For the second time in less than three weeks, Patriots coach Bill Belichick found himself fielding questions on one of his players being suspended by the NFL for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances. Neither suspension, Belichick said, had to happen.
The NFL announced Monday that defensive end Jermaine Cunningham was to immediately begin serving a four-game suspension. Running back Brandon Bolden has been out since Nov. 9, and is eligible to return next week. The league does not specify what substance triggers the discipline.
"Those situations are unfortunate," Belichick said Tuesday on his weekly teleconference. "Neither one of them needed to happen, they werenít that important, but they were violations, so they are what they are."
Belichick was asked if, as a result of Bolden's suspension earlier this month, he discussed the issue with the team.
"I address the team every day, we talk to them on a regular basis," Belichick said. "Unfortunately sometimes on these things people make mistakes, but everybody is accountable for them."
Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, following Belichick on the same conference call, talked about losing a defensive regular. Cunningham played in 62 of the team's 69 defensive snaps against the Jets on Thanksgiving night, and has two fumble recoveries and 2 1/2 sacks among his 24 tackles this season.
"Obviously itís an unfortunate situation for Jermaine, but our main focus is really trying to move forward, put our pieces together defensively," Patricia said. "Like we do every week, when the parts do change, whatever the situation may be, we just adapt to them and move ahead. Thatís what weíre focused on right now."