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Ask PFW: Bouncing around

Many fans wrote in this week offering their thoughts and opinions regarding the Patriots involvement in the video scandal currently being reviewed by the NFL. There were far too many to post on a forum like this, and truth be told none of them really asked any questions for us to answer. As more information becomes available we'll be posting it on the news section but rather than tie up "Ask PFW" with those we simply included a few questions mostly off last week's game.

I was wondering if any portion of Randy Moss not being seen at practice was gamesmanship by Bill Belichick for the Jets.
Steve Geary

There probably was an element of that regarding the decision to have Moss sit out the entire preseason. But there's no question that Moss was indeed injured when he first left the practice field back on Aug. 1. Unless he's capable of taking home an Oscar sometime in the near future, Moss was not acting when he came up lame trying to run under a Tom Brady bomb. The question from there would be: Was he injured to the extent that he couldn't return before the start of the regular season? There's no reason to know for sure since neither Belichick nor Moss would ever admit it either way. My guess is Moss likely could have made it back on the field for a preseason game or two, but what good would that have done? He's a guy with a history of leg problems, especially recently, and resting a sore hamstring is the right course of action. If the Jets were at all confused about his availability last week as they prepared for the opener then that only added to the benefits of the decision. But I think Belichick's actions were done with the thoughts of what was best for the team first and foremost, and then what might make it problematic for the opponent secondary.
Paul Perillo

Will the Patriots change over to a zone blocking team this year? It was reported in the Globe that they were practicing it during training camp.David Playe

I'm sure the Patriots will use some zone blocking schemes this year in the running game because that's pretty much what they've done in the past. I remember the story you're referencing and to be honest I was a little confused by it. Under Belichick the Patriots have favored athletic linemen that can get out and block in space, which is what zone blocking is based on. The Patriots pride themselves on versatility so I wouldn't expect every running play to be blocked in the same manner, but zone blocking has traditionally been their manner of choice. What might be different this season is the kinds of running plays that are called, In the past with a bruising back like Corey Dillon, and Antowain Smith before him, it made sense to featured power football between the tackles. With Laurence Maroney figuring to get the bulk of the carries this year, you'll probably see more outside runs and other plays that better take advantage of his speed and quickness. But in terms of the blocking, I don't think much will change.
Paul Perillo

I read in the "Ask PFW" this week that Rodney Harrison is not eligible for the Pro Bowl or any awards because of his suspension. Is this a new rule this year? Last year Shawne Merriman got a Pro Bowl trip and almost won Defensive Player of the Year with a four-game suspension for using steroids. Did they fix this rule?Jim L.

They did indeed add a new rule for 2007 that prohibits players who are suspended during a season from garnering any postseason awards of any kind. Most people believed Merriman being named to the Pro Bowl squad a year ago was a joke, and the league rectified that quickly by making sure it wouldn't happen again.
Paul Perillo

It just wouldn't be football season without the complementary injury report listing Tom Brady with a shoulder injury. Can someone (other than Andy Hart) intelligently explain why Brady continues to show up on this report? I highly doubt it can be some sort of BB ploy, as most teams (at least the smart ones) will never take it seriously.Patrick Colletta

Actually, I believe it is a sort of Belichick ploy. He's been asked about this at various times and he always maintains he's simply fulfilling the team's obligation in reporting every injury as accurately as possible. The problem with this is that Brady is listed as probable every week even though he's definitely going to play. In my opinion, a player shouldn't be listed with an ailment unless there's a chance – even the slightest – of that player not being able to play. I'm sure Brady's shoulder is not 100 percent, which in turn is the reason he's listed every week. But in football I would guess that virtually every single player could say he was dealing with some sort of physical problem as significant or even more so than Brady's and most of these players are not listed. Therefore, my guess is Belichick is doing his best to make the opponents think a little longer about preparing for the backup. Of course you're absolutely right in determining that every team prepares for both the starter and the backup and obviously would devote the bulk of its time to Brady. It's for reasons like those that I feel the injury reports should abolished because they're not worth the paper they're written on.
Paul Perillo

The Rodney Harrison suspension is interesting to me. We all know he struggled with injuries the last two seasons or so, and he knew it was against the rules. So my question is more to the league than PFW. If I injured my knee skiing, and my doctor decides that I should take HGH, and prescribes it to recover faster in order to ski next season, why would I not do that? If the doctor thinks that I should have an MRI done to check progress, would I do that? It is all in the spirit of fast recovery. Yes, by the time preseason and or regular season starts, you should not be using HGH (maybe unless you are on PUP), but up until that point, wouldn't any athlete, elite or not, want to recover as fast as he or she can in order to get back to the sport they love? You can pass this along to Roger Goodell if you would rather not comment.Brian Smith

I'm sure the commissioner has been breathlessly awaiting your suggestions Brian. But your viewpoint here is incredibly short-sighted. Many of us don't really know what the effects of these drugs and hormones have on the human body. Therefore it's quite naïve to think that HGH simply quickens the healing process and does nothing else. Maybe it doesn't even do that, doctors can't seem to agree. But what we can all agree on is the fact that HGH is a banned substance and considered a performance enhancer. Therefore, if you take it as an NFL player you're cheating and subject to a suspension. And comparing that to an MRI is so flawed I don't even know where to start. How could anyone say getting an X-ray or MRI gives a player a competitive advantage over someone who doesn't? Yet you don't believe taking a hormone that helps a player heal quicker – and that's what Rodney says he did – is an advantage for one player over another who doesn't? Again, that's quite a leap. Bottom line, as I said, HGH is illegal and therefore the excuses for taking it are irrelevant.
Paul Perillo

If the receiver runs the wrong route on a timing pattern and the play results in an interception, is there any provision for not scoring this as an interception debited against the QB? One sees this occur all the time, and it seems pretty unfair to blame the QB for the receiver's error. Or perhaps the coaching staff score things differently than the official team scores, which are still unfair to the QB in this instance.
Tony Craddock

No, there are no such ways for scorers to not include interceptions that aren't necessarily the fault of the quarterback in the official stats. Of course, there's no way to exclude completed passes for the quarterback even when the pass is off target and only caught because of a great play by the receiver. Or when a QB throws the ball right at a defender only to see it bounce off his chest into the arms of a receiver. This would be a completion and not an interception. We all understand that not all interceptions are the fault of the passer – in fact many aren't – but there's no way to distinguish between them all for stats purposes.
Paul Perillo

All right, I have seen this comment about five times since the schedules came out for the NFL, and it has annoyed me every single one. The Patriots do NOT have the third-hardest schedule in the NFL this year, they have the SECOND-hardest. If Oakland and Buffalo are tied for the hardest schedule, and the Pats are one game behind them with the next hardest, it makes it the second hardest schedule. How difficult is that to understand? Am I asking for too much? Please let me know what you guys think so that I don't think its just me.Andreas P.

I was told there'd be no math here, but this one seems pretty easy to me. If two teams are tied for first, then the next team after them would be considered third. That's how it works. Think of it as a race between three people where the first two tie. Would you then consider the third one to have finished second? Of course not. It's pretty simple.
Paul Perillo

What was up with the illegal touching inside the 5-yard line penalty the Patriots got on the punt in the first half? What is the rule and is this new this year? I sure didn't notice anything wrong with what he did.
Steve Maifield

Willie Andrews was called for illegal touching because he went out of bounds and was the first player to touch the ball when he came back in. That's always been a penalty for illegal touching. The new wrinkle to the rule was instituted last season where instead of a 5-yard penalty and re-kick, the Jets had the option of simply making it a touchback instead and that's what they chose to do.
Paul Perillo

I moved a couple of days ago and can't find out what happened to Justin Rogers. He looked pretty go in the preseason can you tell me if he made the team or was he released?
Dan O'Neil

Rogers was released on the final cutdown but was picked up by the Dallas Cowboys. He is currently on the Cowboys active roster.
Paul Perillo

I noticed that during the preseason and in the first week of football, the home teams were wearing their white jersey. Isn't this different from the past, when the home team wore the colors? Or am I going senile and this is how it's been all along?
James P.

Often times early in the season home teams choose to wear white due to the heat that generally accompanies early-season games. Home teams have the choice of which uniform to wear and most use dark colors for their home games. But with temperatures often soaring into the 90s in the preseason and in early September, some teams look for an edge and make the opponent wear the darker colors.
Paul Perillo

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