TAMPA -- Even though a fleet of very important Patriots sat out Monday's preseason game with the Eagles, more than half the 90-man roster played.
But Bill Belichick seems eager to have his team tested by the late game-day after-breakdown-fly to Tampa-practice-practice-game-fly home schedule his team is facing.
"Look, it's training camp," said Belichick when asked if any allowances were being made for spent players. "Coaches are tired, players are tired but we're gonna have a short week during the season. We have a Sunday-Thursday game during the season. That's what training camp's for. It's to suck it up, it's to be mentally tough with whatever situations you have. You're tired, you're sore, you didn't get any sleep, you traveled. You have to block that out and focus on what you can control which is your performance and your effort. You go out there and work through it as a team and as individuals."
The turnaround Belichick is referring to during the season comes when the Patriots play the Colts on Sunday and then follow with the Jets on Thanksgiving. He sees this week as becoming a touchstone for the team when things inevitably get ugly later.
"That's the way it's gonna be during the season," Belichick pointed out. "There will be plenty of weeks during the season where somebody's gonna be tired, somebody's gonna be sore or some position's gonna be short on numbers or whatever it is. You build your toughness and resiliency through training camp and that serves you well during the season. You look back during the season and say, 'You know what, this isn't that bad, we went through a lot worse stretch than this in camp.' You have the confidence you can do it. I don't really worry about that. These guys came to camp in good condition, they've worked hard, they've had a good camp, they're ready for the challenge in front of them and I expect them to meet it."
Ray Ratto joins Chevrolet SportsNet Central to discuss Colin Kaepernick's decision to not stand during the national anthem before the San Francisco 49ers preseason game.
Bill Belichick was expansive Saturday when asked on a conference call how he'll split the quarterback reps for the Patriots final preseason game Thursday in New York.
"I think that’s a good question, it’s a fair question, it’s one that we really have to give some good consideration to," Belichick began. "As I said before, I think whatever we do will benefit whoever does it. We want to get Jimmy [Garoppolo] ready for the Arizona game. Tom [Brady] isn’t going to be playing for a while, so it’s kind of his last chance to play until he comes back after a few weeks. Jacoby [Brissett] certainly could use all the playing time that he can get. I think that whichever players we play will benefit from it and it will be valuable to them. We could play all three quarterbacks a lot next week and they’d all benefit from that and it would all be good, but we can’t."
Since they can't, Belichick said there will be situational work done with whoever isn't going to get the game reps.
"We only have one game and so many snaps, so we’ll have to, between practice and the game, put them in some situations that are somewhat controllable like a two-minute situation or things like that that you know are going to kind of come up one way or another," said Belichick. "You can sort of control those in how you want those broken down, what’s best, what does each guy need and how can we get the best we need for each guy. I need to let them get the reps that they need, but it’s how do we get the team ready for what they need to be ready for. They all need to get ready for different things.
What Jimmy’s role is in a couple weeks is going to be a lot different than what Tom’s is, and it’s going to be a lot different than what Jacoby’s is. At some point later on, those roles are going to change again. So again, there’s no perfect solution to it. We’ll just do the best we can to try to have our individual players and our team as well prepared as possible at whatever point that is that we have to deal with, and whenever those situations come up."
As I wrote earlier today, this is the sticky and uncomfortable situation arising from Deflategate. It's not a Tom Brady penalty. It's a team penalty when one considers the ripple effects. And there's no handbook to consult.
The Patriots have signed backup linebacker and special teamer Jonathan Freeny to a two-year contract extension through 2018, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported.
Freeney, 27, was originally signed by the Patriots to a one-year free-agent deal in March 2015 after spending the first four years of his NFL career with the Miami Dolphins. He then earned a one-year extension last September and played 13 games, seven starts, with 50 tackles, one sack and a forced fumble.
"Jonathan is a very dependable player," Bill Belichick said on a conference call Saturday. "He is able to do a lot of different roles for us. He can play inside, outside, on the line of scrimmage and off the ball defensively. He has been a very valuable player for us in the kicking game, obviously with some size, a four-phase special teams player.
"He is one of our overall top workers in terms of the offseason program, preparation, training. He always does things right. He works hard, doesn't really say a lot, but is very dependable and consistent. I think everybody in the organization looks up to him."