FOXBORO — Bill Belichick‘s poker face was in midseason form Tuesday as the Patriots held a full pads practice outside Gillette Stadium.
“Ready for September? It’s here. Whatever you’ve got, go ahead,” Belichick said in opening his press conference.
What the media had was persistent questions about Tom Brady, and whether there might be a cloud of uncertainty hanging over the team. Belichick was asked if he’s concerned that he doesn’t have a starting quarterback and how much confidence he has in Jimmy Garoppolo.
“We’re going out to practice today with all the players who will be out there, and that’s who we’ll work with,” Belichick said, just hours before the 4 p.m. ET cutdown deadline to 75 players.
Is it difficult for Belichick not to know who will be your starter in Week 1?
“Right now, we’re practicing with all the players that are out there,” Belichick said. “We have good depth at that position. We have good depth at a lot of positions. Not everybody is out there. The players who aren’t out there won’t practice, obviously.”
With the uncertainty at quarterback, how does that affect how Belichick practices and prepares?
“We do what we think is best for the team at every position. That’s what we’ll keep doing,” he quipped.
If he could offer any advice to [Judge Richard Berman] down in New York, what would it be?
“I really am just focused on trying to get our team ready to go. That’s my job,” Belichick answered.
Will it be nice to have the Brady issue resolved?
“Right now, we’re just focused on going out to practice and working on things we’re doing today,” Belichick said.
Tom Brady has played 43 snaps in 12 drives over three preseason games. His only touchdown pass came on an 18-yard strike to Scott Chandler on his 12th and last drive last Friday against Carolina. How does Belichick evaluate the Tom-led offense based on his supporting cast?
“I don’t think we really worry too much about who is or who isn’t out there,” Belichick said. “It’s each individual player doing better at what they’re doing, and coach ‘ that’s all of us. We all need to do a better job in all areas ‘ offense, defense, special teams, coaching staff, the players. There’s a lot of room for improvement from all of us individually, so if that happens, then collectively there will be improvement, too.”
In non-Brady news, Belichick did note that James Develin is back in Foxboro after weekend surgery to repair a broken tibia in his lower right leg.
“I saw him [Monday], and he’s doing well,” Belichick said. “I think he’s got a good attitude. I was happy to see him. It’s good to see him back here.”
More from Belichick on Tuesday:
Q: Last week you said your goal was to prepare every player to be ready to play on opening day. You said that at some point that will change, but you’re not there yet. Has that point arrived yet?
BB: Well, we’ve still got a long way to go on that. We don’t even have a 53-man roster. We’re definitely working on Pittsburgh, but there are a lot of loose ends. I’d say there are a lot of loose ends.
Q: What are your thoughts on the summer Dion Lewis has had here?
BB: Good. Dion had a good spring, he had a good offseason program, did a nice job in OTAs. He’s learned really all of our offense, all three downs, plus some stuff in the kicking game. Yeah, he’s done a good job. He’s picked things up well. He’s been healthy for the most part other than one week there in training camp. But he’s been out, he’s gotten a lot of work in and that’s been good for a guy who missed the season last year. He’s done a good job. I like him.
Q: When you decide whether or not to keep a player, do you look at their injury history or is it a fresh start?
BB: That’s a tough one. I think in the end, you’ve just got to, as I said before, take all the information, put it in a composite and do what you think is best. We have guys who were hurt in college that haven’t been hurt in the NFL. We’ve got guys who were never hurt in college that have been hurt in the NFL. So, I think if it’s a chronic injury, that’s one thing. If it’s an injury, those heal, and then they come back and they play. Usually it’s not the same thing, but some guys have more issues than others. I don’t know. That’s a tough one. It’s a case-by-case thing where I don’t know if there is any right formula to it.
Q: Dominique Easley has battled back since suffering two knee injuries in college. How hard has he worked, and what kind of example has he set for the younger guys on the team?
BB: I mean, look, almost everybody who has played this game has had to deal with something somewhere along the line. He’s done a good job and he’s played well this training camp. That’s been good, but I think if you go to pretty much every guy in the locker room, everybody has had something somewhere along the line. Unfortunately, that’s part of high competitive athletics. Everybody is pushing themselves to the limits and sometimes there’s a setback.