Count Adrian Phillips among the players encouraged by Bill Belichick’s handling of the New England Patriots’ COVID-19 situation.
The veteran safety/linebacker on Wednesday commended his head coach, who’s taken steps to keep the Patriots off the practice field and away from the facility as their number of positive cases increases.
“I wasn’t here before, so I can’t really answer how it’s been before,” said Phillips, who signed with the Patriots in March. “But I will say from the outside, it did look like it was win at all costs. Even when you get here — everyone wants to win, all 32 teams — but it’s just: what are you willing to do to get your team to that W? With the whole COVID situation, you can tell that Coach isn’t willing to sell out his whole team or put his whole team at risk just to get a win.”
The Patriots have held just one on-field practice (this past Saturday) since cornerback Stephon Gilmore tested positive for the coronavirus last Tuesday. That session featured extra safety measures, including masks under helmets and additional distancing requirements.
Players returned to Gillette Stadium on Wednesday but did so in shifts, with different position groups rotating through the building for workouts and all meetings being held virtually. They’re scheduled to practice Thursday and Friday and hold a walkthrough Saturday ahead of Sunday’s rescheduled home game against the Denver Broncos.
The Patriots currently have four players on the reserve/COVID-19 list: Gilmore, quarterback Cam Newton, defensive tackle Byron Cowart and practice squad D-tackle Bill Murray.
“I don’t know how the other 31 teams are acting,” Phillips said, “but I would expect the other teams to act the exact same way. We’re people. We have families. So it’s definitely the mindset that we’re going to do what we have to do to win, but we’re going to do it safe. We’re not going to be out here reckless. We follow the guidelines. We’re doing everything right.
“We don’t want to be the team that breaks the rules. It is ‘win at all costs,’ but it’s ‘do it the right way.’ “