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Ask PFW: Is there room for Hollister, Carr?

I know it's been only one preseason game, but it looks unlikely that Jacob Hollister or Austin Carr would clear waivers to make the practice squad, some NFL team will take a chance on them. Will the Patriots factor that into their thinking when selecting the final roster? While some of Hollister's catches were just exploiting the zone, he made two nice grabs after taking hits and Carr had the nice TD and sideline grabs. Would you keep either?
Len Carmody

Even though it's premature to worry if anyone will be able clear waivers and wind up on the practice squad at this point, to answer your question the Patriots certainly weight their options and try to best determine whether or not they would be able to keep a player in their system. Sometimes, like last year with Kamu Grugier-Hill and Cre'Von LeBlanc, the team likely knows there's a chance the player could be attractive to someone but still roll the dice. I thought Hollister in particular was impressive against Jacksonville and could be in the mix at tight end depending on the health of others like James O'Shaughnessy and Matt Lengel, but it's still too early to make those evaluations. A lot can happen between now and September when those decisions need to be made. Personally, I don't there's room on the roster for either player unless injuries really leave an impact at receiver or tight end.
Paul Perillo

With his poor performance in coverage, do you think the Patriots will keep Cyrus Jones as returner for the rest of preseason or try out someone else?
John O'Neal

I don't see the Patriots cutting Jones at this point in the preseason but his performance to this point has not been strong. While he's been able to handle pretty much every kick without incident so far this summer, he hasn't really shown the ability to make much positive yardage on his returns. And as you pointed out, his coverage skills have been lacking. But still it doesn't cost the Patriots anything to keep him around until cuts, which don't take place until after the final preseason game. There are others on the roster who could fill the punt return role including Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman. So giving Jones time to prove his worth makes sense, even if I'm with you in believing that his time may be coming to an end.
Paul Perillo

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My question is about Malcolm Mitchell. This kid is one of the unsung heroes of the team in the last Super Bowl, and as a rookie he earned praises from TB12 (quite hard) and BB (is that even possible?). However, for the second year in a row, he is not able to complete/participate in the preseason practices, which hurts his stock. I think Julian Edelman, Brandin Cooks and Chris Hogan are basically locks for the WR position while Danny Amendola has the inside track as the fourth WR, which means Mitchell may have to fight with the others (Carr) for the fifth and last spot. I think this player has some upside and I don't think he will be able to reach the practice squad, which means it would be "so long" if he didn't make the team. What do you guys think?
John Lee

Mitchell's health has been an ongoing concern. He missed a lot of time in college with knee issues and now he's experiencing knee problems with the Patriots. He didn't do much of anything in spring and basically made it through one full practice in training camp before having to sit out. The Patriots may have been better off starting him on PUP, which would have offered some flexibility in terms of the roster at the start of the season. Then when injuries inevitably come there would have been some quality depth waiting in the wings. But I also would caution against making statements like fifth and final receiver. Belichick has kept as few as four wide receivers and as many as seven, so if he thinks there are others worthy of roster spots – based on camp thus far I'd say Devin Lucien – then he might find a way to keep him. The top four are set as I believe Amendola is a lock. If there's room for just one more and Mitchell is healthy, he'll get it. If he's not, he'll go on IR. But he won't be cut and exposed to waivers.
Paul Perillo

Don't be surprised if Cyrus Jones, Jacoby Brissett or Kony Ealy doesn't make the roster. Interesting decision re Austin Carr/Danny Amendola: they're not going to be able to slide Carr through to the practice squad and, as much as we love what Amendola brings to the table, he isn't cheap despite his giving the Pats another hometown discount this year. He does have a lot of mileage on him. Unless he worked out a no-cut deal with Belichick like he did last year, he might be on the bubble. I also like what I'm seeing from LaAdrian Waddle thus far and think he gives them more flexibility than Cam Fleming (although Belichick loves Fleming).
Edward Grady

First, not sure anyone could be surprised if any of the three you suggest might be cut wind up getting the axe. Ealy hasn't taken many reps with front line players while Jones has been quite unimpressive playing with backups. Brissett would probably be the most surprising of the three but Belichick has often kept just two quarterbacks in the past so even that wouldn't be stunning. You make some assumptions with Belichick that I'm not willing to, however. First, Belichick doesn't make no-cut deals with anyone. Not sure why you assume that happened last year. Amendola may very well have been cut had he not taken pay cuts over the years, but I doubt very much that Belichick guaranteed him a roster spot. Certainly it helps Amendola's cause that he agreed to take less. In terms of his position currently, there's no comparison. He offers much more than Carr to the offense. I liked what I saw from Carr so far in the preseason but I'm not convinced he's ready to take a job from an established player. I'd like to see him demonstrate the ability to get open and perhaps make some yards after the catch. I'm also not sure where you get the idea that Belichick loves Fleming. He already cut Fleming once in the past, leaving him exposed to waivers. I don't get the sense that he wouldn't do that again if he felt Waddle was more worthy. Personally I agree with you and feel Waddle has performed better this summer, but it's not a huge difference either way.
Paul Perillo

We can finally lay to rest who the GOAT is when it comes to player/QB. But can we finally say that Bill is the greatest coach ever and all the numbers prove it! He has seven Super Bowl rings! And has done it with multiple teams. The thing about "the Browns era". Let's lay that to rest too. Granted he didn't have a winning record in his time there, but the team was a dumpster fire when he got there and he still made the playoffs and won a game! (their most recent playoff win). My question really is, how many guys won the Super Bowl after the move to Baltimore, were players brought to the organization by him?
Nick Cabrera

I have no problem calling Belichick the greatest coach of all time. What he's done with the Patriots over the better part of the last two decades is unprecedented in my mind. The Patriots have either won it all or been heavily in the mix to do so in virtually every season since 2001. That's sustained dominance and Belichick has been a huge part of it. I don't necessarily agree with your assessment of the Browns era, however. He was there for five years, which is a long time, and had one winning season and playoff appearance. He built a program much the same way he has in New England, but the major difference is obvious: he didn't have Tom Brady. Those two work so well together and have benefited greatly from each other. The 2000 Ravens won the Super Bowl a full five years after Belichick was fired, so crediting him for Baltimore's success is more than a stretch. But based on what Belichick has done in New England there's no question in my mind that he's the best ever.
Paul Perillo

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I read about the signing of Keionta Davis this morning, great signing, I live in Chattanooga and go to Mocs games several times a year. KD can play. As far as his medical condition, is he 100 percent healed and ready to go? What are his chances of making the team?
David Phillips

Davis is just getting his feet wet with the Patriots and it's way too early to determine whether or not he has a chance to stick on the roster. Traditionally it's very difficult for a player to sign during camp and get up to speed quickly enough to make an impact and earn a job. It's not unprecedented – Rob Ninkovich did exactly that back in 2009 – but it's not easy. We'll see what Davis can do over and make an evaluation once he has some time under his belt.
Paul Perillo

From the bye onward TB12 will be worthy of another year and Jimmy Garoppolo is adios'd (acquiring significant draft capital for NE). If Garoppolo stays, Belichick's draft next year will include a QB. TB12 stays, Belichick's draft next year will include a QB. What say you?
Teak Palmer

The first thing I'd say is what exactly are you asking? If you're saying Garoppolo stays and Brady goes and Belichick will draft a quarterback I'd say I disagree (unless it was in the late rounds). If Belichick decides Garoppolo is the future and keeps him to replace Brady there would be no need to add a quarterback in the draft. If Garoppolo goes and Brady stays, then I agree Belichick would probably want to add another passer in the draft. But I'm honestly not sure exactly what you're asking.
Paul Perillo

I saw Josh Augusta out there a lot against Jacksonville (he is hard to miss) and was surprised by his quickness. What did you guys think? Will he catch on as depth at the nose in the 3-2-6?
Ralph Colucci

I think you may have Augusta confused with Adam Butler. Augusta did in fact play plenty of snaps on the nose but he's not overly quick up front. Butler is very quick – he's also much smaller – and has caught the eye throughout camp. Butler is No. 70 while Augusta in No. 72. Augusta has made some plays here and there but not nearly as often as Butler, and he's not anywhere near as quick. I think Butler has a chance to earn a roster spot as an interior pass rusher in sub situations, which is something he says he's quite comfortable with.
Paul Perillo

When looking at the guys on the roster bubble, a big consideration has to be who is likely to slip through waivers onto the practice squad and who will definitely get scooped up by another team. My question then is about Brissett. If the Patriots let him go on roster cut down day, is he more likely to get grabbed by another team over guys like Austin Carr, Harvey Langi, Jacob Hollister, Adam Butler or will he slip through? From what we've seen the guy has no touch in his passes. He has one throwing velocity and just isn't ready for prime time. I would rather take my chances and cut him, put him on the practice squad for more development than I would potentially losing out on guys that could have some longer term value, say in 2018. I'm willing to risk a third QB to waivers than I am some of the others mentioned.
Alan Bernstein

You make an interesting case, and I agree with your general premise: I'd rather expose a third QB to waiver than guys who could potentially help the team sooner rather than later. As Belichick would say, though, I think they all would need to be addressed on a case-by-case basis. The four guys you mentioned were all undrafted. That means 32 teams had plenty of chances to pick them and passed. That doesn't mean they'd clear waivers, but Brissett was a third-round pick and I feel his chances of clearing would be quite small. It's tough to know how sure who gets through and who doesn't but to me Langi would be toughest to squeeze through. But like I said, I like your train of thought with regard to the third quarterback. It will be interesting to see how things unfold.
Paul Perillo

I watched the preseason game this week, and I still have concerns about Stephen Gostkowski's field goals and even PATs. He has had a great career, no question. However, there is something off. And it isn't just from last year either. I tape games each year, and as far back as three years ago I could see when re-watching tapes that there were games when he was trying out different approach angles and positions on the hash marks. I just figured back then it was looking for improvement, but now it seems like a fundamentals related question. It seems to me that there was local coverage on this issue at least two years ago. And watching his kicks, even the FGs made the last couple of years some are still fish tailing, hooking and slicing. His kicks, except kickoffs, seem to no longer go bottom over top in a nice clean kicking spiral, if you know what I mean. They seem to have some bottom over top rotation, but almost immediately off his foot come with a bit of turning and it seems the laces are catching hold early on, thus the fish tailing. It doesn't even seem to be a slump thing, but an approach and or swing of the foot issue that causes the bull to rotate in such a way as to make the laces spin the ball oddly. When the kickoff yard mark changed a few years ago and Bill started having him kick higher so as to avoid the easier touch back, that seems to be around the time that his FG issues came out.  His FGs are nowhere near as clean sailing as the first many years. Is there a possible back or other health issue creeping in, is it the change in how he kicks, given the relearning for shorter kickoffs? Can we expect a kicker in camp soon?
Michael Monk

I admit that I'm a bit concerned about Gostkowski's kicking and I definitely noticed the nature of his kicks at times this summer. The long field goals he missed in practice and in the preseason opener were not "true" kicks like normal, as you stated. They were traveling almost sideways and hooked dramatically. That's not how he normally kicks the ball. For that reason I wonder if your concern about his health is warranted. He said during the offseason that there were some struggles last year from a physical standpoint and I wonder if he's still dealing with something. Obviously he is not going to want to disclose that so we're left to guess. I don't see Belichick bringing anyone in at this point (I was a bit surprised it didn't happen prior to camp). I also want to correct to you by saying the touchback rule that led to his higher kickoffs was implemented last year, not three years ago, so that doesn't impact this discussion. I'd also say that prior to the AFC Championship Game in Denver in 2015 when he missed the PAT, he was as close to perfect as you can get. So I'm willing to allow him to fight through this slump.
Paul Perillo

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The Pats have an almost urgent need at DE now. After losing Rob Ninkovich to retirement and seeing Deatrich Wise go down with a head injury the alarms should be going off. With a plethora of undersized DE/OLB hybrid players they should go to a more traditional 3-4 and try to get Sheldon Richardson from the Jets. The news is NY is dying to get rid of him. Bad guy … probably. Great player … possibly. It's worth a shot to go all in. Maybe his old teammate David Harris can keep him in line. A front three of Alan Branch, Malcom Brown and Sheldon Richardson backed up by Lawrence Guy, Vincent Valentine, Kony Ealy and Wise would be pretty sweet. The four behind them could be Dont'a Hightower, Harris, Trey Flowers and Kyle Van Noy backed up Derek Rivers, Elandon Roberts, Shea McClellin Harvey Langi. That's a lot of front seven depth.
Chris C.

The defense has actually featured some 3-4 looks during camp but mostly it seems like a bunch of hybrid looks. But the biggest question with your scenario is, how do they acquire Richardson? I know the Jets are looking to deal him but I don't see them giving him away to the Patriots. They might be willing to dump him as they appear to be tanking but dumping him to the Patriots is another story. I believe the Patriots defense has morphed away from traditional 4-3 and 3-4 looks and more toward multiple fronts with versatile players. There are times the Patriots have played with really just two linebackers on the field the majority of time over the past three seasons. I expect those hybrid defenses to remain the norm in New England, but I understand your plan.
Paul Perillo

Why are both Harvey Langi and Jacob Hollister wearing No. 48? Two No. 48s?
Janet Rowe

Every year during training camp when teams have 90 players on the roster there are some players who share numbers. The Patriots have their defensive players wear blue jerseys and the offensive players wear white. So, in the case of Langi and Hollister, Langi wears No. 48 in blue while Hollister wears 48 in white. In games they obviously wear the same number. Once the rosters are set at 53 everyone has to have his own number, so if Langi and Hollister make the team at least one of them will have to change his number – quite possibly to one that is currently in use for a player who will eventually be cut. David Jones and Rex Burkhead (34), Cole Croston and Adam Butler (70) and Dion Lewis and Will Likely (33) are three other examples of players sharing numbers in Patriots camp.
Paul Perillo

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