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Ask PFW: Roster taking shape

The preseason is half over and fans are projecting the roster in this week's mailbag.


With the play of Malcolm Butler so far throughout training camp and the beginning of the preseason I feel like it will be best if Brandon Browner plays strong safety after his return from suspension. I am expecting if Alfonzo Dennard is healthy by the start of the season he will get the nod at right corner with Butler in the slot. The problem to me will be at SS where I feel browner should play since he is big and likes to play aggressive he would be the best DB to put in the box, either him or Patrick Chung but Chung is too small and inconsistent.
Kareem Regis

A lot of people seem to think Browner would make sense as a safety but so far we haven't seen any of that during camp. Browner said that the Patriots haven't asked him about a potential move and Bill Belichick hasn't mentioned him as anything but a cornerback. We've seen Kyle Arrington and Logan Ryan playing safety and in the slot, but Browner has played exclusively right corner during his career so perhaps he's not comfortable moving around as much as other players have. It would seem that he has the size and skillset to be able to make the move, but there's more to it than that and sometimes players just aren't as effective when they're asked to move. It is something worth monitoring if the safeties struggle over the first month of the season. I also think it's way premature to pencil in Malcolm Butler for the slot. He's got a long way to go before he's ready for that kind of responsibility. I do like his potential, though, and he's got a real shot to stick around.
Paul Perillo

What's up with James Morris? Is he on the roster?
Perry Hagen

Morris is indeed on the roster at the moment. He originally signed with the team in May but was waived because he didn't pass his physical. He was then re-signed during camp and has been with the team since. He's an undrafted free agent linebacker out of Iowa, by the way.
Paul Perillo

!With Brandon Browner and Brian Tyms suspended to begin the year, I know that they cannot play in a set number of games, but what can they do with the team? Practice? Attend meetings? Or are they banned from even being at the facility?
Bob Bennett

Players who are suspended are not allowed to do any team activities. They are not allowed to practice, attend meetings or be at the facility during the time they are suspended. So in the cases of Browner and Tyms, neither will be allowed to be at Gillette Stadium for four weeks, assuming they stay with the team.
Paul Perillo

If a player starts training camp on PUP, and gets pulled off during camp, can they be put back on PUP to start the season? I'm just wondering if Aaron Dobson could start the season on PUP.
Monty Borrowman

Unfortunately, no. Once a player is removed from active/PUP during camp, he is no longer eligible to start the regular season on reserve/PUP. If a player is injured during camp, he is only eligible for injured reserve is he's unable to play. In the case of Dobson, he would not be a candidate to open the season on PUP since he came off the list and started practicing last week.
Paul Perillo

What am I missing about James White? I have read that he performed well in camp but two games in he has not looked impressive. I know he is a rookie but I just don't see "it." If I was ranking running backs without using draft position, he would be at the bottom of the running back depth chart.
Julie Anacker

White has not done much in games as of yet but I believe his real strengths will be as a receiver, and so far he hasn't gotten many opportunities to show what he can do in that regard. White has exceptional hands but has only one catch so far, so he hasn't really had the chance to do much damage. White is capable of filling in as a runner in a role similar to Shane Vereen, where he can run between the tackles occasionally but is more effective coming out of the backfield and working in space. I wouldn't be too discouraged at this point because he's definitely a talented player who will contribute to this offense this season.
Paul Perillo


I've heard a lot of talk about Kenbrell Thompkins being cut however I don't believe that he's proved his worth. I could see Boyce being cut could you? And when it comes to Brian Tyms I like him has size speed and has shown the ability to go up and get it. My WR would be (Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Thompkins, Aaron Dobson, Brandon LaFell, Tyms). What's your take fellas!!?*
*Steve DeMoura

I'm not sure where you're hearing a lot of people saying Thompkins is going to get cut. To the contrary I believe most people have been writing about his strong camp. Personally, I think he's been OK – nothing great, nothing terrible. But I definitely see him on the team and he will be one of the top five receivers with Edelman, Amendola, LaFell and Dobson. Boyce on the other hand, is in trouble. He hasn't shown any consistency and his reps seem to be dwindling as the preseason progresses. I don't think he'll make the cut. Tyms will likely stick around through his four-game suspension to open the season. At that point Bill Belichick will be able to better assess the health and productivity of the receiving corps and make a decision about keeping Tyms. If the top five are in good health, I don't see the need to add Tyms but injuries almost always creep in.
Paul Perillo


I know most of the reps Tyms is getting are later in the preseason games, but so far, his speed and catching ability have been impressive. Do you see him displacing Boyce on the roster?*
*Greg White

I don't think Boyce is on the roster so I'm not sure there will be a roster spot available for Tyms. I definitely agree that Tyms has outplayed Boyce, so if it does come down to the two of them it should by Tyms' job. As I mentioned earlier, keep in mind Tyms' four-game suspension. That should actually help the youngster because he won't count on the roster for the first month and Belichick will buy some time before he has to make a final decision on him. It will depend on the overall health of the team and the availability of roster spots at that point.
Paul Perillo

Why does Tom Brady earn so little as a quarterback, when other quarterbacks earn much more? I know in the past he took pay cuts to get better receivers, but that has not been happening lately. He deserves to be treated better. I don't want to see him retire as a low paid quarter back while he is one of the best in his field. Please show him some respect before he retires. He will be a legend in football history.
Delores Trinidad

I'm not sure the Patriots would agree with you that Tom Brady earns so little as a quarterback. First, he's never taken a pay cut during his Hall of Fame career. He's done some contract restructurings in order to help the team find additional salary cap room, but when that happens it means Brady gets his money up front in the form of a bonus rather than spread out. As an example he received almost $60 million is guaranteed money two years ago when he last restructured his deal. Now, in terms of base salary the next three years his pay will be quite modest at $7 million, $8 million and $9 million – but don't forget about all the bonus money he's received over the years. Few players in football have been paid like Brady has over the last 15 years.
Paul Perillo

Should coach BB trade Ryan Mallett to Arizona for Larry Fitzgerald and give Brady the help at WR that he needs and the Cardinals a solid QB?
Benjamin Messore

SARCASM ALERT!!! I wouldn't make that trade unless Arizona throws Patrick Peterson into the deal. Peterson and Fitzgerald for a backup quarterback sounds right to me. SARCASM ALERT!!!! In all seriousness, why would anyone want to trade one of their best players for a backup quarterback?
Paul Perillo

Hi, I keep seeing tight ends coming and going but we still seem to only really have the two. Once upon a time there was talk of Dustin Keller or Jermichael Finley coming on board. Both of them seem to be better options (even considering the injury risks) than the recent interviewees for the job. Any possibility of getting one of them on before the season kicks off? I would have thought another offensive TE would have been beneficial for the team?
Amanda Banfield

Keller has been rumored to be coming to New England for the better part of four months at this point and still there's no sign of him. I'm not sure if that means the Patriots aren't comfortable with his health situation or if they simply believe his services aren't needed. I don't think the depth at tight end is as big a problem as most do, only because I feel if Rob Gronkowski is injured it's not going to make me feel any better if Keller or Finley is on the roster or not. Gronk means so much to the offense and losing him would be a huge blow. Now, if the Patriots could somehow convince Tony Gonzalez to come out of retirement, then I'd be interested in adding depth. Gonzalez can still get it done, as he showed the Patriots last season, and he'd be able to at least pick up some of the slack should Gronk go down. But Keller and Finley are too banged up in my mind to offer much assistance.
Paul Perillo

When are NFL teams informed of a change to the rules or an adjustment to how the game is called? The Pats spent a lot of money on the secondary, which is awesome. However, the team may have not decided to contract Revis if it had known that the league was going to place an emphasis on receiver protection? I wonder if the Pats or any other NFL team will petition the league for compensation for this type of thing (extra salary cap space?).
Chris Nunes

The rules are what they are and for the most part they don't change much from year to year. The league's owners' meetings take place in March and the competition committee proposes their changes/emphases and they are voted on at additional meetings in May. But I'm not sure Belichick would have thought any differently about signing a guy like Darrelle Revis regardless of knowledge of how the game was going to be called. Revis is the best in the business and I'd rather have him covering players under intense scrutiny from the refs than a lesser player. I also wouldn't expect the laughable amount of ticky tack penalties to be called during the regular season. In other words, I wouldn't worry about any buyers' remorse with regard to Revis.
Paul Perillo

There has been a lot of 3-4 visible with the Patriots recently. Even assuming that Rob Ninkovich returns to OLB, they still seem to be thin at linebacker. Assuming they go with a 3-4, who are the three rotational/backup LBs, given Ninkovich, Hightower, Mayo and Collins as the starters. Also who would be Wilfork's backup?
Michael S.

If the Patriots play a traditional 3-4 I believe the starters would be Ninkovich and Chandler Jones outside with the Mayo and Collins inside. That would leave Hightower as one backup and probably James Anderson as another. Players like Michael Buchanan, Jake Bequette, Will Smith and Zach Moore would be fighting for backup roles on at outside linebacker. Wilfork's backup would be Sealver Siliga or Joe Vellano, depending on Siliga's health.
Paul Perillo

How is Jeremy Gallon doing? Is he injured or just not practicing?
Noah Fishel

Gallon just came off PUP on Monday and took part in his first practice of camp. Unfortunately we won't get to see much of him since we will no longer be allowed to watch the full practices from now on. So, it's too early to give any kind of assessment on Gallon's ability based on such little practice time.
Paul Perillo

Since a lot of the better TEs in the NFL are the taller speedier basketball types why don't the Patriots and other teams scout more basketball players to have them play TE or even WR. I feel that those types would be great at red zone jump balls. And if you teach them to block, OK then you've just got a lot of cake and eat it.
Ozni Rhodes

Teams scout basketball players all the time and many of them have successfully made the transition to tight end. Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham are just three examples of basketball players-turned tight end who have made a huge impact. Denver's Julius Thomas also has a basketball background. The Patriots briefly had former Colts tight end Marcus Pollard, another former hoops star, several years ago. New England looks at all options when it comes to scouting players, and you are correct, many of the basketball players are able to make the jump to tight end.
Paul Perillo

When the Patriots drafted Jimmy Garoppolo, were they looking for a backup quarterback (in the event they needed one), or were they looking for the future of the franchise knowing that Brady only has a few years left on his contract? I was led to believe that he was drafted so early to shadow Tom for a few years and become a serious contender for the future QB role, but Ryan Mallett was also drafted fairly early, only to play in a couple preseason halves.
Vikas Dodda

Only Bill Belichick could answer that question for sure but certainly I believe Garoppolo was drafted with the idea of him one day replacing Brady. When that happens is anyone's guess, especially considering Brady looks to be playing at his normally consistent levels. Garoppolo will likely need a year or two before he's ready to enter into the conversation, but perhaps in his third year there will be some discussion of him taking over as the starter. Personally I feel Brady will remain the team's quarterback for at three or four more years, and perhaps the Patriots will need to decide if they want to keep Garoppolo around that long while he waits.
Paul Perillo

Who on the Patriots are left from Super Bowl title 1? Title 2? Title 3?
Jeffrey Anderson

Brady is the only member of the Patriots who was on the first two title teams and Vince Wilfork joined him as part of the 2004 championship, the team's third in four seasons.
Paul Perillo

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