Conference Call: Sept. 1, 2019

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick Conference Call with New England Media
Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019

Q: On the outside it looked like quite the wild ride yesterday. On the inside, what is the challenge in keeping all of your priorities in check on such a fluid day?

BB: Yeah. Well, as you said, it can be fluid. There's always conversations and some potential player movement. Some of it materializes, some of it doesn't. In the end, you just try to do the best you can to create the most competitive team you can, and that's what we tried to do.

Q: What growth did you see from Jarrett Stidham that made you comfortable with giving him the back-up quarterback spot, and how hard was it to let Brian Hoyer go?

BB: Well, I thought both players played well in camp, and I liked both players. But in the end, there are a number of considerations that you have to make, so we did what we thought was best for the team. I still think Brian's a good player and it's a long season, so we'll see what happens.

Q: What have you seen from Russell Bodine that made you want to acquire him?

BB: Russell's had a solid career and quite a bit of experience playing center for Cincinnati and then most recently for Buffalo. He's also played guard in the past, so we'll see how it goes with the three lineman that we acquired over the past few days. We'll just see how it all works out, but he's – at this point – one of the more experienced players on our team in terms of NFL experience. So, we'll see how all of that comes together.

Q: Is it more about what he's done in the NFL when you're making the move, or is it from scouting reports from when he was coming out of college?

BB: Well, I think all of the information we have on any player is relevant. Some things carry a little more weight than others, so it would depend on the individual situation. But, we try to look at all of it, put it all together and see if it all make sense. Sometimes there's a conflicting report or opinion, and then try to get to the bottom of that. So that's the process. Just try to figure it out with all of the information we have available.

Q: How significant a loss is David Andrews for 2019, and how important is it for anyone who replaces him to develop a quick rapport with the quarterback?

BB: Yeah, that's an important position. The relationship between the center and the quarterback is of course an important one. So Ted [Karras]'s done that. He's been here four years and he's played a couple games two years ago that David missed. But we'll see how things work out with the other players on the roster, some of which have just been acquired, and I'll see how it all fits together. I'm not sure exactly how this will turn out. Again, we haven't seen three of the players that are on our roster ever run a play in a Patriots uniform. So we'll evaluate it as we go.

Q: Demaryius Thomas performed well in the final preseason game. Was that a tough release, and may there be more to come with him as the roster starts to take shape?

BB: Yeah, the whole receiver situation has been challenging all through camp with the limited availability of certain players. I'd say most of the players have been limited at one point or another. So we just have to use the information we have and do the best we can with it. We'll have to see how it goes.

Q: Are some of the roster decisions at this point made with an eye on availability and roles for the Pittsburgh game in seven days?

BB: Well, I wouldn't say that that game isn't a factor, but when you put together a roster, you have to take a lot longer view than one week. So that's what we try to do. Sure, the Pittsburgh game's important. So are the other 15. I don't think you want to build a roster for the opening game and then go through the next 15 games and feel like you're not happy with the roster.

Q: Can the practice squad be formed today after waivers?

BB: Yes.

Q: In terms of the trade market, it seemed like a sixth rounder was the going price for teams that had excess depth at a certain position and were looking to move a player. Does that seem right, or is it more case-by-case on those trades?

BB: To be honest with you Mike [Reiss], I haven't really studied everything that happened yesterday. I know what we did, I know the players that we were involved in – either on our team or on other teams – as conversations and so forth. But I really didn't study whatever else happened, so I'm not going to make any comments on that.

Q: Specific to your team, how would you assess the situation at cornerback going into the season following all of the trades you made?

BB: I think it's a very competitive position. I think we have some flexibility back there with our corners and also with our safeties. But, the regular season's a whole different evaluation than what we've had in preseason, and certainly we'll get tested against a very good passing attack like the Steelers have. So we'll see, but all of the moves and decisions we've made are based on what we feel like is best for the football team, so that's what it is.

Q: How do you evaluate Gunner Olszewski's situation?

BB: Well, that's what training camp is for, is to give players an opportunity to compete and evaluate their performance. A lot of people like to pick out the teams back in May and June, and who's going to do what and all that. But we've always used training camp as a competitive period, an evaluation period, to let the players decide how that's going to turn out based on their performance. So the players that are on the team earn those spots. Nobody was given anything. It's a competitive situation, and again, we took the players that we feel give us the most competitive team. I'm sure not everybody agrees with that and I respect that, but we did what we felt was best. It's the same thing we always do. It's no different.

Q: With Gunner, you've talked about his willingness to do anything and his competitiveness.

BB: Yeah. I mean, Gunner's a tough kid. He's improved a lot. He's shown some versatility. I still think he has a long way to go, but if he continues to work hard and is able to continue this rate of improvement, I think he has enough talent to be a productive player for us. And we'll see how versatile he is or isn't going forward.

Q: If N'Keal Harry misses a period of time and isn't able to be on the field, is it setting him behind and creating more uncertainty surrounding his level of production early in the year?

BB: Well, of course. We feel that all players benefit from practicing, otherwise there would be no point in us doing it. So, those are opportunities. Every player's missed time at one point or another for whatever the reasons are. That's something that we deal with all the time. It's very rare in the National Football League that every player on your team is 100% healthy, so it's kind of like the rest of the NFL. Every team in the league goes through the same thing.

Q: Any progress from him or updates you can give on how close he might be?

BB: Yeah, he's definitely getting better. I mean, all of our injured players are getting better. All of the guys that have been dealing with things are getting better. Where exactly they are – some of them didn't play in the game on Sunday if they didn't practice on Friday. We didn't practice yesterday, so some of these guys we haven't seen on the field in a couple of days. So we'll see where they're at.

Transcript courtesy of the New England Patriots Media Relations Department

Full audio available at patriots.com

Laura London