Sounding a bit tired - understandably so - Bill Belichick chatted with reporters Friday morning, about 12 hours after wrapping up a win in the final preseason game against the Giants. The topics mostly centered around the process of deciding which players to keep and which to release as the Patriots face the NFL 53-man roster deadline on Saturday evening.
“Today’s the first of several big days coming up for our coaching staff and personnel department and how it affects the team,” Belichick said. “We’re working through the film this morning, and we’ll get to the bottom of the physical conditions of guys after the game, guys coming in and out of practice the last few days. We’ll put together everything we have, and we’ll start making some decisions.
“At the same time, we have to turn the page from the Giants game and start with Buffalo preparations.”
The Patriots open the regular season at Buffalo on Sept. 8.
Belichick said he personally had already reviewed the game film from Thursday night’s win over New York, though he didn’t give an analysis of the performance of specific players.
“I’m sure we’ll go back through some of the evaluations on a lot of guys before it’s all over today or tomorrow,” he said. “I think it’s not just one game, although every game is important, but the body of work - camp, rate of improvement, improvement, ability to do things players are going to be asked to do at their position. Guys who haven’t been out there, missed practice and games, we’re dealing with less information, and we do the best we can with what we have.
“A lot of our young players played competitively [against the Giants], made some plays, and there were also some plays that were not so good. We’ll just try to take a look at everything.”
That includes not just individual players but also the whole composition of the roster, like how many players will be kept at each position. He was asked, for example, if keeping just seven offensive linemen might be too few.
“I think anytime you go light at a position, whatever that position is, and there’s one or two every year that fall into that category, you have to know where the depth is going to be,” Belichick said. “It’s not good planning or really good insurance for your team to go light at a position and then have no idea where your depth is going to be.
“You have to have an idea for where you’re light, where that depth is going to be, whether it’s carrying guys on practice squad, signing free agents, the PUP list, whatever the circumstances are. But I don’t think there’s any way to not have that somewhere on your team; realistically that’s very hard to do.”
Belichick also indicated that the starters who did not play against New York got the night off in part because the Patriots will play their first two regular-season games in quick succession. He also was happy with the physical condition of players, the work they put in during the spring and in training camp, and in practices against Philadelphia and Tampa Bay.
“We pushed players pretty hard in practice this week,” he said. “We wanted to give guys a chance to catch their breath.”