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Bill Belichick unfazed by coaches’ health scares

CJ GUNTHER/EPA

Bill Belichick

FOXBOROUGH -- With the Patriots practicing just once this week before players are given an extended break for their bye week, Bill Belichick said the weekend health scares suffered by Denver’s John Fox and Houston’s Gary Kubiak won’t force him to change anything he does as a head coach in the NFL.

“No, I don’t feel that way,” Belichick, 61, said on Tuesday morning, when asked if the Fox/Kubiak medical episodes had him stepping back and making sure he’s taking care of himself.

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“I’m comfortable with the schedule that I’m on and what I’m doing. I feel about like I feel normally at this time of the season, which is good, but it’s not like you feel on July 28, when you start [training camp]. I feel good, and I plan on making it through the rest of the year. I don’t really plan on doing anything differently.”

Fox had a heart procedure done in Charlotte, N.C., after becoming lightheaded over the weekend while playing golf, since the Broncos had a bye last week. Kubiak was taken off the field on a stretcher after collapsing while walking off the field at halftime of Sunday night’s game.

The Patriots will practice on Tuesday, then the players will be given the next six days off. When the team returns next week, they’ll start preparing for their Nov. 18 game at Carolina.

Belichick’s bye-week message will be the same, to rookies as well as veterans.

“I’d say it’s pretty much the same message for everybody. We’ve played nine games, but [with] seven wins, that’s not enough in this league, you’re not going to win anything with seven wins, you’re going to need more than that,” Belichick said. “We’ve got a lot of football left, there’s a lot of things we can improve in. That goes for every position and each player, and we’ll try to focus on that, what things can we do better the last seven games that we didn’t do quite as well in the first nine games.

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“If we do that collectively, if each player can make a little bit of incremental improvement, across the board with all 53 players, as well as the coaching staff, that will raise our game up. That’s the objective.”

That said, Belichick welcomes the one-week break, since his 7-2 team has operated pretty much full-go since reporting for camp in late July.

“We’ve played 13 games, plus weeks of training camp, plus we’ve practiced against Philadelphia and Tampa. We’ve played a lot of consecutive football, and there’s nobody in that locker room that’s been playing that’s 100 percent, I’m sure of that,” Belichick said. “It gives us a chance to clear our mind a little bit. We don’t have a game plan, a scouting report, a whole bunch of adjustments to deal with this week.

“It’s like studying for a test every week; it’s hard mentally, It’s hard physically. It’s nice to have a few days where you’re not preparing for a final exam, that’s really the situation we’re in. There’s another one coming, but at least it’s good to have a couple days where you don’t have to bear down with that same intensity, get a chance to relax a little bit, get a little bit more rest, get away from football a little bit, then come back to it with more energy and a real purpose for the next seven regular-season games. That’s what we need to do.”

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