Patriots re-sign Matt Stankiewitch, Mike Zupancic, undecided on Tom Brady, prepare for Philadelphia
|08.05.13 at 10:49 am ET|
FOXBORO — In preparation for joint practices this week in Philadelphia with the Eagles, the Patriots re-signed two players to fill their roster back to 90 players.
Bill Belichick announced Monday before the team’s ninth training camp practice that the team had re-signed center Matt Stankiewitch and long snapper Mike Zupancic.
Stankiewitch played for Penn State from 2008 to 2012, including a redshirt season in 2008. He started two games at left guard in 2009. In 2010, Stankiewitch played in six games before missing the rest of the season due to illness. He was able to remain healthy throughout 2011 and 2012, finishing his career having made 15 career starts at guard and 12 career starts at center.
The Patriots signed him as a rookie free agent on April 28, just after the draft.
A week later, on May 3, the team signed Zupancic as another undrafted free agent. Zupancic was released on Friday before the team brought him back on Monday.
The Patriots held practice Monday morning before preparing to leave for Philadelphia later in the day. Devin McCourty, who was back in a normal jersey for the first time during Saturday’s scrimmage, was back in a non-contact red jersey on Monday.
Three players, receiver Michael Jenkins, offensive lineman Marcus Cannon and defensive back Ras-I Dowling were not spotted on the field at the beginning of practice.
Belichick said the team had not decided yet just how much Tom Brady will quarterback the first unit in Friday night’s preseason opener in Philadelphia.
“We haven’t even had those discussions yet,” Belichick said. “We’ll have those discussions as we get closer to the game.”
Belichick also reflected on his trip to Canton, Ohio, Saturday night for the induction of his former boss and head coach, Bill Parcells into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“It was a great experience. I’ve never been there for that before,” Belichick said, referring to the fact that he has coached several times in the game but never been part of the induction ceremony and the gala that goes with it.
“I’d never been to that part of it. I’ve been through the Hall, although they’ve redone it. It was always great but it’s even better now. They’ve redone it and it’s very – they have some amazing displays. Then we’ve played in the game a couple times or I’ve coached in the game I should say, a couple times but again, you’re there with your team and you’re kind of doing your thing so you’re not really part of that. So this is the first time I’ve ever been through that.”
Belichick not only watched Parcells inducted, he met with some other greats such as Jim Brown, someone he has always had a huge amount of admiration for since his days in Cleveland, and fellow coaches such as Tom Coughlin of the Giants.
“It’s an amazing collection of all the icons from professional football – players, coaches and not just the people who are there in the gold jackets but also many of the other people that come for the event,” Belichick said. “It was a great experience. Like I said, I’ve never been part of that before. It was awesome, it was impressive. It was great to see a lot of people that I haven’t seen for awhile going back to Bill’s [Parcells] Giants days but also many other people came to be there for Coach Parcells and of course the players that I have coached along that way too. It was a good experience and a great night for Bill.”
Here is the remainder of Belichick’s Monday press conference from Gillette Stadium:
BB: We’re going to try to pull things together today, relative to situations, start to really pull together our team football – offense, defense, special teams, all the things that we’ve kind of worked on up to this point – it’s going to hopefully come together here, even in tighter in anticipation of the week against Philadelphia and the game on Friday, which we’ll incorporate obviously some, but not all of the situations we’re working on, we just don’t know which ones. I think the team is in pretty good condition. I feel like they worked hard in the first two weeks, 10 days, whatever it was depending on when those guys came in.
“It will be a big week for all of us to see how we can pull things together from a team standpoint, as well as each one of us individually [to] work on our development and improvement at this point in the season and then see where we’re at here on Friday night. I think we’re all looking forward to going down there and seeing the Eagles. I have a lot of respect for Chip [Kelly] and his organization, the job that he does. The Eagles have always been a solid franchise, probably pretty much, other than a couple years there, since I’ve been in the league. Looking forward to working against some different faces, different jerseys and getting a gauge on how things are coming along for us.”
Q: Do you foresee playing Tom Brady more in the preseason games to get him reps with new receivers?
BB: We really haven’t even talked about that. We’ll have those discussions as we get closer to the game based on a lot of things. We’ll just have to wait and see on that.
Q: Any plans for the two open roster spots?
BB: We re-signed [Matt] Stankiewitch and [Mike] Zupancic.
Q: Do you put more emphasis on the joint practices in the evaluations of certain guys?
BB: No, it all goes into one big pot – practice, scrimmages, situations, preseason games, one-on-ones – it’s all in one big pot. I don’t think one good play or one bad play I don’t think is going to change the evaluation too much. Each player has his own body of work from the season, including going back to the spring. We’ll just try to look at the whole picture of what that player has done. Certainly trends are important – going up or leveling off or whatever it is. Some guys we have more plays on than others but whatever the information is, we’ll just have to, whenever it comes time to make a decision, try to do the best we can with the information we have, whether it’s complete or incomplete, that’s sometimes beyond our control.
Q: How much communication and coordination do you have with Chip Kelly this week and how much do you want to happen as it happens?
BB: Once the ball is snapped, it’s all going to happen as it happens. Structurally, the things we want to try to get done – the drills, who is going to go where, just to try to get organized so we’re efficient with it – that’s taken some time and some communication to organize. But once we have the basic parameters of it, then we’re just playing football. We have to react to what they do, just like in-game situations and vice versa. I think that will be good, again for the players, the coaches. We’ll have to make adjustments down there. They’re running a new coaching staff, new scheme, new system; they have some new players. So we’re not really doing a whole lot of scouting and preparation for them. We’ll just see what we get out there. We’ll have to react to it and adjust to it, but that will be good for us as well.
Q: Some football players seem more injury-prone than others. In your opinion, is that just bad luck?
BB: I don’t know that I know all the answers to that. I think each individual is different. Regardless of what it is, we just have to evaluate based on the information that we have.
Q: What have you learned about Danny Amendola as a player so far?
BB: Danny works hard; he’s got a good skill set. He’s smart, he can catch the ball, he has a good skill set and he’s become a very dependable player for us, doesn’t make many mental errors. He’s a guy that’s usually in the right spot, has a good understanding of defenses and what he’s supposed to do. You can tell he’s been in the league for four years.
Q: What did you feel the team got out of the scrimmage on Saturday?
BB: That was the first time that we’ve really gotten into as much of a game-like situation as we could – down and distance, punting, punt returns, field goal, substitutions, play calling with and without the headsets, all those kind of things. We tried to push the overall game operation and communication issue as far as we could, other than having the noise out there. That’s the way the game is going to be played, we have to be able to play it that way. It’s not just a bunch of drills and, ‘Stop, let’s set this up.’ It’s a fluid game and every time the ball is snapped, the situation changes, the down changes or the yardage changes, the score and the clock and all that. We tried to create as many situations as we could that forced the communication issues and all our substitution. Again, coaches as well as players, the operation on the sideline, making personnel changes or making adjustments, corrections on plays that had happened before while the other unit, the offense or the defense, one unit is out on the field, the other group is on the sideline, going through the correction process and talking about the next series. We tried to create a game-like situation for that. I think it was certainly not perfect and a lot of things came up that we have talked about and hopefully the next time we do it, it will be a smoother operation. That’s a big part of football, is just getting everybody being able to be efficient in the time that we have to communicate and make adjustments and substitute and all those kind of things.
Q: What are some of the things you’ve seen from Zach Sudfeld that you would consider strengths?
BB: Zach has come in and absorbed a lot of information. The offense that he played in in Nevada is quite a bit different than what we do. I’m sure there are some similarities but there are quite a few differences as well. He’s been able to acclimate to those changes. He catches the ball well.
Q: Is tight end traditionally a difficult position to acclimate yourself to in this offense because of the number of responsibilities?
BB: I think it’s one of the most difficult positions in any offense. Any time you change formations, that player is really at the heart of the changes. You usually, the backs are usually in the backfield, other than some empty plays. The receivers are usually detached, other than some close formation plays. Normally the tight end or tight ends, they’re involved in a lot of the formation variations, which then involve them in a lot of different assignments. Basically they’re involved in the passing game, the running game, pass protection, blitz adjustments, all the multiple tight end personnel groups like goal line and short-yardage and four-minute offense and things like that in addition to their, as bigger players, their roles in the kicking game. It’s really hard to get around, you might be able to get around a part of that, but not too many parts of it. Or else the guy is a receiver or he’s an offensive lineman. That’s really what it comes down to. Sure, that position takes a lot. It takes a lot, there are a lot of assignments, there are a lot of adjustments. They have a lot of different responsibilities.
Q: Zach Sudfeld isn’t as thick yet, which he may need to go against defensive ends and linebackers. Is that another level that he needs to work at and all the mental stuff – technique, strength and such?
BB: I’d say that probably in 90 percent of the cases, the players that come into this league at age 21, 22, whatever it is, as rookies, physically are behind the players who are 25, 26, 27, 28 that have another three, four, five, six years of professional football training that a 21-, 22-year old just doesn’t have, as well as the whole mental side of experience and amount of football playing. But the physical development for all of them is, I think there are very few guys that come in here at 21 or 22 that don’t make a, if they work at it, that don’t make a significant jump within four, five, six years of solid training both offseason and in-season training. I’d say there are very few players that don’t fall into that category.
Q: Chandler Jones would seem to fall into that category. How much has he grown physically from his rookie year to now?
BB: I think he’s had a good offseason. He’s, again sometimes players are held back because they’re not able to train, they’re in some type of rehabilitation, regardless of what year they’re in. But that’s not the case with Chandler. He’s been healthy, he’s worked hard, he’s had a good offseason and he’s improved his physical skills as well as his experience and techniques on the football end of it. It’s been a good offseason for a lot of our players. A lot of our players who are going from their first to second year. but guys who are on the younger side, they have kind of a double growth opportunity for them – physical growth and also growth as a football player.
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