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Replay: Best of Radio Thu Feb 22 - 02:00 PM | Tue Feb 27 - 11:55 AM

Ask PFW: Prepping for game action

Finally the pads are on, the practices have been exciting and the preseason action is upon us. But even as the Patriots prepare to crack helmets with another team for the first time this summer, fans are filled with endless questions about how this year's team is coming together.

Hi PFW who do you see being higher on the depth chart so far Mike Wright or Ron Brace? ThanksJosh Pales

I'd have to go with Wright. He's been here for four years and the team re-signed him this offseason for a reason. But putting together a mental depth chart early in camp along the defensive line has been a challenge. Ty Warren, Richard Seymour and Jarvis Green have all missed significant time. Wright and Brace have been the two most versatile members of the group, taking reps at both end and tackle in both three- and four-man fronts. Wright himself has actually been really impressed by his younger teammate and thinks Brace has a very bright future. But given his experience and proven versatility I have to think Wright is a bit higher on the theoretical depth chart as he head into preseason action. Wright has been banged up himself in recent days, so who knows how it will all play out. And then what will happen if the team still adds veteran Kevin Carter?
Andy Hart

Hey guys, I appreciate what you guys do for PATRIOT NATION!..... the huge addition of Derrick Burgess I think will benefit Adalius Thomas, if A.D. stays healthy this will be his 1st entire season with the Patriots solely playing outside linebacker and rushing the passer, which is his bread and butter. I also have read that Mayo will be having an expanded role in blitz packages this year and Seymour looks like he is primed for a double-digit sack year, who do you guys think will lead the team is sacks? Go Pats!
Juan Rodriguez

Thomas. I think a lot of what you say is true. This could be his first full season on the outside. He'll be working out of a lot of different defensive fronts, working with a lot of different guys around him. That defensive diversity could definitely benefit a guy with his proven athleticism and pass rushing ability. I think he'll hit for somewhere around 11 or 12 sacks. After that I think the guys to watch in that area are Burgess and Seymour. The former will likely be used in a lot of sub packages on passing downs with his hand in the dirt. He's a proven playmaker from that spot and should excel with some of the added talent that will line up around him. I think he'll give Thomas a run for the Patriots sack title this season, but in the end I think the returning veteran wins out.
Andy Hart

Hey guys! I love your work. Keep up the great job! I'm wondering if we may see Adalius Thomas or Derrick Burgess getting time at ILB this season. At 6'2" neither meets the ideal height requirement of an OLB in Belichick's 3-4 defense. I know Thomas has the physical tools to overcome his height disadvantage, but I always thought he played better in the middle. I base this on the '07 season when Colvin went down for the season and Thomas made the move to the outside. I thought that was the moment our defense went from absolutely dominant to just plain good. I'm sure the development of Woods and Crable will play heavily into how the other LB's are utilized, but I'm curious to hear your thoughts on this. Thanks
Joel Lindgren

I think, and have always thought, that Thomas' package of skills is somewhat wasted when he plays inside linebacker. I just don't think he can make as many plays from that spot to impact the defense. I want him out on the edge as often as possible. I'm sure we'll see him inside in some sub packages and game plan wrinkles, but more often than not I think he'll be on the edge. That's where I think he should be. I don't think Burgess will be inside. He's a pure edge player, and really is more of an end than anything else. I just don't see him making that transition to playing up on two feet and on the inside. Keep both guys on the edge, please.
Andy Hart

Hey guys. Michael Crabtree, the 10th pick in this year's draft, is holding out for what might be a whole season. I think the 10th pick of last year should go teach him some lessons in humility. Anyhow, I've always wanted to ask you guys this during the draft period but never got around to it. I read that Belichick passed on speed rushers at OLB like Everette Brown because of his size, not his talent. Isn't this a 180 turn on his old philosophy, when he took guys who had talent and drive? I ask this now because it was reported BB likes his OLBs 6'5. Meanwhile, newcomer Derrick Burgess (WELCOME!) is only 6'2. I know Brown hasn't accomplished anything in the League yet, but don't you think BB should have used a pick on him, instead of giving up two for a player of the same size?Hank B

I seem to remember that the main reason given for not drafting one of the many OLB's this year was because they were "too small" or "too short". Why is it then that they traded for Derrick Burgess. I understand he's a DE (most likely going to be converted to an OLB for a pass rush) but why the change? Is it just because they got him a lot cheaper than a 1st round pick (we think at least since details weren't released) or have the Patriots decided they need the depth?
Ryan Lentz

I think people made a little too much of Belichick's comments after the draft that there weren't enough 6-4, 4.6-40 guys on the board. Clearly those were his ideals for the spot. Failing to reach those doesn't immediately eliminate a player, but it's part of the package. Adalius Thomas is only 6-2 and Belichick paid a lot of money to bring him to New England to play outside linebacker. He just traded for the 6-2 Burgess. Why? Because they've both proven they can play in the league and do what's needed to play on the edge. Once you are in the NFL you are judged more on your game film than your measurables. But during the draft process there is not film of a guy playing on an NFL field against NFL competition. That's when you have to use numbers and project a guy to the pro game. Clearly for Belichick, at least in this year's class of rushers, none of the guys projected to where he wanted to use a high or even mid-round pick on them. Belichick doesn't have any hard-and-fast rules that limit his decisions. Way back when most people thought he'd never draft a guard in the first round. Then came Logan Mankins. Then people thought he wouldn't take an inside linebacker high in the draft. Meet Jerod Mayo. When the value is right, Belichick jumps at it. In this case edge rushers with proven 6-2 NFL talents present good value. Unproven 6-2 prospects looking for first-round money do not. So Belichick gave up a reported and third- and fifth-round pick for Burgess.
Andy Hart

Hey guys. Long time fan here originally from Connecticut stationed with the Coast Guard in North Carolina. But enough about me. In regards to the Michael Crabtree situation in San Francisco: would the 49ers receive any sort of compensation (in terms of draft picks) if Crabtree followed through on his threat of holding out through the season and re-entering the draft next year? Thanks, and keep up the good work.
Josh Jacobs

No. The 49ers would be out of luck if Crabtree decides to sit out the year and enter next year's draft. They'd completely lose his rights and get nothing in return. That's why, if such a scenario were to play out, they'd likely trade his rights to another team between the end of this season and next April's draft, while they still held them rather than lose out completely on a wasted first-round pick. In my opinion both sides have a lot to lose if the situations gets to that point.
Andy Hart

Great that we brought in some veteran talent to compete with what we've got at OLB. However, Burgess wanted a new contract before he would play in Oakland. Is he going to show up for Camp before the Pats negotiate a new contract? Also, if we sign Burgess to a new contract before we extend Wilfork or other deserving Pats--What message does that send to the rest of the organization?
Josh Delano

Burgess is in camp and I've heard nothing about him trying to get a new deal from the Patriots. He's happy to be in New England, happy to be with a winner. It sounds like he simply wanted out of Oakland, which isn't a big surprise. I don't see him getting a new deal before Wilfork, so I wouldn't worry what message it would send. Although, if Belichick wanted to re-sign Burgess and could get him at the right amount, I don't think he'd worry about that message, either. I don't know the details in the Wilfork negotiations but don't you think it's about length of deal and dollar value and not much else? It's a business. There's no room for messages in business. Just room for good business.
Andy Hart

I was checking the news headlines on and saw a short video of a pawnshop owner in possession of a Patriots 2001 SB 36 ring. He was describing and showing the ring and I caught a glimpse of one side of the ring and saw the name Williams with a #28. The name and number didn't sound familiar, so I looked it up and couldn't find who this person is/was. Any ideas? The link to the page with the video is****and it's on the left side of the page. Thanks
Tom Vincent

Brock Williams. He was a third-round pick of the team in 2001, a cornerback out of Notre Dame. He never played in a game as he was on injured reserve, but still got a Super Bowl ring.
Andy Hart

What's the scoop on Tank Williams? Also, what do you predict the depth chart at CB will be week 1? Thanks for the great work.
Kevin Hahn

Williams has had a pretty quiet camp to date. He's taken some reps at safety and some reps at inside linebacker, as he did last year before injuring his knee in the preseason. Right now I think he's in a quite a battle for a roster spot and could be very much on the bubble later this month.

As for cornerback I think Leigh Bodden is a lock to start. (Stop laughing and looking back to read what I wrote about first-year veteran Fernando Bryant last summer. It's a different year and what are the chances the team will cut a guy after starting throughout training camp yet again?) When all shakes down I think Jonathan Wilhite will be the starter on the other side. That leaves Shawn Springs, Terrence Wheatley and Darius Butler as my backups. I think Springs, if he can get healthy, will see a lot of reps in the slot and in some safety looks in nickel and dime packages. Butler and Wheatley still look young at times and will be worked in more slowly. Butler can play both inside and out, while I think Wheatley will end up as an outside guy down the line. Of course all these are based on not having seen any game action to date and with the idea that all five of these young guys will be healthy to open the year. So take it all with an early-August grain of salt. I also think there is an outside chance that we will see rookie free agent Jamar Love on the team at some point this year, either as a practice squad call-up or some other type of injury fill-in. Or, we may never see him again. That's how early it is in the process.
Andy Hart

Just curious about any more info about Vick being considered for the Patriots. I live in Philadelphia, so I check PFW and the Globe, haven't seen anything the past few days. Hoping it's just a rumor, I wasn't thrilled to hear about him even being considered, I'd appreciate any info. Thanks! GO PATS!!!
Bernadette Giles

Plenty was written about Vick early in camp. Belichick and his players were asked about it. Team owner Robert Kraft talked about it. But with all that under the bridge, I don't see him ending up a Patriot. It just doesn't seem like a good fit at this point. I don't think Belichick would ever shoot down any player, any option without first looking into all the details of it. He just doesn't do that. Nor should any top decision maker. All options should be explored. It's just good business.
Andy Hart

I have only one short question. I'm interested in the status of Tyrone McKenzie. Do you think he has a chance of being a Patriot and a long time answer in ILB (or OLB) position?Jozsef Bakk

I do think McKenzie has a future in New England. Assuming his knee heals properly, he should be in the mix next training camp at inside linebacker. I liked what I saw from him both on college tape and in the short time he worked out here before he got hurt. He's an intriguing prospect whose off-field strengths may be as impressive as his game is. I like his game. I like his attitude. Let's hope he can bounce back from this injury next summer and compete for playing time with guys like Mayo and Guyton. He's not a part of the present, but he's still an option for the future.
Andy Hart

First, I would like to commend what a great job you guys do. I read these comments every Thursday and I have never been disappointed. Second, I was wondering why Derrick Burgess is not wearing the number 56? After all that number has not been retired yet.
Edgar Ortiz

First, you can keep reading us on Thursday if you like but we actually post our Ask PFW column each and every Tuesday. So you really could enjoy all our information, wit and wild ideas two days earlier. And at no extra cost. What a deal!

As for your question, 56 is unofficially retired. While the team has gotten away from the practice of actually officially retiring numbers, some are still out of circulation. No. 56 is one of those as it belonged to 2008 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Andre Tippett. He still works for the team in Community Relations. If I were an equipment guy, I wouldn't give it out either. Did I mention Tippett is also a black belt? You don't want him angry. I've never seen it myself, as he's one of the nicest guys I've ever met. But I imagine it's not pretty.
Andy Hart

Hey guys, i know that you probably hear this often but just wanted say thanks for keeping us fans (outside of the NE states) in the loop. Wanted to ask, i noticed in a training camp picture that Randy Moss was wearing a red shirt under his normal white. Is that just a fashion choice or is it something else?Makhonyola Khoza

As far as I know, it's simply Moss' personal preference. I know former Patriot Rosevelt Colvin used to wear a similar red shirt under his pads at practice just to get noticed. I don't think Moss needs any such sartorial assistance. He's the best athlete on the field every time he walks out there. His playing style does more to make him stand out than any shirt ever could.
Andy Hart

Ok, Why is Mike Shanahan spending so much time with the Patriots? A little weird isn't it? Do you think he is in line for a "consulting job" or is it just professional courtesy?
Mark L.

Former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan took in practice for the second straight day on Tuesday. Do you guys know why? Thanks, LostPatriot.
Robert Connors

Hey guys! I've loving your summer PFWs!! My question this week is what was Shanahan doing in Patriots training camp? I'm not saying there's anything wrong but I'm curious as to why he would come here and not Denver. Plus could it be a POSSIBILITY that he could be our OC in the near future? I mean his offensive style coaching got him 2 rings.
Alex Hyun

Is there any chance that Mike Shanahan is calling the Offensive plays this year for the Patriots?Rian Bednarz

Shanahan has been making a summer tour of NFL camps. He's going to be doing some TV work this year and is using the opportunity to visit camps. His trip to New England also shows the respect Belichick has for his former nemesis. Please don't read anything into Shanahan's visit other than he's doing a little research for his TV work as well as taking his time off from coaching as a chance to do a little research that he's never been able to do before while employed. He's not going to be working for the Patriots. He's not going to be calling plays. He's still collecting pretty fat checks from the Broncos, reportedly some $7 million a year, at this point. He's just doing some research and taking in a few camps to see what is going on around the league. I don't think there is any hidden angle or agenda. Relax.
Andy Hart

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