FOXBORO -- Even though the games don't count yet, this is a stressful time of year for NFL teams.
It's one thing to be a coach. There are decisions to make in terms of how your team will be built. There are preparations to make for Week 1, but there are also still two preseason games ahead. That's a good number of balls in the air, or "plates spinning," as Tom E. Curran likes to say.
But to be a player, particularly a player on the fringes of what will be the 53-man active roster, is an entirely different ordeal. Veteran players could see their careers end soon. Young players could be forced to uproot and try to start anew somewhere else. Livelihoods are on the line.
Bill Belichick was asked in a press conference on Wednesday how important it is for players on the bubble not to press too much at this time of year despite that stress. But as Belichick put it, stress is simply part of the job. It's unavoidable no matter what time of year it is, which means that in a way, playing and performing under stress now might be a good indicator of how certain players will handle it down the line.
Here's Belichick's answer in full:
"I think that's a good question. It's a fair question," Belichick started. "But this is the National Football League, and there's pressure every week. There's pressure this week. There's going to be pressure in September. There's going to be pressure in October. There's going to be pressure in November. We're going to be under stress all year. Every week. And we're going to be under stress out on the field every week against every opponent. Playing in the National Football League that's what you sign up for. If you're looking for vacation weeks and weeks off or we play some Division 4 team, all that, that doesn't happen in this league. There's stress every week.
"There's stress in training camp. Yeah. There's plenty of it. There's stress on the coaching staff to get the team ready, to pick the right players. There's stress on each player to establish his role, or make the team, or play for playing time, whatever it is. There's stress on everybody, and there's stress on every team. We're not in any different situation than any other team in the league is. Every player on every one of those teams is having the same thoughts that our players are having, I'm sure. One way or the other. Either the guys who think they're on the team are trying to get ready to have a good year, or there are a lot of guys who aren't sure whether they're on or they're not or what they're role is. And there are a lot of coaches who don't know the answer to that question either. We're trying to figure it out. There is no right answer at this point. It's still a process.
"But there's pressure every week in this league so if there's too much pressure in August, there's probably going to be too much pressure in November. This is the world we live in. If you tell me a week in the National Football League when there's not pressure, I don't know when that is. Every week's a tough week. Every week's a good team. Good players, good coaches who work hard and have a lot of good things you gotta deal with. And if you don't deal with them, you're not winning that week. That's the NFL."