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Bill Belichick spoke about COVID-19 vaccines on Monday saying, “My comments relative to vaccinations, really, the way I feel, that’s an individual decision for each person to make. As a team, we’re better off if everyone is vaccinated.” Noah K. Murray/Associated Press

Before taking any questions during his press conference Monday morning, Patriots Coach Bill Belichick took a minute to expound upon comments he made last week about vaccination efficacy around the NFL.

Last Wednesday, Belichick declared “a pretty high number” of vaccinated players and coaches have been infected with COVID-19. According to league data, only 68 positive results surfaced from a group of 7,190 tested individuals between Aug. 1 and Aug. 21, with unvaccinated players testing positive at a rate seven times higher than those were were vaccinated.

“My comment relative to vaccinations, really, the way I feel, that’s an individual decision for each person to make. As a team, we’re better off if everyone is vaccinated,” Belichick said. “And that being said, even if everybody was vaccinated, that doesn’t solve all our problems. … Still, it’s still incumbent upon us to be vigilant in our daily hygiene and decision-making, for the health and safety of each of us individually and of our team.”

Belichick also reiterated the team has not released or kept any player based on their vaccination status. The Patriots cut quarterback Cam Newton, an unvaccinated player, last week in the most shocking move of cutdown day. Newton lost a close battle with first-round rookie Mac Jones for the starting job during training camp and the preseason.

These were Belichick’s initial comments regarding the COVID-19 vaccine last week: “You guys keep talking about that, but I would just point out that – I don’t know what the number is, you guys can look it up, you have the access to a lot of information – the number of players and coaches and staff members that have been infected by COVID in training camp who have been vaccinated is a pretty high number.”

PATRIOTS WIDE RECEIVER Malcolm Perry is new to his teammates, his coaches and perhaps soon his position.

The Pats claimed Perry off waivers last week from Miami, making him their only addition during the NFL’s final roster cuts. The second-year wideout played quarterback at Navy, where he operated with Midshipmen’s triple-option attack to record success. The Dolphins drafted Perry as a developmental project in the seventh round last year, but didn’t want to wait on his development any longer after adding significant receiving talent this offseason.

On Monday, Belichick wouldn’t disclose where the 5-foot-9, 190-pounder will play in New England, while also noting his versatility.

“I would say he’s continuing to develop his skills,” Belichick said, “most of which he didn’t really do in college.”

Last season, Perry caught nine passes for 92 yards and a touchdown, rushed three times and didn’t throw a pass. He saw virtually all of his 156 offensive snaps at wide receiver, per Pro Football Focus, and took five others at quarterback. Perry appeared in nine games total for Miami.

He also returned kicks and punts this preseason. On Monday, he started practice with the wide receivers.

As a prospect, Perry tested in the 30th percentile or worse among wideouts who ran the 40-yard dash and three-cone time at the 2020 NFL Combine. His poor three-cone performance makes him an unusual fit in New England, where that drill is prized, and his future may be contingent upon special teams impact. The Patriots have three wide receivers solidly ahead of him in Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne. N’Keal Harry can also return from his shoulder injury as soon as Week 4.

“Well, we’ll see,” Belichick said of Perry’s position. “We’ll put him out there and see what it looks like. But he’s played off and in the kicking game and we’ll see how he does there in his roles for us. I don’t really know.”

THE PATRIOTS ARE well-rested and ready to roll.

Every player on the active roster and practice squad participated in Monday afternoon’s non-padded practice, the team’s first after a three-day layoff over the holiday weekend. Running back Brandon Bolden and practice-squad corner D’Angelo Ross were the only Pats in non-contract jerseys. Ross missed last Thursday’s practice.

The Patriots began their preparations for Sunday’s season opener against the Dolphins late last week. Former Miami wideout Malcolm Perry, claimed off waivers last Wednesday, worked with the receivers for the second straight practice. He is one of several former Dolphins on the Pats’ active roster, including Bolden, linebacker Kyle Van Noy and center Ted Karras.


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