''I don't think it would be appropriate for me to comment on players who aren't on our team,'' the Patriots coach said on a conference call with reporters Wednesday, a day after Reed was put on waivers by the Texans.
But Belichick didn't hesitate to fawn over Reed when he was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection with the Baltimore Ravens, calling him in 2007 an ''awesome'' player and ''one of the best football players in the league.'' New England quarterback Tom Brady once said the coach wanted to adopt Reed and rename him ''Ed Belichick.''
Reed spent the first 11 years of his career in Baltimore before signing a three-year, $15 million free agent contract with Houston last offseason. He missed the first two games after hip surgery and then was relegated to a backup role with the Texans, causing him to lash out at interim coach Wade Phillips, who is filling in for Gary Kubiak while he recovers from a mini-stroke.
Reed, who was the AP Defensive Player of the Year in 2004 and led the league in interceptions three times, had just 16 tackles with Houston.
Asked about evaluating a player who becomes available midseason, Belichick said teams usually have an inkling that it might happen.
''Most of the time you have a little bit of a lead-in on that if you're paying attention to things that are going on,'' he said. ''There's a lot of players that could be available out there, but if it's a situation where you have a need at a certain position or it's a fit, then you're more interested and more apt to do something. ... But it's more sometimes about timing than it is about the player.''
Reed's 61 career interceptions were most among active players. He has 524 tackles and 11 forced fumbles in 167 games. The Patriots have five players on the depth chart at two safety positions, including starters Devin McCourty and Steve Gregory.
''I think overall that we've had pretty solid play out of the five guys,'' Belichick said. ''I think that those guys have all worked hard, when they've been on the field they've all been solid contributors, and we've certainly had a lot less problems this year than we had last year, even the last couple of years, with balls getting thrown over our head in the middle of the field and things like that.''
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