Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Monday as the team heads into the final week of the preseason. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The Patriots need to part ways with nine players to get to their roster to the league-mandated 75 by Tuesday afternoon. Then they have to be at 53 at the end of the week, after the final preseason game.
Caserio said the team still is determining which players are most worth keeping.
“We’re getting closer. Probably a better idea today or tomorrow,” he said. “There’s a lot of factors that go into it just in terms of overall player ability, and there’s some other factors that go into it.”
Added Caserio: “We spend a lot of time as a staff, really on a daily basis. You go through, you watch every play at practice, you go through every game. And ultimately you’re trying to, when you get down to 53 you just identify the right 53 players. … It’s an ongoing discussion. It’s not something where ultimately we just roll out of bed and wake up and say, ‘It’s time to move on from this player.’ Every player is different.
“Really, you look at everything — their progress on the field, how they perform off the field, their strength and conditioning. Everything that you can imagine as it relates to being a good football player or different aspects of our program. Those are the things that you try to sort through. And really you just try to make the decisions that we feel are best for the team moving forward.”
Caserio has been with the Patriots since 2001, serving as a personnel executive, a scout and an assistant coach at various points during his tenure in New England. He said what he’s learned from Bill Belichick has been invaluable.
“Nobody works harder than Coach Belichick,” said Caserio, whose voice sounds similar to Belichick’s. “I’ve been fortunate to be in this organization, this will be my 15th season. Everything that I’ve learned in football I’ve learned from him and watched him. He works so hard. He has really a grasp of every aspect of the football operation, whether that’s college scouting, game-planning, contracts, you name it, he’s at the pulp of it. Really, it’s a blend of sort of short-term focus, like, ‘These are the thing we need to do today in order to improve as a football team,’ and then as an extension, once we start preparing for the opponent and for the regular season, ‘All right, these are the things that are most important and most critical for us to win.’
“And he really tries to boil it down to the simplest — I mean, look, there’s a lot that goes into it, ‘Do this, do that,’ but ultimately he tries to pinpoint, ‘All right, here are the things that we need to do on a daily basis and a weekly basis in order to be successful as a team. We go back at the end of the game and figure out, ‘OK, well, we didn’t do this well, we didn’t do this well.’ But he spends so much time and he’s so ultra-focused on ultimately trying to put the best team together, try to put the team in the best position possible on a daily basis in order to be effective and successful. And it’s fun to see that. It’s fun to be around it. And like I’ said, I’ve learned an immense amount of football in the time that I’ve been here, and I’m just honored and privileged to be able to work with him and for him.”
Caserio said he sees no signs that Belichick is ready to hang up his coach’s whistle in the near future.
“I think Bill enjoys every aspect of the football process, the football operation, and he invests a lot of time, and he genuinely is fully invested,” Caserio said. “Whenever that point in time comes when he doesn’t have that feeling, then ultimately he’ll make that decision to move on. But this isn’t a guy that comes in and he’s trying to just dip his toe in the water. He’s fully invested, he jumps right in. And until that dissipates, then I don’t see him walking away anytime soon. … To be around him on a daily basis, to see the amount of energy and focus that he has into football and to this team, it doesn’t appear to be somebody that just says, ‘I’m ready to walk away.’ ”
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