FOXBORO - If you work in pro personnel at the NFL level, four words are running through your mind this week. "Let the games begin."
With training camp a couple of weeks old, you've seen your players stretch, run drills, make bad plays and good ones on an endless loop.
Now, you need to get out on the road and start watching the other 31 teams and see which players at the end of other team's rosters might be better than the guys at the end of yours.
Nick Caserio, the Patriots Director of Player Personnel, said Friday that nothing aids the process of evaluation like games do. So all the headlines and soundbites we've produced over the last week-plus mean little.
"Until they actually go out in the preseason and play and you can see them perform, that's really the best thing that you have to go off of," said Caserio.
The games begin this weekend with the Hall of Fame Game with the Saints and Cardinals. By next weekend, every team will have played.
"During the preseason for the first two weeks, we'll track every roster," Caserio explained. "Some players you're not as certain (are going to make rosters) we need to study those players and put them in different categories. There will be a vast amount of players that are going to be available at specific times (the first cut will be held August 25 after the third week of preseason games). "Our pro personnel staff will spend a lot of time going through and evaluating players, doing the write ups, put them in our system and positionally grouping them so that when we get to the final cutdown, if there's a player we like, that we want to claim or want to sign we're prepared for that."
During the first week of camp, the Patriots' scouting staff - college and pro - has been visible out at practices.
Caserio said that, as of Friday, the college scouts are going to hit the road to begin watching college practices.
Once the games begin, the rest of the pro personnel staff and scouting department will be scouting games and breaking down game films.