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Ask PFW: Our contact is legal

It's that time of the week. Check out for the ASK PFW segment.

Jim Miller is gone, but my guess is that he'll be back. Dana Stubblefield joined Zeron Flemister, Rodney Bailey and Guss Scott on injured reserve. There goes $2,525,600 in salary cap money before the season has even started. Three of those guys are defensive players. Maybe there should be a point if emphasis on limiting the contact an offensive player can have with a defender? Whaddya think? Subscribe to PFW now at or by calling 1-800-494-PATS. Thanks and enjoy.

OK this "emphasis" on illegal contact is getting out of hand! I've watched all the Pats games and a lot of the games on NFL Network and the refs are calling penalties on DBs trying to get position on a WR. I just watched T-buck have perfect coverage in man-to-man and he turned to look back at the QB on a fade and just put his hand on the WR to see where he was, he didn't stop the WRs progress or anything and they threw the flag. I have seen this happen on more than one occasion -- not just to the Pats. I was wondering if you could post the rule on Pass Interference and Illegal contact? I thought there was a statement saying the contact had to change the WR's progress but I could be wrong. If there isn't there should be bcz in man-man a DB has to put a hand on the WR when he looks back otherwise he'd run away. And if there is the "emphasis" is a bunch of BS bcz calling illegal contact for touching a WR is a rule change.
Mansfield, Mass.

First of all, I almost vomited when they made that call against Buckley. The officials are going to ruin the game if that's they way they are going to throw flags. It will take the networks complaining about the 20-30 flags flying per game causing 3.5-4 hour games for it to stop. Money talks a lot more than Tony Dungy and Mike Martz. I'm all for enforcing the rules. Roman Phifer and Willie McGinest should have been called for penalties at the end of last year's AFC Championship Game. What Buckley was called for last week was ludicrous. What's the spirit of the rule? It's to make sure no player is gaining an advantage through contact. That's the way it should be called. So far in the preseason, it's been an embarrassment to football. If the flags continue to fly at this rate, it will ruin my enjoyment of the game. The league may want more offense, which is fine, but the constant flags ruin the flow of the game and make it difficult to watch.
But to answer your question, here is the rulebook definition of pass interference: "It is pass interference by either team when any player movement beyond the line of scrimmage significantly hinders the progress of an eligible player of such player's opportunity to catch the ball."
The rulebook also states that it is not pass interference when a defender is "laying his hand on a receiver that does not restrict the receiver in an attempt to make a play on the ball. If there is any question whether the player contact is incidental, the ruling should be no interference."
Buckley was not called for pass interference in the game, but for illegal contact.
Here are the rules on illegal contact: "Within the five-yard zone, a defender may not make original contact in the back of a receiver, nor may he use his hands and arms to hang on to or encircle a receiver. The defender cannot extend an arm to cut off or hook a receiver causing contact that impedes and restricts the receiver as the play develops, nor may he maintain contact after the receiver has moved beyond a point that is even with the defender.
"Beyond the five-yard zone, if the player who receives the snap remains in the pocket with the ball, a defender may use his hands or arms only to defend or protect himself against impeding contact caused by a receiver. If the receiver attempts to evade the defender, the defender cannot chuck him, or extend an arm to cut off or hook him, causing contact that re-directs, restricts, or impedes the receiver in any way."
The Competition has amended the second sentence of the last paragraph to read, "A defender is not permitted to chuck or extend an arm or to hook the receiver if it re-directs, restricts or impedes the receiver in any way. However, unintentional incidental contact is permissible."
The rule also says: "Beyond the five-yard zone, incidental contact may exist between receiver and defender as long as it does not materially affect or significantly impede the receiver, creating a distinct advantage."
In my mind that should not have been a penalty and I would have to guess the Patriots flagged it for review or clarification because it was the wrong call according to my interpretation of the rule. Buckley extended his arm, but clearly did not impede the receiver in any way.

What is Patrick Pass's chance of making this year's squad. I think he is valuable not only on special teams but can fill in a lot of holes when needed, what's your opinion on him?
Thomas Johnson
Atlanta, Ga.

I think Patrick will make the team. He has proven that he can fill in on offense in a pinch and perform reasonably well and he is a solid special teams player.

This is in response to the guy from England who can't stand the current formula for NFL broadcasts. For a better experience, kill your TV sound and pick the game up off the internet via NFL Field Ticket or if there's a Patriots radio broadcast that you can pay for. That way, you get a more descriptive rendition of the game, and if Gino Cappelletti is calling it, you'll also pick up some nifty facts and notes.
Tim Machan
Medicine Hat
Alberta, Canada

Fans helping fans. You have to love that. It's the kind of camaraderie we're looking for. That kind of chemistry is what makes the Patriots successful. Thanks Tim from the Great White North.

All right, enough is enough. If I hear one more person talk about Troy Brown playing cornerback I'm going to go postal. Who cares? I mean in all actuality all WRs need to play as DB sometimes in order to save an interception or two. So what is the big fuss? This is just making him a more valuable receiver. How can that be bad?
Amherst, Mass. *

Well Dan, while I agree that there might be a bit too much hype surrounding Troy Brown's defensive snaps this summer because he'll likely never play there in a real game, but I do think it is a relevant topic and something that fans can question and debate. After all, Troy isn't getting any younger. He's 33 years old and it's not ridiculous to question why Bill would ask him to take reps on offense, defense and special teams during the summer, exposing him to a greater risk of injury or simply wearing him down and making him less effective. That said, I think that if Bill was or is aiming to keep an extra receiver around and wanted to prepare for an emergency situation as he said, then it would make sense to use the receiver that has the most experience and could afford to sacrifice some of his offensive snaps to learn to play slot corner. That would be Troy. Also, if a 13-year veteran suddenly is being used on defense, his use and progress are certainly newsworthy and worthy of conversation, don't you think?

What with JJ released and Troy showing some fragility, do you think Chas Gessner makes the team? Thanks!
Chris W.
Bronx, N.Y.

I think Chas has an outside shot of making the club. The receiving corps as a whole, while deep and talented, has durability issues. For that reason, I suspect that Bill Belichick will keep six receivers. P.K. Sam's injury could land him on injured reserve, which would open a spot for someone like Gessner. I think Sam would make it over Gessner if he doesn't go on IR.

Do you see the Patriots going after Hugh Douglas?
Providence, R.I.

No, especially since he signed with Philly. But before that, my gut said no. This guy was a major disappointment as a high-priced free agent last year. Also, if you remember correctly, when Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick went to the Jets back in 1997, trading Douglas to Philly was one of their first orders of business. I think he's more of a 4-3 end and I am not sure he is what the Patriots are looking for. But I should point out that I scoffed at trading for Corey Dillon too so take my opinion for what it's worth.

I was looking through the site and was trying to find the stats of a player, Derwin Williams who was drafted in 1984. I can't really seem to find it though and I wanted to know how he did because I work at the same company as him.
Dan C
Glocester, R.I.

Williams played three seasons from 1985-1987. He played in 42 games and caught 14 passes for 228 yards for a 16.3 yards per catch average.

Regarding the release of J. J. Stokes, other than the usual pap about "giving him a chance to land on another team" and "we have too many good wide receivers," is there any other reason why they let him go? After all, until recently all I heard from the coach was how well Stokes was doing, how hard he worked, and how well he had picked up the system, etc. etc. etc. I haven't been able to figure out if he was even given a chance to play in any of the exhibition games. (Surely, the injury he received in training camp wasn't that serious.)
Davis, Calif.

With all due respect to J.J., I just don't think he was good enough to make the team. I think Bill Belichick loved his approach, attitude and work ethic and was never going to utter a negative word about him. I think Bill appreciated the way J.J. came in last season and worked to fit in to a new offense on the fly. It was a numbers game for him because there are too many young, capable receivers on the team. I don't think J.J. had much of a chance to make the club and while you don't like to hear it, releasing him before the cut down days allows another team to pick him up and give him a quick look to see if he's better than what they have.

Can you tell me something about Joe Andruzzi? I don't hear people talk about him. Isn't he a big factor in the Patriots offensive line? Is he the same as he used to be after that mysterious illness? This guy was in the pro bowl and people talk about Adrian Klemm (no disrespect) Thanks.
Christopher Neveri
Carson, Calif.

I think Joe is a big part of the offensive line, a guy who gets it done with hard work, attitude and guile. In that sense, he's kind of representative of what it is to be on this team and he is the leader of that offensive front. He's heavily involved in the community along with his wife, Jen, and is a humble, hard working guard who shows up to play through just about anything he can. The mysterious virus is gone and I don't believe it has had any lingering effects, although I cannot be 100 percent certain of that and at this point, think it would be inappropriate to ask him this long after he returned to the field. Since it obviously doesn't affect his playing status any more, I feel like that it is a personal situation.

A lot of the media is making a big deal of Kingsbury playing the fourth quarter against Carolina. I believe they played him because they wanted to see how Kingsbury would play under those game conditions. Although they are not ecstatic with Davey they are more aware of Davey's capabilities. I think they saw all they needed to see Saturday. Kingsbury was a QB that had the "deer in the headlights" look. I predict he won't make the final cut. What is your opinion?
San Diego, Calif.

Three California emailers in a row. What's up with that? Kliff's status will probably depend on Jim Miller's. If Miller starts the season on NFI, then I think Kingsbury will stick around. If Miller is ready to play, I think Kliff could find himself in some trouble. While I don't think Kliff will beat out Rohan, it is noteworthy that he played in that game simply because Belichick said earlier in camp that Kingsbury (and Kittner at that time) didn't deserve game reps over Davey. Perhaps Saturday was a sign that maybe Kingsbury deserved the reps. Neither has impressed this summer.

Just a few things guys. First I would like to say that I cannot wait to see the Pats play the Cardinals here in Arizona. It may not be Foxboro, but it will sure feel like it. There is no such thing as an Arizona Card fan, the games are attended by the visiting teams fans, so it should be listed as a home game...But make sure that they drink lots of fluids, it will still be in the mid 100's come mid September. I may live in Arizona, but I often still think of the North Shore where I grew up. My question is this, since I'm not privy to the Boston Globe or the Herald, why is Troy Brown playing on defense? Isn't this risking the talents of one of our more talented veteran wide receivers? Thanks for your time and I can't wait for the beginning of a successful Patriot year.
Arizona City, Ariz.

Mid-100s? Does that mean about 150? That is hot. It's a dry heat though right? Bill has explained that Troy's defensive snaps have been to prepare for an emergency situation. Let's just say that on game day, he activates four corners and three safeties, but two corners go down and maybe a safety. The team could be left without a defender with any experience covering a slot receiver. That's what it's for and I don't think Troy will ever play there, but Bill is trying to create flexibility for his game-day 45-man roster. To field his best team, he needs guys that can do more than one thing. I think he chose Brown, as I said earlier, because he can probably afford to sacrifice some of his offensive snaps in the preseason. I don't believe that Bill coaches worrying about whether a guy will get injured and I don't think you should coach that way. You coach to prepare your team to win games. You don't have to agree with him, but that's his style and I happen to agree with him on the injury thing.

Last year during the playoffs ESPN aired a special on the linebacker drills the Patriots run. The special drill they focused on was a pass catching drill where Pepper Johnson would unload a bullet pass at short range toward a linebacker. If the linebacker dropped it he was eliminated and to add disgrace he would also have to do push-ups for his failure. In my opinion, this unusual/innovative drill gave our linebackers great pass interception hands and abilities throughout the title run. My question is since Pepper Johnson is no longer the Linebacker coach is this drill still practiced?
Steve D.
Kingsport, Tenn.

Steve, I don't recall seeing it this summer but have been informed that it's still in use.

Will Cedric Cobbs get on the field for the Patriots this year? How is he doing it camp?
Jason Reynolds
Atkins, Ark.

Cedric has not practiced during camp. He has been sidelined with a leg injury that will almost certainly land him on either PUP or IR when final cuts are made. My guess is PUP. I doubt he gets on the field this year.

Much has been written in this forum about the quality of questions being submitted. In my opinion, they are much more diverse and interesting than most, if not all, of the questions asked by various media in the weekly press conferences. Honestly, how many times can someone ask B.B. "How is so and so looking in practice?" or my least favorite "Do you think so and so has a chance to earn a starting spot?" We all know how tight-lipped Bill is, why ask questions we all know he isn't going to answer? It boggles my mind that professional journalists can display such a lack of creativity. How about letting the true fans ask Bill some questions? We would all have something interesting to read instead of the same insipid questions regurgitated over and over week after week!
*Rob K
Framingham, Mass. *

As a frequent participant in said press conferences, I will have to get defensive here. Sure, some questions aren't great, but during training camp, newspapers covering the team on a daily basis are trying to come up with story ideas and it's difficult for most to assess a player's performance on the practice field barring any blatantly good or bad plays. So when a reporter asks about a player's practice performance, he is simply asking Bill to give him a quote about the player he is writing about. There are many things Bill gets off the hook on because reporters know he won't answer, but in all honesty, it is still our job to ask the questions and make him answer. Ty Law was gone for two days during training camp and nobody asked about him because Bill is so tight-lipped about injuries, absences and states of dress or undress as the case may be. You can't ignore a needed question because you don't think the tight-lipped coach will answer it. There are some very creative questions that get asked as well and I think there are members of the media who think about their questions and use careful wording to illicit a decent response. There are some questions that aren't so good. What would you like to ask because my hunch is that some of your questions would fall into the category of "the tight-lipped coach isn't going to answer them?"

The question seems to keep coming up... What does the future hold for Mike Cloud? He has looked good in the preseason; is he going to retain a spot on the active roster? If so, what will that mean for Cedric Cobbs? Does Mike Cloud have what it takes to be the 'back of the future'?Also, who is going to take over FB duties? Pass, a TE, one of the RB's?Thanks! You bring light to my day in Panther Country!

Charlotte, N.C.

First of all, congratulate all your Panther fan friends for winning Super Bowl 2 part 2. Did they get a trophy or ring for that? I think Mike Cloud could stick around as Corey Dillon's backup, but I don't think he's your back of the future. I think Cobbs will be on PUP to start the year, which should leave Cloud with a roster spot at least initially. To answer your fullback question, yes. All of the above. The tight ends, Pass, Klecko, Seymour – all could see snaps as the fullback.

How many games did Ted Washington miss last year, and how did the Patriots stop the run when he was out? Did they play the 4-3 the majority of every game he was out?
Swen Miller
Potomac Falls, Va.

Ted missed six entire games between Sept. 28 and Nov. 3. The Patriots allowed 93.3 rushing yards per game without Washington and 87.4 yards per game with him, not including the postseason. They played a lot more 4-3 when he was out, but remained a multiple front team and did use some 3-4 looks. After missing six games, Washington returned for the Nov. 16 game against Dallas. In the final seven games of the season with Washington the Patriots allowed 84, 89, 98, 68, 72, 109 and 82 rushing yards after allowing 107, 100 and 65 in the first three games of the year.

Do you think it would be a good idea for the Patriots to try to make a deal with the Chargers to bring in Flutie for some QB insurance? They could probably get him relatively cheap. Hey they were considering trying to bring in Neil O'Donnell.
Chuck Kieser
Rogers, Ohio

I don't think that's a bad idea, but I'm not sure I'd give up much for a quarterback of Flutie's age that would be acquired as the backup. Will San Diego take a seventh?

Do you think the Patriots will play more 4-3 defense since players like Traylor, Wilfork, and Stubblefield are more comfortable in that system? Warren and Seymour seem to play better when lined up as tackles as well. I think Green and Hill should be given an opportunity to play end because of their speed. Would you agree?
North Hollywood, Calif.

I don't agree because I think the Patriots have built their linebacking corps to be a 3-4 unit. Guys like McGinest and Vrabel are not prototype 4-3 linebackers, but rather defensive ends in that system. Although in the Patriots system there is very little difference in responsibilities when they switch between the two defensive fronts. They still try to play a two-gap scheme that they hope allows them to defend the run and cover eight gaps with seven defenders rather than bringing the safety into the box. Is Hill fast? I haven't noticed his speed this summer.

I am a huge PATS fan, but I don't understand something. What formula do they use to come up with the quarterback rating?
Paul Hurley
Fitchburg, Mass.

It is a system that rates passers not quarterbacks. That should be noted first. It doesn't factor in any leadership skills or running ability or things beyond passing statistics. The categories used to determine passer rating are percentage of completions per attempt, average yards gained per attempt, percentage of touchdown passes per attempt and percentage of interceptions per attempt. It is a strange formula but here is how it's actually calculated: First, calculate completion percentage, subtract 30 from it and then multiply that number by 0.05. Last year Tom Brady completed 317-of-527 passes for 60.15 percent. Subtracting 30 gives you 30.15 and multiplying that by 0.05 gives you 1.5075 points. The maximum amount of points allowed is 2.375, which would be if the completion percentage was greater than 77.5 percent.
Then calculate average yards per attempt, subtract 3 yards and multiply the result by 0.25. If the result is less than zero, award zero points. The maximum amount of points allowed is 2.375, which would be achieved with a yards per attempt average of greater than 12.5. For Brady last year, he threw for 3,620 yards on 527 attempts for 6.87 yards per. Subtracting 3 gives you 3.87 and multiplying that by .25 gives you .9675 points.
Then calculate touchdown percentage and multiply it by .2. Again, the maximum amount of points allowed is 2.375, which would be if the TD percentage was greater than 11.875 percent. For Brady, he threw 23 touchdown passes in 527 attempts for 4.36 percent. Multiplying that by .2 gives you .872 points.
Finally, calculate interception percentage and multiply it by .25 and subtract the result from 2.375. Brady threw 12 interceptions in 527 attempts for 2.28 percent. Multiplying that .25 gives you .57. Subtracting that from 2.375 gives you 1.805.
Finally, you add the four point totals, divide that number by 6 and multiply the result by 100. For Brady, it was 1.508 .968 .872 1.805=5.153/6=.859x100=85.9.
The easier way to find out Brady's passer rating would have been to go to and plug in attempts, completions, yards, touchdowns and interceptions and let the computer do the work.

Do you think that the Patriots hold a certain bargaining advantage over their players, like Givens for example, in that other teams might not see them worth as much because the Patriots are such a "system team"? It is always pointed out that the Pats are greater than the sum of their parts, and although I think Givens is a great WR, or at least becoming one, are the Pats going to try to lowball him because they feel not many teams would offer a lot of money, and the Pats are a better situation for winning than most others?
Minneapolis, Minn.

I don't think the Pats will lowball Givens, but they will set a value for him and stick to it. They do not let other teams determine the players' value, but rather set their own based on market factors and internal knowledge of their own players. If a player is able to then go out and get more elsewhere, he usually does if that's his choice. I think that there are certainly players that benefit from playing in a certain system for a certain coach and once they leave that situation, they never perform to the same level. I'm not sure if Givens is one of those players or not. But look at Hugh Douglas, who was a stud in Philly before he left for Jacksonville's riches. He stunk it up last year and got cut. Now he's back in Philly and I bet he's playing for a lot less than Philly offered him to stay in the first place. Perhaps he benefited from the Eagles all-out, aggressive blitzing style. I supposed we'll find out. He's just the latest example. What did Dana Stubblefield and Dan Wilkinson do in Washington after getting paid? I don't think the Patriots lowball players. They just, in most cases, refuse to overpay for a guy.

This is a statement instead of a question. Actually a couple of statements. First, you guys ROCK!!!!! My Fiancée and I are the biggest Patriots fans in the state of NC. Because most games aren't televised here (preseason, we rely heavily on the Patriots website for all info on the reigning Super Bowl Champions. Thank you. Second, about the Pats/Panthers game. Before anyone starts whining about the outcome and placing blame, let me add my opinion. The starters were getting it done. It wasn't pretty, but they handed a sure victory to the rookies who then let it slip away. No big deal; it's preseason. I think the new guys will fit nicely on the team when they are playing with the veterans. This is gonna be a great season. You guys keep up the great work. Thanks.
Craig Walker
Fayetteville, N.C.

No Craig. Thank YOU.

After watching several preseason games would you say the new rules governing contact down the field are a detriment to the game?
Damon Sklar
Regina, Saskatchewan

The rules are not new. They are just being emphasized and they are asking officials to call them by the letter of the law. If they do that, there shouldn't be a problem. If they call them like they have been in preseason, they will definitely be a detriment to the game. See earlier/previous answer for my explanation on this.

Gentlemen, the only thing I have seen this preseason that is positive, is Josh Miller's punting. Give me your input, please. Thanks.
Bob Sulik
Berlin, Conn.

But it's been great right? I think every single other aspect of the Patriots play could best be described as inconsistent. The running game has been O.K., the passing game has been, at best, O.K. The pass defense has been shaky and the run defense the same. The special teams have also been just O.K. They will have to flip the switch for the season opener.

Do players on the PUP list count against the 65-man roster and do they count against the 53-man roster? If they don't, then the combined PUP list and NFL exemptions put the Pats under the 65-man roster as of 8/29.If I'm not mistaken, in the past you explained that the Patriots have up to 6-weeks to declare players on the PUP list either ready for active roster or moved to the IR and lost for the season (or released); and that players have up to 3-weeks after being declared ready to get into game shape.Also, what is the rule on NFI players like Miller? At what point does he count against the roster?

Boston, Mass. *

The players currently on PUP are on active/PUP and count against the roster limit. If they are moved to reserve/PUP, they will not count, but the player will be ineligible for the first six weeks of the regular season. After Week 6, the player then has 3 weeks to begin practicing and 3 weeks from the day he begins practicing before a decision on his status must be made. He can be activated, moved to IR or remain on reserve PUP (which would exclude him for the rest of the season). Players on NFI are subject to the same procedures as PUP. But Miller was released Tuesday, although I suspect he could be back soon.

Are you surprised that troy brown got hurt? I'm not - we all praise BB for his immense knowledge but didn't he see this coming? You have a 13-year veteran playing offense, defense and special teams - he was bound to hurt something. Why is Brown even playing nickel back? What happened to the regular corners? Didn't Samuel play that last year? Didn't we bring back TBUCK? They don't know how to play nickel back? Why are they even on the team? I don't want to sound like a conspiracy nut but something doesn't add up. I'm not buying what BB is selling (for once).
Davenport, Fla.

Mike, Bill has said that Troy's preseason play as a slot corner is to prepare for an emergency. What else could it be? He's not going to play Troy at corner over Samuel or Buckley. You would have a gripe if Brown got hurt playing defense or even if his injury appeared to be because of fatigue, but didn't he do it getting crushed returning a punt – a job he always handles? I don't think there is any conspiracy here.

Roger P. Breaux Jr.
Virginia Beach, Va.

Randall was off to a solid start to camp before being bitten by the injury bug. He missed a bunch of time and that set him back. He's done little since. I think he could be a prime practice squad candidate.

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