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Ask PFW: Lawyer reaction

Readers respond to the recent cuts and Lawyer Milloy's release in the latest installment of Ask PFW.

What exactly is the practice squad and how does it fit into the NFL roster and salary scheme?
Flagtown, N.J.

The practice squad is made up of five players who practice regularly with the team each day but aren't on the active roster and therefore are not eligible to play in games. A team can decide to activate a player from its practice squad but must move him to the active roster to do so. As far as salary is concerned, the players are usually given a modest (in regards to other players) wage, somewhere in the neighborhood of $4,000 per week. Their salaries count against a team's salary cap.
Paul Perillo

Boston, Mass.

I UNDERSTAND YOU'RE UPSET, BUT YOU DON'T HAVE TO YELL AT ME!! All kidding aside, Lawyer's release sparked very similar reactions from dozens of Patriots fans. Bill Belichick explained that this was probably the most difficult roster move he's ever made and it's easy to understand why. Milloy was the emotional leader of the defense and oftentimes impacted games with his inspirational play. But times have changed in the NFL and cap ramifications are now every bit as important as anything a football player does on the field. The Patriots obviously felt the restrictions Milloy's contract placed them under were not in the best interests of the team and therefore made a very difficult decision.
Paul Perillo

Why would the Patriots do a thing like cutting Milloy? He is the team leader on defense and also a great football player. I have season tickets and I'm not even sure that I am going to go to any games because of this.
Chris Falzone
Lexington, Mass.

Like I told KMS, you're feelings were echoed by every single e-mailer who commented on the situation. Lawyer's presence will be missed. But don't react so emotionally and contemplate giving up your tickets. I felt the same way when Drew was traded to Buffalo, and I'm still here. Let a few days go by and you'll be gearing up for the home opener against the Jets in a few weeks.
Paul Perillo

Did either Damien Woody or Damon Huard ever play for the XFL or NFL Europe?
Hudson, Mass.

Damon Huard played in Europe during the 1998 season. He started all 10 games for the Frankfurt Galaxy, tossing 12 touchdowns and compiling a 7-3 record. The Galaxy advance to the World Bowl that year but Huard missed the game with a shoulder injury he suffered in the last game of the season. Woody was a first-round pick of the Patriots in 1999 and never played in Europe.
Paul Perillo

Why were Patrick Pass, and most puzzling, Dedric Ward released?
Kirk Ward
Houlton, Maine

After the near riot that broke out among Patriots fans regarding the Lawyer Milloy release, this was easily the next most common topic this week. Pass and Ward both enjoyed strong preseasons and probably deserved to stick around based on their play, but Belichick opted to go with several young players on defense and they got caught up in the numbers game. Belichick said that both would likely hook on somewhere this season but unfortunately, it won't be New England.
Paul Perillo

The Patriots play Denver every year but I don't remember them winning a game in Denver in my lifetime. What is the Patriots record at Denver? Is it as bad as I remember in the past 20 years?
San Francsico

I know it seems that way, Jeff, but the Patriots don't play Denver every year. They have played each year since 1995, though, and Denver absolutely owns the Patriots. Overall the Broncos are 22-14 against the Patriots, but since 1980 Denver is 12-2 against New England. And at Denver is an even uglier story. The Patriots finally won at Mile High in 2000 (28-19), but overall in Denver the Patriots are a pathetic 6-16.
Paul Perillo

What does reserve/suspended mean?
John Huff
Clifton, Colo.

Come on, John, you can do better than that! What do you think it means? A player on the reserve/suspended list is just that – on reserve because of a suspension. He's not eligible to play while on the list and is not part of the active 53-man roster. In Mike Cloud's case (he's on that particular list currently) he won't be eligible to come off that list until he sits out four games because he was suspended by the NFL for a substance abuse violation.
Paul Perillo

Does the PUP list mean that the player is basically cut from the team? If he shows improvement does he immediately get back on the roster? If the player is on the PUP list does he have to still practice and attend games?
Jimmie Little
Gainesville, Fla.

The physically unable to perform list is for players who were injured before training camp began. For example, Stephen Neal was injured during offseason workouts. He was placed on PUP until he recovers. By doing that, the team gets some time to decide if a player will be available during the season. Neal has to sit out six weeks and then would be eligible to return to practice at the start of Week 7. He can start practicing anywhere between Weeks 7-9. Once he begins practicing, the team then gets a 21-day window to evaluate him. They can then choose to activate him, keep him on PUP or release him. The difference between PUP and injured reserve is that once a player is placed on IR, he is then lost for the season no matter how quickly he recovers from injury.
Paul Perillo

I was looking for a player named James Drake who might have played in the early-to-mid-'70s. Can you help?
Eric Dial
Palm Harbor, Fla.

No one of that name has ever appeared in a regular season game for the Patriots. Sounds like someone named James Drake is playing a trick on you, Eric.
Paul Perillo

How come the running back who stands all the way into the back field is called the halfback, and the one who stands halfway back is called the fullback?
Andrew Harrington
Orange County, Calif.

To steal a line from Stephen Wright, perhaps for the same reason I drive my car on the parkway and park it in my driveway. Come to think of it, tackles don't tackle anybody either.
Paul Perillo

Do you feel Leonard Myers has been unfairly scorned? True he had some lapses last year, but he played hurt. I think he is one of the Patriots' better athletes and deserves to be used at least in the nickel and dime packages.
Quincy, Mass.

Any relation to Roscoe P. Coltrane? Sorry. Unfortunately, he'll have to unfairly scorned elsewhere since he was released on Sunday. But to answer you're question, yes. He had a couple of rough moments after returning from a season-long injury and people wanted to run him out of town. I felt Myers had some talent and he potentially could have helped this team.

I noticed that Ted Washington got his No. 92 back instead of the 60 he wore in the Philly game. What transpired in him getting it from Ty Warren?
Tim Dacey
Leominster, Mass.

While I'm not privy to the details in this case, Tim, my guess is it went something like this:
Ted: Hey rook, I want No. 92.
Ty: OK.
Pretty simple. All right, how about this scenario. When Ken Kocher was cut on Aug. 24, it opened up No. 94. Since Warren wore that number at Texas A&M, it made sense for him to switch while Washington grabbed 92, which he'd worn previously in his career. See, everybody's happy.
Paul Perillo

I don't understand the mentality of NFL teams regarding their kickers. They get so little respect, and are often forced to take a salary cut or are released all the time. They often win games practically on their own, as our own Adam Vinatieri has shown. What's with this?
Donaldo Vega
Orlando, Fla.

While lack of respect for kickers may be evident around the league, it certainly isn't here in New England. Adam Vinatieri has one of the few guaranteed contracts in the NFL and is held in high regard by Bill Belichick. Not having a reliable field goal kicker in this league can be hazardous. Why do you think Al Davis used a first-round pick to grab Sebastian Janikowski a few years back?
Paul Perillo

Who was the Patriots first round draft pick in 2002?
Woonsocket, R.I.

Geez, Cathleen, I guess we won't be signing you up as president of the Daniel Graham fan club! That was just last year and you forget already?
Paul Perillo

I see Kliff Kingsbury's been put on IR … a true injury or roster move?
Howard Bass
San Antonio, Texas

Kliff did not dress for the team's final two preseason games because of an elbow injury. It's not believed to be serious but the team gets to hold onto him for the year instead of running the risk of losing him by trying to put him on the practice squad. My guess is it was more of a roster move, but that's strictly a guess. The team simply announced that he was placed in injured reserve.
Paul Perillo

In a kneel down situation at game's end why is the ball returned to the line of scrimmage each time instead of the point of the kneel?
Bill Johnston
Scituate, Mass.

The ball is placed at the point of the kneel, usually for a 1-yard loss each time. If you look at the official stats at the end of the game, the winning quarterback sometimes will end up with 3 carries for minus-3 yards – all coming on kneel downs.
Paul Perillo

I remember a game a few years ago where Peyton Manning, close to the goal line and with a few seconds left, fake-spiked the ball, and scrambled into the end zone while the defenders stood around. I remember it being controversial, the announcers saying you can't fake a spike. Is there a rule on that? I know I've seen it since, and don't ever remember a call on it. It makes sense because players could get hurt. What about faking a knee, is that legal?BTW, I think that the tuck rule is fair and important. It keeps the impossible task of divining the QB's intentions (a reference to your recent hanging-Chad reference; didn't want to leave Chad hanging) out of the hands of the refs. Your thoughts?

Chicago, Ill.

You are allowed to fake a spike, as long as you do so immediately after receiving the snap. Once you get the ball and survey the field, the ability to spike the ball to stop the clock is lost. Otherwise, quarterbacks could do this anytime they can't find an open receiver and thus would avoid sacks easily. That's where intentional grounding comes in – you can't throw the ball away (unless there's a receiver in the vicinity) in order to avoid a loss. The most famous fake spike I can recall was Dan Marino against the Jets. He faked the spike and then threw a touchdown pass. Also, Tampa Bay's Shawn King pulled the trick against the Patriots at the end of the half in the 2000 season opener (Belichick's Patriots debut). I agree with you that the play should be outlawed. It's bush league and no different than the old lonely end gimmick where a receiver would pretend to be running off the field while his teammates were in the huddle. Then they'd break the huddle, snap the ball quickly, and throw a quick pass to the sideline to the player the defense thought was leaving the field. That ploy was rightly outlawed; every participating player must report to the huddle.
I can't share you're thoughts on the tuck rule, however. While everyone in New England will long rejoice the rule for obvious reasons, I cannot condone any rule that's so cut and dried. I believe each play in football should be judged as its own entity. On most of these controversial calls, there's no "divining of the QB's intentions" taking place. Tom Brady wasn't trying to throw the ball that fateful night – even he's admitted as much. To have such a play, by rule, called an incomplete pass is silly. Now, if the official judged the play and on his own and felt one way or the other, just like a pass interference penalty which can often dramatically change a game, then I could live with the outcome. But to have a rule that forces the official to think only way I believe is wrong.
Paul Perillo

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