Leftovers from conference calls

December, 14, 2011
12/14/11
6:00
AM ET
Some leftovers from Tuesday's conference calls with head coach Bill Belichick, offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien and director of player personnel Nick Caserio:

1. Who plays Tebow in practice? More often than not, backup quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett would play the role of the opposing team's signal-caller in practice. That might change this week because of Tim Tebow's unique skill set. "That’s something we definitely have to talk about," Belichick said. "The most important thing for our defense is to get a good look at as close to what the actual plays are going to look like as we can replicate them." Tebow is 6-foot-3 and 236 pounds, which could put a practice squad tight end like Garrett Mills or Dorin Dickerson in play for the role, or perhaps the Patriots turn to quarterback-turned-receiver/defensive back Julian Edelman. (ESPNBoston.com poll here)

2. Why Underwood at WR over Ochocinco? One follow-up from the Redskins game was calling on Tiquan Underwood at No. 2 receiver for the final two drives over Chad Ochocinco, as Deion Branch was sidelined with a groin injury and the Patriots were running their 2 WR/2 TE personnel. Ochocinco was available, but the staff felt Underwood was the better fit based on what the unit was running and how the Redskins were playing defensively.

3. Have to be more decisive on run defense. The Patriots are coming off their worst performance of the season on run defense, with the Redskins gaining 170 yards. Part of that might be attributed to some different looks on defense, but regardless of scheme, Belichick knows the D will run into trouble again vs. the NFL's No. 1 rushing attack (in yards per game) if players aren't more decisive. One key this week: "Defend it instead of just watching and reacting."

4. Sterling Moore and open spot on the practice squad. Defensive back Sterling Moore cleared waivers, and while his locker remained intact Monday, Caserio wasn't tipping off if the Patriots planned to bring him back to fill the final spot on the practice squad. Caserio hinted that the final practice squad spot would be filled before Wednesday's practice.

5. Tebow and ties to the Patriots. Questions were asked about the Patriots' thoughts on Tebow coming out of the 2010 draft as the team hosted him on a visit and took him to dinner in Boston's North End. Caserio said the team scouted him as a quarterback, while Belichick said, "We brought Tim in and spent a whole day with him here, in addition to our other interactions with him. He’s an impressive young man. He had great success in college. I think all his attributes are pretty well documented. He’s a strong guy, smart, works hard, a great leader, great football character. He made a lot of big plays for Florida and won two national championships."

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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