FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Last year, the New England Patriots and the league's 31 other teams would have had to trim rosters from 90 to 75 before their final preseason game. Then after that game, every team would trim from 75 to 53.
This year will be different with just one cut-down day (Sept. 2), after the preseason finale.
Bill Belichick, whose Patriots wrap up the preseason on Thursday at home against the New York Giants, seems to like the change.
"In the last preseason game, in the past, when you made that cut to 75, some of those 15 players could have had an opportunity to play in the game. Just because after five weeks of training camp, you got guys that are banged up, and you got guys you still want to watch play. So having a few extra players to give them that opportunity, actually, I think can work," Belichick said in his most recent interview on sports radio WEEI's Dale and Holley Show.
"Maybe you don't need all of them. But sometimes you can certainly use a few more than 75. I know it seems like that's a lot, but everybody's not playing the whole game. It's not like a normal regular-season game. So once you take the first group out, and take out call it 40 guys, now you're down to trying to play the game with 30 once you get rid of the specialists and quarterbacks. That's not really all that many guys to play all the kicking-game plays, offense, defense. So you end up limiting your system quite a bit. Maybe you only use nickel defense, not dime. Maybe you only use two-receiver sets if you don't have depth at receiver. You only use one tight end if you don't have depth at tight end, whatever it is.
"So I think it kind of compresses that last preseason game. I think having more people available will allow teams to play it more like they played the first three. We'll see how it goes. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing. Look, it gives those players another week to make an impression."
As for the thought that the Patriots could benefit from claiming players from other teams in areas of need, Belichick didn't seem fazed by that.
In a recent news conference, he said, "It's not that much different than what it was before. A lot of the guys that went at the 75 cut, I mean, the best players came from 75 to 53 than from 90 to 75. I don't think it's that big of a deal."
Belichick did acknowledge on sports radio WEEI that "it's a little bit different" with just one cut and an influx of more than 1,000 players hitting the market. The Patriots will have a quick turnaround for their regular-season opener Sept. 7 against the Kansas City Chiefs.
"I think we all know in the National Football League, this is what you sign up for. All the guys that go to training camp don't all make the team. So there's going to be competition, there's going to be roster reduction like there is every year -- whatever stage it comes in: one cut, two cuts, three cuts," he said on WEEI.