FOXBORO, Mass. — Bill Belichick doesn’t exactly come across as the anxious type. But when comments from New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady about Week 1 nerves were relayed to the head coach, Belichick admitted to some himself.
“Yeah, opening day is always a time when you have a lot of questions, butterflies,” Belichick said Tuesday. “That’s part of opening day. A lot of unknowns. A lot of unknown on our team, a lot of unknowns on their team, a lot of them when the two collide. So, we’ll see how it goes.”
Belichick typically will use the first few weeks of the regular season as a time for trial and error. The Patriots don’t play their starters deep into preseason games, so while they’re obviously game-planning and trying to win, some Week 1 personnel decisions will almost appear to be an extension of the summer.
This was perhaps most evident during the Patriots’ Week 1 loss to the Miami Dolphins in 2014, when 17 defenders played at least 18 snaps during that game.
Patriots starting linebacker Dont’a Hightower, who might have a new role in 2017, didn’t play in the preseason. So, the Patriots might feel the need to ease Hightower back into action after beginning the summer on the physically unable to perform list.
Other potential Patriots defensive contributors — Deatrich Wise and Harvey Langi — have missed time recently, and Shea McClellin, who was projected as a potential starter, was placed on injured reserve Monday. The Patriots also recently acquired defenders and special-teams contributors Cassius Marsh, Johnson Bademosi and Marquis Flowers.
So, despite months of preparation for the 2017 season, there are still plenty of questions surrounding the Patriots as they prepare for Thursday’s kickoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs. But if Belichick has butterflies, don’t expect them to show on national television Thursday night.
Thumbnail photo via Raj Mehta/USA TODAY Sports Images