No Huddle: Belichick on Waters, Cunningham, RBs

863099.jpg

No Huddle: Belichick on Waters, Cunningham, RBs

Though most of Bill Belichick's Thursday conference call concerned the general roster reduction process, the Patriots coach did answer a few pointed player questions.
Here are a few odds and ends.

Seems you're coming down to the wire with OL Brian Waters. How does his status impact your decision making on the 53-man roster?

BB: "I'll just say that, any personnel decisions, whatever they are, we'll always do what we feel is best for the football team."

You praised Jermaine Cunningham early in the offseason. How did you see his improvement translate from summer workouts into the offseason?

BB: "Overall, he's been at a higher level. He came in in great condition. He worked hard in the offseason. He got faster, stronger, more explosive. He worked on his techniques. He worked extremely hard. He came to training camp and with that work and those improvements showed up. It showed in practice. It showed up in camp and in all four preseason games. Just a little bit of everything. That's good. It wasn't just one thing. There's more position flexibility than he's had for us in the past. We've asked him to do more, different things. It's showed. He's had more production."

You have a young running back corps this season. What have you seen from them so far?

BB: "They've all improved. Really, the only experience player we had there was Danny Woodhead. Stevan Ridley played a little bit last year but not much. Shane Vereen didn't play hardly at all; he missed training camp, he missed the majority of the season. Of course, Bolden and Demps weren't here. Kettani was here for a few weeks then was called to service off the practice squad. Really only one player has had any significant regular season playing time of the group.

"They've all gotten a lot of reps, a lot of opportunities. They have a lot to learn both offensively and their role in the kicking game. I think we've gotten a a good evaluation of those players. They've all shown up well. At one point or another, they've all done things. It's a lot different group than we've had a couple of years ago. BenJarvus.. We had Sammy Morris, Fred Taylor, that group of guys. The position has turned over completely to a much younger group."

How do you think your team handled the condensed schedule of three preseason games in nine or ten days?

BB: "We did the best we could. I think we've made some progress. We definitely made progress. We kind of worked guys in different stages. Some guys played more in games than others, some practiced more than others did. I think we were able to keep moving ahead."

USA TODAY predicts 19-0 season for Patriots

USA TODAY predicts 19-0 season for Patriots

You can add USA TODAY to the Patriots' undefeated season bandwagon.

In its annual projections before NFL teams report to training camps this week, USA TODAY has the Patriots going 16-0 in the regular season, then beating the AFC West's L.A. Chargers and Oakland Raiders in the playoffs before capping a perfect 19-0 season with a Super Bowl 52 victory over Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in Minneapolis.

Here's their Pats' regular-season rundown from USA TODAY NFL writer Nate Davis:

New England Patriots (16-0): Is it bold? Sure. Kinda. But it's not like Tom Brady hasn't gone 16-0 before ... (and, really, wouldn't he and Bill Belichick secretly love to add 19-0 to their otherwise incomparable resumes?). And from the FWIW department, Brady went 14-1 last season and appears to be surrounded by an even better cast now, especially if Rob Gronkowski is, in fact, back to 100%. 

Pats wide receiver Julian Edelman called the 19-0 talk "stupid" last week. Bill Belichick is almost guaranteed to dismiss it if and when he's asked about it this week.