Pats, Belichick prepare for ‘uncertainty’
|09.06.10 at 1:37 pm ET|
FOXBORO — On the surface, it would seem mildly alarming that Bill Belichick admitted Monday that he has a lot of unanswered questions about his 2010 Patriots heading into Sunday’s opener with the Cincinnati Bengals.
That is before he followed up with the disclaimer that EVERY team in the NFL has questions heading into a season.
He was asked about a few of them on Monday as well as some questions following a weekend of roster-molding moves that saw linebacker Shawn Crable return to the Patriots on the practice squad while waving bye-bye to veteran linebacker Derrick Burgess.
“It’s a busy time,” Belichick said of preparing for Week 1. “There’s a lot of answered questions. There’s a lot of guesswork. You prepare, do the best you can and then you have to be ready to adjust on Sunday. I’m sure there’ll be some things we haven’t seen or players line up in spots that we haven’t seen them in before.
“It’s no different for us or anyone else. It’s more uncertainty than after that first regular season game when you can see how the cards are being played.”
The cards the Patriots will be playing at linebacker consist of Tully Banta-Cain, Jermaine Cunningham, Marques Murrell, Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes. Burgess, looking for his second year with the Patriots, was a roster casualty after missing the first week of training camp with a personal issue.
“We had to reduce our roster and we kept the players that we felt were the best players for our team going forward,” Belichick said. “That’s pretty much what it comes down to. Derrick came in and he worked hard. He got off to a late start this year, but he came in and really worked hard. We just went with different players.
Belichick made it clear that as far as Murrell and Cunningham are concerned, their versatility on special teams helped them secure a spot.
“We’ll just see how it goes for that whole group ‘ Jerod, Marques, Jermaine, Tully. I think those players all do some of the same things. They also do some different things. There are a lot of factors to take into consideration there: all three downs on defense, which can have some variety to them, and the kicking game. When you look at all four downs and the players that play at those positions, they contribute in different ways. That’s kind of the whole decision at that position: how to keep the right players, the best players, the best fit players that can help the team the most.
“Again, I think those players have different skills but they also have to do some of the same things, so it’s a combination of that kind of conversation or decision on the roster, and then also as it relates to their ability to play on special teams and contribute on special teams.
And another linebacker returned after clearing waivers over the weekend when Crable was added to the Patriots practice squad.
“We put him out there,” Belichick said. “He had to pass a physical and just normal procedures, so we’ll practice him. He really didn’t get a chance to do much here in training camp, but hopefully he’ll have an opportunity to do that on the practice squad.”