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Patriots notebook

Belichick’s help wasn’t wanted

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By Shalise Manza Young
Globe Staff / October 1, 2011

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FOXBOROUGH - It’s one of those games that is most often played at your local tavern: What if?

With Bill Belichick yesterday discussing the interview he had with Oakland owner Al Davis after the 1998 season about becoming coach of the Raiders, the game in this instance would be what if Belichick had gone to the Raiders instead of to the Patriots two years later?

It’s a game with no real answer, of course, because Davis hired Jon Gruden and Belichick got a raise from the Jets, where he was the assistant head coach and defensive backs coach. In 2000, Belichick passed on the chance to succeed Bill Parcells in New York so he could take over in New England.

Though Belichick said he enjoyed the experience of talking with Davis for a couple of days, he knew that he wouldn’t be hired.

“It was a good experience for me. We had a good couple days of conversation. I told [Davis] when I got out there - it really seemed like a waste of time because I felt pretty certain that he wouldn’t hire a defensive coach, because he hasn’t since Eddie Erdelatz [in 1960],’’ Belichick said. “It’s a parade of offensive coaches out there. He’s really a defensive coordinator, and has been.

“It was good because we talked a lot about football and he’s very, very knowledgeable about the game, personnel, schemes, adjustments, and so forth. He was asking a lot of questions about what we did defensively. You kind of don’t want to give too much information there because you know, he’s running the defense. It was unlike any other interview I’ve ever had with an owner because he was so in-depth.’’

Belichick said Davis hired a good coach, and offensive-minded coach, in Gruden.

Since ’98, Oakland has had seven head coaches and just three winning seasons (2000-02). Belichick, of course, has been with the Patriots for 11 full seasons and had only one sub-.500 record in that time (2000).

Hernandez, Vollmer out Before boarding their plane bound for northern California yesterday afternoon, the Patriots announced that three players had been downgraded to out for tomorrow’s game against the Raiders, and wouldn’t make the trip: tight end Aaron Hernandez, right tackle Sebastian Vollmer, and defensive lineman Mike Wright.

This will be the second straight game Hernandez has missed because of a sprained MCL suffered against the Chargers. Wright sustained a concussion in the opener in Miami and has not practiced or played since. Vollmer will miss his third game with a bad back. Of Vollmer, Belichick said yesterday, “Each day has been encouraging.’’

In addition, the Patriots reported nine players as questionable: Kyle Arrington (chest), Leigh Bodden (groin), Patrick Chung (hand), Ras-I Dowling (hip), Shaun Ellis (knee), Gary Guyton (hamstring), Albert Haynesworth (back), Taylor Price (hamstring), and Ryan Wendell (calf).

Haynesworth, reported as “limited’’ Wednesday, did not practice for the second straight day.

Dowling, who injured his hip against San Diego, missed practice yesterday for the first time this week. He made the trip to Buffalo last week, but was downgraded just before the game after the training staff put him through on-field drills.

As expected, Oakland running back Darren McFadden (groin), who has practiced all week, was listed as probable. Quarterback Jason Campbell (foot) was also deemed probable, and the team said starting cornerback Chris Johnson (hamstring) and wide receiver Louis Murphy (groin) are out.

Six players are questionable, including starting defensive end Matt Shaughnessy (shoulder) and starting safety Michael Huff (concussion).

Ninkovich fined $15k Linebacker Rob Ninkovich was fined $15,000 by the NFL for his second-quarter roughing-the-passer penalty against the Bills when he made helmet-to-helmet contact with Ryan Fitzpatrick. Also, Buffalo linebacker Nick Barnett was fined $7,500 for unnecessary roughness - he threw Patriots running back Danny Woodhead to the ground at the end of a run . . . After catching a franchise record-tying 16 passes against the Bills, Wes Welker was asked if it took his body longer to recover this week than it normally does. “Every week’s different,’’ he said. “Sometimes it’ll just be one hit you take and that’s the one that kind of sets you back a little bit. But I don’t think I took too many really bad lumps or anything like that. Woke up feeling all right, I had a few bumps and bruises, but for the most part I feel great.’’ In the Patriots’ last game in Oakland, a 49-26 win in 2008, Welker had six receptions for 69 yards and a touchdown.

Julian Benbow of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Shalise Manza Young can be reached at syoung@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung.

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