<
>

Smiling Belichick talks injuries

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Patriots coach Bill Belichick was engaging and relaxed in his Thursday news conference at Gillette Stadium. The clincher was when he smiled and laughed at questions about injuries.

Some Q&A:

Reporter: Bill, one of your favorite topics, injuries ...

Belichick (smiling): "That would actually be number one, if you were going to rank them. I'd put that up there."

Reporter: How would you describe the progress of Rob Gronkowski?

Belichick (smiling): "Good. Good." [long pause as media workroom laughs]

Reporter: How optimistic are you that Sebastian Vollmer, who has missed the last seven games, might be ready to play in the Super Bowl?

Belichick: "We'll see how it goes (smiling). He practiced some last week and wasn't able to play. He'll practice this week. We'll see if he's ready this week. My crystal ball is kind of clouding up (smiling)."

Reporter: With Gronkowski, if he doesn't practice, but plays in the Super Bowl, how much does that affect what you are able to do preparation-wise, or can you rely on the 105 practices this season before this to pull you through as he was out there for every one?

Belichick: "I think he was. We'll just have to see. He's not going to practice today. We'll take it day to day. I'm not going to try to forecast what it will be 10 days from now. We'll just take it day by day."

Reporter: With Vollmer, how much does the matchup with the Giants affect your determination whether he's ready to come back?

Belichick: "It doesn't affect it at all. When he's ready, he's ready. If he's not, he's not. If Sebastian is ready, he can help our football team. He's a good football player. There's no question, he would absolutely be on the game-day roster if he's ready."