How do you guys feel about a few of these 'on the bubble' players like Tavon Wilson, Patrick Chung, and Jake Bequette? Have they been looking good at all?* *Erik L.
Wilson and Chung have gotten a considerable amount of reps at safety alongside Devin McCourty in the first week or so of training camp. It would appear, therefore, that both remain in the mix not only for a roster spot, but also a starting role. Chung has also worked with the punt team as the personal protector (which he used to do when he first played for New England). Neither, however, has done much to impress me with their play at safety. Numbers-wise (read "depth"), one or both of them could make the squad, but I'm not confident at this point in either one being a difference-maker on defense.
Bequette needs to have a great summer, and so far, he's done… OK. I've been watching him closely in 1-on-1 and 2-on-2 pass rushing drills, and he's held his own, winning most of his battles. Problem is, he doesn't often show up during 11-on-11 team period action, which is when you can really evaluate a player. Bequette's a great young man whom I truly hope makes the roster, from a personal standpoint. But he still needs to show me and, more importantly, the coaching staff, a lot more to prove he deserves to stick around. Erik Scalavino
Hello from Maine. I attended last Sat. and Sun. practices. From what I saw the 6-8 tight end Justin Jones is too raw to make this year's roster. He missed almost all of the balls thrown his way in the offensive drills Sat (he was even booed by the fans on one drop). Sunday he looked a little better, but wasn't given any hard to catch passes. His blocking looked OK. Now D.J. Williams (great name) looked much better both days, and had a couple athletic catches. So, do you think Jones will win a spot due to measurables? What do you think of Williams so far? Also, why the heck is Revis doing special team drills? Thanks, and keep up the good work.* *D.J. Foster
Do you think free agent tight end Justin Jones will make the Pats roster and contribute this year? Or is he another "Mr. July" like Zach Sudfeld last year? Kevin Beltrami
Jones certainly looks the part of an NFL tight end when he suits up. He just doesn't always play like one. He's been very inconsistent – much, much more inconsistent than last year's rookie tight end star, the aforementioned Sudfeld, who impressed almost every day in camp and preseason. Jones hasn't been close to that good, but given the injury and depth concerns at the position, it's possible he could wind up on the practice squad as a long-term, developmental player.
Williams is a former Mackey Award winner (best tight end in college) who's done little to live up to that pedigree at the NFL level. With both Rob Gronkowski and Michael Hoomanawanui on the shelf during 11-on-11 action, Williams and Jones have gotten lots more reps than they normally would. But neither has stood out positively on a regular basis. Again, Williams might stick around again (he was on the team in spurts last season) based solely on roster needs, not necessarily because he deserves it from a playmaking standpoint. Erik Scalavino
Hey guys. Firstly, let me start by saying I love the [PFW in Progress radio] show, and it's the highlight of my day at work. As I live in Sydney (Australia), I'm not awake when your show is live, but I always download your podcast. My question is about the offensive play-calling for the Patriots. Does Josh McDaniels call all the offensive plays, or does he share the play calling responsibilities with Bill Belichick? What role does Tom Brady have in calling the offensive plays? Thanks for your time and please keep up the good work. Regards*, *Gavin Twyman; Sydney, Australia
McDaniels, in his role as offensive coordinator, is the primary play caller. Belichick certainly consults with him throughout the games, but it's typically McDaniels who makes the final call. Brady has some input as well when he goes to the sideline during timeouts, and he can always audible at the line of scrimmage based on what the defense is showing. But it's not like the old days (a generation or more ago) where many of the better QBs in the league called their own plays. The NFL has become too specialized a league, and too scrutinized as well, so there has to be a "buck-stops-here" guy to get the credit or blame for play calling. On this team, that's McDaniels. Erik Scalavino
On the podcast you mentioned there are things you cannot report from training camp. What are these things? Is this just a Patriot rule or is it league wide? Thanks from New Zealand. Pearce Bennett
Keeping this Oceania theme going here… I love it! Yes, we in the media are under certain restrictions regarding what can and cannot be reported from training camp. For instance, reporting on so-called "trick plays" is verboten. If, for the sake of argument and in a purely hypothetical case, Julian Edelman were to run an end-around and then throw a deep pass for a touchdown, the media would not be allowed to report this in any fashion. This is strictly a Patriots rule, by the way. Other teams around the league have different policies, so, it's refreshing when we have joint practices with those clubs and are free to abide by their rules (or lack thereof) and report to our hearts' content.
The most confounding aspect of this rule in Foxborough is that there are always thousands of fans in attendance at Patriots training camp, and they see exactly what we in the media see. Yet, any fan could take to Twitter or any other social media platform and give a play-by-play account of practice if they so choose. Those of us who are trained professionals are precluded from doing so. Makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, and real fans, like you, are worse off for it. Erik Scalavino
When talking about "surprise cuts" that may happen this year, one name that may not be so surprising in my opinion is Logan Mankins. He's the highest paid OL and outside of when he stepped in for Solder at LT, he didn't play very well. Has he looked "better" so far in camp then he did last year, or better than the other OL to guarantee him a roster spot? Because I felt this way about him in camp last year, too. Nick Cabrera
It took me several times reading this to determine if you were being serious or not, Nick. I've concluded that you were. So… yeah, I'd be willing to bet the entire value of the Patriots organization – upwards of several billion dollars – that Mankins is on the team for the foreseeable future. He would be a "stunned cut," not merely a "surprise" one if he were let go. While 2013 may not have been his best as a pro, it was certainly better than most any other o-lineman in the league. He's the eldest player in that group on this team, but he's still playing at an elite level. There's no way in the world Mankins isn't on this team, and he more than deserves to be. In fact, he'll remain a team captain when those are voted on in early September, I've not doubt. Erik Scalavino
How are the rookies on defense looking and how is Zach Moore performing on the DL?* *David Webster
Zach Moore hasn't done much to stand out in a positive way, but that's not to say he's done anything horribly wrong, either. He just hasn't made many plays to separate himself from the d-line pack.
Some rookies who have are Malcolm Butler, a cornerback who's gotten quite a bit of exposure and made some good plays (some bad, too) when given his opportunities with the upper-echelon personnel groups. Travis Hawkins is another young DB who's had a nice camp thus far. Aside from that, it's been fairly quiet from the defensive rookies to this point. Hopefully, that will change soon. For their sake, it better. Erik Scalavino
Hey guys. Seems like from what I'm reading so far that Jimmy Garoppolo is really struggling in camp. It sounds like potentially the jump from Eastern Illinois to the NFL is proving to be a struggle. Is this anything to be concerned about long term? Or am I just letting my pre/post draft view on the pick influence what I'm reading? Antonio Pearsorelli
Do you think Garoppolo would ever be an NFL starter or even a quality back-up who can carry the team based on what you had seen from him so far? Sam Jacobs
Guys, relax. You – and many others – are exhibiting the kind of impatience that has become woefully commonplace in our instant gratification society. Garoppolo, New England's rookie quarterback, has taken part in fewer than a dozen practices to date this summer, and hasn't even played his first preseason game yet. No, he hasn't exactly blown us away with his performance in training camp, but please refresh my memory if you can recall specific examples of Tom Brady having done so during his rookie training camp in 2000. He didn't, obviously, and look where he wound up.
I'm not predicting that Garoppolo will have a Brady-like career. All I'm asking is that you give the young man a chance – a fair chance – to learn and develop and grow. It is far too early to be judging whether Garoppolo is the long-term QB answer for the Patriots. He needs time. Let him have enough of it before you ask us to render a verdict. Erik Scalavino
Seeing our LBs are one position where depth is really needed, any talk of how Cameron Gordon is doing? Coming into camp, a lot of people assumed he had a real good shot at making the team? Haven't heard anything on him yet? Steve DeMoura
Gordon, an undrafted player out of Michigan, was apparently injured a few practices back and hasn't been on the field for several days. Unclear what happened to him exactly. Prior to that, he hadn't exactly jumped out at us, one way or the other. He'd been rather nondescript, in fact. He certainly hadn't shone, for comparison's sake, the way Dane Fletcher did during his rookie camp in 2010. You're right, though, about the linebackers. They need some backups to step up. So far, the only one who's done that in any way is veteran James Anderson. The more time Gordon misses, the worse his chances are of making this team in any way other than the injured reserve list. *Erik Scalavino