FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Quick hits from coach Bill Belichick’s news conference on Monday:
Week broken up into two parts. Belichick said the team is breaking up the week into two parts -- the first is to finish up installation and address some situational things, while shifting focus to the next preseason opponent, the Eagles, at the end of the week.
No difference in approach with Gronkowski. With tight end Rob Gronkowski not practicing Sunday, Belichick was asked if the team is managing him any differently this year based on him having offseason ankle surgery. Belichick said there was no difference. Asked his thoughts on Gronkowski’s camp, his response was to the point: “Good.”
Praise for Wendell. Fourth-year offensive lineman Ryan Wendell, who was working with the top group at center on Sunday, has “had a good year, going all the way back to the spring.” Belichick pointed out how Wendell has been on the field every day, which has helped him improve. “Last year was a tough year for him,” Belichick said. “He got injured early and missed time. He came back and got banged up again and he was never able to get into the flow of it. He’s performed well, he’s performed consistently.”
Vereen’s encouraging performance. Second-year running back Shane Vereen took advantage of his opportunities in Thursday’s preseason opener, which is what players at that position have to do. “It’s always kind of hard to gauge a running back in practice because we’re not doing full-speed tackling,” Belichick said. “The last time he really got an opportunity to run like that was probably in the Kansas City game [Nov. 21] when he had some of those same kind of looking plays. That’s the good thing about the preseason games, you get a chance to evaluate skill players -- can you tackle them? It’s a better picture in the game and he did a good job.”
The disappearance of the 300-carry back. Belichick was asked if the days of the bellcow running back are officially over, and his response was pretty sharp. “I’m for whatever helps us win,” he said. “If it’s 500 quarterback sneaks, if that’s the best thing for us, then I’m all for it. If that’s the best thing we can do to win, then sign me up for it.” Informed that since Corey Dillon in 2004, the Patriots haven’t had a bellcow, Belichick deadpanned, “Corey Dillon was good enough to do it. If the Corey Dillon of 2004 was on this roster, I’m sure he’d get it 300 times too. I haven’t seen Corey out there lately.”