Tom Brady hasn't played yet in the preseason and there is some question to whether he will at all. (Mark L.</p>
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Bill Belichick addresses reporters about the pending roster decisions in the weeks before the season opener Sept. 11. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — It’s a balancing act that Bill Belichick has, for the most part, mastered over his 17 years in Foxboro.

Weighing current production against potential. Weighing established veterans against younger, cheaper talent. Deciding between proven performance and future gain.

On Wall Street, it’s the stock market every day. In Foxboro, and around the NFL, the futures business can be just as dicey. And this is the busiest and riskiest time of the year. Belichick and director of player personnel Nick Caserio have begun to trim the roster down, in an effort to reach the 75-player limit for Aug. 30 and the final 53-man limit for Sept. 3.

The Patriots must decide between the proven commodity of Donald Brown and the unknown in D.J. Foster. They must get more reps for Jonathan Jones, Justin Coleman and Cre’Von LeBlanc to see how to best round out their secondary. There are very subtle battles going on at the back end of the roster (as Chris Price noted) and those battles need exposure in games for coaches to reach difficult decisions.

The Patriots are still in an enviable position of having elite talent at the top end and trying to round out their roster with quality depth. But that job has become all the more crucial with the losses of Sebastian Vollmer (hip) and Dion Lewis (knee) and the possible downtime with players like Jabaal Sheard, Rob Ninkovich and Shaq Mason.

Belichick was asked Tuesday how difficult it is, this time of year, trying to decide whether or not to keep a player that the team may want to work with in the future or cut him at the risk of that player landing with another team.

“That’s the 64,000 dollar question. That’s what it is. It’s been like that since the day I got into this league,” Belichick said. “From all of the personnel meetings I’ve ever been in it’s a [matter of] a player who’s more experienced [and] more ready to help the team now, versus a player that’s not as ready now but at some point you think the pendulum will swing in his favor. Will you do that? Can you do that? What are the consequences of making that move? What are the consequences of not making that move? How likely, as you said, is it that you could keep both players in some capacity? That’s what it’s about, trying to balance now with later.

“We’re going to field a team in November, we’re going to field a team next year, we’re going to field a team in 2018. Not that we’re getting too far ahead of ourselves, but we’re going to be in business in those years, so we have to sort of have an eye on those moving forward and a lot of the other factors that go into that. Those are all tough decisions. They’re all things that you really have to think about. It’s no different than acquiring – well it’s different – but it’s the same thing as acquiring a player.

“So, if you acquire a player who are you acquiring – a young player for an older player, an older player for a younger player, help now versus help later, development versus known performance – and so forth. They’re all interrelated but it really gets back to the same key points. When its close it’s tough. If it’s not close then it’s not really a tough decision. It’s a relatively easy decision, but the ones that are close, some people in the room want to have one opinion, other people have another opinion. You kind of have a split camp there and both sides’ arguments are good arguments. It’s kind of your perspective. Is it today or is it tomorrow? I’m sure every team in the league is having a lot of those discussions about eight, 10 players; five and five, whatever it is, four and four, but that kind of thing.”

Belichick and company released three players apiece on Monday and Tuesday, letting go of Bear Pascoe, V’Angelo Bentley and Cedric Thompson Monday and veterans Donald Brown, E.J. Biggers and Frank Kearse on Tuesday. Now comes the tricky part, finding reps for the younger players who get the chance to get more reps to convince the coaching staff they belong.

“The whole thing is really a balancing act between getting your team ready and evaluating players,” Belichick said Tuesday. “Of course, it’s always good when you can evaluate – especially by this third preseason game, fourth preseason game – evaluate players against known players. It’s one thing to play them in the fourth quarter against other players who don’t really have much of a track record in the NFL, whereas if you put them in at other points of the game you’d be able to see them against a guy that you have a lot better idea of what their skills are and how a young player would matchup on that. But you have to get your team ready, so there’s definitely a balance between that. We’re just not looking at people; we’re trying to get ready to play football.

Every year at this time, the Patriots also scour the waiver wire and keep lines open with other teams to discuss potential trades.

“There is a lot of player movement at this time of year,” Belichick added. “There is going to be a ton, more than any other time during the calendar year, from Tuesday to Sunday, so within that five, six, seven day period and the days surrounding it I’m sure there will be a lot of activity. Let’s call it in that 10-day period, that’ll probably be 90 percent of the transactions the entire year other than the draft. So yeah, it is busy. We talk about it on a regular basis, try to keep up with it. Between the preseason game, this game, the Giants game, the Arizona game, even the Miami game – that’s a new staff – roster decisions, other team’s personnel, conversations, however you want to characterize that, the wheel is spinning pretty fast this time of year for the coaching staff and for the personnel department. It’s just that time of year.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Tom Brady is going through a wholly new series of challenges this preseason. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)FOXBORO — These are strange days for Tom Brady.



Tom Brady didn't have much to offer on what he will do during his Deflategate suspension. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Tom Brady didn’t have much to offer on what he will do during his Deflategate suspension. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — With Tom Brady suspended the first four games of the season because of Deflategate, many have speculated what he will do during those weeks as he isn’t allowed to be at the Gillette Stadium facility, or have any contact with his teammates.

Some have thought he might call former teammates Randy Moss and Wes Welker to work out with him to keep him in as close to game shape as possible.

On Tuesday Brady was asked directly what he will do during that time and the quarterback said he hadn’t really thought about it.

“I haven’t put much thought into it,” Brady said. “It’s been busy, obviously with the practices and so forth. We’ve still got a couple important weeks for this training and for this phase of the season. I want to put all my effort and thoughts into this week and next week, try to go out and play in a couple good preseason games, see if I can get some of that game action and then deal with that when it comes.”

After Sept. 3, eight days before the season opener, Brady will leave Gillette Stadium and not be back until Oct. 3, six days before the team’s Oct. 9 game in Cleveland.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

FOXBORO — Bill Belichick is a man of his word.

During his first press conference before training camp, Belichick said Jimmy Garoppolo being ready for Sept. 11 in Arizona would be the priority during training camp and the preseason.

Bill Belichick said nothing has changed when it comes to his team's quarterbacks in the preseason. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Bill Belichick said nothing has changed when it comes to his team’s quarterbacks in the preseason. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — Bill Belichick is a man of his word.

During his first press conference before training camp, Belichick said Jimmy Garoppolo being ready for Sept. 11 in Arizona would be the priority during training camp and the preseason.

Tuesday, he was asked again about the quarterbacks and he gave essentially the same answer.

“Nothing’s changed,” Belichick said. “All three quarterbacks are extremely important. Jimmy’s preparation for the Arizona opener is the most important. Nothing’s changed, and that’s not going to change. That’s the way it’s going to be.”

Tom Brady hasn’t played in any of the two preseason games, while Garoppolo started both, although last Thursday was unexpected after Brady cut his thumb with scissors before the game.

Belichick was also pressed on why Brady left the stadium and didn’t stay for the game.

“Some are, some aren’t, but what difference does it make?” Belichick said when asked if injured players stay at the stadium during games. “It doesn’t make any difference. Guys that are out there playing are playing, guys that aren’t are doing something else, whatever that happens to be. They could be doing treatment, they could be at home, they could be here, they could be in the press box. It depends on what their situation is and what they need to do.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

FOXBORO — The Patriots got some good news out on the practice field Tuesday afternoon as Tom Brady, Patrick Chung and Jabaal Sheard all returned.

Tom Brady

Tom Brady

FOXBORO — The Patriots got some good news out on the practice field Tuesday afternoon as Tom Brady, Patrick Chung and Jabaal Sheard all returned.

Brady missed the last two days with an “excused” absence not related to his thumb. Sheard hasn’t been seen since the first preseason game well over a week ago and Chung missed Monday’s session.

There were six players missing from the practice all together: Dion Lewis (PUP), Jonathan Cooper (foot), Shaq Mason (hand), Sebastian Vollmer (PUP), Rob Gronkowski (unknown injury) and Alan Branch (reported team suspension).

After stretching the following players went down to the lower fields to work on their conditioning: Sheard, Rob Ninkovich, Shea McClellin, Malcolm Mitchell, Tre’ Jackson and Danny Amendola. It would appear these players will not be ready to play in Friday’s preseason game in Carolina.

As it relates to Brady, he didn’t appear to be impacted by his thumb at all as he was throwing like usual to open the practice.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

FOXBORO — Patriots quarterback Tom Brady reappeared Tuesday while rookie running back D.J. Foster talked it up in the locker room. Bill Belichick talked roster projections, or at least the complex thinking that goes into it. WEEI’s Mike Petraglia and Ryan Hannable have the details from Foxboro.

Blog Author: 
WEEI
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Tom Brady re-appeared at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — Maybe Tom Brady is trying to plant a seed with Bill Belichick. Maybe he is just playing nice guy. But the Patriots quarterback said Tuesday that he really does want to play Thursday against Carolina in the third preseason game against the Panthers.

Brady, who called Thursday’s scissors episode a “silly accident,” said he would’ve played if the game were a regular season or playoff game instead of preseason game No. 2 against the Bears.

“Yeah, I think so. Yeah. There’s only one time I’ve ever missed for injury, and I wanted to go back and play that year, too,” Brady said, referring to his ACL tear in the 2008 opener against the Chiefs. “I think that’s just, I’ve always felt like the team is counting on me to be out there, and I’m going to do everything I can to be out there playing. I wanted to go the other night, but I think Coach made a great decision.”

Why would Brady insist on playing?

“I think you’re getting hit so just the space awareness, guys around you and ball security and things like that,” Brady said. “For whatever, the last 30 practices, quarterbacks aren’t touched. Just standing there in the pocket, holding the ball knowing that they’re coming to get the ball and knock it out of your hands, hitting the ground, those types of things and so forth are important. You just have to feel things out and the game is really the only place to get it because it’s regular speed. You don’t know what’s coming. We prepare, but we don’t obviously get to walk through the looks that we’re going to get. When you get out there you just have to make good decisions and go play quarterback the way that I’ve always tried to do.”

Brady, who hasn’t missed an entire preseason since that fateful year, said he absolutely wants to play Friday night against the Panthers.

“Yeah, absolutely. I’d like to be out there every time I get a chance to play, so you only get so many opportunities a year,” Brady said. “I’m getting so many opportunities left in my life, so I’d like to take advantage of any opportunity, any and all of them if possible. When you see your teammates out there in their uniforms and ready to go, you want to be out there with them.

Yeah, I think it’s just putting in effort, as much effort as you can each day to try to be prepared. I try to treat it no different because I always try to do the best that I can to prepare and be ready to go. That’s the kind of mode that I’ve got to get into and that’s what I’ve been trying to do. We try to do that in the spring and try to do that during training camp and deal with the situation as it comes. That’s just where the focus has been. We’ve had a lot of good practices and it’s been a lot of work. Hopefully, we can get out there and play on Friday night but it’s a good week and preparation. I’ve obviously got work to do and that’s where my focus is.”

Has Brady gotten any indication he might play Friday?

“I’m always prepared to go, so whenever my number is called I’ll be ready,” Brady said.

Always the humorist, Brady said he did indeed get mad at himself when he cut his thumb.

“I let out probably a pretty loud word I wouldn’t repeat in front of my kids,” Brady said. “I couldn’t believe it; I just went and got checked out. It was just a silly accident.

“I don’t think about that stuff too much, I’m a pretty positive person. I just focused on how I was trying to do everything I could to get ready to play, and then finally as the QBs [quarterbacks] ran out for warmups it was like, ‘Alright we’re not playing.’ I was just, like I said, bummed that I couldn’t be out there with my teammates and taking the practice field, I love practicing, so to have the chance to go out there, you like, as a guy who’s been here for a long time, to show your leadership through example and be out there whenever you can be out there because that’s what the team is counting on. It was a crappy way to not be out there because it was, like I said, a silly mistake. I’m glad it wasn’t the regular season and I learned from it, so hopefully won’t be operating any more scissors for a while.”

With a four-game suspension looming, Brady says he’s tried to keep his preparation the same in the preseason.

“I try to approach it the same way,” Brady said. “I think that has been successful for me. I don’t try to change a whole bunch of things up, I try to work hard every day and I try to do what I need to do on the practice field to prepare myself. That’s just kind of what the routine is, so we’ll deal with those four weeks when they come. In the meantime, I’m just trying to prepare this week like I would have last year and the year before, and try to just prepare the best I can so I can be the best quarterback that I can for this team.”

Brady finished up Tuesday by saying he hasn’t finalized plans during his four-week hiatus, which reportedly including throwing to the likes of Randy Moss and Troy Brown.

“I haven’t put much thought into it,” Brady said. “It’s been busy, obviously with the practices and so forth. We’ve still got a couple important weeks for this training and for this phase of the season. I want to put all my effort and thoughts into this week and next week, try to go out and play in a couple good preseason games, see if I can get some of that game action and then deal with that when it comes.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia