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Ask PFW: Banged up Pats respond

Fans wonder if the injury-riddled Patriots can continue to win without so many key players, plus much more in the latest Ask PFW mailbag.

What has happened to Vinatieri? He missed only three FGs last season and thru six games this year he has already missed 4. Is he playing thru injury or something?
Mike Cziria
Davenport, Fla.

As far as I know, there's nothing wrong with Adam physically. He's just in a slump right now and has missed a few lately. He's been so good for so long that when he misses any we all get concerned, but I believe Vinatieri will return to his normal form before too long.
Paul Perillo

I am considering visiting the area next year on vacation around the time of preseason start-up. Can you tell me when the Patriots home preseason games will be in 2004 so I can go to a game?
Joliet, Ill.

Hey, Joliet. Isn't that where Rudy went to school?? Sorry, Angie. Anyway, the Patriots preseason schedule hasn't been released yet. It usually gets announced sometime around March so check for those dates. As a guess, usually the four games begin in the first week of August.
Paul Perillo

What is Dan Klecko's official position and why would a coach put a defensive guy on the offense when you have capable personnel at that position?
Amin Greene
New Haven, Conn.

Klecko is officially a defensive lineman but he's also lined up as a linebacker and as a fullback/tight end on offense. Belichick first used him on offense because Fred McCrary was out and Larry Centers is more of a pass catching fullback. He also had some fullback experience from his high school days. But he showed the ability to get into the hole and make some room for runners so Belichick kept him in that role even with McCrary back against the Giants.
Paul Perillo

I would like to know what Patriot secondary do you think is the best of all-time? I feel that it has to have Mike Haynes in it I am looking forward to your answer.
Nathaniel Broadway
Little Rock, Ark.

Hey, great name. You should have been a cornerback yourself with a name like Broadway. Anyway, this is a very subjective question but I agree with you that any all-time Patriots secondary would have to include Mike Haynes. I'll go with the groups of the early-1980s with Haynes and Raymond Clayborn at the corners with fellow first-round picks Roland James and Rick Sanford at safety.
Paul Perillo

Because Compton had season-ending injury, are the Pats going to start Koppen at center and Woody at guard for the rest of the season?
Moosup, Conn.

Barring further injuries, I would think that's the plan. Koppen has played well at center and Woody's versatility allows him to make the move to guard.
Paul Perillo

My question is rules related. In the game between the Pats and the Titans there was a play in the last two minutes of the game in which a Titan's receiver caught the ball and tried to lateral it back to another receiver on his team. The lateral hit the ground and was then advanced by the second receiver about 20-30 yards from the spot of the catch. Isn't this considered a fumble as the ball hit the ground and was not lateraled? And if it was a fumble, I believe the rule is the receiving team cannot advance the fumble from the spot of the fumble? Did the officials miss this call or did I miss something?
Edmonton, Alb.

Good question but the refs got it right. According to Rule 8, Section 4, Article 1 of the 2003 Official Playing Rules, "A runner may pass backward at any time" and "an offensive player may catch a backward pass or recover it after the pass touches the ground and advance." So the normal fumble rules do not apply to a backward pass (or lateral) as was the case with Tennessee. But you were right in your assessment of the last two minutes rule that requires the fumbling player to recover the ball in order to advance it.
Paul Perillo

I wanted to find out what your opinion is on performance of Dan Klecko up to date?
Dmitri Sokolovsky
Newton, Mass.

I think Klecko is doing a nice job of making the most of his opportunities. He likely would have remained inactive had the Patriots defense not been decimated by injuries, but in his limited time Klecko has been active. He's still a bit raw and tends to overpursue, but his engine is constantly going and it's tough not to notice No. 90 when he's on the field.
Paul Perillo

I know that Fred Baxter was brought in as a blocking tight end. Do you think at least a few passes to him would catch the other team by surprise? It would surely shut my friends up.
Dexter Hampton
Huntsville, Ala.

Fred's been around for a lot of years and doesn't have many catches to show for it. In 10 years, he had just 100 catches. I'm no math wiz, but that's only 10 per season. Clearly he's out there to block and will only get a handful of chances to make catches. He has had a few thrown in his direction but hasn't been able to come up with any so far. As for the element of surprise – and silencing your friends – I guess it's worth a shot.
Paul Perillo

I am assuming the Patriots will not be willing to take a $9 million-plus hit on the cap to retain Ty Law, though he as proven again and again he's worth it. What are the chances they will be able to come to terms and be able to retain one of the best corners in the league who has helped define this defense?
Jared Mendoza
Easthampton, Mass.

Most people think this is a done deal and Ty will be elsewhere next season. But I'm not so sure. His play this season has to have Belichick and the rest of the decision makers doing everything they can to keep him. His actual salary will be in line with the other top cornerbacks in football even though his cap number is getting seriously high. It can be done.
Paul Perillo

Do you guys know if Fred "Boom Boom" Coleman is still in football? And while we are on the topic, where did he get that nickname?
Pittsburgh, Pa.

According to the official NFL player's site, Fred is not currently on an NFL roster. His nickname was given to him by the illustrious crew of PFW. Remembering the old "Welcome Back, Kotter" TV show of the 1970s, we used Freddie "Boom Boom" Washington's nickname and gave it to Coleman.
Paul Perillo

Will Cloud be in the lineup for the Patriots? Is Faulk still injured?
Danny Garrison
Maitland, Fla.

Kevin made it back on the field for the Giants game on Sunday but Cloud started the game at running back. The Patriots will likely use a true runner-by-committee approach the rest of the way with the coaches playing the hot hand, like on Sunday when Faulk replaced Cloud in the second half and picked up 80-plus yards.
Paul Perillo

I keep a year to year roster of all players on the Pats rosters. I need some info on the following players: Jamil Soriano, I need his height, weight, date of birth and where he went to college (Harvard, I believe). From the 1989 team, I need info on Curtis Wilson, a center. He wore number 75 and was on IR all year, I believe. I need his height, weight and date of birth. I know he attended the University of Missouri. I believe that Todd Peterson was a member of the 1993 Pats. I need to know what number he wore.
Richard Wood
San Antonio, Texas

A little bit of a bizarre request but who am I to stand in the way of a man's dream?? Soriano indeed attended Harvard. He's 6-4, 310 pounds and was born May 11, 1981. Curtis Wilson was indeed a center and was listed at 6-3, 283 pounds and was born Oct. 30, 1965. Unfortuantely, according to Patriots media guides, Todd Peterson never played for the team.
Paul Perillo

Will the Patriots defensive line be able to stop Miami RB Ricky Williams? How has drafting rookie Ty Warren paid off for the Patriots so far this year on defense?
Jill Stern
Las Vegas, Nev.

Since you're from Vegas, any chance you're looking for some inside info here for entertainment purposes only wagering, Jill? I hope so. But stopping Ricky Williams will probably be more in relative terms. As long as the game remains close and Miami is able to continue giving him the ball, Williams will get his yards. Last year in Miami, it took him 35 or so carries but he eventually wound up over 100. In Foxborough, he torched the Patriots for 185 yards. Unless New England can make the Dolphins throw and take Williams out of the game, I don't see the defense shutting him down. Ty Warren has been quiet but lately he's been seeing a lot more playing time. With all the injuries he's getting a chance to start and he's made some plays. So far it hasn't been great, but as a rookie he's been on the field for every game and every practice and he's only going to get better if that continues.
Paul Perillo

With all the injuries do you think the bench can carry us. And which player (coming off the bench) do you think is the best of the bunch?
Houston, Texas

Sam in Houston, that makes me laugh. Did you go to Sam Houston State. Sorry for the immaturity there. What was the question again? OK, injuries. The bench simply has to carry this team until the starters return. So far that's happened. They've won two of three with multiple players on the sidelines. That's pretty good. But it must continue or the starters returning late in the season won't matter. It's tough to pick the best reserve since most all of them have contributed. Dan Koppen and Tom Ashworth would probably be my two top candidates. They've really done a nice job at difficult positions and the offense hasn't needed to make adjustments with such inexperienced players up front. On defense, I'd say Matt Chatham. He played pretty much all special teams before this season and is making plays at outside linebacker. I wouldn't count Eugene Wilson since he really was a pretty big part of the defense from opening day.
Paul Perillo

Can you give me some background on Scott Farley? What school is he from and is he still with the Patriots?
Travis Simpson
Waltham, Vt.

Scott Farley spent training camp with the Patriots and was released before the start of the season. He attended Division III Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., and played safety. He also played for his father, Dick, at Williams.
Paul Perillo

I'm a college student in Pennsylvania, and have a friend that has a house in Rhode Island. Since it's been a life dream to get to see the Pats live, I was wondering are there is any home games between Dec. 12 and Jan. 12 while I'm on winter break?
Shippensburg, Pa.

The Patriots play twice at home during that time – Dec. 14 against Jacksonville and Dec. 27 against Buffalo. Getting tickets isn't easy but there are many brokers in the area that advertise so keep an eye open and maybe you'll get lucky. Otherwise, the games are soldout.
Paul Perillo

I have been wondering from the beginning of the season if Belichick is questioning Antowain Smith's desire or heart for the game. It is blatantly obvious to the fans that the team does well when Antowain is running hard and frequently, and better than Faulk for that matter. Do you think Belichick is in essence punishing (demoting) Antowain for his lack of conditioning in training camp, and for possibly not running with as much "heart" as Faulk?
Miami, Fla.

I don't think punishment has anything to do with it at all. Antowain has seen plenty of action and that wouldn't be the case if Belichick didn't believe he was giving it his best. Belichick often says his personnel decisions are based on who he feels gives the team the best chance to win. When all three running backs (Smith, Faulk, Cloud) are healthy, he goes with the guy he thinks provides the best matchup against the defense they're facing that particular week. Coaches in the NFL generally do what they think is best for their team, not what may or may not amount to a punishment.
Paul Perillo

One area of concern for this rookie loaded Patriots defense is the amount of missed tackles. Has coach Belichick addressed this in training/press conferences at all? Does he seem concerned and has a plan to do something about it?
Grafton, Mass.

Missed tackles are always a problem, but I don't think they've been nearly the issue that you do. In fact, I think the team has done a very good job of limiting yards after catch the last few weeks, especially against the Giants. With so many young players that concern is definitely a valid one, but overall Belichick didn't seem overly concerned when asked about the possibility of missed tackles coming as a result of not wearing pads at practice, which the team has done since the injuries hit a month ago.
Paul Perillo

Do you think that Ty Law will re-sign with the Pats after this season or do you think that he will go to a place were he thinks he has a safer job/more money (look at Milloy cut 4 days before opening day). I am pretty sure Woody will re-sign but I am not sure about Law. What do you think?
Palmer, Mass.

Law doesn't actually need to be re-signed because he's already under contract. The question is will the Patriots actually pay him the money his contract calls for? At this point, it's tough to say. As I said earlier, Law's play certainly warrants the Patriots retaining him. Letting him walk away for nothing would be far more damaging than Milloy because Law is still at the top of his game while Milloy had slipped a bit in recent seasons. Law's excellent season thus far has to have earned him another year. I also don't share your confidence that Woody will be back. He'll likely be looking for top-flight center money and the Patriots will likely have a number in mind. If Woody refuses to accept whatever that number were, I wouldn't expect the Patriots to increase their offer. Bottom line, I think there's probably a 75 percent chance he returns, but it's not set in stone.
Paul Perillo

Just curious what the playing surface is for the Pats games (grass or turf).
Whitby, Ont.

Gillette Stadium has a natural grass field. Thanks for allowing me to give the shortest answer in the history of Ask PFW.
Paul Perillo

I know that the Patriots offense likes to spread the ball around a lot, but in the past the go-to guy has always been Troy Brown. I heard that Troy commented that he was not satisfied with the number of throws to him. Why is he playing such a limited role?
Monroe, Conn.

Troy is still the Patriots go-to receiver but other teams are aware of that as well. Many times the defense sets its coverage to limit his involvement and force others to make plays. Still, Troy leads the team with 19 catches even though the passing game overall hasn't been that effective so far this year. For the Patriots offense, the lead receiver can change from game-to-game. A couple of weeks ago against the Titans, it was Deion Branch. The week before that, Troy saw most of the passes. This past week the Patriots only completed eight passes all day so there wasn't much of a chance for anyone to post big numbers. Brown will still be a big part of the Patriots offense as long as he remains healthy.
Paul Perillo

Who was the New England Patriot that was an MVP that played for Angelo State in San Angelo, Texas. My husband and I are arguing over what his name was and what he is doing now.
Thanks, Suzie King
Suzie King
Lubbock, Texas

The first part of your question is easy, Suzie. Clayton Weishuhn was a Patriots linebacker from 1982-86 and he played his college ball at Angelo State. Unfortunately his career was interrupted several times by some serious knee injuries and ultimately was cut short. I'm not sure what MVP awards he may have won, but I'm pretty sure he's the player you and your husband are arguing over. As for his current whereabouts, I'm not really sure. We're trying to put something together with him for a future story in PFW but so far haven't been able to track him down.
Paul Perillo

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