Bill Belichick is disregarding any talk of the Buccaneers being an easy mark because they’ve started the year 0-2, saying that, in truth, Tampa is two plays from being 2-0.
“They’ve been really close the last two weeks, and have come up short,” Belichick said of the Bucs, which have lost two games on a pair of late field goals. “But a couple plays that just turn out a little differently, wouldn’t have taken much, we’d be looking at a 2-0 team.
“I have a lot of respect for the way that they play. They’re a tough, physical team, he added. “They play hard on every play in all three phases of the game. I think that the work we did against them in training camp was good for our development as a team, but I’m not really sure how much carryover that will have into the game other than just the familiarity with some of the players that we went up against.”
Rumors of unrest have swirled around the Tampa Bay team over the last few weeks, with quarterback Josh Freeman allegedly making trade demands and players reportedly upset, believing that head coach Greg Schiano rigged a captains vote. However, based on his experience with them in training camp — the Bucs came to Foxboro for joint practices this summer in the days leading up to a preseason clash — Belichick doesn’t believe the off-field drama will prevent Tampa from offering anything less than their best this weekend.
“We would have expected Tampa’s best no matter what happened in the first two games and that’s what we’ll expect this week,” he said. “From working against them, we played against them twice in preseason and worked on the field with them, we have a lot of respect for their players, their coaching staff, their toughness, their effort, their competiveness. I think that that’s a team that I would expect to get their absolute best performance every week. That’s what we’ll be preparing for this week in all three phases of the game.”
On the Monday morning conference call with the media, Belichick was also asked about the health of tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Danny Amendola. Belichick said that other than running back Shane Vereen — who was placed on short-term injured reserve recently with a wrist injury — the rest of the players could be classified as “day-to-day.”
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