have some roll-out plays, some sprint-out plays, some boot-leg plays. It's part of their offense. It looks to me like they're comfortable running with whoever the quarterback is. I don't think they're necessarily designed for one guy or another. It's part of their offense. They call them. They run them, whoever is in there. But he can do that. That's no problem. He runs well. He's very athletic. He's got good quickness and good feet in the pocket. He's a hard guy to tackle. He's a big, strong guy. You see linemen bounce off of him a little bit in pass rush, get a hand on him, but he just shrugs them off and steps up and runs or throws. He's a good athlete. He's a strong kid.

Q: When you think of the coldest games you've been a part of over the years, is there one that sticks out in your mind?

BB: Yeah, there's a few. We'll see how it goes here.

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