Looked like the offense was moving pretty fast today towards the end of practice. How are they doing with it?COACH KELLY: I thought today was better than yesterday, obviously. I think it's part of the whole process is when you have officials here, and that's why it's been great for us. We had some last week, and John's group today was just trying to get a feel for them. Because if the game's going to go as fast as they go. And I think each crew will be slightly different, I don't think it will be dramatically different, but myself and Coach Belichick had talked about it, and we wanted to make sure we got two days for one portion of it where both teams could get a chance to get a feel and see how it works. We probably made a few mistakes in there, but I was happy with the communication, and I was happy in our ability to get lined up and get moving.
If you look at the three players who tore their ACLs, all are in the middle of the field. Are you looking into if anything has to do with the field?
COACH KELLY: That's a great question. We're looking into everything. Obviously, when you have the same injury and it happens in a two‑week span or whatever it is. We're going to look at it and try to figure out, obviously, is it preventable? Is it something that we can make sure doesn't happen? But I don't have any information. I know we're looking at it. But a lot happens any time we have injuries. Our doctors and trainers are trying to figure that part out how the overall scope of everything we do. But it's something that we certainly are looking at right now.
What have you seen from the secondary over the last couple days? What kind of learning experience is it for them?COACH KELLY: The learning experience is pretty good. You know, [Tom Brady is] obviously one of the great quarterbacks to ever play this game, not just in the league right now. When you go to the history of the game, his name is right there. You better be where you're supposed to be when you're supposed to be there or he's going to get you. And I think that was a great challenge for us. One of the things we were excited about to come down here and kind of gauge where our guys are. There are still a lot of position battles going on in the secondary with this being a whole new staff and a lot of new players back there. But I think those guys did a good job on the defensive side of the ball rotating reps so everybody got a chance to kind of show what they could do over the course of these two days, whether it be a seven-on-seven drill or 11-on-11 drill against one of the all-time great quarterbacks.
So it's still a work in progress. I think we're starting to round into form. Again, what we're doing right now is we're still rolling a lot of guys. We still haven't played the first preseason game. So it's not that, hey, this was our first unit, this is our second unit. They kind of mixed and matched them. That was by design. So when guys are in there and we do have to end up naming starters, a guy's not going to say I didn't get a shot to show you what I can do. We did get a shot. We have a pretty good amount of tape on it in terms of making final decisions.
You said Wednesday you'll probably pick your starting quarterback for the game?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, and they're both going to get reps. So whoever takes the first rep let's not anoint them as anything. Someone's got to be the first guy. So we'll have a plan as a staff how many reps those guys will get, and we'll go from there. We have to have someone start the game. But I wouldn't say the guy that starts the game is going to be the starter overall in general as we get going on September 9. But how do we divvy up Mike [Vick] and Nick’s [Foles] snaps and we'll try to make that as even as possible. That's kind of our thought process.
Do you know who is going to go first?
COACH KELLY: No, we just got off the field. We'll have a meeting today and tonight and talk it through and see where we're going.
Do you plan on going the traditional route that the first team plays one quarter of the first game, and second game they play a half and third maybe three quarters?
COACH KELLY: Depends on where the team is. That is kind of the model, but there's got to be some flexibility between that. I guess those are more guidelines than rules.
Do you expect to go sort of that route in this first game?
COACH KELLY: Until we get the total injury report, and it may be that situation for a couple positions because we got some depth there in other positions that it may not. So that's why we said after we've done our work, we're going to practice again tomorrow, but we'll be in helmets for those guys. So we got two really good days of work in. So after we get everything from [head athletic trainer] Chris [Peduzzi] and his staff and the training room, we'll say this is the direction we're going to go. So that is the loose model we're looking at. And I guarantee it won't be that way for every single position. There are a couple of positions where we're down four guys now.
In practice, how do you adjust your play calling on the fly, and how do you get ready for the game like that?
COACH KELLY: I think in these games, all of our plays are scripted. So it's not an adjustment. We wanted to just look at things. So when we're out there, it's not, hey, we're trying to score touchdowns. It's just how many reps do we want to get in a run game? And we're talking to our coaches during the meeting. We want to see this with this group. Maybe we haven't executed the way we need to execute it. So when you're in a practice situation like we were today or like we are in all of our things, until we start getting into game situations, we're not really ‑‑ what is the emphasis? As you go through that drill period, our first team period was team, run and play pass. We knew beforehand it was going to be nine runs and one pass. We didn't know ‑‑ they didn't know when that was going to come nor did we know when their pass was going to come. But it was scripted that way in terms of we decided to go third period all no‑huddle so we can get it out of the way then.
So we're just calling plays now and trying to get repetition and execute the plays. It's not really adjusting our game planning. But we know every day and to answer the question about depth and where we are, we know every day who is available. So part of what our luxury right now is we have more tight ends than running backs so we can use that personnel more to take the wear and tear off the receivers legs.
There's got to be a mental part of that. You have seven healthy wide receivers. How do you handle that, how do you balance that? Guys seeing guys go down one after another?
COACH KELLY: I think that should be your mentality in this game. Injuries are a part of the game, unfortunately. But you've got to be able to deal with that. I don't think anything is banked on one guy. If he's down, we're in trouble. It's got to be a man-down, man‑up situation. So when a guy goes down, the guys that have to move up kind of have to take that mindset that, ‘Here's my opportunity to shine.’ The reality is I think we have seven to finish today, we had eight before we started. We're looking now to see if there are more than two out there because we need some legs. But on game day, we're only going to have five, probably. So we've got the luxury of two more than we would have if we played on Sunday.
There are times when the quarterback holds onto the ball for a long time. Is that the product of the quarterback’s decision making?COACH KELLY: You'd have to give me the specific play. It could be both, to be honest with you. So unless you said sometimes they hold it because guys are all covered, and sometimes that is the best decision. Now you're waiting for guys to uncover and other times they may not have come through the progression in the right manner. So in terms of looking at a specific play, what was it in that instance, but it's one of those two. Sometimes the left tackle was supposed to fan block, and he blocked down, so now there is a guy coming off the edge, so all of a sudden there was a protection break down, so there is a lot that goes into it.
COACH KELLY: He is, and I think the one thing since camp started, he's just had a nagging hamstring, you know, in the toughest part with that, I don't know if you've ever had one, but you come back and feel good, and all of a sudden, it goes again. I think it's frustrating for him. I think it's frustrating for everybody because he's got to get his reps in, and he's been great in the meeting rooms. We're just trying to ‑‑ there is nothing you can do. There is no difference. That is the hardest thing I think in this game is when someone's injured. You need him on the field and we've got to practice. But there is not a miracle cure. But he's been great from a treatment standpoint and all those other things.
He did get kicked out yesterday and wasn't here for a lot of the spring practices, so there is no frustration in that sense?
COACH KELLY: No, our players understood yesterday how we were going to handle practice. I think it was a great teaching moment for everybody. Both myself and Bill [Belichick] agree it's a great point. Because if you were to do that in a game on Sunday, you're not going to be able to play. So part of it is a learning experience that goes along with it. We need you. We need to be able to depend on you. So he was working really hard today, and unfortunately it's one of those nagging injury things. So we've just got to get over that hurdle. But I understand Cary's frustration when I talk to him about it, because he just wants to get healthy and just wants to play.
COACH KELLY: Yeah, they're all in the mix right now. All of those names you just mentioned are fighting to be in that group we're going to keep at the end. So they're all up.
For a lot of those guys as we said, the big thing for us is we have a legitimate game on Friday night. For some of these guys, now the lights are on but the handcuffs are off, the quarterback is not wearing red jerseys. I understand, one of the things, if you're a defensive lineman, it can be really tough sometimes because you are free, but we've got to stay away from the quarterback. So are you going to make the play or not make the play?The great thing about having preseason games is on Friday night we'll find out who can make the play. But all three guys you mentioned are definitely in the mix.
Bennie Logan played at LSU where he's been a nose and an end. Even though right now we don't see him getting a lot of the first teams, is he up there with them?COACH KELLY:Yeah, Bennie's definitely in the mix right now, yes.
COACH KELLY: It's a case of trying to mix and match as best we can, and make sure we got the right lineup to lineup and play the opening game. So these opportunities to practice against the Patriots are a great time for us to look at some things.There may be a guy or two that you'd say, hey, he'd be good at nickel, but we can't afford to move him right now because he's still learning where he is in his position. It's a credit to Patrick in terms of how smart a football player is his ability to cross train in different positions. So you're a chinstrap away from if we were to start the game and Brandon were starting nickel. If he goes down, then what are you going to do? We're not going to nickel if you're going to get exposed a little bit when you're playing a good quarterback and good spread team. So we have to develop at that position.
In terms of what you want to see from your quarterbacks on Friday night, especially how they react to the rush, what will you be looking for?
COACH KELLY: Who moves the team. The bottom line is which quarterback gives us the best ability to win, and that's something that you can see is how do they respond when he's in there. I've been with guys when it really didn't matter the personnel group around him. He just seems to get them down the field.
It's not, hey, I didn't have the starting receiver, so it would have been good if I had them in. Well, they may not be in in the game either. So it's which guy is going to give us the best chance to win the game is the decision. But the good way to gauge that is who is helping us move the ball in a productive manner. You've got to factor some things in. We've got a hell of a drive going in, and two drops in a row and, the location of the ball is perfect. Well, that's not the quarterback's fault. He did exactly what he was supposed to do, but now we've got to drop in the receiver's spot. That's always on the quarterback. There are a lot of factors that go in. But to paint a brush and say who is going to move the group and who is going to allow us to be productive on the offensive side.