Bill Belichick on injuries affecting prep: 'Seen weeks a lot worse than this'

Ryan decodes Belichick's postgame message (1:03)

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots coaches don't want their players making excuses, so it makes sense that they aren't making excuses either. They were given multiple opportunities by reporters to do so on Tuesday, and they decisively denied the opportunity each time.

The topic was the team's injury situation and a roster in transition. Combining those two things -- and specifically highlighting linebacker Dont'a Hightower (knee) and receiver Danny Amendola (head) as the latest key players to have an uncertain status due to injury -- adds a challenging layer to preparations for Sunday's road game against the New Orleans Saints.

Bill Belichick's response?


"There's some element of that every week in the National Football League," he said. "Every team is dealing with something and some circumstances and some unique situations about the game. We have ours and everybody else has theirs. I've seen weeks a lot worse than this one, to be honest with you. We'll work our way through it and we'll be ready to go on Sunday."

If Amendola isn't ready for action by Sunday, it would leave the Patriots with just three healthy receivers: Chris Hogan, Brandin Cooks and Phillip Dorsett. Complicating matters is that Dorsett just arrived in a trade Sept. 2.

Meanwhile, if Hightower doesn't play, that will shine a brighter spotlight on players such as Deatrich Wise Jr., Cassius Marsh, Elandon Roberts and David Harris to possibly have their roles expanded.

To Belichick and coordinators Josh McDaniels (offense) and Matt Patricia (defense), this is nothing new. After all, in past years, the Patriots have cross-trained receivers as cornerbacks and used them in some high-stakes games (Troy Brown and Julian Edelman, for example).

So if Amendola isn't available against the Saints, it could mean tapping other areas of the roster, such as a deep running back corps or the tight ends.

"Each week, we have a bucket and we've got a certain group of guys that's going to be considered for the game, whether that be by choice or by injury," McDaniels said. "We understand that each week you don't have unlimited depth in any grouping offensively.

"Last week, we went to the game, we only had two tight ends. So if a tight end gets hurt, then your two-tight-end offense could be nonexistent at that point, unless you back it up somehow, some way with some other player that's at a different position that you're going to move there. So we face this issue every week.

"If you have a certain grouping that maybe you don't have as much depth in, you've got to make sure you're smart with how you use it, and you can't put all your eggs in one basket. You never can in this league because you don't have an unlimited number of players in each game."