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Cuts like a knife: With roster reduction looming, Patriots vets talk about facing the Turk

08.26.12 at 2:47 pm ET
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It is one of the toughest times of the year. The Patriots, who have 85 on the roster as of Sunday afternoon, have to get down to 75 players by Monday at 4. And then, by Friday, the roster has to be at 53.

It’€™s never an easy process to tell someone they’€™ve been cut — in his first professional job with the Colts, Bill Belichick served as the “Turk.” That’s where he earned the nickname ‘€œBilly Bad News’€ because he was the guy assigned to tell players that they needed to see the coach … and that they had to bring their playbook.

It’€™s also difficult stretch for players, even those who aren’€™t on the roster bubble. First-round pick Devin McCourty saw his brother Jason have to hold his breath through a series of cuts with the Titans when they were both rookies.

‘€œI remember when my brother was in the same spot early when he was a sixth-round draft pick,’€ said Devin. ‘€œI told him, ‘€˜You did everything you could to work hard for that position so, whatever happens, just be happy and be proud of yourself.’€™

‘€œI think one of the worst parts about this business [are] those two large cutdown dates. I think a lot of the young guys and guys that are on the team have worked hard and I think coming in every day, putting their best foot forward, working hard and then letting the chips fall where they may.’€

In his first few years in the league, Matthew Slater was a perennial candidate to be cut. He solidified a spot the last two seasons — a Pro Bowl berth in 2011 finally silenced the critics — but he can recall some tough times at the end of the summer when he was wondering what might happen.

‘€œIt was definitely a tough time,’€ he said. ‘€œWhat I learned early in my career is to try not to think about it and just go out and continue my job, [to] focus on what I had to do. Really, at the end of the day, if I put forth my best effort, that’€™s all I could control. It’€™s tough when you’€™re worrying about things you can’€™t control, because it can consume you. I just learned not to play the numbers game, and just try to go out and take advantage of each and every day that you have here, and hope for the best from there.

‘€œThere is a bit of stress that comes with [cuts], but I think every day around here is an uptempo, tense day. We have to have a sense of urgency every day around here, because we have a lot of things to improve on and a lot of things to get done. We understand what time of year it is and what happens. But that’€™s part of the game and we can’€™t do anything to change it.’€

Julian Edelman was a seventh-rounder out of Kent State who had no guarantees when it came to making the roster. He said the stress that comes with cuts at this time of year is simply part of the job.

‘€œIt’€™s a stressful job. That’€™s part of it,’€ he said. ‘€œWhat I do is just worry about what I can worry about, what I can control, and that’€™s trying to be a better football player every day and taking the coaching from the coaches.’€

Defensive lineman Kyle Love is another player who beat the odds to make the final 53-man roster. An undrafted free agent out of Mississippi State who has matured into a key defender, he tries to impart some words of wisdom to those who might be on the bubble when cuts come.

‘€œA couple guys have asked me, ‘€˜What about this? What’€™s going on with this? When do you get that call?’€™ and stuff like that,’€ he said. ‘€œI just tell them, ‘€˜Guys, don’€™t too much worry about that. Don’€™t worry about that. Just work hard every day, give it your best effort and play hard when it comes down to it.’€™’€

Read More: Bill Belichick, Devin McCourty, Julian Edelman, Kyle Love
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