FOXBORO - Bill Belichick made his feelings about the NFL using replacement officials clear on Thursday night. And he didn't even say anything himself.
After 15 accepted penalties were administered, Belichick was asked if he was "comfortable" with the way the game was officiated, Belichick smiled.
He then added, "I think Mike Pereira has made his comments on the officials. I dont know who knows more about NFL officiating than Mike Pereira, so well leave it to him. Im just trying to coach our team and get our team better. I'm not worried about what everybody else is doing; Its not my job."
Pereira, the NFL's former VP of Officiating, has voiced a slew of opinions about the replacement officials. None of them were very positive, which isn't a surprise since Pereira is, of course, a former NFL official. He's opined that the replacements who are working while the NFL and its officials haggle over pension benefits, mar the integrity of the game.
He's also been vocal about pointing out the flaws in the vetting process for the replacements in contrast to the process for full time refs.
The monolith on Park Avenue isn't going to like this. Mike Freeman reported Thursday that the league sent out a memo ordering teams and coaches to refer questions about officials to the league office.
A portion of the memo said, "We have attached some talking points for use by owners and a separate set of talking points for use by head coaches, if necessary. If you are asked about the negotiations or the replacement offcials, feel free to refer the question to our office. Please share these expectations with your coaches, players and operations staff so that all may contribute to the success of our officials on the field in 2012."
Belichick may have strayed off script by referencing Pereira (who definitely strayed off script).
FOXBORO -- The Patriots were able to trim their roster to 75 players by Tuesday's 4 p.m. deadline without making any eye-opening cuts.
The team placed right tackle Sebastian Vollmer and running back Dion Lewis on the reserve/physically unable to perform list, which will make them unavailable for the first six weeks of the regular season. The Patriots also released linebacker Ramon Humber, tight end Steven Scheu and offensive lineman Keavon Milton.
Neither Vollmer nor Lewis were expected to be healthy enough to begin the season. By placing them on reserve/PUP, the Patriots are no longer dedicating active roster spots to those players, but they have also kept the option open for one or both to return later in the year. Guard Tre' Jackson was also placed on reserve/PUP on Monday. Receiver Danny Amendola is the lone player to remain on active/PUP, meaning he will continue to count against the active roster and can re-join the team to practice at any time.
FOXBORO -- On the day the Patriots had to trim their roster to 75 players, a few of the absences at the team's practice were a sign of what was to come.
Tight end Steven Scheu, linebacker Ramon Humber and offensive lineman Keavon Milton were all missing from the session, and it was later announced that all three had been released. Running back Dion Lewis and offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer -- both of whom were on the physically unable to perform list going into Tuesday -- were also absent, and they were both placed on reserve/PUP later in the day.
For Lewis and Vollmer, the reserve/PUP designation means that they will be forced to miss the first six weeks of the regular season but will not count against the roster during that period. Guard Tre' Jackson was placed on reserve/PUP on Monday. Receiver Danny Amendola is the only player who remains on active/PUP. He could be activated to practice and play with the team at any time.
Other absences from Tuesday's practice -- the last before Thursday's preseason game with the Giants -- were Cre'Von LeBlanc, Matthew Slater, Shea McClellin and Nate Solder. For Slater, it was the second consecutive practice he missed.
Linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill missed Friday's preseason game with the Panthers and was held out of Mondays practice with an illness, but he was back on the field on Tuesday.
Defensive end Rob Ninkovich (triceps) and receiver Malcolm Mitchell (elbow) both remained with their teammates for drills following the warm-up period. Their increased participation is an indication that their recoveries are progressing in the right direction. Since suffering their injuries they have consistently headed to a lower practice field for conditioning work following warm-ups, but Tuesday saw that routine change.
FOXBORO -- After Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson went down with a torn Achilles in a recent preseason game, Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said he wouldn't mind if the league eliminated preseason games.
"If I had my choice, I'd go none," Harbaugh said. "That might be an extreme point, but we could run scrimmages, or we could run practices against other teams and figure it out. We'd all be in the same boat. That's for people higher up than me to decide."
Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked on Tuesday afternoon for his thoughts on the value of the preseason.
"I think I’ll let all the experts in the league decide that," Belichick said. "That’s not really my job. My job is to coach the team. But, I think our joint practices give us extra opportunities to evaluate the team. That’s why we use them.
"I’d say probably almost every team in the league does that. There might be a couple who don’t, but most of them do one, sometimes two. It seems to me like most of the teams want that type play and competition and opportunity rather than less of it. You want to play against somebody else. I don’t know why you wouldn’t schedule a few extra scrimmage days. But, you should talk to the experts about that. That’s not really my . . . we just play by the rules."