BOSTON (CBS) — Hundreds of players across the NFL breathed a sigh of relief on Saturday evening.
After giving it their all through the rigors of an NFL training camp and preseason, they survived the vaunted cut-down day when teams across the league had to whittle their rosters down to 53 players. Some of those who weren’t fortunate enough to make the roster on Saturday landed on a practice squad on Sunday, a decent consolation prize for their efforts.
But Patriots head coach Bill Belichick had some words of advice for any player feeling complacent about making a 53-man roster or a practice squad over the weekend. NFL rosters are extremely fluid and change all the time, and the five-time Super Bowl winning coach said that being satisfied is a dangerous trap that players can fall into early in the season.
“Well, the reality of it is this is the National Football League and there are plenty of guys that are going to be on rosters today, tomorrow and Week 1 that won’t be on them in Week 3 or Week 4. That’s the National Football League. You keep your job by earning your job on a day-to-day basis,” Belichick told reporters on Sunday. “I think that’s one of the things sometimes that players, younger players especially who don’t have a lot of experience in the league, can make a poor judgment on. They work hard in training camp. They make the roster, make the practice squad, or earn playing time or whatever it is, and then feel like they don’t have to do as much or that they’ve kind of arrived at a certain point, and a few weeks later other players pass them by and their situation changes. That’s not uncommon at all.
“I think that’s hard to sustain a high level of performance in this league, so you start at the end of July and sustain it all the way through preseason games and training camp practices and all of that, but the season hasn’t started yet. Mental toughness, consistency, resiliency, dependability, being able to do it day after day after day at high level – the competition level is moving up now, not down,” continued Belichick. “The players that aren’t NFL players are off rosters and the guys who are on them are theoretically better than the ones who are off them. The competitive level is higher weekly in practice. It’s higher in games. Some players will rise with that, that competiveness. Competition will push them up. Some of them, it doesn’t work that way. If that’s the case, then they’re going to be replaced. If they don’t know that and they make that mistake, they’re going to find out the hard way.
“As much as you want to say, ‘Nice job. You made the team,’ they’re not a permanent fixture on the team. They’re here until as long as they’re doing their job and they’re dependable, and reliable, and consistent and improving. Once that curve starts to head the other way, I would say it probably isn’t going to last too long. If they can’t figure that out then they’re probably going to suffer the consequences. Look, that’s the NFL. That’s the way it is here and really that’s the way it is on every team I’ve been on. I imagine it that way on every team in the league. I know what you’re saying – it’s a good moment, but it’s a castle in the sand. It could be gone very, very quickly. I hope none of our players, young players, guys who this is the first time they’ve been on this team, take that attitude. I think that would be a big mistake on their part. Hopefully, they won’t do that,” the coach said to finish his press conference.
The Patriots kick off the 2017 NFL season on Thursday night when they host the Kansas City Chiefs at Gillette Stadium.
Tune in to Thursday’s season opener on 98.5 The Sports Hub — the flagship station of the New England Patriots. Coverage begins at 5:30pm with Patriots Preview with kickoff set for 8:30pm. Tune in to three hours of postgame coverage following the game, and catch Patriots 5th Quarter on myTV38 to see Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s press conferences live!