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Ask PFW: Preseason potpourri

With the many position battles and questions that arise during the preseason, Ask PFW tries to clear up some of the August anxiety in Patriots Nation.

It should be a great advantage for the offense to practice against one of the best defenses in the league; but does the defense play the same style as the next opponent during practices, and conversely, does the offense mimic the playing style of the opponent so that the defense can practice against what it will likely see in the following week?
Brian (with an "I")
Formerly of Boothbay Harbor, Maine

Early on in training camp both the offense and defense focus on what they do in preparing for the season and then practice that against each other. But once the preseason games start and especially once the regular season begins, the units practice against scout teams that use the coming opponent's plays/schemes. So once the early part of training camp ends, New England's units are practicing against fellow Patriots running scout or look teams based on the coming opponents scouting reports. But with that in mind the work is still done by New England teammates, meaning the better the players that are on the team, the better the "look" the team gets in its scout team work.
Andy Hart

Could you please clarify your explanation regarding football-related injuries and the CBA? It seems that a camp "body" who has no chance to stick with the team can guarantee a year's salary by feigning an injury, or even deliberately twisting an ankle.I understand and completely agree with the CBA provisions against releasing injured players, but surely there must be some safeguards against malingering?

Oleg Sheyner
Marlborough, Mass.

While I am not naïve and I am pretty sure that your scenario has taken place at some time or another, the problem for the "body" is that his injury must be backed up by a trainer or doctor. I think that fact, and the fact that those players are generally looking to impress people of the football world and not earn a bad reputation or be labeled as a shady person, would keep those types of issues to a minimum. But it certainly isn't out of the question.
Andy Hart

Who do you think is the best Patriot QB of all time? Drew Bledsoe has almost all the Pats passing records, Tom Brady has won 2 Super Bowls, and Steve Grogan was just a good player who stuck around for a long time.
Moosup, Conn.

No disrespect to Steve Grogan, but even at this early point in Brady's tenure I think this is strictly a Brady/Bledsoe debate. If you look at the stats for the first three seasons as a starting quarterback for the two, 48 games with 46 starts for Brady and 44 games with 43 starts for Bledsoe, the numbers are comparable. Brady completed 955-of-1,544 passes for 10,233 yards and 69 touchdowns with 38 interceptions. Bledsoe completed 937-of-1,756 passes for 10,556 yards and 53 touchdowns with 58 interceptions. The biggest discrepancy in the comparison is with the completion percentages and interceptions, areas that I think have something to do with the load the quarterback's were asked to carry and the type of passing system they worked under. But in the end, considering the two Super Bowls and unprecedented success that Brady has had early in his career in New England, I have to give the nod to Brady. (I think you might get a different answer if you asked the same question during Paul Perillo's week at the helm of Ask PFW.) Now, if Brady never played another game in New England this debate might remain a heated one, but if he can continue at anything close to his current pace for the foreseeable future I think this question will become a no-brainer in the coming years.
Andy Hart

Does a player have to clear waivers to be placed on the practice squad?
Weymouth, Mass.

Yes, any player who would be eligible for the practice squad would have to pass waivers in order to sign with any team's practice squad. Once he does clear waivers, he can choose to sign with any team, either for its regular roster or for its practice squad.
Andy Hart

Greetings Gentlemen. I'm writing because I just read an article by Gene Collier titled: "Cheating pays dividends for Patriots and Coach What's-His-Name", along with similar articles by Dan Pompei and Bill Soliday. These articles basically state that the Pats cheated their way to both of their Super Bowl victories and that the Refs made more than several calls or non-calls in the Pats favor to help them along their way. Are you at all familiar with these articles? Do you believe that these sports writers are non-biased and have a legitimate argument? I'm a lifelong Pats fan, and I was hoping you might have some type of rebuttal to these accusations.-Thanks for your time

Narragansett, R.I.

It's the same old story, when you are on top everyone is trying to knock you down. Were there some questionable calls/non-calls in both Patriots Super Bowl seasons? Yes, just as there are in any season with any team. But the Patriots played within the rules of the game, and in the case of the tuck-rule benefited from a specific rule in 2001. I don't believe these writers have a legitimate argument. To me, they come off as sore losers. I try to be as unbiased as possible and my analysis on the two Super Bowl seasons is this: The 2001 team got plenty of lucky breaks, but in the end did what it had to do to win. It as a Cinderella story, but that happens in sports. The 2003 team was just better than the rest of the NFL. Are other teams close? Yes. But in the end the Patriots did everything they needed to do to win and anyone who questions that is just kidding himself/herself.
Andy Hart

David Patten would be FA if cut. You said, or implied, he'd have to clear waivers: "TZ, you are correct about Patten. If a team wanted him badly enough, trading for him would be the best way to secure the player. It depends where a team sits in the waiver claim process "I'm so nit-picky today. You said, "They cannot release an injured player like that. It's a CBA violation. The could do it if they reached an injury settlement, but why would the player give up salary because he got hurt on the job?"A player will take an injury settlement if he is ready to play in mid-season but cannot because he is on a team's IR. He can take an injury settlement, then be free to sign with another team. I believe he could even sign with the team that put him on IR after a certain wait. (Didn't this happen with Larry Centers last year?)I know this doesn't apply to Rodney Bailey, but the answer was phrased to a general response ("a player")Great job with the paper and with ASK PFW.

Tom Sweeney
Portsmouth, N.H.

Tom, thanks for clarifying those two questions. We are all about accountability and the correct information here at PFW/
Andy Hart

Dear PFW,I read in the PFW a while ago that the Pats signed CB Jeff Burris. I also noticed that the roster that has been updated since August 6th did not have him on it. Did Burris get cut? Why and when did this happen?

Mike Harper
Rochester, N.Y.

Burris did sign with the Patriots this spring, but he never reported to camp. He was released on the first day of training camp, July 29.
Andy Hart

Hey y'all I have heard a lot of questions on here about my brother P.K Sam and if he gone play this year or not I believe he is probably one of the best receiver on the team of the four or five battling for the last two spots and I also feel he will break a lot of NFL receiver records in 2 or three years how do you guys feel about that.
Big B
Buford, Ga.

I have no problem with your excitement about your bro', but let's be realistic. Right now Sam is hurt and isn't even practicing. That is not a good sign for his potential contributions this season. I do believe he will be on the Patriots roster at some point, but as we speak injured reserve for 2004 can't be out of the question. In terms of breaking records, he has shown some talent on the practice fields but is still a guy who only had one good college season and enters the league as a fifth-round pick. He has a long way to go. Potential and raw physical ability are all he has right now.
Andy Hart

Hi. This is the third time I have submitted this question so I hope at some point you are able to answer it for me. I live in the UK so the Pats websites is invaluable for keeping up to date. Can you tell me why the Patriots are not making more of an effort to keep Charlie Weiss? Surely he is worth the amount he is looking for and is a valuable asset to the organization. I think that we should pull out all the stops to keep him. I also think if we can pay players a few million dollars to play we can pay an extra $100,000 to keep a coach who is key to our success. We should also keep in mind that he has been integral in making Tom Brady the QB he is today. Thanks
Matt Wellfare
Redhill, UK

Matt, to be fair we have discussed this issue a number of times in this forum. I can't urge you and other fans strongly enough to utilize the archived versions of Ask PFW. You would be amazed at what we have already dealt with in our little Tuesday ramblings. But to answer your question, it appears that Weis and the Patriots have agreed to disagree on a contract extension and the coordinator will likely go in another direction after 2004. I don't know whether that is fair or not. I don't know exactly what Weis is looking for financially, and in the end I believe he really just wants the opportunity to be a head coach somewhere. I also can't put a real value on his worth to the New England organization. Only Bill Belichick can do that. But you have to believe that Belichick has the team's best interest at heart in every decision that he makes and if he is willing to let Weis walk away it's hard to argue with that.
Andy Hart

Did David Givens not sign a contract extension this summer?On your last Ask PFW you stated that he would be a FA at the end of the season.

Michel Deschenes
Grand Falls, New Brunswick

Givens signed the one-year tender offer of $380,000 he received as an exclusive rights free agent this spring. While the two sides had minimal discussions about a longer deal, nothing materialized. So unless something happens between now and next spring, Givens will hit the market as a restricted free agent. Assuming he has a solid year and that the Patriots offer him a high tender next March, New England would have the right to match any offer the receiver gets on the open market. If the team allowed Givens to sign elsewhere, the Patriots would receive a first and third round draft pick under the rules of restricted free agency from Givens' new team.
Andy Hart

Thanks for answering all the questions every week. In the last issue of PFW when you compared last years Patriot rookies to league rookie averages on page 24, I believe you left out A. Samuel's bobble INT and return for a touchdown. Quick question...With any injuries to our starting secondary do you see the possibility of any rookies stepping up like E. Wilson did last year?
Goffstown, N.H.

Just from my own observations of training camp, two players I would keep an eye on are third-round pick Guss Scott and rookie free agent Randall Gay. Scott has seen plenty of reps at the safety spot, some with the first unit, and appears to be taking well to the New England system. Gay is a guy who, when healthy, has turned heads in camp by making all kinds of plays. While I am not sure if he will make the roster, although I think he has a chance, he could be a guy you would return later in the year do help deal with an injury to a veteran cornerback. I think both guys have a chance to be players in the league, but it is still early and frankly, what do I know?
Andy Hart

In reference to the Rohan Davey 70yd throw. During halftime of the World Bowl they had a segment on Rohan and the interviewer was talking about how strong his arm was. To demonstrate he kneeled at the 50yd line with the Interviewer in the end zone. Rohan cocked his arm back and let the ball fly, it went well over the head of the interviewer and out of the end zone, easily 60yds and probably closer to 70yds. Is it possible Davey could throw a ball the full length of the field? Has anyone else ever done that?
Montpelier, Vt.

Thanks for the update, Josh. So you were one of the few, one of the proud … one of the fans watching the World Bowl? I don't know of anyone who has ever thrown the length of an entire football field with a regulation football. If I remember correctly, the winning distance in the Quarterback Challenge for longest throw is generally between 75 and 85 yards. But just like the longest-drive guys and basketball trick-shot artists, maybe long distance football throwing has an underground hero with a never-before-seen arm. If you are out there, please email us here at Ask PFW and put it to the attention of former strong-armed high school quarterback Paul Perillo. He will be happy to talk deep balls with you.
Andy Hart

Can you media types stop asking Belichick the same, moronic questions about the fullback position during the daily press conferences? "can you talk about the role of the fullback in today's NFL? blah, blah, blah." "Can you envision your roster without a fullback?" "Can you comment on how the sky tends to be blue?" You'd think you guys could think up some interesting, discerning topics of conversation instead of wasting Belichick's time by asking boring questions with self-evident answers.
Boston, Mass.

Some people think good, tough, hard-nosed football, the type played by fullbacks across the NFL, is part of the game. We try to cover the entire team and game to the best of our ability. Go take a long fullback dive off a short pier.
Andy Hart

Hey guys, great article. I have 2 questions. What is Tom Brady's contract status and judging by how well he played in Europe what do you think Rohan Davey would worth in a trade? Thanks
Dallas, Texas

Brady is signed through the 2006 season. As far as Davey goes, at this time I would say he is worth, at best, a second-day draft pick. He certainly hasn't proven anything at the NFL level to warrant a pick greater than his original fourth-round selection and until he does that I am not sure he has the trade value that many Patriots fan believe he holds after a strong spring NFL Europe performance.
Andy Hart

Don't you thing the Pats are trying out Troy Brown as an emergency DB because they are going to carry at least one more receiver (6) and possibly one less DB this year on the active roster?
Burlington, Vt.

I think that is as solid an explanation as any. I personally don't agree with playing Brown at DB. At this point in his career I find it hard to believe that he is one of your best cornerbacks and don't think his defensive value is worth the risk he faces in doing something he hasn't done since, as he said, Dec. 19, 1992. I know you have to plan for the unexpected in the NFL and that roster spots are hard to come by, but I don't know how I feel about doing that with a 12-year veteran who is still arguably your most valuable wide receiver.
Andy Hart

I think Daniel Graham has an awesome future. Several people have been critical of his lack of impact, but he is only about to begin his third season, and last year he snagged 38 passes or something. Many have criticized Graham for drops, and see the drafting as Ben Watson as a signal that he better get his house in order. I tend to see it a different way. After trying unsuccessfully to draft TE's in the lower rounds, and not meeting much success, I think the Pats have discovered that this may be a position they have to blow higher picks on to obtain consistent results. In short, I think Daniel Graham will be terrific this year and for awhile after that, and hope people can be a little more patient when assessing these younger players. (think Ty Warren too) Whew! Okay, now a quick question...did the Pats have any TE's of note prior to Ben Coates, and can you relate any legendary games or accomplishments they might have been part of? Thank you.
Tim Machan
Medicine Hat, Alberta

The Patriots have had a number of productive tight ends in history. For example Russ Francis played eight of his 13 seasons in New England. In that time he caught 207 passes for 3,157 yards and 28 touchdowns. Just before Coates took over in New England, Marv Cook played at a Pro Bowl level, catching 210 passes for 1,843 yards with 11 touchdowns over five seasons from 1989 to 1993. Cook's best season came in 1991 when he caught 82 passes for 808 yards and three touchdowns. And in 1984 Derrick Ramsey led a 9-7 Patriots team with 66 receptions for 792 yards and seven touchdowns.
Andy Hart

Can you tell me which day of the week the Patriots have off this season? I know last season it was Tuesdays, and I was just wondering if it will be the same this season.
Medfield, Mass.

On weeks with a regular Sunday game the team will once again have Tuesday as the off day. As you might expect that schedule can change during weeks when the team plays at a different time, such as the Thursday night opener or on Monday Night Football.
Andy Hart

Who will be performing at the halftime show against the Colts?
Bill Hudson
Marlboro, Mass.

There is not a special halftime show for the season opener against the Colts. The entertainment for that game will be part of the pregame show and will consist of Mary J. Blige; Destiny's Child; Elton John; Toby Keith and Lenny Kravitz. Jessica Simpson will also perform live from Jacksonville, Fla., the site of Super Bowl XXXIX, as part of the NFL Opening Kickoff broadcast on ABC.
Andy Hart

Is Ted Johnson EVER healthy? Unless memory fails (always a possibility), he has been banged up to one degree or another for most of his career. I know he's a sentimental favorite, but is his potential contribution worth keeping him around when he's so injury prone?
Novato, Calif.

Your memory is OK. Ted Johnson has not played in all 16 games since 1997. Whether it was a torn bicep (twice), or last year's broken foot, Johnson has battled a number of injuries over the last decade. He has also missed most of training camp to date this season with an undisclosed injury. As you point out, it is that very reason that he seems to be a potential surprise cut every season. But his run-stopping, veteran value at inside linebacker have kept him on the New England roster each season, although it generally comes with a reduced contract number. Is this the season that his questionable health and shaky track record for getting on the field costs him a job? I don't know for sure, but I will say that with fellow aged linebackers Roman Phifer and Tedy Bruschi as the starters at inside linebacker and work-in-progress Dan Klecko as the only real backup, I am not sure the Patriots can afford to enter the season without Johnson in a backup role. But we will find out in a couple of weeks.
Andy Hart

I just transferred to Charlotte and wondered how many Pats games will be nationally televised down here. The website listed every game on TV, but it's probably regional to New England. What games MAY be televised here? Gotta plan my season...
Charlotte, N.C.

First, the third preseason game against your very own Carolina Panthers will be a Nationally Televised contest on CBS. Then during the regular season the Patriots will be on ABC for the opening game against the Colts on Sept. 9, for a Monday Night meeting in Kansas City on Nov. 22. and another Monday night game at Miami on Dec. 20. The team will play at home on Sunday night football on ESPN against the Bills on Nov. 14. And without sounding like a spokesmen or anything, because God knows I don't get paid for that, you could always subscribe to DIRECTV and NFL Ticket to get all the games.
Andy Hart

First, nice comeback by Bryan (spelled with a y, I don't know why) on Colin from Belchertown last week. Second, sometimes I read PFW and wonder if the Giants, Raiders, or Eagles team web sites are as rowdy as ours...this offseason seems to have its share of rude fans. Just a follow up question from one I asked a couple of months ago: How is Kliff Kingsbury doing with his reads off of play action now that camp is in full swing (he recently got picked off on a quick slant by a linebacker for a TD)? Also, how is Lawrence Flugence progressing in camp after fairing pretty well in Europe? Thanks! (from the far away MA guy married to a Texas Tech girl)
Lakenheath, England

I will be totally honest here. I have been very disappointed with Kingsbury's performance this preseason. He has been very inaccurate, doesn't appear to have enough arm strength to make all the necessary throws and has been picked off in seemingly every practice. I am not sure how long he will be around, but so far I am not impressed. As for Flugence, despite missing time with an injury, he has had a decent camp at a very competitive linebacker position. After a strong NFL Europe season I think he could have a shot at a job in the NFL, I just don't think there is room for him at the spot in New England.
Andy Hart

What is the status of free agent tight end Andy Mignery from Michigan? Heard he was injured in practice. Where does he stand in the race for tight end?
Chuck Mignery
Hamilton, Ohio

Mignery has missed a lot of practice time of late with an undisclosed injury. The fact that he impressed the Patriots enough after a mini camp tryout to earn a contract shows he is a hard worker and impresses the coaches. But with Benjamin Watson finally under contract I don't think there is room on the roster for another young, unproven guy like Mignery. A spot on the team's newly expanded eight-man practice squad might not be out of the question though. And since I noticed the same last name on this email, and can only assume you are a family member, I couldn't be anything but nice. He has worked hard and shown some talent, but the spot is just too deep right now in New England.
Andy Hart

Rumor has it that Cedric has been hurt. Is this true? If so to what extent? How would this affect his position on the active roster?
Little Rock, Ark.

After signing late, Cobbs has yet to practice in training camp. He has spent the entire preseason working with the Patriots training staff, but the longer he remains on the sidelines the more likely the chances become that he starts his rookie season on the PUP list. That means he can't practice with the team until after Week Six of the regular season and a Patriots debut would have to wait until after that, if at all. With the way Michael Cloud has performed in camp, along with roster locks Corey Dillon and Kevin Faulk, I would be surprised to see Cobbs on the active roster to start the season.
Andy Hart

I have two questions regarding Colvin's return to the patriots defense. Now that Colvin is back from his hip injury, does he seem to show flashes of being as great as he was, or does he seem like he will be just a good linebacker? What do you guys think? I would love to see him like he was in the good old days. Also, is their any possibility that he might go the way of Bo Jackson or is his hip just as good as it was? Thanks a lot, and by the way, I love this site.
Fairfield, Conn.

I think Colvin is closer to your first description than to the Bo Jackson scenario, but I still think he has a long way to go. Right now he is healthy and getting better every day. That is all that really matters. I don't believe he has regained the speed and explosiveness that made him a sack artist in Chicago, but that doesn't mean that won't come back. He isn't' even a year removed from a broken hip and surgery. I think he is way ahead of what many people expected from him at this point and only time will tell exactly what level he final returns to when things are said and done. But so far so good, and I think that is all Patriots fans can really ask for at this point.
Andy Hart

Hey guys at ask PFW. I have an important question. You didn't answer the mans' question last week about whether PFW online will have that picks contest this year. I don't want to sound ungrateful for last year so thanks to whoever is responsible for giving away Patriots season tickets to the winner last year. I am superstitious and I think we need to do everything the same way this year to continue to go undefeated at home and the Championships. Go Patriots! Back to Back!
Tom Farley
Boston, Mass.

That contest will run again this season. Look for more information in the coming weeks on the website.
Andy Hart

I just want to comment on how funny it is that Jeff Fisher is so blatantly attacking the Patriots method for success with his power in the Competition Committee. First making it a point to penalize cornerbacks for trying to play football past 5 yards, now making teams tell the exact injury a player is suffering from. Anyone can tell this is all directed towards Belichick and his Patriots, and it has made me lose lots of respect for Jeff Fisher. (I'm not really mentioning Mike Holmgren because he's in another conference and it doesn't affect him as much). What's his next goal, make the 3-4 illegal?
Woonsocket, R.I.

Don't forget Tony Dungy's role in this whole conspiracy.
Andy Hart

I know its an oddball question, but I really want to know.What kind of turf is in the field house? Is it real or artificial? How does it get light? Is it like a green house in there? Does it need to be cut often? Is there a sprinkler system? If the turf is artificial, would the team be more likely to practice in there, if they were to play the Rams for instance. Last but not least, is the field house heated or is it mainly just a shelter from the elements.

Wallingford, Conn.

The field house has FieldTurf, a newer form of artificial turf that has a rubber base with strands of faux grass and is much more forgiving than the old forms of Astroturf. It is a form of the same type of surface that has popped up in many of the indoor stadiums in both the NFL and MLB, as well as some outdoor facilities. And yes, the field house is heated.
Andy Hart

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