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Ask PFW: Ready for training camp

Posted Jul 1, 2014

With the spring camps now complete, the Patriots are getting some rest in preparation for the start of training camp later this month.

I have a potentially dumb but possibly easy question. My wife and I bought tickets to the Patriots vs. Broncos game on Nov. 2 this year. With all the hype of the Brady vs. Manning nonsense I figured it could be possible that it is flexed into the Sunday night prime time slot. If so, our tickets are still valid, correct? Love the work you guys, do keep it up. Cheers.
Steve Sixt

The tickets are absolutely valid even if the game gets flexed to prime time. That much is certain. In my opinion that game will not get flexed, however, because CBS will likely protect it from being moved. Obviously a lot can change between now and then, but no matter what happens you and your wife have a pair of tickets to one of the biggest games of the year.
Paul Perillo

How’s Zach Moore looked during mini-camp and OTAs? He seems like an interesting player due to his intangibles and stats (even for though he played for Concordia). Basically I’m just wondering if you think he might be able to make an impact as a rookie this year?
Zack Ross

Hey guys, Why no word on Zach Moore out of mini-camp so far? I get there isn’t much to say when the boys are in shorts and helmets but I expected to hear how he looked. Wouldn’t he give us some nice size over Rob Ninkovich to match Chandler Jones?
Michael Ruiz

When I saw two questions about Zach Moore back to back I assumed they must have been from the same person, but since two separate posters are wondering about the rookie I figured I’d include them both. Obviously there isn’t much to report regarding how players look on the field during the spring. Without pads or even much competitiveness there aren’t many ways to gauge a player’s performance. Moore will have a lot of work to do to get up to speed to the NFL level after player Division III football at Concordia-St. Paul. He appears to have some athleticism but we’ll learn a lot more about him when camp starts and the players are in pads. I wouldn’t expect much if anything from him as a rookie as he has a long way to go.
Paul Perillo

With there being a considerable drop off on linebacker after the first three starters why is no one looking at Jonathan Vilma or is he lost a step or two or does he have an injury that I don't know about? It would be great if you could answer this one.
Casey Goddard

Actually I think both of your reasons against adding Vilma are valid: he’s definitely not the same player he used to be and injuries are definitely a big reason for that. Vilma had a solid career for the Jets and Saints but hasn’t really been effective for the last couple of seasons. Also, the Patriots signed veteran James Anderson, who was the Bears leading tackler last season. He should be able to provide depth behind the three starters should one of them go down with an injury. I agree linebacker isn’t the deepest position on the team but the addition of Anderson should improve that area.
Paul Perillo

The word dynasty has been thrown around a lot. In your opinion would you consider the Patriots still presently in a dynasty even though they haven’t won a Super Bowl in some time? I mean they’re consistently in the playoffs or in the big dance just like the Spurs of the NBA.
Scott Rodriguez

I do consider the Patriots current run a dynasty for exactly the reasons you suggest: they are always relevant in the playoff hunt every year. Since 2001 the Patriots have missed the playoffs just twice, and one of those was due to Tom Brady’s season-ending knee injury in Week 1 of 2008. New England has won the division five straight years and 10 of the last 11 and the Patriots have also been to three straight conference title games. Consistent performance coupled with multiple titles to me defines a dynasty and the Patriots are certainly worthy of that distinction.
Paul Perillo

In your personal opinion, who will be the starting safety on Sunday Game 1? Is it Duron Harmon’s job to lose? Does the addition of Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis mean that Alfonzo Dennard will be the third cornerback, the nickel back? Who do you think has been more impressive: Logan Ryan, Kyle Arrington or Alfonso Dennard?
David Guerra

I do believe the safety job is Harmon’s to lose based on what we’ve seen thus far during the camps. Harmon has been lined up alongside Devin McCourty more often than anyone else, and unless Bill Belichick decides to move someone’s position – like Logan Ryan – then I don’t think there are many other options. Patrick Chung is back but I don’t see him as a full-time option anymore based on both his play and lack of durability. Harmon was adequate as a rookie in a limited role and should get the opportunity to do more this season. As for as the nickel back goes, it should be a tight battle. First, I don’t just assume Browner will be the starter opposite Revis, although that is the most likely outcome. Browner and Dennard should both vie for the starting job, and Browner will miss the first four games while serving his suspension so both will play. Ryan and Arrington strike me as more suited to play in the slot and both will see time. This could wind up being one of the more hotly contested camp battles we’ll see, and if I had to make a choice I’d go with Ryan.
Paul Perillo

I enjoy the in-depth Patriots coverage. As a long time Patriots fan I couldn’t be more excited to see Bill Belichick finally get a lock down future Hall of Famer in Revis. He reminds me so much of Ty Law. For all of the great play Aqib Talib did in his time here he did get beat at times. The play that stands out to me is the Cleveland game against Josh Gordon. While in Revis you have a guy that QBs don’t even look in his direction. I feel Patriots fans should give more praise for having Revis. What’s your take?
Steve P.

I’ve seen and heard a lot of people claiming that fans and media aren’t giving enough attention to the acquisition of Revis this offseason. I feel that notion is insane. Revis has been widely regarded as the best offseason addition in the league this season and the greatest free agent addition in Patriots history. Many believe he will instantly transform New England’s defense into a top 5 unit. If that’s underrating the signing then I can’t imagine what overrating it would look like. That said I thought Talib was outstanding last year but once again couldn’t make it through the season. That’s why I believe Revis is such an improvement – he’s not only great but he’s also been durable. This signing was a home run all around.
Paul Perillo

Will Tom Brady have enough wide receiver options who are good enough at the start of the 2014 season? Do you think that players like Kenbrell Thompkins, Josh Boyce and Aaron Dobson will perform well in the 2014 season?
Devansh Khanna

If Rob Gronkowski is healthy then I believe Brady and the passing game will be fine. If he’s not available, like last year, then I don’t believe Brady has enough options to work with. I expect Gronkowski to be on the field to start the season but obviously he needs to be there throughout and into the playoffs as well. If he’s not I don’t believe the kids are talented enough to make up for his loss. I like Dobson’s upside but his injuries have prevented him from establishing any level of consistency. Boyce has great explosiveness but has struggled catching the ball in practice and also has had injuries to deal with. I’m not all that enamored with Thompkins, although with such a banged up cast he may stick around for another season as well. But without Gronk, this offense will struggle.
Paul Perillo

I just had a quick question. Who was that cornerback that played for us two or three seasons ago that knocked down the pass against the Ravens in the AFC Championship Game and saved our victory?
Christian DiLuzio

That would be Lee Evans, the wide receiver for the Ravens who very graciously dropped the would-be touchdown in the end zone to save the day for the Patriots. I kid. I kid. The defensive back was Sterling Moore who got his hand on the ball just in the nick of time and caused Evans to lose control. Moore is currently with Dallas.
Paul Perillo

Hey guys, I’ve noticed no one has said a word about Patrick Chung. How is he doing? In 2010, he had a break out game at strong safety and then 2011 injuries forced him to play free safety and he stunk. He also was a very hard hitter. I was hoping that just like players can get worse others can get better.
Liam Dunne

Chung had some moments as a Patriot, including the game in Miami that you’re talking about when he scored two touchdowns – one on a pick-six and the other returning a blocked field goal. But overall his time in New England was marred by inconsistency and injuries. He has a small frame for a player who tries to play as physically as he does, and his coverage skills were never what I would consider solid. Chung was brought back to add some depth and competition in training camp. If he stays healthy he could carve a role as an extra safety and special teams player but I wouldn’t expect much more than that from him.
Paul Perillo

I will be pleased if you take my question. I write from France where there are many fans of Patriots in Paris! Fortunately I will have the occasion to see the Patriots in Boston for the first time in my life for Broncos/Pats in November. I just saw them once against the Rams in London some years ago. I would like to know what will be the space on the roster for a guy like Armond Armstead, which still shows nothing since he is there.
Ludovic Boisseau
Versailles, France

Armstead’s situation is one of the most curious we’ve seen on the Patriots in quite some time. I don’t know exactly what the issues keeping him off the field are but at this point I am not expecting him to remain on the roster. Admittedly I have nothing to base this on but after missing all of last season while dealing with an infection it was disappointing not to see him on the field this spring for OTAs and mini-camp. Since he’s still not able to suit up, I’m assuming he’s still dealing with medical problems that are preventing him from competing. Unless that changes I don’t see how he can get out there and prove he’s worthy of a roster spot.
Paul Perillo

Just wondering about flexible player groupings on offense. The 2 TE and 2 WR and1 RB mix of players gave the Pats lots of ways to go out of each player grouping. Keeping the defense off balance. If they go more with 2 RB or FB RB and 1 TE, 2 WR, will they be able to be similarly flexible? What would be the best line up for maximum play calling flexibility in the hurry up offense this year?
Bill Zwick

I think the Patriots offense will always be flexible in terms of the personnel groupings they can use. While the multiple tight end groupings may not be as prevalent now as they were when Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez were together, they still have options. Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Brandon LaFell and Aaron Dobson should give Josh McDaniels options in terms of multiple receiver sets, and I would expect to see some two running back sets with Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley as well. James White also could be in that mix. I don’t think there is a perfect group in terms of being suited for the hurry up but any of these players should be able to operate in such an environment effectively.
Paul Perillo

I’ve heard a lot about Rob Gronkowski and his knee but will his arm be fully healed come Week 1 and will he wear that cast again?
Chris Nanni

That’s a good question and only time will tell. We haven’t seen Gronkowski in pads since he hurt his knee against Cleveland so we have no way of knowing if he will be continuing to wear the arm protection he sported last season. Based on how well he played with it on, I would suggest he keep it of only for peace of mind. But that’s definitely something we will keep an eye on come training camp.
Paul Perillo

I think Brandon Browner should play strong safety. He definitely has the size. At the cornerback position you have Darrelle Revis, Logan Ryan, Kyle Arrington and Alfonzo Dennard. I mean it’s a perfect fit Browner is 6-4, 221pounds. If Browner could play the position it would be awesome.
Kyzer Vasquez

But what if he can’t? I’m not saying he can’t because I haven’t seen him try it. But to simply look at a player’s size and say he would be a perfect fit is a bit premature. I’m anxious to see Browner play because I’m really not all that familiar with his game. I didn’t know much about him until the Patriots played the Seahawks in 2012 and honestly I didn’t really notice him much in that game as Brady passed for almost 400 yards. He did level Wes Welker with a big hit but other than that it was Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas that stood out. If Browner is capable of playing safety then by all means I’d be in favor of making the move. But I’d rather keep him at corner and hope he’s as good as advertised at a more important position and let the rest provide quality depth in the secondary.
Paul Perillo

Hey guys, great show. I’m wondering do you think Shane Vereen might not have the injury issues we think he has and that it may just be the fact Bill uses him as if he was a Stevan Ridley or LeGarrette Blount type bigger back that can take hits and break tackles? I mean I don’t think Brady's injury-prone but I think if we had him run the option he’d probably die out there.
Justin Rush

I’m not sure I understand your point. Vereen only had 44 rushing attempts last season and a vast majority of those came out of spread formations out of the shot gun. Yes many of these carries wind up going between the tackles, but there weren’t that many of them. Vereen is more of a receiver than a traditional ball carrier but certainly he should be able to withstand 50 carries per season. I don’t think his injuries are the result of any sort of overuse or misuse. Sometimes injuries happen and there really isn’t any way to explain them.
Paul Perillo

I have not heard anything about Jeremy Gallon. I feel like he would have an excellent skillset for this team and was a great value late in the draft, but other than him being drafted, I have not heard his name resurface. What’s the deal?
Kris Valukis

Gallon wasn’t really on the field much this spring when the media got to watch practice. He’s another tiny slot-type receiver who was productive in college but will have to show he has the durability to withstand the rigors of NFL life. I haven’t seen anything from him yet to make any sort of determination but that will change once training camp begins. But my overall feeling is that the team has enough slot receivers and for him to make an impact this season would be surprising.
Paul Perillo

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