With the amount of depth in the secondary, do you think Je'Rod Cherry has a chance of remaining in the roster? If so, would he still be limited to the gunner position on special teams?
Cherry has never been a defensive contributor since arriving here in 2000. He makes it as a special teamer or he doesn't make it at all. I would say that Aric Morris, Antwan Harris and probably Chris Akins would play in the secondary ahead of Cherry. But I do think Cherry has a chance to win a job because he is a proven, reliable special teamer. It will be tougher this year than in the past couple, however.
With the Pats looking for running back help do you think they can get Deuce Staley from Philly? He is currently holding out. He is a good receiver and would be an upgrade over Smith.
Staley's salary is high and he's looking for an extension, at least according to reports. Also, it seems they like Correll Buckhalter better than Staley, which is worrisome when you're talking about big money. He's a versatile player who catches the ball well, but I don't think he's an option here unless he gets released. I can't see New England trading away the draft picks they've accumulated for a player who already has a decent-sized contract and is looking for more.
Just wondering who you think would be a better fantasy pick this year Faulk or Smith?
For what it's worth (very little I might add), I think Smith will give you more carries and touchdowns. Faulk will get a lot of touches, but Smith will end up carrying the load on early downs.
Every year I get the NFL package from DirecTV. I live in Florida and am wondering if will I be able to receive the 5th quarter?
Coral Springs, Fla.
That is local programming so unless you can pick up the Boston station (WBZ and UPN 38) carrying that through your satellite package, you are most likely out of luck. You can listen to the postgame press conferences on patriots.com.
Is there a web site that lists all the coaches over the past several decades? I can only go as far back as Chuck Fairbanks.
Fall River, Mass.
I don't know, but here they are: Lou Saban (1960-61); Mike Holovak (1961-68); Clive Rush (1969-70); John Mazur (1970-72); Phil Bengston (1972); Chuck Fairbanks (1973-1978); Hank Bullough (1978); Ron Erhardt (1978, 1979-81); Ron Meyer (1982-1984); Raymond Berry (1984-1989); Rod Rust (1990); Dick McPherson (1991-92); Bill Parcells (1993-1996); Pete Carroll (1997-1999); Bill Belichick (2000-present). Also, stay away from Jersey Red down there.
I haven't heard or read anything on draft pick Ethan Kelly. Will he make the team?
North Attleboro, Mass.
That's a good question and one that is difficult to answer. He didn't play in the Redskins game so I would say that he is a long-shot to make the 53-man roster. He played nose tackle in a 3-4 defense in college and may warrant a longer look, which means he would be a candidate for the practice squad if he doesn't make the team. He's an athletic player, but has to work on strength and technique.
Dan Klecko impressed the hell out of me during the Giants game, more so than Ty Warren did. Right now if these two rookies which one do you think has been better prepared for the NFL game and what are their chances of seeing a lot of playing time this year?
Gainesville? Go Dawgs in this year's world's biggest outdoor cocktail party. Anyway, Klecko has definitely shown up more than Warren and his versatility has earned him some preseason reps with the ones, which is more than Warren has received. But the coaches have been looking at Klecko in different spots trying to figure the best way to utilize him. They know what they want to do with Warren so it's difficult to get a read on the difference between the two. It seems to me Warren has been a little slow to develop in camp, but that is a total layman's perspective. I would like to see him be more active at the line of scrimmage in the running game. He has a sack in both of the first two games, but this team has enough rushers. Not that adding another up front wouldn't be incredibly helpful, but he has to be able to play the techniques asked of him here and stop the run first. We'll see how that goes over the next could of weeks. Great question though. I hope the answer was satisfactory.
Dan Stricker is a Cincy boy, but we don't get much info on him here. Any info on his camp performance, his future prospects and why the recent movement of him to the injured list?
The Patriots have six wide receivers that were ahead of Dan Stricker on the depth chart based on experience and is Bethel Johnson's case, the financial and draft investment made. But Stricker caught everything in camp and drew some praise on NFL.com from Pat Kirwan, who complimented his route-running as well. His injury is a mysterious one, but most are here. The Patriots do not make it a habit of releasing injury information. But he looked good in camp, but was lost in the shuffle of what is a deep, even if unspectacular position.
DO YOU THINK BEFORE THE START OF THE SEASON, THE PATS WILL TRY TO PICK UP A VETERAN NOSE TACKLE AND OR A VETERAN OFFENSIVE LINEMAN?
West Warwick, R.I.
WHY ARE YOU YELLING? Did you use all caps for emphasis? The Pats signed Corbin Lacina on Tuesday as an insurance policy at guard. A Boston Herald report also said that veteran tackle James Big Cat Williams was in town for a visit. So there is obvious interest on the team's part to find more offensive linemen. The nose tackle spot seems destined to remain as is. Dan Wilkinson was out there, but signed with Detroit. Options are limited. Rick Lyle will probably start the season there.
Since the Patriots don't have a big wide receiver, has there been any thought of using Daniel Graham split wide occasionally?
Charlie, can I call you Charlie? Graham will definitely be used split wide as will Fred McCrary, Larry Centers, Christian Fauria, Antowain Smith and Kevin Faulk. Charlie Weis uses a multitude of offensive formations and personnel packages that include everybody lined up everywhere. That said, you wouldn't see Graham running the same types of routes that Troy Brown or David Patten run. He still run the tight end routes, but just from a different spot on the field. It forces the defenses to recognize what's going on and then account for it.
Do you think the Patriots have a legitimate chance at winning the AFC East this year?
Of course they have a chance. They won it two years ago via a tiebreaker and lost it last year in the same manner. The division is ultra-tight. Miami probably has the best team but I've thought that about for about seven consecutive years so take that opinion with a grain of salt. If they're not in the hunt, it will be a disappointing season.
I really believe the defense will have to carry the offense. The first part of the season, do you see the Patriots offensive line being a liability if they don't get reliable participation through training camp? Will the Pats veterans that are injured be prepared to go?
Poland Springs, Maine
Ahhh. Poland Springs … what it means to be from Maine. The defense is definitely ahead of the offense at this point, but two things could change that. First of all, the timing of the passing game seems a little off right now and that has to be corrected. Secondly, the run defense needs to improve or this defense won't carry anything. It can be fierce when rushing the passer, but it needs to get teams in passing situations to take advantage. The offensive line won't be great, but I don't think it will be a liability either.
First off, I am a HUGE Pats fan and waited many years for a championship. My question is: When the Pats went to and won the Super Bowl they had one mean defense that smothered the opposing side. This year they have added more key players for the front line and linebackers. Do you think that this year's defense is better or just as good as their Super Bowl season?
Fort Edward, N.Y.
What up G? I think if you asked me to compare the defense now to the 2001 defense on Aug. 19 of that year, I would say that this defense is better. But that defense came together so well as a unit and played incredible team defense. It's hard to predict that from year-to-year. I think, on paper, this one is better, but there are still quite a few questions. My guess is that the rookie cornerbacks can be better than Terrell Buckley and Terrance Shaw were at that stage of their careers, but there is no substitute for that experience. Buckley has always been a playmaker and we don't know if Eugene Wilson or Asante Samuel will be that. The safety position has changed. They had a good rotation with Tebucky Jones and Matt Stevens. Is Rodney Harrison better than that situation? Probably, but we'll have to wait and see. I think this team probably misses Brandon Mitchell a little bit. He was an unexciting player, but he did the job as a quiet starter on the defensive line. Bobby Hamilton and Anthony Pleasant are older. Otis Smith is now gone. A lot has been lost, but a lot has been picked up. It all depends on how it comes together as the season progresses.
When the quarterback spikes the ball to stop the clock, why isn't that considered intentional grounding?
It's just a rule that was added to allow teams to stop the clock without using a timeout. It adds an element of strategy to the game, but still costs a team a down as an incompletion typically does and a timeout does not. The spirit of the intentional grounding rule is that it should be called when the passer throws the ball away purposely to avoid a sack. Although, to further protect quarterbacks, they are now allowed to throw it away of they are outside of the tackles.
Now that the Veterans Committee of the NFL Hall of Fame has decided to induct two veteran players each year, do you think that Gino Cappelletti has a chance of being voted to the NFL Hall of Fame? My research indicates that he scored 20 or more points in a game more times (8) than any other pro football player. In fact, he still holds the record of scoring more points per game over a 10-year period than any other player.
Gino belongs in. I am biased because I know, respect and like the man. But the consensus is that he gets held out because he did his damage in the AFL. That's garbage. I believe he is the last player to play two full-time positions (kicker and wide receiver). Here's hoping the veteran's committee sees the injustice here and votes The Duke into the hall where he belongs.
Ant Womack (RB) is currently sitting out, however, I think that he is a diamond waiting to be put into a ring. He has the potential to be a solid performer and hopefully he will have the opportunity to show everyone how truly great he is. My question is how soon will he be returning out to the field?
Hmmmmmmmm. Cameron WOMACK. Any relation? If so, maybe you can tell me when Antwoine will be back on the field because I have no idea. He missed all of training camp with what Bill Belichick described as his leg "tightening up." He is say-to-day as far as I know and that's all I can tell you. I think everybody was and remains anxious to see him play, but time is running out on him I would imagine.
By my count, the last three games, counting exhibition, that Patrick Pass has gotten carries (two exhibition games this year and the first Jets game last year) he has gained 115 yards on 20 carries and has a reception for more than 30 yards. Why won't the coaches give him a chance to run with the first team in preseason to see what he can do? I have always liked Pass and believe he isn't getting the shot he deserves.
Belichick has often described Pass as a player who "flashes" which means he shows the playmaking ability to stay around, but never can show it consistently. He has done well in the preseason, but it's difficult to judge it because he's been playing against backups. I too have seen some good things out of Pass, but I'm not sure it's been enough to deserve more chances. They know what he can do. He's been here for three years. I trust their call on that one because they've seen him practice every day for three years.
What are the Patriot's going to do to stop the run? The Redskins ran up the middle all night with a great deal of success. Big Daddy Wilkinson was available but we were not interested. Looks likeanother long season with the defense on the field all game long.
That's a great question and one I would guess the coaches are trying answer right now as well. It's always a concern when you can't stop the run as we saw last year. If they don't stop it this year, the best pass rush in the world won't matter. There doesn't seem to be much out there for help. They just have to play better.
I keep hearing that if we keep six wide receivers that it will be one more than is typically kept for a 53 man roster and certainly if we activate six for a game that it will be highly unusual. Could you please give us the normal or average numbers by position for both 53 and 46 man rosters?
Paul Perillo did this breakdown in the Aug. 13 issue of PFW so you should probably subscribe. Call 1-800-494-PATS and you'll get a free 2003 Yearbook with your paid subscription. But typically, the 53 man roster has three quarterbacks, five running/fullbacks, five wide receivers, three tight ends, nine offensive linemen, eight defensive linemen, six linebackers, five cornerbacks, five safeties and one each at kicker, punter and long snapper. That's 52 and you can add one at any position depending on which guy on the roster is 53rd best. I'd say this year, that would be a linebacker. Game day rosters have a lot to do with health and match-ups. It's actually a 45-man game day roster with one extra spot for the emergency quarterback.
I enjoy reading your column when it comes out. I was wondering if you can give me some insight on whether Kevin Faulk will be the main man in the running game this year? I was disappointed with Antowain Smith's performance last year and so far in the two preseason games that I have seen. I also drafted Kevin Faulk as a RB in my fantasy league and was hoping to have a steal of the draft.
Thanks for the kind words. We enjoy doing this for you. I think Smith will emerge as the No. 1 back. I think the staff is trying to a light a fire under his rear end by taking away some of his carries. But I also don't think it's a bluff. If Smith doesn't run well, Faulk will definitely get the ball more. I just feel like they want to give it to Smith and continue using Faulk in certain spots where he is most effective last year.
Will the Pats defense only play a 3-4 or will it also retain the 4-3 formation from last year?
North Scituate, R.I.
Belichick has made it clear he is teaching 3-4 principles, but this defense will run every front imaginable. Don't worry about naming it. Just hope it works.
Why release o-t-i-s? Why not let the savvy veteran work his way back into his starting position? Who takes his place? What does the defense lose with the departure of Otis?
I like Otis and happen to think he will be missed. He's not a great player, but he was generally reliable and consistent, which is something we don't know about the rookies. But it does end for everybody and time moves on. No one plays forever. So perhaps it's time to pass the torch to the rookies and see what they can do. They need reps and attention if they are going to develop. It certainly didn't help Otis that he was on the sideline for essentially all of camp and watched two young players steal all the attention. Otis will be most missed in the locker room. He is well liked, well respected and a good chemistry guy. He also was a good teammate.
Why don't the Patriots finally wake up and get a marquee, Pro Bowl caliber player to help on the offensive line? Kevin Mannix reports that Orlando Pace (6-7, 325 lbs), is embroiled in a contract dispute with St. Louis and now is free to make a trade with another team. The Patriots have all those draft picks, and could certainly put a deal together to bring Orlando Pace to the Patriots and transform their offensive line into a formidable front. A solution is available; what is Belichick waiting for?
Let's do it. I can see Pace at left tackle now. There is Matt Light at right tackle. The Patriots are hoisting another trophy. Oh but wait. Pace is holding out because the Rams don't want him? WRONG. He is holding out because he apparently wants a King's ransom to sign. I read that he was asking for a $23 million signing bonus and I threw up in my mouth. I don't if that's true and Carl Poston, his agent and also Ty Law's and Lawyer Milloy's, has never once returned one of my phone calls. $23 million bonus. Are you CRAZY? No way. I'd love to have the guy, but so would St. Louis. Who wouldn't? He's a pancake machine. It's nice to live in Fantasy Football land, but this is real life and there is no way the Patriots would dole out a $23 million bonus for any player nor should they.