FOXBOROUGH -- Third downs and third quarters are not going well for the Patriots these days: in their two losses, against the Jets and Bengals, the offense was just 2-for-24 on third down, and over the first seven games of the season, New England has been outscored 44-9 in the third quarter.
Bill Belichick said in his Wednesday morning press conference that essentially everything has to be done better in regards to New England's third-quarter play.
"We’ve just got to do a better job, period. All of us. We have to coach better, we have to play better, we’ve got to produce more than that," he said. "We always talk about it, we always give it a lot of attention, but we haven’t had good results and we need better results. If there was any key we could put in the lock that would just magically open it up, hopefully we would have already found that. But I don’t think that’s the answer; I think it’s a combination of things that just everything needs to be better, so that’s what we’ll try to do."
The Patriots announced the signing of veteran DE Andre Carter just before Belichick's press conference began. He seemed reluctant to make a big deal about the return of the locker room (and media) favorite from 2011.
"We felt like he'd give us some things on the team, so we made that move," Belichick said.
Did Carter's familiarity with the Patriots' defense help the decision-making?
"Look, we have a lot of respect for Andre – he’s a hard-working guy that’s given us great leadership in the past, good teammate, everybody loves Andre, but in the end it still comes down to performance on the field," Belichick said.
Elsewhere in personnel, Belichick said there is "no change in their status" when asked about DL Armond Armstead and WR Mark Harrison, both of whom are on the reserve/non-football injury list, and can now begin practicing at any time.
Also, on Shane Vereen (wrist), Belichick said the running back is in the "day-to-day" category.
"We'll take it as it comes with him. He's obviously rehabbing with the trainers and can do some running, but his involvement with the team, I'd say at this particular time isn't there yet, but I'd say I don't think that's too far off. Whether that's today or tomorrow or next week or whenever it is, obviously we'll be in compliance on the rules on that," he said.
Vereen was placed on injured reserve/designated to return on Sept. 10. Under the rules, he is now eligible to return to practice (after six weeks have passed), but he is not eligible to play in a game until eight weeks have passed. By the calendar, that would be Week 10, but since that is the Patriots' bye week, he can return Week 11 against the Panthers.