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."
NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock quarterbacked a marathon conference call with reporters from around the country on Monday in order to shed some light on the prospects who will compete at the combine later this week. One thing that stood out? He's not ready to crown anyone in this year's crop of draftable signal-callers.
As a result of the dearth of pro-ready talent at quarterback, Mayock recognized Patriots backup Jimmy Garoppolo as perhaps the top target for any quarterback-needy team. Garoppolo might interest the Cleveland Browns in particular, Mayock noted, because of the number of picks they have near the top of the draft.
"In my opinion," Mayock said, "if I'm the Cleveland Browns and I've got No. 1 and No. 12, if I came away with either [defensive end Myles] Garrett or [defensive tackle] Jonathan Allen at No. 1, and gave up the 12th pick in the draft to get Garoppolo? I would be stoked.
"I would feel like I had a difference-maker on defense and we had a quarterback on offense. Now let's get to work. We got five in the first 65 picks. Let's get to work. From my perspective, especially looking at the quarterbacks this year, if they gave up No. 12 and could get Garoppolo, I'd be all over that."
As the Patriots so often like to do, they promoted from within to fill an open coaching position on Monday.
The team announced that they've named Nick Caley as their tight ends coach, filling the vacancy left behind when Brian Daboll accepted the offensive coordinator position at the University of Alabama last week.
Caley was a coaching assistant with the Patriots for the past two seasons after spending a decade in the college ranks at John Carroll (2005-06), Akron (2006-07), Auburn (2008), Iowa State (2009-11), Eastern Illinois (2012), Arkansas (2013) and Florida Atlantic (2014).
Caley is one of several John Carroll products -- including director of player personnel Nick Caserio, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and assistant quarterbacks coach Jerry Shuplinski -- working for the Patriots at the moment. He graduated from the Jesuit university situated just outside of Cleveland in 2006.