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Bill Belichick will play his regulars into second half ‘if that’s possible’

08.20.13 at 5:00 pm ET
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FOXBORO — According to most NFL conventional wisdom and thinking, the third preseason game is the most significant game in the preseason because that’s when NFL coaches play their regulars into the second half to give them more reps and the chance to simulate halftime adjustments.

Bill Belichick said Tuesday that he’ll do his best to make that happen for his team Thursday night at Detroit’s Ford Field against the Lions.

“I think there’€™s still a lot to be said for playing a game prior to the start of the regular season where the players play, come in at halftime, go back out and play again, if that’€™s possible,” Belichick said. “I don’€™t think it’€™s like an absolute must, but I think it’€™s a good experience if they can experience it. We’€™ll see how it goes.”

Belichick was asked Tuesday if the games mean more in the preseason than the practices, in terms of evaluating a player who is trying to make the team out of camp.

“We look at everything. I couldn’€™t really tell you how it would break down,” Belichick said. “Again, there are a lot of things that happen in preseason games that could be an aberration, one way or another.

“I’€™m not saying they’€™re not important. They are an important part of the evaluation and if it’€™s a good evaluation, it might be the most important. If it’€™s a good evaluation, then it might be the most important thing. I’€™m just telling you that just because you put a guy out there in a preseason game doesn’€™t mean you’€™re getting a great evaluation. He may not be competing against somebody that’€™s relevant or what they’€™re doing may not really be indicative of what his skills are or aren’€™t. I just couldn’€™t make a blanket statement like that.”

The Patriots are 2-0 this preseason, trying to go 3-0 for the first time since 2003. That year, the Patriots finished a perfect 4-0 in the preseason, en route to a 14-2 season and their second Super Bowl title.

Here is the remainder of Belichick’s presser Tuesday at Gillette Stadium:

BB: We’€™re not really on a regular season type schedule yet but we’€™re closing in on, I’€™d say, like a Friday type of day today. Hopefully we can pull together the situations, kind of tie things together for the Lions game and then roll out there tomorrow and play on Thursday. Short week, quick turnaround, but that’€™s something we can always use the work on; we’€™ll have that during the season. That’€™s about where we are today.

Q: What are some of your thoughts on Leon Washington and the camp he’€™s had?

BB: He hasn’€™t gotten a lot of opportunities but I think he’€™s done everything we’€™ve asked him to do. He’€™s been healthy, he’€™s been out there every day, he’€™s worked hard, he’€™s got a great attitude, he’€™s got great leadership for our team and for the running back group. I think he’€™s shown up positively in the return game even though he hasn’€™t really had a lot of opportunity. But we still have two more games here; we’€™ll see how it goes.

Q: Are you starting to see any separation or clarity in the punting situation?

BB: I still think it’€™s a very competitive situation.

Q: Is there a danger in a guy on the bubble trying to do too much to catch a coach’€™s eye and lose focus on just doing his job?

BB: I would hope not. I don’€™t know, I’€™m sure it’€™s possible. We try to tell the players and I try to tell the team and a lot of times individual, specific players where they’€™re at, what they need to do, what’€™s important in their situation, their role, try to explain that to them. How they actually look at it, I couldn’€™t tell you how each guy sees that.

Q: How much development have you seen out of Kyle Arrington since he got here?

BB: A ton, yeah. Kyle is one of our hardest working players. He’€™s been a very dependable and durable player that’€™s been out there a lot. He’€™s taken a lot of snaps. He’€™s come a long way from the practice squad to playing corner to playing inside in the nickel position. He’€™s always had a strong role in the kicking game. His reads and techniques and communication and overall understanding of what we’€™re doing and what our opponents are doing has improved every year. He works hard; he’€™s in very good condition. His game is improved and his responsibilities have expanded as well. He’€™s a lot more valuable to us now than he was obviously when he came here but even progressively each year he continues to I’€™d say, expand his value to the team because of his performance, improvement and also his versatility.

Q: How versatile is the cornerback group?

BB: Probably more than what we’€™ve had in the past, more guys that are able to play inside and outside at a higher level so far. A couple of guys that have also worked at safety; a couple safeties that have also worked at corner. Depending on what type of scheme we’€™re running or what type of team we’€™re facing, what the challenges are or what situation it is in the game, I think that will give us some flexibility somewhere down the road, I’€™m not sure exactly where. In the past, we’€™ve always seemed to need those type of players and my guess is we’€™ll need them again. I couldn’€™t tell you exactly how or when that’€™s going to be.

Q: Does that include the rookies as well?

BB: It does, Logan [Ryan], Duron [Harmon], sure.

Q: Any reason for concern with Danny Amendola not being at practice yesterday?

BB: He’€™s day-to-day.

Q: How deep and competitive has the running back competition been?

BB: I think it’€™s been very competitive. It’€™s interesting, I think when you look at the players at that position ‘€“ including the guys at fullback ‘€“ each guy is a little bit different than the other ones. They have some individual, unique skills that are good and so do the other players. It’€™s hard to make a comparison when we talk about it in our personnel meetings. To compare one player to another, they’€™re all different. Each guy has his strengths and the next guy has maybe a little different set of strengths that are good, they’€™re just different. Their playing styles and the strengths of what they do, their role in the kicking game, their role on third down, their role on short yardage and goal line, all those situational things play into it as well. It’€™s interesting. I feel like it’€™s a talented group. They all have shown good ability to produce with the ball in their hands however they get it ‘€“ catching it or running with it or returning it or whatever the case is. They all have a little bit different style and I think situationally they would fall into different categories. It’€™s an interesting position to try to analyze. It’€™s good because the diversity actually helps the overall depth and the different roles you have on your team but when you compare one to another, it’€™s hard to really have a straight up type of comparison.

Q: Does the Detroit vertical passing game compare to Tampa or Philadelphia or do they have elements of both?

BB: I think they can really pretty much do it all. They throw the ball down the field well. They throw possession, crossing routes, things like that. Coach [Scott] Linehan, the offensive coordinator, as we know, they’€™ve had a lot of production in the passing game over the past few years. They have a good quarterback, they have a bunch of good receivers, tight ends, backs. They’€™ve always had explosive backs. They can beat you in a lot of different ways. Let’€™s say, what you’€™re taking away, even though they can hurt you there, they’€™re probably going to try to hurt you more in the things you’€™re light on. When you kind of shift your emphasis of what you want to take away, they can pretty quickly, I would say from a good execution level, they can go to other places and hurt you. It really forces you defensively to be able to cover everything and everybody. You’€™re covering sideline to sideline; you’€™re covering the goal line to the end line. They challenge you on all that.

Q: Do you still have to shade a lot of things toward Calvin Johnson?

BB: That’€™s something you can ‘€“ look, he’€™s a great player, that’€™s definitely something that you would talk about. To do it all the time and expose the matchups that you’€™d have with [Tony] Scheffler and [Brandon] Pettigrew and [Nate] Burleson and [Reggie] Bush, then that’€™s, I don’€™t know that you’€™d want to do that. But he’€™s a dynamic player, very hard guy to match up against. I don’€™t think you want to shade everything away from him all the time, that’€™s for sure, but they have a lot of weapons. That’€™s why they’€™re hard to defend.

Q: Do we know for sure if Jim Schwartz has retired the turkey story or is he still telling it?

BB: You’€™d have to check with him on that. We’€™ve heard that enough times. It will be good to see Schwartzie out there. If he retires that one, I’€™m sure he’€™ll have another one.

Read More: 2013 training camp, Bill Belichick, detroit lions, New England Patriots
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