Bill Belichick: Patriots Always Prep For Injured Players, Practice-Squaders

FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots waste a lot of time each week — but only because it’s necessary.

Because final injury reports aren’t released until Friday, head coach Bill Belichick explained that the Patriots have to prepare for every player on an opponent’s roster, regardless of severity of injury. Detroit Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley isn’t expected to play Sunday with a knee injury, but that won’t stop the Patriots from studying the disruptive fourth-year pro.

“Until they’re out, you have to prepare for them,” Belichick said Wednesday at Gillette Stadium. “We went through that last week with (Indianapolis Colts offensive tackle Gosder) Cherilus. Didn’t look like he was going to play — didn’t practice, didn’t practice, questionable for the game, whatever it was — then he played the whole game. Sometimes it goes the other way. Being on the other side of that, there’s guys that, honestly, we don’t know if they’re going to play until game time. So, how could they know if we don’t even know, and vice versa.

“They’re on the roster, they’re active, you gotta be prepared for them. Just because a guy’s not the starter one play into the game, he could be playing. You gotta know who all those players are, too, because one play, one sprained ankle, one equipment problem and the next guy’s in there. Gotta know who that is. We have to prepare for everybody that’s on the active roster. We cross some guys off day of the game once we get the inactive list, but then the guys that are left, you have to know all those players and their potential roles and matchup situations. That’s just part of the preparation.”

Injuries can add extra study time, as well, because it forces Belichick to take a closer look at a team’s practice squad.

“Honestly, where there’s an obvious injury situation, we go through the practice-squad players,” Belichick said. “They don’t have to give us any notification on that, they can activate those guys as late as 4 p.m. Saturday, so it’s not like signing somebody up from the outside, bringing them on the roster. That’s a move that obviously you would see, and they would need to do most likely a few days before the game in order to get the guy ready, but you can bring up a guy from the practice squad Saturday and play him.

“That’s not really the kind of thing you want to be talking about 10 minutes before the game. ‘Who’s this guy? What does he do? Is he fast? Is he this? Is he that?’ ”

So, Lions practice-squad defensive tackle Roy Philon, Belichick is keeping a close eye on you this week.

Thumbnail photo via AJ Mast/Associated Press

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