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Bill Belichick faces ‘$64,000 question’ on personnel decisions in next 2 weeks 08.23.16 at 5:59 pm ET
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Bill Belichick addresses reporters about the pending roster decisions in the weeks before the season opener Sept. 11. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — It’s a balancing act that Bill Belichick has, for the most part, mastered over his 17 years in Foxboro.

Weighing current production against potential. Weighing established veterans against younger, cheaper talent. Deciding between proven performance and future gain.

On Wall Street, it’s the stock market every day. In Foxboro, and around the NFL, the futures business can be just as dicey. And this is the busiest and riskiest time of the year. Belichick and director of player personnel Nick Caserio have begun to trim the roster down in an effort to reach the 75-player limit for Aug. 30 and the final 53-man limit for Sept. 3.

The Patriots must decide between the proven commodity of Donald Brown and the unknown in D.J. Foster. They must get more reps for Jonathan Jones, Justin Coleman and Cre’Von LeBlanc to see how to best round out their secondary. There are very subtle battles going on at the back end of the roster (as Chris Price noted) and those battles need exposure in games for coaches to reach difficult decisions.

The Patriots are still in an enviable position of having elite talent at the top end and trying to round out their roster with quality depth. But that job has become all the more crucial with the losses of Sebastian Vollmer (hip) and Dion Lewis (knee) and the possible downtime with players like Jabaal Sheard, Rob Ninkovich and Shaq Mason.

Belichick was asked Tuesday how difficult it is, this time of year, trying to decide whether or not to keep a player that the team may want to work with in the future or cut him at the risk of that player landing with another team.

“That’s the $64,000 question. That’s what it is. It’s been like that since the day I got into this league,” Belichick said. “From all of the personnel meetings I’ve ever been in it’s a [matter of] a player who’s more experienced [and] more ready to help the team now, versus a player that’s not as ready now but at some point you think the pendulum will swing in his favor. Will you do that? Can you do that? What are the consequences of making that move? What are the consequences of not making that move? How likely, as you said, is it that you could keep both players in some capacity? That’s what it’s about, trying to balance now with later.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, New England Patriots,
Bill Belichick on QB situation: ‘Jimmy [Garoppolo’s] preparation for the Arizona opener is the most important’ at 3:43 pm ET
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Bill Belichick said nothing has changed when it comes to his team's quarterbacks in the preseason. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Bill Belichick said nothing has changed when it comes to his team’s quarterbacks in the preseason. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — Bill Belichick is a man of his word.

During his first press conference before training camp, Belichick said Jimmy Garoppolo being ready for Sept. 11 in Arizona would be the priority during training camp and the preseason.

Tuesday, he was asked again about the quarterbacks and he gave essentially the same answer.

“Nothing’s changed,” Belichick said. “All three quarterbacks are extremely important. Jimmy’s preparation for the Arizona opener is the most important. Nothing’s changed, and that’s not going to change. That’s the way it’s going to be.”

Tom Brady hasn’t played in any of the two preseason games, while Garoppolo started both, although last Thursday was unexpected after Brady cut his thumb with scissors before the game.

Belichick was also pressed on why Brady left the stadium and didn’t stay for the game.

“Some are, some aren’t, but what difference does it make?” Belichick said when asked if injured players stay at the stadium during games. “It doesn’t make any difference. Guys that are out there playing are playing, guys that aren’t are doing something else, whatever that happens to be. They could be doing treatment, they could be at home, they could be here, they could be in the press box. It depends on what their situation is and what they need to do.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Tom Brady,
Tom Brady ‘absolutely’ wants to play vs. Carolina, says Bill Belichick made ‘great decision’ to hold him out at 1:50 pm ET
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Tom Brady reappeared at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — Maybe Tom Brady is trying to plant a seed with Bill Belichick. Maybe he is just playing nice guy. But the Patriots quarterback said Tuesday that he really does want to play Thursday against Carolina in the third preseason game against the Panthers.

Brady, who called Thursday’s scissors episode a “silly accident,” said he would’ve played if the game were a regular season or playoff game instead of preseason game No. 2 against the Bears.

“Yeah, I think so. Yeah. There’s only one time I’ve ever missed for injury, and I wanted to go back and play that year, too,” Brady said, referring to his ACL tear in the 2008 opener against the Chiefs. “I think that’s just, I’ve always felt like the team is counting on me to be out there, and I’m going to do everything I can to be out there playing. I wanted to go the other night, but I think Coach made a great decision.”

Why would Brady insist on playing?

“I think you’re getting hit so just the space awareness, guys around you and ball security and things like that,” Brady said. “For whatever, the last 30 practices, quarterbacks aren’t touched. Just standing there in the pocket, holding the ball knowing that they’re coming to get the ball and knock it out of your hands, hitting the ground, those types of things and so forth are important. You just have to feel things out and the game is really the only place to get it because it’s regular speed. You don’t know what’s coming. We prepare, but we don’t obviously get to walk through the looks that we’re going to get. When you get out there you just have to make good decisions and go play quarterback the way that I’ve always tried to do.”

Brady, who hasn’t missed an entire preseason since that fateful year, said he absolutely wants to play Friday night against the Panthers.

“Yeah, absolutely. I’d like to be out there every time I get a chance to play, so you only get so many opportunities a year,” Brady said. “I’m getting so many opportunities left in my life, so I’d like to take advantage of any opportunity, any and all of them if possible. When you see your teammates out there in their uniforms and ready to go, you want to be out there with them.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, New England Patriots, Tom Brady,
Bill Belichick on D&H: 3rd preseason game compared to regular season not in ‘same universe’ 08.22.16 at 6:53 pm ET
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Bill Belichick

Bill Belichick

Patriots coach Bill Belichick joined Dale & Holley with Thornton on Monday to discuss Jimmy Garoppolo and the Patriots as they gear up for the third preseason game Friday night in Carolina. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Tom Brady has been excused from practice both Sunday and Monday for reportedly a non-injury reason. Belichick didn’t offer much for when he would return.

“When that clears up, I guess,” he said.

Some call the third preseason game a “dress rehearsal” for the regular season, but Belichick doesn’t really see the comparison as there isn’t much game planning that goes into the game.

“I don’t. I don’t know what that means,” Belichick said. “In terms of playing time it might be a little different, but in terms of game-planning and strategy, what we see in the regular season compared to what we see the in third preseason game I don’t even think you’re in the same universe. We’re still running our basic plays and we’d expect our opponents would run their basic plays. You get to the opener and start to get to game-planning and scheme, I mean you’re in a totally different ballpark, in my opinion. I don’t see any comparison at all. It’s too far away, I don’t see how you could compare them, from that standpoint.

“1-on-1 matchups, letting the players play, yeah, I would say you have a better matchup of guys like that, but it’s nothing compared to what we’re going to see in the regular season from a total scheme situation standpoint.”

Belichick also discussed Jimmy Garoppolo and how he didn’t have much notice in getting the start in the second preseason game last Thursday. He made an analogy to a relief pitcher years ago when they didn’t know what type of situation they would enter the game with.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Jimmy Garoppolo, Tom Brady,
Bill Belichick offers no update on Tom Brady’s reported absence: ‘I don’t comment on any personal situations’ at 2:24 pm ET
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Tom Brady

Tom Brady

FOXBORO — If you expected Bill Belichick to offer up more details on why Tom Brady reportedly missed Sunday and Monday practices with an excused absence, you thought wrong.

“I don’t comment on any personal situations,” Belichick said when asked directly if he could confirm the report.

Brady didn’t play in the second preseason game last Thursday night against the Bears after reportedly cutting his thumb with scissors prior to the game. He was seen leaving the stadium about 30 minutes before the game, which is customary for players not playing in preseason games.

After the game Belichick said he made the decision Brady wouldn’t play.

With Brady not playing in any of the first two preseason games, it appears there’s a chance he doesn’t play in the preseason at all. The coach doesn’t appear to be concerned.

“We’ll just take it day-by-day, week-by-week,” he said.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

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Jimmy Garoppolo on D&C: ‘Your guess is as good as mine’ on where Tom Brady is at 8:17 am ET
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Jimmy Garoppolo

Jimmy Garoppolo

Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo made his weekly appearance on Dennis & Callahan with Minihane on Monday to talk about the huge losses to injury on the Patriots offense and the status on Tom Brady. To hear the interview, visit the D&C audio on demand page.

Life has been made much tougher for Garoppolo, who will have to start the first four games of the season without some key offensive weapons. News broke Sunday that running back Dion Lewis will need a second knee surgery and will miss significant time. The absence of Lewis, who shined in seven games before tearing his ACL last November, provides an extra challenge to Garoppolo, but he takes comfort in the gang of halfbacks behind him.

“He was doing a heck of a job,” Garoppolo said of Lewis. “Seeing him go down with that injury was tough, but it’s kind of the Patriot Way. Next man up, the running backs behind him, James White and Branden Bolden, they both played well the rest of the season. It’s nice having a good crew of running backs like that, you could interchange in and out.”

Lewis isn’t the only starter on offense who is sidelined with an injury. Right tackle Sebastian Vollmer reportedly will be placed on injured reserve with an undisclosed injury. And right guard Shaq Mason broke his hand and his return date is unknown.

There have been plenty of moves on the offensive line throughout preseason, but that’s just how training camp goes, according to Garoppolo.

“Whether it’s injuries, whether it’s just coach mixing an matching all the guys up there, injuries are going to happen throughout the year,” Garoppolo said. “That’s just how it goes, I’ve been in it for a couple of years now and you just see that from year after year. For those big guys to be able to play with one another, it really is tough, but it’s a good thing they can all do it with one another.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Dion Lewis, Jimmy Garoppolo, Malcolm Mitchell
Bill Belichick doesn’t change on Tom Brady: ‘I made the decision. I don’t really have anything else to add’ 08.19.16 at 4:52 pm ET
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Bill Belichick said he made the decision not to play Tom Brady vs. Bears. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

Bill Belichick said he made the decision not to play Tom Brady vs. Bears. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — Nearly 24 hours later, Bill Belichick isn’t changing his approach on the way the Tom Brady matter was held before Thursday’s preseason game with the Bears.

About 60 minutes before Thursday’s game, Belichick told the team’s pregame radio broadcast that the quarterback would be making his preseason debut and that “all three” quarterback would see playing against Chicago. Then, during warmups, only Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett appeared. Brady had left the building with what was reported as a scissors cut to his thumb.

After the game, Belichick did not acknowledge the report of Brady cutting his finger with scissors before the game. He only said that he “made a decision before the game to play just Jimmy and Jacoby.”

On Friday, he reiterated that position during his traditional day-after conference call with reporters.

“As I said [after the game], I made the decision. I don’t really have anything else to add,” Belichick said at the end of the call.

After warmups, Brady was spotted leaving the Gillette Stadium facility in street clothes. Garoppolo started the game and Brady missed his second straight game.

Belichick would only address the story as it pertained to how Garoppolo, (16-for-21 for 181 yards and a touchdown pass to AJ Debry) handled himself filling in at the last moment.

“That’s part of football,” Belichick said. “Things happen that are unexpected and he’s been prepared for that the day he got here. I think all of our players are. Sometimes things happen and they change and you have to adjust to them. On offense and for the quarterbacks, we refer to that as an audible.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Chicago Bears, Jimmy Garoppolo, New England Patriots
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