By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
FOXBORO The New England Patriots are gearing up for their third preseason game, a game that's often seen as the first real opportunity for starters to see extended playing time.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick doesn't downplay the importance of Saturday's game against the Detroit Lions. But in true Belichickian fashion, he's not putting too much stock in the game, either.
"Every game presents challenges and opportunities, gives our team a chance to go out there and perform against another team and evaluate," he said. "Each game is different, each matchup is different so absolutely, it's a great opportunity to face an explosive team like Detroit. This will be a real good test for us, in all three phases of the game."
Here are some of Belichick's thoughts on other topics discussed during his afternoon press conference:
On having Leigh Bodden back
BB: "He's had a good camp. He's played both inside and outside. It looks like he's healthy. He's had a chance to participate. He's taken a lot of snaps. He looks like he's fine."
On seeing Ras-I Dowling on the field
BB: "The guys that have missed time, have some catching up to do. It's good to see every player out there, good to see every player that has missed time, come back and rejoin the team and be able to practice. It's good for the team, it's good for those individuals because I know they're working hard to get back out there. It's a positive step."
On the challenges for players entering their second year
BB: "By Year Two the other teams -- not that they don't do it during the course of the first year -- but I think by the end of your first year, other teams have a pretty good scouting report on each individual player. There's a pretty good body of work, for the most part. Sometimes your rookie year, your skills or some of the things you do, might sneak up on some people or they may not be as prepared for you individually. It kind of works the other way around, too. Rookies don't have the kind of preparation in some cases, some teams don't know them quite as well."
Anything from the league on Haynesworth
BB: "Whatever the league does, they'll announce."
The importance of technique and where his players are now
BB: "In the NFL, you build your fundamentals in technique in the offseason program, and then in the spring and then in training camp. As you get into regular season, it's harder and harder to allocate the time to individual technique because your preparation team-wide consumes so much time. With all the different schemes you face weekly and the smaller roster size and limited amount of practice reps that you have relative to the number of things that can happen in a game, you spend more time in team-work than individual, fundamental skills. The time to build those, is early in the season."
The progress of Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski
BB: "Every day they work hard, have gotten better. They came in last year they certainly know a lot more now; they know a lot more now about what we're doing, they know a lot more now about what our opponent's are doing. They have a better understanding of how to play the game at this level. Their year of experience, is invaluable. They started at a much harder level. Both have had a good camp."
On Haynesworth's court case being wrapped up on Monday
BB: "It's a personal matter, so I don't have any comment on that."