Halftime experience good for Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick answered questions from reporters before Tuesday’s practice, saying today would be a day to focus on situations as the team focuses on Thursday’s preseason game at Detroit.

One aspect that stood out was Belichick’s feelings on the third preseason game as a “dress rehearsal” of sorts.

One line of thinking is that with the Patriots having joint practices with the Eagles and Buccaneers, in addition to two preseason games, perhaps the team has received enough work that there is less importance for top players to stay on into the third quarter.

Belichick’s thoughts?

“I think there is still a lot to be said for playing a game prior to the start of the regular season where the players play, come in at halftime, and go back out and play again if that’s possible,” he said Tuesday. “I don’t think it’s an absolute must. But I think it’s a good experience if they can experience it. We’ll see how it goes.”

A few other soundbites from Belichick:

His thoughts on Leon Washington’s camp and preseason. “He hasn’t gotten a lot of opportunities. I think he’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. He’s been healthy. He’s been out there every day. He’s worked hard. He has a great attitude. He has great leadership for our team and for the running back group. I think he’s shown up positively in the return game, even though he really hasn’t had a lot of opportunity. But we still have two more games here and we’ll see how it goes.”

The punter competition between Zoltan Mesko and Ryan Allen and if he’s seen any separation at this point. “I still think it’s a very competitive situation.”

How much has cornerback Kyle Arrington developed since arriving in 2009. “A ton. Kyle is one of our hardest-working players and a very dependable and durable player. He’s been out there a lot. He’s taken a lot of snaps. He’s come a long way from the practice squad, to playing corner, to playing the inside nickel position. He’s always had a strong role in the kicking game. … His game has improved and his responsibilities have expanded. He’s a lot more valuable to us now than obviously when he came here, but progressively each year he continues to expand his value to the team.”

Versatility of cornerback group. “Probably more than what we’ve had in the past, more guys that have been able to play inside and outside at a higher level so far. A couple guys who have also worked at safeties. A couple of safeties who have also worked at corner. So depending on what type of scheme we’re running, or what type of team we’re facing -- what the challenges are, or what the situation is in the game -- I think that will give us some flexibility somewhere down the road; I’m not sure exactly where. In the past, we’ve always seemed to need those type of players. My guess is that we’ll need them again.”

Running back competition. “I think it’s been very competitive. It’s interesting when you look at the players at that position, including the guys at fullback, each guy is a little bit different. They have some individual, unique skills that are good, and so do the other players. So it’s hard to make a comparison, when we talk about it in our personnel meetings, to compare one player to another. They’re all different. ...Their role in the kicking game, their role on third down, their role in short-yardage and goal-line, all those situational things play into it as well. It’s interesting. I feel like it’s a talented group. They’ve all shown good ability to produce with the ball in their hands, however they get it -- catching or running with it, returning it. They all have a little bit of a different style and I think situationally they would fall into different categories. It’s an interesting position to try to analyze. It’s good because the diversity helps the overall depth and the different roles you have on the team. But when you compare one to another, it’s hard to really have a straight-up type of comparison."