With the preseason slate of games complete, NFL teams now have to worry about final cuts. Bill Belichick and the Patriots, like their 31 league counterparts, have until 6 p.m. on Saturday to shave the roster down to 53 men.
"Today's the first of several big days coming up for coaches, the personnel department, how it affects the team. We're working through the film this morning. As we can get through the bottom of the physical conditions of our players after the game, or guys that have been in or out of practice -- coming back into practice or going out in the last few days.
"We're just trying to put all that together, get as much information as we can on everything that we have, what the guys have done, and so forth, combine that with communication from other teams in the league on various things, and start making some decisions."
At the same time, the Patriots have to start preparations for its regular season opener against Buffalo. The game is just nine days away; it's no shock to hear Belichick has started building his plan of attack before September.
New England sat 23 dressed players in Thursday night's preseason finale against the Giants. Belichick admitted that in keeping quarterback Tom Brady and most of the assumed first team on the sideline, he was thinking ahead.
"We'll be pushing players pretty hard this week in practice and felt like it was a chance for us to catch our breath with a few of those guys and be ready to go into Buffalo, but understand that it's a real quick turnaround after that game, too."
So there's no real 'first things first.' Evaluations began well before this weekend and will be reviewed and recalculated into Saturday evening.
"It's not just one game, every game's important. It's the body of work: camp, the rate of improvement, the improvement, the ability to do the things that players are going to be asked to do at their respective positions. Everybody has strengths and weaknesses; how much have they improved at weaknesses. And the things that are strengths, how dominant are they, or aren't they?"
Meanwhile, the regular season sits on the horizon in full view. At least one thing is for sure.
"We'll do the best with what we have."