I'm a Pats fan from R.I. but living in South Carolina! I'm wondering about the status of all the injuries. Hadn't heard anything lately, but I know Julian Edelman, Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce and even Alfonzo Dennard are battling injuries. Are they (particularly Edelman) going to be ready for the season?
It's still too early to determine whether or not players will be available for the start of the season but it looks like Edelman will not be ready for the start of training camp. He was placed on the active/physically unable to perform list due to offseason surgery on his foot. He can be removed from the list at any time and begin practicing, but it doesn't look like he's quite ready to go as of yet. Jake Ballard (knee), Rob Gronkowski (back/arm) and Nick McDonald (unknown) are also on active/PUP. None of the other three players you mentioned is currently on any list so it looks like they'll all be ready to start camp.
Out of the eight running backs currently on the Patriots depth chart, how many will likely make the 53 man roster?*
Bill Belichick has kept anywhere from three to five running backs on the active roster to open the season with four or five generally being the magic number. My way too early prediction would be for five to make the roster coming out of camp with Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Leon Washington, LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden all making the cut. The competition figures to be between Blount and Bolden but I feel both could be useful and Belichick will opt to keep both to start.
Do you see the Pats moving in on Eric Wright? He's a solid CB. Since Aqib Talib is signed through one year and I seriously doubt he will be back next year, you can never have too many CBs.
Not a chance. Given the state of the Patriots offseason I don't see any way they bring in a guy with the troubles that Wright has gone through. He was suspended last season and then was arrested on a DUI earlier this month. No thanks.
What do you guys think about kicking the tires on WR Laurent Robinson? He just seems to me like a good route runner that Tom Brady could trust. He will be where he's supposed to be. I can't attest to his hands but I think he has some skill, some athleticism and some outside speed that would be very welcome among the unproven wideouts. Had had some concussion issues but couldn't hurt to kick the tires right?
With the depth trouble at receiver we are having why not take a chance on Laurent Robinson? The guy was a touchdown machine for the Cowboys and if he was healthy would be great for us. I think he'd be a better risk to take than Austin Collie.
Obviously Patriots Nation was in the know on this one because the team shared your beliefs. According to reports the Patriots worked out Robinson leading up to camp to "kick the tires" just like Travis said. Now, I do not share either of your enthusiasm for the player. First, Robinson's concussion history is extensive, just like Collie's, so I don't feel he'd be reliable. Second, I just don't think he's all that good. He's been on four teams in five NFL seasons and really only had one year of any success – 2011 in Dallas when he caught 54 passes and 11 touchdowns. Other than that Robinson has just four other touchdowns and never caught more than 37 passes in a season. If he's healthy, and stays healthy, he'd add some depth to a sagging position. But the concussions are a serious problem.
Greetings from Austria. With training camp and preseason only a few weeks away, do you think that Tom Brady will get more playing time during the preseason games to build a better connection with his new receivers?*
Austria huh … put another shrimp on the barbie!!! Not a Lloyd Christmas fan?? Oh well. As for Brady's preseason playing time, I'm not sure we'll see much change this summer. Brady will work with his receivers in practice and certainly in games as well, but I don't think Belichick will think it's necessary to add to Brady's playing time at this stage of his career. Brady will be 36 Aug. 3 and he obviously doesn't need any extra wear and tear. He'll get plenty of reps with the new receivers and he'll have to establish a rapport with them in order for the offense to succeed. It's certainly possible that Belichick decides to give him more playing time in games to do that, but I'm not sure that will happen.
Why not make the Cardinals an offer they couldn't refuse for Larry Fitzgerald? One offensive player (Lavelle Hawkins?), one defensive player (Steve Gregory?) and a first-round draft pick? Larry could give us the edge we need to get that fourth ring.
So, what's the offer the Cardinals couldn't refuse? I'm not sure the Cardinals would trade Fitzgerald at all but I would highly doubt they'd do it for a one first-round pick. You can pretty much eliminate the players you suggest, particularly Hawkins. They add nothing to the package. I would think the Cardinals would want multiple picks, and high ones, for a player of Fitzgerald's caliber. Also, Arizona is excited to have Carson Palmer (I wouldn't be as excited if I were a Cards fan) and Fitzgerald is obviously a huge part of their team at the moment. I know Patriots fans have always had the idea of trading for him, but I just don't see it happening.
Odd question: What is the catchy musical lead-in to "Patriots Today" and is it available as ring tone for phone?
I spoke with the wonderfully talented people of "Patriots Today" and in particular Robert Doyle, who is an editor for Kraft Sports Productions, and he told me the song is "library music from a company called Tune Edge and the song is "Frantic Search." Hope that helps.
I'm not typically big on undrafted free agents, but in light of the Aaron Hernandez situation I'm very intrigued by two of the Patriots offseason URFAs: Mark Harrison (WR, Rutgers) and Brandon Ford (TE, Clemson). Hernandez was 6-1, 245 and ran a 4.64. Not comparing either to Hernandez, but let's just look at the measurables real quick. Mark Harrison 6-3, 231, 4.43 and Brandon Ford 6-4, 245, 4.70. Do you find this at least intriguing? Do you see either of these two guys getting a shot to make the roster and a chance to play Hernandez' TE/WR hybrid role?
Both players have similar builds to Hernandez but it's impossible to know now if either has anywhere near the kind of ability it would take to succeed in such a role. Hernandez' strength was his versatility. He didn't have the greatest hands and he wasn't the biggest or fastest player around. But he had the ability to be used in so many ways that he often found matchups that were to his advantage. Can Harrison and/or Ford beat safeties, corners and linebackers as well as Hernandez did? We'll find out when camp starts and during the preseason. I simply don't have enough information on these guys to make an accurate assessment as of now. Also, Harrison is dealing with a broken foot and will open camp on the non-football injury list, so he'll be behind right from the start.
Given the challenges the Pats have at receiver, could we see them leave the two tight end set and move to a spread offense run out of a two back set? Ridley and Vereen with Vereen playing Aaron's old role of HB/TE/slot. Is that a possible formation?*
I believe the Patriots will use some two back sets at times. They used them last season as well and I feel we could see more of them in 2013. I'm not sure it will mean less two tight ends though, especially when Rob Gronkowski returns. The Patriots don't have much proven depth at wide receiver so I'd feel better with guys like Daniel Fells and Michael Hoomanawanui on the field than I would with three and four wideouts out there. Vereen is an interesting player because of his exceptional pass-catching skills. He can be used a bit like Hernandez was because he has the ability to split out wide and run patterns out of the backfield. I think he's an important player for the offense this season.
I think that Michael Hoomanawanui has some of the best hands on the team and pretty much never drops a pass. That being said, Brady hasn't thrown much to him at all. Will that change now that Uh Oh has climbed up the depth chart?
The Hoo-Man had all of five catches so I'm sure how you came to the conclusion that his hands are as exceptional as you say. I thought he did a nice job of carving out a role for himself last season and I'd expect that to be bigger in 2013 given the current depth chart at tight end. I feel he is a solid player and I have no problem giving him chances to catch the football more regularly this year. But obviously he's not going to make anyone forget about Gronkowski or Hernandez.
Josh McDaniels has shown he is willing to dictate the offensive tempo to control in-game situations. Last season the Patriots finished in the top 10 for rushing yards per game and yet still finished the season in first for total offense. Do you foresee a situation in which the team leans more heavily on the run instead of the passing game? If so how will this affect the fast past tempo we fans have come accustomed too?*
I can see the offense becoming more reliant on the running game, but not to any extremes. I believe they will try to have Ridley more involved and perhaps run the ball "more conventionally" than they have in the recent past. By that I mean instead of using the run as an element of surprise against sub packages I could see the Patriots lining up in more power formations and simply trying to run more often. If they do this substantially more often than in the past it would affect the tempo they like to use. I don't believe this will be the case, however. I still see the Patriots offense as starting and ending with Brady and he'll be throwing the ball roughly the same amount he always has, and therefore I feel once the newcomers are all up to speed you'll see the offense using the high-tempo attack. It may not start off that way, but at some point it will be a big part of the offense.
With all the talk about who will be the Pats No. 2 receiver I was wondering if Matthew Slater could be it. He got very little snaps as a receiver last year but he was used as a receiver in the Pro Bowl and actually looked pretty good. Plus, he seems to have a lot of speed and strength on him because he was elected as the Pro Bowl's special teamer. What are the chances of him to become the Pats No. 2 receiver?
I don't see that kind of role for Slater. He's been around a while now and hasn't really added any offensive duties to his resume. Other than one catch in the season opener in 2011 Slater hasn't been involved as a receiver at all. He's a terrific special teams player and an even better leader, but I don't see the skills necessary to become an NFL wideout. He may get some looks given the lack of depth at the spot but I don't see that translating to him becoming the No. 2 receiver.
What are your thoughts on the Houston Texans making New England their "Homecoming" game?
I know a lot of people are making a lot out of this but I actually think it's pretty cool. Much was made of their decision to wear lettermen jackets to Foxborough for the Monday night game last December when the Patriots destroyed Houston. Many folks believe the jackets had something to do with it. I don't (silly me). The Patriots dominated the Texans because they were the vastly superior team; not because of any added motivation. So, the fact that the Texans understand this and are willing to have some fun with it is somewhat refreshing. The Patriots may in fact destroy Houston again, but if they do it will be because they play better than the Texans on Dec. 1. I know that's probably not the answer you were looking for, and most Patriots fans will disagree with me but that's how I feel. Similarly I feel the Patriots won Super Bowls because they were the best team in football; not because of some anything any opponents said.
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