FOXBOROUGH — What is it about Ohio that makes Bill Belichick frostier than usual? The Patriots skipper was “getting ready for Cleveland” instead of “on to Cincinnati” during his Wednesday news conference but he was no less clear that the team’s next opponent is his only focus this week.
Asked if his heart rate could come down a bit with Tom Brady back under center, Belichick didn’t answer. But he launched into what was either a master class in question evasion or an elaborate drinking game invented somewhere North of Canton.
“I feel like we need to go out to Cleveland and play well in order to win. That’s what we’re going to try to do,” Belichick said.
Did he think the suspension would inspire Brady or the team to play harder?
“I think our team needs to prepare well this week to go out and play well against Cleveland in Cleveland,” Belichick answered. “That’s what we need to do.”
OK, but how is Brady? Does he seem mentally and physically ready to take the reins?
“We’ll go out to practice today and see where our team is,” Belichick said. “You’d have to ask Tom how he’s personally doing. That’s something I can’t answer.”
It stands to reason that the Patriots would already be especially motivated after their shutout loss to the Bills last week. Belichick wouldn’t say whether it’s easier to prepare the team after a win or a loss, however.
“Each week is it’s own week, so we’ll try to do the best we can this week to play well in Cleveland and that’s all,” he said. “I don’t really care what happened last week.”
Despite the shutout loss to Buffalo, getting Brady back with a 3-1 record puts the Patriots in a strong position, atop their division and among the AFC’s contenders. Belichick still wouldn’t say whether or not he was pleased with his team’s first four weeks.
“Right now our focus is on Cleveland. Time to get ready to go in Cleveland. We can’t do anything about whatever was or wasn’t the last four weeks,” Belichick said.
“We’re into Cleveland week and that’s all our focus is. Not worried about last week, not worried about next week, not worried about last year. Worried about this week against Cleveland. That’s it. Period. This week. Cleveland. We’re focused on Cleveland this week. Period. Cleveland.”
Belichick said that the process through the week would be the same as it always is, with nothing changing to accommodate getting Brady up to speed.
But it must be nice to get not only Brady, but also defensive end Rob Ninkovich back, right?
“Thinking about getting ready for Cleveland,” Belichick said. “Thinking about playing Cleveland.”
Watch: Ben Volin and Jim McBride discuss Tom Brady’s return to Patriots practice
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