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Unfiltered Notebook 10/7: Patriots shift focus to Giants, Watson released

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After putting the hammer down and sealing the win in the second half against the Redskins, the Patriots quickly turned the page to their upcoming Thursday night match up with the New York Giants.

The team had some newfound offensive success against Washington, but Belichick was wary of getting too complicated and adding in all kinds of new twists on a short week.

“When you do a normal game plan, you kind of chop it up into some sections on offense and defense: early downs, third-down, red area, two-minute,” Belichick told reporters on his Monday conference call. “So, something could come up in any one of those, and you add it in and it’s not a big deal. When you’re getting ready for a game like this, you have to kind of put it all together at once or maybe two sections, but it’s not the normal time frame that you have. And then if you start piling on, “Oh, well we’re going to do this in the red area, do this in two-minute, and do this on third down, do this on early downs,” and before you know it, the volume can accelerate pretty quickly.”

Keeping things simple with just three days of turnaround and practice time will be a focus for the Patriots, but with the game can come unexpected complications that the team must be ready to adjust to.

“[I]t’s a balance that you have to strike there. Hopefully, things line up that you want to do things in the game plan that you’ve been doing or are a part of your system,” said Belichick. “The hard part would be they do something that forces you to do things a little bit differently or maybe there’s an area that you want to try to attack, but it’s not part of your normal system. So, do you step outside the box a little bit and spend time to get that ready in a short week, or do you say it’s too much and we just won’t be able to execute it?”

The Giants are 2-1 since handing the reins over to rookie 6th-overall pick Daniel Jones. Having gotten an initial look at the quarterback in the final week of the preseason will help the Patriots prepare during the short week against a fairly unfamiliar foe. Jones completed all four of his passes for a total of 47 yards in limited action in late August.

“It’s a very diverse offense, and it looks like Jones has handled it very well,” said Belichick. “He does all of the things that they do, including the RPO’s and so forth that it looks like have been included in the offense, have been added in the last couple years. So, he has a pretty complete playbook for his level of experience and he handles all of those things well. He’s an accurate thrower at all three levels. He’s shown a lot of poise in the pocket. He’s taken some hits and had people around him back in the pocket, but he has a lot of poise and toughness and just stands in there.”

Cornerback Jason McCourty, who grabbed his first interception against the Redskins, echoed the coach's feelings on the rookie quarterback.

"Daniel Jones is a guy who has some escapability, can get outside the pocket," said McCourty. "He's brought a spark to the offense, being able to make every throw on the field. He's poised out there, he doesn't get rattled, he's standing in there, he's taking hits, and still making throws down the field."

But Belichick hadn’t forgotten about Eli Manning, now on the sideline but who put together two performances of a lifetime against the Patriots in two Super Bowls.

“The high character person that [Eli] is and with class and professionalism, but at the same time with a high level of competitiveness and a high level of performance,” said Belichick. “So, I have a ton of respect for Eli and all that he’s done. I wish he’d done a little bit less in a couple games against us, but I have a lot of respect for Eli.”

Injury Update

Per Adam Schefter, Phillip Dorsett’s hamstring injury that forced him to leave the game against the Redskins early is minor and that Dorsett is “week to week.” That’s good news for the only apparent injury that the Pats suffered, but with an already thin layer of depth at receiver they could use Dorsett back sooner than later. The extended break after Thursday night’s game should be a good thing for him.

Ben Watson Released

The Patriots announced that they released Ben Watson as he came off of suspension. It's a bit of a surprising move given the lack of experience at the tight end position, but it will save the team close to $2 million in cap space. With solid performances from Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo against Washington, the team will look for continued development from the two newcomers. After battling an ankle injury since the first preseason game, LaCosse played a season-high 73 snaps against the Redskins and appears to be back on track. Izzo chipped in with his first touchdown grab to go with another dynamic catch earlier in the game. No, they're not Rob Gronkowski, but the tight ends are getting more effective each week and this past weekend was a solid building block for both of them.

Injury Report

The Patriots did not practice today, but if they did here's what the injury report would've looked like.

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
WR Phillip Dorsett II, Hamstring

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
RB Rex Burkhead, Foot
S Patrick Chung, Heel
S Nate Ebner, Groin
WR Julian Edelman, Chest
WR Josh Gordon, Knee

Locker Room Sound Bites

Jason McCourty on Ben Watson:

"Ben is just overall a great person just to be around. Football aside, a guy who's strong in his faith, mature, a father of seven, so I've got a lot to learn from him. Just a really good dude to be around and learn from a football standpoint but also from a life standpoint."

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