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On Dion Lewis, Bill Belichick Details Complexities Of A Player Returning To Game Action

BOSTON (CBS) -- Football fans in New England were excited last week when dynamic running back Dion Lewis was activated to the roster. But they were told 90 minutes before kickoff Sunday night that they'd have to wait a bit longer to see Lewis return to the field, when his name appeared on the inactive list for the game vs. Seattle.

With a few more days having passed since that game, head coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday that it's difficult to try to put an exact time frame on when Lewis can return to game action.

"I think any time a player's coming back from missing a significant amount of time, there's a certain build-up process. Sometimes, that accelerates. Sometimes, it doesn't. Sometimes, it just stays on a straight-line course," Belichick said. "It's hard to predict how that's going to go."

Belichick implied that there's only so much off-field training that a recovering player can do. Ultimately, getting back on the practice field in game-type situations is a unique and final test for a player looking to get ready to play live NFL games.

"There's a big difference between training and playing football. So you can run around a track, run up and down a hill, do 10,000 push-ups and all of that. I mean, that's great. But that's not being out there with 21 other guys playing football," Belichick said. "Football is football. Training is an important part and component of being ready to play football. But playing football is playing football, especially this time of year when you're halfway through the season."

The coach also detailed the challenges that a player faces from a playbook standpoint when it comes to joining a team in mid-November as opposed to August.

"Teams have quite a bit of scheme in -- both us and our opponents -- so we're not just looking at kind of some basic stuff at the beginning of the year or preseason, which is what preseason is. It's very basic," Belichick said. "We're at a whole different point. So how does that get acclimated? What's the right time? It's a little bit of a feel situation."

It was a rather detailed description from Belichick on Lewis, who is recovering from a torn ACL, which he suffered last November. In the situation of Rob Gronkowski, who suffered a chest injury this past weekend, Belichick remained a bit more reserved.

When asked what he's learned about the mental and physical toughness of Gronkowksi over the his seven-year career, Belichick curtly replied, "Good. Very good."

In a follow-up question, Belichick was asked how the Patriots might handle their game plan if Gronkowski is unable to play this week.

Belichick's response was short: "I don't know."

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