Before heading out onto the practice field, Bill Belichick held his first post-cutdown day press conference.
He was asked, of course, about the difficulty in releasing players like Deion Branch and Dan Koppen, but Belichick said cuts are never easy.
"It's the hardest part of the job, to take players that have played for you, won for you, players that have been with us all spring, worked hard, were banged up and kept going out there, kept doing everything they could to make the team - to tell those players they can't be part of the team, it's very difficult," he said.
"At the same time, we all know in this business...it's a production business. There's not too many of us who have been in this game for very long who haven't experienced that [being let go] in some form or fashion. It's not just those guys, it's any players. You can change the names, but you're still affecting someone's life, someone's career, someone who has done everything they could to earn a spot on your team. It's not fun to deliver that news."
Belichick also confirmed that rookie Jeff Demps is out for the entire season, and is not eligible to be re-activated later in the season under the newly-enacted rule. Demps had to be on the 53-man roster on (or after) Sept. 4 to be able to be re-activated; he was never truly on the 53-man roster, so he does not qualify.
(As an example, a player who would qualify under the new rule is Dan Koppen from last season. Koppen was injured in the first game of the regular season, and thus was on the 53-man roster at the time of his injury. If the new rule were in place last year, the Patriots could have designated him, and he could have returned to the field later in the season.)
Also, when asked about the status of guard Brian Waters, Belichick affirmed that he hasn't yet joined the team when he said, "I'm just talking about the guys that are here."
Some other quick hits from Belichick:
On the trade to acquire WR Greg Salas from the Rams:
We thought he'd be able to help our football team. He's got some versatility; we'll see how it goes...He had a lot of production in college, and even last year.
If Josh McDaniels' experience with Salas in St. Louis helped
Well, sure. Josh had some firsthand experience with the player, but we scouted him out of Hawaii, we followed him last year. We had a good feel for him before Josh was here.
If Ryan Mallett's responsibilities change now that he's the No. 2 quarterback
He's in the on-deck circle. He's the next guy. He's earned that spot. His position is the same, his responsibility is the same, but he'll get more opportunities in practice and he's closer to getting in the game. I don't think the preparation is any different, don't think the process is any different...Where he was last year, he could be two plays away [from playing] instead of one. He should have prepared last year. Everyone should be preparing the same way.