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Patriots Replay Thu May 28 | 02:00 PM - 11:59 PM

Ask PFW: Camp week!

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Hi guys. So we all know Tom (Brady) isn't getting younger though I hear a lot of people talking about his "decline" but maybe I don't see it cause I'm a Pats fan. He seems just as good as he did 3-4 years ago, but my main question is do you really think Jimmy Garoppolo is the future or will he be a Cassel type that they build up and in 2-3 years they can pawn him off for a higher draft pick then they could've gotten for Mallet? And then select the future QB? I'd hope they secure a future QB while Brady is here so maybe he can teach/coach them up for a year or so but your thoughts?
Steve DeMoura

I think that Jimmy Garoppolo was drafted in the second round this spring with the idea that at some point he could start games in New England. When that time would come or how the situation would come about is a far murkier proposition. I think he has the type of skills that appeal to Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels. He has a quick release, solid fundamentals, is pretty accurate and seems to have a good football IQ. Cassel was a longshot, late-round pick who may never had developed were it not for Brady's knee injury. And Mallett just hasn't evolved on the practice field, nor has he had much of a shot in game action. So any plan of turning him into a trade chip have never materialized. The hopes are much higher for Garoppolo, of course as the perceived heir to Brady's job the pressure will be much greater as well. For now, though, Garoppolo is competing with Mallett for the backup job and the rest will play itself out down the road.
Andy Hart

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If Jimmy Garoppolo does well in the upcoming camp, do you expect Mallet to be on the trading block? Also, I give up, who is Nate Byham?*
*Morris Hickok

If Garoppolo proves himself the better backup quarterback this summer then I think the most likely scenario is that Mallett would be cut. I just don't think there is a trade market for him at this point given his limited playing time. And if Garoppolo plays well enough to win the backup job as a rookie it will probably be pretty obvious that Mallett might get cut and his trade value will be even lower. As for the recently-signed tight end Byham, he's a fifth-year veteran who's played two seasons each in San Francisco and Tampa Bay. He has 11 career catches, so he's not exactly a force as a pass catcher. He's also returning from a torn ACL suffered last October with the Bucs. So now you know, and knowing is half the battle!
Andy Hart

Where will Logan Ryan play, safety or cornerback?
Aron Moore

At least early in the process it seems that Ryan is slotted in the cornerback position he played in college and as a third-round rookie last season. Bill Belichick did acknowledge during a draft weekend press conference that he's certainly going to look for some flexibility in his defensive backs and that Ryan might be a candidate to play both positions, as Marquise Cole did in the recent past. Right now, it looks like Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon are pretty locked in as the top safeties. How the third or fourth safety jobs play out with names like Tavon Wilson and Nate Ebner -- who are primarily special teams players -- and Patrick Chung in his return to New England, will have to play out in camp. I still think that Ryan has a chance to be a contributor at cornerback and that he'll be given that chance even if he serves dual duties in terms of backing up both spots in his second season.
Andy Hart

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For the past five -plus years, we've watched [Kyle] Arrington and [Devin] McCourty get beat by low-level quarterbacks. We've had some decent pass rushers and they still just can't cover. In the butt-fumble game, even Sanchez lit them up for over 300 yards. Why does Belichick keep them on the team? Are they related to someone in management?*
*Mike Szaban

Wow, pretty harsh criticism. I think you'd be surprised how much the Patriots like both players in question and what they have done for the team over the years. Arrington is better in the slot than on the outside, but has been a reliable defender for the most part for the last four seasons. Is he a No. 1 corner? No. But he's competitive in the slot and a valuable backup on the outside. He may be overpaid a bit, but corners make a lot of money in the NFL. McCourty is heading into a contract year and we're going to find out just how much the team likes the former Pro Bowl corner, first-round pick and current starting safety. It will be interesting to see if he has more playmaking freedom with the addition of a couple veteran corners this offseason and the stability that Darrelle Revis should bring this fall. I'm not as high on either of the two players as some – including those who think McCourty is one of the best safeties in the game – but I think you are far too harsh and off base in the other direction.
Andy Hart

Hey guys. So I hear there are reports out of Arizona that Rob Housler is 4th on the team's TE depth chart. What are your guys thought on the Pats possibly trading for this guy? He seems like he could be a good pass catcher with less of an injured history than Dustin Keller.
Desmond Bullock

The Patriots have always been aware and at times active in the trade market during the summer. Housler has proven himself a reasonably productive part-time starter the last couple seasons. He would certainly be a potential No. 2 on the Patriots depth chart at tight end at this point were he in New England. If he's on the outs in Arizona later in camp I could certainly see Belichick making a deal for a late-round or conditional pick if the tight end spot has not solidified by that point in New England.
Andy Hart

I'm in Afghanistan right now and was wondering: is there a web-based means to listen to the Pats play-by-play? The Pats receivers' ability to adjust their routes at the line is crucial. Why is it so hard to predict whether incoming receivers (rookies or vets) can do this?
Mike Maguire

The NFL offers a package to listen to game audio broadcasts that's available on NFL.com. As for the receiver position, there are just so many variables as players attempt to transition from college to the pro game. They run a much more varied and adjustment-heavy route tree in the NFL. They face many more types of coverage, including press that they rarely see in college. They face much better competition and rely heavily on building a relationship with their quarterback. So much of a receiver's transition is mental and in relation to the quarterback, whether that be rookies or veteran newcomers. It's not a job that can happen in a vacuum.
Andy Hart

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Is it totally unreasonable for Josh Boyce and Kenbrell Thompkins both to make the roster? I'm thinking that with Edelman, Amendola, LaFell and Dobson as locks and that only makes 4 WRs. With Boyce and Thompkins that makes 6 WRs. Slater doesn't count. Also 5 of the 6 WRs have injury history so that might leave more room for either Gallon or an undrafted free agent?*
*John McLain

First, Slater does count for a roster spot, somewhere. He's one of only 53 guys who can be kept. He also was Brady's deep target to open the AFC title game in Denver last January. Not accounting for injury, and assuming that Dobson doesn't remain on PUP into the regular season, I think you are accurate in your four locks. Given the injury question and the uncertainty in general of some of the options, I could see a total of seven receivers when you include Slater. I don't, however, really see that Gallon is likely to earn a roster spot. A position on the practice squad or even remaining on NFI might be more likely. I think it's just too much a numbers game and he doesn't provide anything special at this point. If it comes down to a cut, I think there is a chance that Boyce could beat out Thompkins based on his speed and ability as a kickoff returner. But that is certainly a battle to keep an eye on throughout the summer.
Andy Hart

You guys do a great job. Thank you for covering the Patriots so well. I was looking at an article on NFL.com and they first mention our receivers in Tier 4 and then in Tier 5. Do you think that the Patriots are overlooking the fact they do not have higher rated players at the position? If so what are their options?
David Mittica

I think the Patriots are well aware of the talent they have on their own roster and generally do a pretty good job of scouting their own talent. I'm sure they realize they are lacking a bit at receiver or counting on young players to develop. That's the reality of the position, whether you look at it from the outside or inside. There isn't a lot that can be done at this point. One option would be a trade for a guy like Andre Johnson, assuming Houston actually makes the Pro Bowl veteran talent available. The other would be to sign a veteran free agent, but the pickings are a bit slim there with more than 2,700 players on NFL rosters at this point. For the most part you have the talent now that you are going to have throughout the year. For better or worse.
Andy Hart

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Why don't the Patriots trade a first- or second-round pick and either Ryan Mallet or Danny Amendola for Andre Johnson. The Patriots like to pick late in the draft and like value picks. I don't think Dobson can stay on the field or get on the same page with Brady. Thanks guys.*
*Michael Agabiti

At this point it doesn't seem that Bill O'Brien and the Texans are planning on trading Johnson, regardless of what the veteran receiver might want. On the flip side, I can't see the Patriots trading a first-round pick for Johnson, and that might be what it could take. (I also can't see the Texans having much interest in Mallett or Amendola as more than throw-ins, if at all.) Plus, even if Houston did end up looking to deal Johnson, I'm sure there would be other teams interested on a high level. That doesn't even take into account the cap ramifications that would require the Patriots to make moves to get the room for Johnson and then likely expect him to re-do his contract, much like most players have done when dealt to New England. It just seems like a real longshot that's unlikely to happen. Sorry to be a wet blanket.
Andy Hart

Which do you think could make the 53-man roster, Justin Jones or Asa Watson?
Bob Pek

Since you didn't give me neither as an option, I guess I'll go with Jones. Jones didn't play last season at East Carolina due to academic reasons but has freaky size. He's a very good athlete, showed soft hands in college when he did catch 25 balls in 2012. He's also pretty raw and it's hard to see him succeeding where Zach Sudfeld failed last fall as an undrafted rookie tight end trying to earn Brady's trust and respect. Jones may be a long-term option and practice squad guy, but it's hard to project him earning a roster spot at this early stage of his pro development even at a very thin tight end spot.
Andy Hart

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How hard is it to teach a tight end how to run block? I am thinking about rookie FA Justin Jones and am presuming he would be used on running downs. What is the limiting factor, or main reason, he would be unable to run block effectively enough to make the team?*
*Ralph Colucci

Blocking is a skill just like so many other things in this world. It takes talent, practice, fundamentals, work ethic and experience. Not everyone, even with size and impressive athleticism, can do it. Everyone can get better at it through reps, experience and hard work. Having yet to see Jones compete for even a single padded snap at the pro level, it's hard to rate his skills as a blocker. That's one of the many things we'll be watching with the undrafted rookie tight end project in the coming weeks.
Andy Hart

Great Job as always. One aspect of the Patriots game we hear little about is Ernie Adams and his staff. What does his staff do to prepare for a season and more specifically how do they affect the game while it's being played. THANKS!
Marc Roy

Adams' exact role as New England's football research director isn't really known. Even players have joked in the past about not knowing exactly what Adams does. He's a longtime friend and advisor for Belichick, with the pair having attended Phillips Academy together. Adams was actually an assistant coach with the Patriots with Chuck Fairbanks in the mid-'70s. He moved on to the Giants and worked as the team's director of pro personnel. According to his Patriots media guide bio his responsibilities include "researching special assignments for both the coaching staff and the personnel department." We can see him observe every practice from the sidelines and often chat with Belichick on the practice field. He's in the coaching booth on game days with a role that, among other things, apparently includes advising the coach on replay challenges, clock management and other important issues. As far as I know Adams does not have a "staff" and we may never really know exactly what he does and how his role fits in to the Patriots work in season or during the offseason. We do know that he's a trusted Belichick confidant, and has been for decades.
Andy Hart

From what I have learned, Austin Collie is an unsigned unrestricted wide receiver who I believe played well for the Patriots. I watched him get clocked and knocked out of a game and had to be taken off with a stretcher when playing with the Colts. Before that incident and afterwards, he played well against the Patriots and I hated to hear his name called. What is the likelihood that BB will sign him, and when (if he does)? He is a veteran, quality playmaker that the Patriots could really use in their arsenal, in my opinion.
Mark Washburn

Collie was mildly productive in limited chances for Brady and the Patriots last year with six catches in seven games. But he remains a long-term health concern with the concussion history you pointed out. I wouldn't be surprised if his name was on New England's emergency list for this season in case something happens injury-wise at the position during the year. I wouldn't expect the veteran -- who's caught seven passes in eight total games over the last two years while dealing with head and knee injuries -- to be an option this summer or early in the process this season.
Andy Hart

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