Bill Belichick Explains How New Patriots Are Playing ‘A Game Of Catch-Up’

FOXBORO, Mass. — As is typical, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick elected not to give a full scouting report on the three new players New England signed Tuesday.

The Patriots on Tuesday signed wide receivers Corey Coleman and Bennie Fowler and running back Kenjon Barner. They opened up three spots on the roster when they cut wideouts Riley McCarron and Chad Hansen and placed running back Jeremy Hill on injured reserve.

“Yeah, we added three players to the roster,” Belichick said. “We had three roster spots, so we filled all of them. We’ll see how it goes with all three guys.”

But Belichick did go deep on how the Patriots prepare players brought onto the team after training camp.

“It’s definitely a game of catch-up,” Belichick said. “So, when players come in at the beginning, they’re able to get a progression of installation, learn from the bottom up and build foundation and work their way up. Now, it’s more of a gameplan situation. So, we don’t have all of our plays in for this game. We would never do that, but the ones that we’re running this week, those are the ones we’ll focus on and try to catch up on as much as we can, but we have to prioritize what’s going in for this game and what we need for this game.

“We’ll start with that first. It’s a little bit of a backwards way of doing it, but it’s the best way to prepare for a short window than trying to catch up on all of the other things as much as we can, the terminology, all of the fundamental things, things that we’re not going to be doing this week that are important, but we won’t get to all of those things this week. But we’ll try to catch up on those as soon as we can. But that’s a challenge.”

Wide receivers through the years have struggled to immediately play that game of catch-up after being added to the Patriots’ roster after training camp begins. Those players include Doug Gabriel, Keshawn Martin, Andre Davis, Greg Salas, Reggie Wayne, Eric Decker, Jabar Gaffney and Phillip Dorsett.

“It’s a big curve,” Belichick said. “We wouldn’t expect them to be able to do what players who have been here for, let’s call it six months, going back to April, there’s no way they’ll be able to catch up to that. So, we evaluate them on what we give them. It’s not the first time this has ever happened, so we have an idea of what’s a reasonable expectation. Everybody learns differently. Everybody adjusts differently. Some players have been in similar systems. Some players have a lot more to adapt to. But we do the best we can to evaluate them and see how it goes.”

Coleman and Fowler likely will serve as emergency depth at receiver in case Dorsett, Chris Hogan or Cordarrelle Patterson get injured. Barner likely will compete for punt return duties while serving as depth behind James White and Rex Burkhead.

Thumbnail photo via Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY Sports Images

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