Leftovers from conference calls

Stew Milne/US Presswire

Patriots rookie running back Shane Vereen vs. the Chiefs.Leftovers nuggets after the Patriots conducted conference calls Tuesday with coach Bill Belichick, offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, and director of player personnel Nick Caserio:

1. O'Brien on the rookie running backs: With rookie running backs Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen both contributing on the field, O'Brien was asked about the progress of both players through the first 12 weeks of the season. "I would say that both guys have progressed," he said. "I think it’s hard to play any position in the NFL as a rookie, whether it’s tackle, receiver, tight end, running back or, obviously, quarterback. I think it’s a difficult transition and both of those guys have come along every week and improved every week -- the running part of the game is fairly basic for them; it’s all the other things. It’s the pass protection. It’s the pass routes. It’s the run reads. It’s the other things that go into that they need to improve on every week and I really think they’ve worked hard at that."

2. Another excuse to visit Columbus: Asked if he had any reaction to the news that good friend Urban Meyer had accepted the head coaching job at Ohio State, Belichick noted he already had a pretty good reason to vist. "I’ve upped my scouting schedule there with my daughter coaching at Ohio State," Belichick said of daughter, Amanda, in her first year as an assistant women's lacrosse coach with the Buckeyes. "I don’t think [Meyer's hiring] will affect that too much. I think I’ll be out there whether he’s there or not."

3. It's more than the catches: With receivers Wes Welker and Deion Branch rebounding from quiet efforts against the Chiefs, O'Brien took a bit of umbrage when asked what they did better against the Eagles. "One thing that you have to remember, and it’s really important to us here at the Patriots -- it’s important to Bill [Belichick], it’s important to me, it’s important to our players –- is that those guys contribute in a lot of different ways. If you just look at receptions as a mark of how they contribute, then that’s wrong. If you look at one of the first plays of the game, Deion goes in there on about an 8-yard gain by [BenJarvus Green-Ellis], Deion blocks the weak safety pretty well on the play. I think we all have to look at all the different ways that they contribute in a game and those two are two of the best at doing that."

4. Caserio goes deep on personnel: With last week's re-signing of Tiquan Underwood as the springboard, Caserio offered a glimpse at keeping an eye on players that didn't make the team's roster out of camp. "Our pro personnel department, we go through this process in the preseason and once the preseason is over there are ‘X’ amount of players that are on the street and there are other players that hadn’t been with rosters. It’s a constant process you go through. Some players you may know a little bit better than others because you scouted them heavily in college... maybe they didn’t play as much and come into the league, so it’s a process you go through on a year-to-year, week-to-week, [and] day-to-day basis. Every team has their short list or emergency-type list that they create so that when you get into a situation where you have to bring a player onto the roster there is a pool of players at each position, I would say probably roughly five or six deep that you sort of keep available. It will be different type of players that you researched during the year, whether it’s phone calls, viewing the tape from the preseason, potentially bringing them in for workouts. That kind of all sort of fits together. The reality is that number could get pretty staggering if you allow it to, so you just try to be judicious with that process. We talk to our scouts, our college scouts and spend time with our pro scouts and try to keep a ready list available like every other team in the league does. If a situation warrants bringing a player in, then you pursue it."