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Patriots Replay Fri May 29 | 12:00 AM - 11:58 PM

Ask PFW II: Fans on the defensive

Pats fan reporting from Chicago - Rather than trade Watson for next to nothing why not move him to outside linebacker? He is a great athlete no question, but can't play tight end. Do you think Pats would be interested in Derrick Brooks? Also, I think Galloway's best days are behind him and we should still look for a solid #2 receiver opposite Moss. Are their any good free agents left? Keep up good work.
Jeff Cabral

So let me make sure I have this straight – Galloway's "best days are behind him" but Brooks is your answer at linebacker? Do they refer to you at work as Captain Contradiction? Watson has been a disappointment at the position he's played his entire life, what makes you think he'd so easily excel in move to the other side of the ball. Even if he could down the road, it would take more than a year of training to get it done. No, there are not too many good free agents left at any position. The talent leaves the free agent market pretty quickly and I'm not sure that wide receiver is a huge need at this point. Moss and Wes Welker still top the depth chart with Galloway and Greg Lewis filling out the depth needs and battling for catches and playing time. I actually like the group, more so than the one that lined up last season. I think you are underselling both Galloway and Lewis. I actually think Lewis could catch 40 or 50 balls in this offense working with Tom Brady.
Andy Hart

Like everyone else I was very surprised that BB did not draft another MLB higher ([Rey] Maualuga in particular) or a replacement for Vrabel on the outside. I was wondering if Shawn Crable has anything to do this. He had a great combine last year with 29 bench reps and a 4.64 40-yard dash which is a significantly better combination of size, speed and strength than Brian Cushing, Clay Mathews and every OLB besides Aaron Curry in this year's draft. I know he did not play at all last year, which is a little troubling, but I was wondering if you guys had any insight as to how he is progressing, if he is healthy and if you think he can be a playmaker coming off the edge?
Ben Taggart

Clearly Crable's future is a part of the puzzle at outside linebacker, maybe a sizeable one. You're right in that he seems to have the measurables to be a force at the position in New England's scheme. But you're also right in that he did nothing last year. He's a true wild card at the position at this point. I wasn't overly impressed with the limited action we saw from him last preseason, but clearly Belichick has a better feel for his short and long term potential than any of us uninformed onlookers. If he thinks Crable is ready to help out off the edge I'll defer to him. But I hope he's right. I haven't seen Shawn yet this year, but my understanding is that he's healthy and ready to compete. That's important. This could be a huge summer for him learning the system and battling for playing time. The man looks the part, let's hope he can play it. Right now I'm just lukewarm on Crable's future. I'll be better suited to offer a stronger opinion after June's mini-camp and once training camp gets underway in late July. Until then I'll withhold judgment.
Andy Hart

Hey, is there any chance that the Patriots trade for Shawne Merriman? He's coming of an injury and the Chargers seem to have drafted his replacement [even though he's only 24]. I think a first, a second and a fifth would do the trick and that's a deal that is smart for the Pats because they have 12 rookies this year so they wont need to many for next year. I know its a risk because of the injury, but what do you think?
T. Hughes

This is actually a topic we discussed at length last week on PFW in Progress on Patriots.com Radio. We were just throwing out names of trade options and came up with Merriman. He's a proven pass rusher in the 3-4. He's coming off a major knee injury and heading into a contract year. It seems like the Chargers are less than eager to sign him to an extension, and selecting Larry English in the draft gives them insurance to part ways with Merriman. I think your trade scenario is far too costly for an injured guy with a year left on his contract, but I'd consider the move for lesser trade compensation. I don't love Merriman's act and have seen him disappear a little too often in games for my likening. But he's another intriguing option I wouldn't mind adding to the depth chart. Do I think it will happen? No. But it's fun to talk about.
Andy Hart

Hey Ask PFW: First off, love your work, I read, I subscribe to PFW and I have them scattered everywhere to prove it. My question is in regard to the 2009 AFC East race. Which team do you think had the best draft out of the Patriots AFC east teams? Which team do you think will win the division and go on to the playoffs. Thank you for your insight and take it light.
Dave Baker

I'm not completely in love with the drafts of any of the four teams in the East. I think the best pick of all the teams was Vontae Davis by Miami. I think he's going to be a stud corner in the league. In terms of overall depth, helped by a large number of picks, I'd give the edge to the Patriots. They didn't get a top-end pass rusher, but they filled out a number of needs in the second and third rounds with solid talent. New York rolled the dice to go after Mark Sanchez. They needed a quarterback and they got one. Whether it works or not, they went for it. Overall, though, Buffalo could come away with the best class in terms of talent and depth. The key for the Bills is No. 11 pick Aaron Maybin. I think he's a reach at that spot and don't believe he'll be an elite pass rusher. But if he plays to the value of the pick then their draft is very good with two solid linemen in Eric Wood and Andy Levitre as well as a potential steal in fourth-round tight end Shawn Nelson. If I had to rank the four drafts I'd go with Miami (despite reaching for Pat White), followed by the Patriots, Bills and Jets. The latter two swung for the fences with Maybin and Sanchez. The problem is that I think both only hit warning track fly balls with the picks. In the end the Patriots will win the division and battle for an AFC title. The Jets will finish second, Bills third and the Dolphins will go from first to worst.
Andy Hart

Who will the Patriots starting running back this coming season? I believe that Maroney has to prove that he can stay healthy. Taylor should start for the Pats.
Joe Shays

You are forgetting someone. The guy just happened to lead the team in rushing last year while starting seven games. His name is Sammy Morris. I think he'll be in the starting lineup on opening day. I don't think Taylor is in the running, pun intended, for the starting job. He's clearly a potentially exciting addition to the committee backfield approach but I think his contributions will come off the bench for the most part. If Maroney has a great preseason I think he could slide into the starting lineup on opening day, where he was last September, but right now my money is on the solid returning veteran Morris.
Andy Hart

Just wondering if the Pats may be bringing Colvin and Seau back to fill out the rotation for LB. Is Colvin that washed up at 31? I keep seeing that with him turning 32, he's too old to be counted on for New England by so many media blurbs. Tell me it isn't so. They are both productive guys. What do you guys think about the possibility of either or both returning this season?John Osgood

Washed up is such a dirty term. (Ironic, isn't it. Washed up. Dirty. Get it?) But I think it holds true for Colvin. I thought he really struggled when he was signed late last season. To be fair he was basically brought in directly from hanging out with his kids in his backyard, but he didn't exactly shine in late season action. I think he's pretty much at the end of the road in the NFL. I wish him well in his many business endeavors, including his UPS stores. Seau, I thought, played relatively well after joining the team last December. He's been a late-season option the last couple years. Could he fill a similar void in 2009? Maybe, but I think we may have finally seen the end for the soon-to-be Pro Football Hall of Famer. My guess is that both guys have played their final game for the Patriots.
Andy Hart

OK....So Taylor is a Dolphin again and I'm sure that means you have gotten 300 "what do we do now?" emails. So why not one more? My question is how likely you think the following scenario is to play out. The Patriots are waiting until training camp to evaluate the linebacking corps as it currently stands, while also hoping that Peppers is a no-show at Carolina camp which drives down Carolina's asking price. If BB doesn't like what he sees they make a strong play for Peppers. I know there is the whole franchise thing but I got to believe if both parties want to make it happen then it can. I feel we are missing that last piece of the Super Bowl puzzle. We will need to count on the defense more this year then we did in '07, particularly early in the season as Brady works himself back into form.Jim Cassel

On some level your little scenario makes sense. The one problem is the "whole franchise thing." Somehow the Patriots would have to fit Peppers under the cap with either the franchise tender or a lucrative contract extension. Either way it would come with a big cap figure that would likely require the team to overhaul its cap situation and even cut a few veteran players to make the room. Now, if Peppers simply wanted to sign a bargain basement deal that would be much easier. But if you think that's going to happen, I'd like you to put in a request for me next time you see your boy Santa Claus – tell him I really want a Yamaha WaveRunner this year. I've been a good boy. And while you're at it you should probably put in your request for Peppers. That's the only way you're likely to get your dream gift.
Andy Hart

With Hobbs traded to Philly and the lack of experience at corner (besides Bodden and Springs) who do you see starting next to Bodden??Alex Alari

This will be one of the great questions and competitions heading into training camp. I think there is a chance that any of four guys – Shawn Springs, Terrence Wheatley, Jonathan Wilhite, Darius Butler – could start opposite Bodden. I also don't think Bodden's name is printed in permanent ink atop the depth chart. There is a lot of competition to be had at this point, much of it against Randy Moss, Wes Welker and a powerful Tom Brady-led offense. It should be fun to watch this summer. If you want me to pick a pair of starters for opening day right now I'll go with Bodden and Wilhite. But, like Bill Parcells, I reserve the right to change my mind at any time.
Andy Hart

Hey guys, first of all I've got to say you really help keep fans outside of the U.S. up to date with the happenings in Foxboro. Was just wondering if you think that Eric Kettani will make it past the final cuts as a direct replacement for Heath Evens or will BB continue his tactic of putting in Russ Hochstein in FB instead?
Dathai Quinlan

I don't think that Kettani will make it past final cuts, although a spot on the practice squad wouldn't seem out of the question. I also don't think Belichick will keep a fullback on the roster. I think guys like Hochstein or one of the tight ends will fill out the fullback duties that are required, on a relatively limited basis, within the offense.
Andy Hart

We don't know how Tom Brady is going to play after suffering that injury and we don't have a back up with much experience. Do you think the Patriots should try and sign a veteran like J.P. Losman or Rex Grossman?David Johnson

I would certainly be open to brining in a veteran backup QB. It couldn't hurt to bring in a guy to at least compete in training camp. I have no interest in Losman, but Grossman is a guy I'd look at. He's not as bad, especially as backups go, as people like to make him out to be. He probably still thinks he can fight for a starting job. If he doesn't get the chance to do that somewhere, I'd bring him in to compete for a backup role. He's not exactly the game manager I'd like in a backup, but I don't know that Kevin O'Connell, Matt Gutierrez or Brian Hoyer can be that guy either. As it stands right now, my guess is that O'Connell wins the backup job with Hoyer in the third slot. Gutierrez was cut last summer and I think he'll probably meet that same fate again this August as well.
Andy Hart

Say [Sebastian] Vollmer is put on the practice squad. Do Pats have a first choice to sign him to the active roster, if another teams wants to sign him?
Stan Federoff

Guys cannot sign with a team's practice squad until they are cut. So if Vollmer is cut at the end of camp he'd have to be signed to the practice squad. He could also choose to sign with any other team or any other team's practice squad. Even if he lands on the Patriots practice squad he can sign with another team's active roster at any time he chooses. Being on a practice squad is essentially the same as being a free agent except that you get a small paycheck and get to work out with a team. Having a guy on your practice squad doesn't give you any extra rights to a player other than building a relationship with that player. He could choose not to sign with another team, as some players have done in New England in the past, but it is completely up to him.
Andy Hart

I was wondering what role you think Julian Edelman could play. Do you think he has the potential to be a slash guy like [Pat] White? He did post 1,000-yard rushing seasons at quarterback so will his versatility give him an edge to make the roster?Carl Emanuelsson

I think Edelman is going to have to be a slash guy if he's going to make it for any time period in the NFL. He's likely going to have to show the ability, on some level, to contribute as a wide receiver, running back, Wildcat quarterback and on special teams. I don't think he's good enough in any one of those roles to make it at a single position. Beyond his impressive speed/quickness, his strength will have to be his versatility. He must maximize that if he's to earn a roster spot and a game day role with the Patriots. But I wouldn't compare him to White who was a more dominant athletic quarterback at a higher level of competition in college. He was one of the great winners in college football history becoming the first to lead his team to four bowl victories. No disrespect to Edelman, but he's no Pat White in terms of resumes.
Andy Hart

I'm really happy we got Patrick Chung on our team. Being born in the Caribbean as well and as a Patriots fan, I'm proud of his success and I hope it continues here with the Patriots. Now for my question, do you think Maroney would be back with the team this year? If so, how do you think he'll perform throughout the season?Ian M.

As naive as it may seem to some Maroney detractors, I'm buying what he's selling right now. Sure he's been oft-injured in his first three seasons. Sure he's never performed with enough consistency and has seemed to dance at times on the field. But understanding all that, he's also shown flashes of greatness and unique talents that few athletes possess. I have made this mistake in the past, but I'm predicting a big year for Maroney. If he can stay healthy, I say he surpasses 1,000 yards and makes some big plays. Maybe being around Fred Taylor, who battled injuries in the past, will be a good influence. Maybe Maroney's luck will simply change. I don't know. I just have a good feeling. Maroney will have a breakout year in 2009. It won't be quite as dramatic a jump in production, but will be like the year DeAngelo Williams had last fall in Carolina after two very disappointing seasons for the Panthers. If Williams can break out and prove his first-round value why can't his fellow 2006 draftmate Maroney? The talent is there. Now maybe the production will show up in the stats pages.
Andy Hart

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