Patriots

Belichick: By midseason 'you kind of know what you have'

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Belichick: By midseason 'you kind of know what you have'

I think we can all agree that the Patriots have a stacked roster, one that had us opining about the potential for a perfect season. But as training camp has shuffled along, this deep roster has shown it’s not laden with all-world pieces at every spot. Thus, we have questions about defensive end, linebacker and who is that third tackle. Not exactly Jacksonville Jaguars problems, but certainly something for us to chew on, and, to a degree, Bill Belichick as well.

Appearing on Dale, Holley and Keefe on WEEI Monday afternoon, Belichick said it will be awhile before he really knows what kind of team he has, especially when you factor in injuries, growth of players and, in some cases, decline.

“Midseason to me is always about the time where I think you kind of know what you have," Belichick said. "September, I think we’re all trying to figure out a little bit. You go into the season thinking one thing and then after you play three or four games, a lot of time you’re not as good at some things as you thought you were or maybe you’re better at some other things than you might have thought you were. Maybe some guys are performing higher, some guys lower, whatever. It takes a little while to find that equilibrium."

Belichick has a deep reservoir of knowledge acquired over some 43 years of coaching. It’s clear, that even after all these years, his passion for the game is as strong as ever. You can see it in the way he interacts with just about everyone on the roster, from Tom Brady to Danny Amendola to some of the undrafted players who don’t have a snowball’s chance of making this - or any other - roster in the NFL. Which may be why Belichick explained in great detail why everyone, including Brady, need to start over every year.

“As it relates to training camp, look I have been coaching for 43 years, but at the start of training camp as a coach I have to refine my on-field coaching skills," Belichick said. "I have to refine my in-game coaching skills. It is something I haven’t done for six months and it’s with a different team. It’s with different players, different options than a year ago or two years ago. There is a whole preparing process involved there that I don’t care how long you played, each year is different because you have to start all over again. You have a new team and you’re doing something you haven’t done in six months. If you stopped doing something for six months and tried to pick it up later - it might be related, scouting players or going through draft process, things like that, but it’s not the same - it’s on-field coaching decisions, that didn’t start until two weeks ago.

“Then as it relates to players in general, experienced players know a lot about the game, but again there are new players. Every team you play is different. Each opponent is different. They have different players, different strengths and weaknesses and they have made changes to their system just like we made them to ours. So, I think that is important to tell any player. I don’t care how long he’s played in the league. If he’s been in the league 17 years it doesn’t mean he knows the team we’re playing because whatever changes they made from last year to this year, or maybe we’re not familiar with that team, then it is your job as a coach to try and get him prepared for that team. There’s a lot of things as a coach you try and do for every player, not just the rookies.”

So whereas Brady may think he has all the answers to the test, Belichick will be there to keep hitting him with pop quizzes - just like he will with the rest of the roster - to make sure they’re at the level he wants them to be, when he wants them to be there.

Dion Lewis: 'Nobody's really worried' about Tom Brady

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Dion Lewis: 'Nobody's really worried' about Tom Brady

James White put it perfectly on Thursday. When asked if he was the one who injured Tom Brady's hand in Wednesday's practice, the running back replied, "The world may never know."

During an interview with NFL Network, another Patriots running back said you can't put Brady's injury on him.

"Not me," said DIon Lewis. "No, it wasn't me . . . I actually didn't see it happen, but from when I talked to other guys, I knew he was gonna be oaky. It's Tom, so regardless of any situation he's put in, he's going to make sure he's out there game day. Nobody's really worried."

That seems to be the general consensus inside the Patriots locker room. They're all expecting Brady to play. And when they're asked about how he's looked, their answers have ranged from evasive to joking about Brady's handsomeness

The focus, as Lewis explained, isn't so much on the health of their quarterback but rather the game plan they're putting in place to take on the top defense in the AFC. 

"We have a great idea," Lewis said, "of what we think we can do to have success against this defense . . . We just gotta be on point every play. We don't got plays to give away."

Might that mean a load of two-back or two-tight end sets to keep Jacksonville's base personnel on the field? Might that mean plenty of work in the screen game, as Jerod Mayo suggested on this week's Quick Slants the Podcast? Might that mean a heavy dose of Rob Gronkowski?

There are soft spots in the Jaguars defense, as talented as it is, but it will probably require Brady being able to grip a football for the Patriots to exploit them. His teammates seem confident he'll be able to do that.

Tom Brady spotted at beginning of Friday practice

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Tom Brady spotted at beginning of Friday practice

FOXBORO — For the second straight day, Tom Brady was on the practice field long enough for people to take pictures of his hand. Check ‘em out. 

Friday marked the second straight day in which Brady wore a glove on his throwing hand, something he does not typically do. He was also on the field for the media portion at the beginning of Thursday’s practice, but did not participate in the actual practice. 

We’ll know when the practice report is released later today whether Brady practiced this time. He’ll also speak this afternoon.