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Ask PFW: "How do you see the RB stable?"

Posted Apr 22, 2014

The NFL Draft and free-agency remain the focus of fans' questions in this week's PFW mailbag.

With LeGarette Blount heading to Pittsburgh, how do you see the running back stable heading into the draft? Will we see an increased role for Brandon Bolden, a late round pick to add to the committee, or maybe an early round pick if the team doesn't trust Stevan Ridley to lead the line after his fumbling problems? Alex Marr

I would be surprised if the Patriots took a running back in the early rounds of this draft. Perhaps in the middle or later rounds, or as an undrafted rookie. It’s also possible that a veteran free agent could be brought in later. That said, Ridley and Shane Vereen will be the team’s primary ball carriers heading into 2014, barring unforeseen events. Bolden will continue in his role as an off-the-bench spark in the committee rotation. While it would have been nice for the team to have kept Blount, his departure does not spell doom for the New England running game, by any means. Erik Scalavino

Hi guys, I have a few questions in regards to the upcoming mini-camp and it's relation to the draft. How much information can the team gather about some it's young players and guys returning from injury? We know no matter what they need help at TE and DE. But can they possibly change some of their thoughts in regards to spots like interior OL/DL, WR and safety depending on what they see from guys in this camp? And do you guys have some insight on which guys coming off injuries will and won't be taking part in the camp? Thank you. Nick Cabrera

All organized team activity (OTA) and mini-camp practices take place after the draft, Nick, not before. Consequently, they have absolutely no impact on how the team selects rookies. However, the offseason strength and conditioning program officially started yesterday, and several injured players have been rehabilitating at Gillette Stadium throughout the offseason. So, suffice to say, the team has plenty of knowledge about the health of its returning veterans who are coming off injuries. Erik Scalavino

Is it likely Brandon LaFell was brought in to fit into the “move” tight end position for the Pats? Keith Upham

Nothing is out of the question when it comes to Bill Belichick’s Patriots, but I would not expect LaFell to play much, if any, tight end on a consistent basis. He’s a wide receiver, and while New England needs more depth at tight end, the club is equally needy at wide receiver. LaFell was brought in to catch passes, though, wherever it is he lines up. Erik Scalavino

Last year Josh Kline filled in nicely when Logan Mankins moved to LT for a game. Do you think we could see him step into a different role to get more playing time? Maybe Center or RG? Mike Baker

Kline was indeed a nice surprise as an undrafted rookie last season. Not only did he make the team as a practice squad player early on, he, as you indicated, later became a member of the 53 and playing sparingly in the final half of the season. That experience, I’m sure, made an impression on the coaching staff. My expectation is that the incumbent starters on the o-line will remain intact heading into this season: left tackle Nate Solder, left guard Mankins, center Ryan Wendell (who recently re-signed), right guard Dan Connolly, and right tackle Sebastian Vollmer. Kline should be competing for the few valuable backup spots that remain on the active roster.

Unless one of the interior o-linemen goes down or Kline simply outplays them this spring and summer, I don’t see him breaking through as a starter just yet. But that doesn’t mean his future with the team is not bright. Wendell and Connolly, for instance, were both former practice squad players who worked their way up to starting jobs over the years. Kline could very well be on track for such an ascent. We’ll just have to see how he fares when practices resume. Erik Scalavino

Hello, I am wondering about T.J. Moe and Mark Harrison. I know both players were on IR last year but what do you think thier production will be next season and do you think Harrison can move into the Aaron Hernadez Joker TE role? Philip Wellwerts

Moe is no longer on the team. He was released a few months ago. Harrison, meantime, has yet to suit up and take part in a meaningful practice with New England. It’s impossible to say what his skill set and role with the Patriots will or could be at this point. However, he remains an intriguing prospect and will be one of many to watch during the upcoming spring and summer practices. Erik Scalavino

My son says I'm insane, but I have a recollection of the Patriots playing an "exhibition" game against the Jets at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Quincy where I grew up. I'm thinking in the 60s. I was in the Army Sept 65 to Aug. 68, so it wasn't then. Kenneth Massey

I can’t vouch for your mental health, Kenneth, but when it comes to your memory, it still seems to be pretty sharp. The Patriots did, in fact, play the Jets several times during the preseason in the 1960s (even back when they were the New York Titans). It was not in Quincy, however. The game you’re thinking of took place in Lowell, Mass. on August 18, 1964. They actually played the Jets again a few days later in New Brunswick, N.J. The two teams played against one another during the preseason in Allentown, Pa. the following summer, Mobile, Ala. In 1966, Bridgeport, Conn. in ’67, and Richmond, Va. in ’68. The Patriots also played the N.Y. Titans in Philadelphia in 1961. Erik Scalavino

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