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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Fri Apr 23 - 12:00 AM | Sun Apr 25 - 11:59 PM

Ask PFW: Stop the run!

The Patriots have a guy like Eric Alexander on the practice squad. If another team wanted him, could they sign him or do the Patriots hold his rights?
Jack
Jacksonville, Fla.

If another team wanted to sign Alexander of any of the other players on the Patriots practice squad, it could. The only stipulation would be that team must keep the player on its active 53-man roster for at least three weeks.
Paul Perillo

Do you think P.K. Sam, Troy Brown or Kevin Faulk have a shot at playing Sunday against the Cardinals?
Andrew
Boston, Mass.

No, yes and maybe. How's that? I would be very surprised to see Sam activated all year unless several receivers go down with injuries. Brown I think will play on Sunday but we'll have to see what the injury reports say later this week. He looked pretty good running on the field before the Colts game and I think Belichick may have held him back as a precaution. Faulk's status is really up in the air. I'm not sure if he's returned from Louisiana after his mother's death last week, and I'm not sure the knee injury he suffered in Carolina is full healed either. We'll be updating the status of those players and any others dealing with injuries as often as we can leading up to the game.
Paul Perillo

I have never heard anyone mention this but, I noticed that whenever that cry baby Payton Manning messes up he leaves the field shaking his head and mumbling and grumbling, as did the other baby Eli Manning what great leadership! When Brady tossed that interception he walked off with no drama still looking cool, not happy but not whimpering, head up. It's obvious Brady is an emotional guy when he scores TDs and wins games. So, is that just Brady or do the Pats coaches teach that, or is it both?
Hammerin Hank
Petaluma, Calif.

There are many different types of personalities and Brady clearly is able to maintain his composure when under fire. It's one of his greatest strengths. And that's all him. It has nothing to do with the coaches. Some quarterbacks (like Dan Marino and John Elway) displayed their emotions on the field quite often, after good results and bad. Manning is similar to those guys in that way. Brady is very excitable after good plays but keeps calm after bad ones. That doesn't make one right and the other wrong. It's just the difference in their personalities.
Paul Perillo

I am a bit confused with the Pats handling of the clock late in Thursday's game. After Willie's big sack on Peyton Manning, the Pats let several precious seconds tick off the clock before finally calling time out with about 23 seconds or so. I don't know about you, but I thought Mike Vanderjagt was going to make that field goal. If he had, the Pats would have had much less time to go kick a winning field goal of their own. It ended well enough, but I don't understand why they didn't call TO. Do you?
Jack Bates
Boulder, Colo.

Excellent point, Jack. I was thinking the same thing at the time and was confused as to why the Patriots didn't call timeout earlier. There were 49 seconds left before the third-down play that McGinest sacked Manning on. They didn't call timeout until there were 24 seconds left. They could have given themselves at least another 10 seconds by calling it immediately. And since the Colts were out of timeouts, it's not like Indy could have stopped the clock after a missed field goal and forced a potential punt. In my opinion, it was a rare case of poor clock management on the part of the Patriots and they were fortunate it didn't matter because Vanderjagt missed.
Paul Perillo

Two years ago when the Patriots didn't make the playoffs, it wasn't because they had a let down or because other teams were getting up for them. It was because they couldn't stop the run. The coaching staff had the whole year to solve the problem and couldn't. This year's defensive line seems very talented. Do you think they are going to be able to stop the run this year?
Rich D.
Las Vegas, Nev.

Wow, two in a row. I totally agree with your assessment of 2002, Rich. It wasn't so much the burden of expectations that prevented them from repeating; it was talent. They simply weren't good enough to stop the run, despite some great midseason adjustments and improvements. I'm not ready to say the same thing about the 2004 Patriots after just one game, but it is a concern. Like the Kansas City game that year, the Colts ran all over the Patriots even though New England won. The big question will be whether or not Traylor or Wilfork can adequately handle the nose tackle position. I'm not sure that's been answered yet but until it is either way, I'll reserve judgment.
Paul Perillo

Would it be legal for a lineman (e.g. center) to advance the ball if, after taking the snap, the quarterback hands the ball back to the center? He is an eligible receiver, but this wouldn't be a forward pass. It's also different from the old (and now illegal) Fumblerooski play because it doesn't involve an intentional fumble. I can't find any rule that would disallow this sort of "center sneak."
Vadim Pokotilov
Boston, Mass.

First, the way you describe this play would indeed be a forward pass. If the quarterback took the snap and handed it back to the center, the center would obviously be in front of the quarterback, which makes it a forward pass and thus illegal since the center is an illegible receiver. So in order to do what you want, the center would have to snap the ball, loop back behind the quarterback, and then receive a handoff. I have no idea why a team would want the ball in the hands of the center in the first place, but I guess it would be legal to do so in that manner. That's some crazy offense you're running there. I don't even think that would work on the old Intellivision Football.
Paul Perillo

Am I correct in thinking that a practice squad player can be signed to any team's active roster, at any time, without any impediment (e.g., as happened to Russell Stuvaints)? If so, could a hypothetical "Team X" cut a lowly player on its roster the week before a tough game, sign a player off of the opposition's practice squad, and use that player to discover everything it can about the opposition playbook? Sinister, I know.
Anil
Dover, N.H.

That scenario could unfold as long as Team X keeps the opposing team's practice squad player on its roster for at least three weeks. It really wouldn't make much sense to "waste" a roster spot on a player for three weeks just so he might be able to provide some inside info. on one of the three upcoming opponents. Sinister maybe, but not very bright.
Paul Perillo

I heard that you are no longer allowed to show up to games with your face painted (or other body part) in your team colors... this in response to 9/11 (security measure). Can anyone confirm this for me?
Kimberly Murray
Montreal, Ont.

I think one of your friends has been playing too much goalie without a mask up there, Kimberly. Either that or someone is having a laugh at your expense. I have not heard of such security measures and in fact see several Patriots fans with faces painted every game. There is no such rule prohibiting such behavior here at Gillette Stadium.
Paul Perillo

I am very proud of what Mr. Kraft has built here in New England, home of the Super Bowl champions. However, many of the other 31 NFL teams have a Spanish page, which enables many of the Spanish speaking community to read about their respective teams and to see what is going on. I would love to see the Patriots do it as well. On to my football question, do you think that the Patriots will eventually drop Davey and pursue some other QB like they did with O'Donnell?
Jorge
Providence, R.I.

First, the Patriots do plan to implement a Spanish page in the future and hope to get that going as soon as possible. The team recently debuted a Chinese page with the daily news and notes and hope to do so in Spanish as well.

As for your question, I think the coaches feel Jim Miller is that insurance policy you're thinking about. Neil O'Donnell was an option because the team was looking for some experience. Then they signed Miller, and he should be close to 100 percent after offseason surgery. If Davey doesn't prove worthy of backup status, Miller will soon take his place.
Paul Perillo

I read that on Sept. 10 the Patriots signed Michael Jennings to the practice squad. Who got hurt/released to make room for Jennings?
Ray Bergeron
Plantation, Fla.

In order to re-sign Jennings the Patriots released running back Malaefou Mackenzie.
Paul Perillo

After watching the game Thursday, I was very impressed with some of the changes the Patriots made. My question is about special teams. Bethel Johnson seemed to have a new return strategy. It looked like he's trying to be the next Dante Hall. Do you think BB approves of the strategy and wouldn't it put Bethel at higher risk for injury making cuts all over the field? Second question. Eugene Wilson is developing into a great player. Is it just me or is he learning too much from Rodney? Some of his tackles he tried to make into big hits and just flat out missed them. What's up with the new hitting style?
Chris
Springfield, Mass.

I also noticed Bethel being too cute on his kick returns against the Colts. He spent too much time being indecisive and not enough just getting some yardage up field. Now, he's a pretty dynamic returner and he's looking to create some big plays so once in a while it's not going to look good, but others are going to pay huge dividends. In a perfect world he'd develop some sort of middle ground and take what he can get on the majority of returns and realize he's not going to return every one for a touchdown. That comes with experience.
As for Wilson, I don't think he needed Rodney to convince him to be physical. Wilson has been hitting everything in sight since he came last year. He delivered several solid hits as a rookie and he continued that style last Thursday night. Missed tackle happen to everybody. He's not trying to emulate Rodney Harrison or anyone else.
Paul Perillo

Was it just a great job by the Colts O-line or did it look like NT Keith Traylor has not made the transition from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4?
Tom
Boston, Mass.

The Patriots had trouble stopping the run against the Colts. (See the kind of expert analysis you get here at PFW!). The Colts blocked well and, unlike in some of their recent meetings with the Patriots, they made a commitment to stay with the run. With such a potent passing game to defend, the Patriots had to be prepared for that as well. I'm not trying to say they let the Colts run wild, but Indy has a pretty balanced offense and can hurt you in many ways. Keith Traylor didn't fare well in his first game on the nose, but that doesn't mean he can't play the position. Let's wait a few more weeks to see how he does in the next couple of games before running him out of town.
Paul Perillo

I have some questions that hopefully some sportswriters would ask Belichick during his press conference. On second-and-five after the 2:00 warning, how do you come out with a pass play? I know they were trying to surprise the Colts and get a pass completed for a first down to seal the deal, but isn't this the reason the team brought in Corey Dillon? Ultimately we won the game and that's great. We made the plays when we had to, but it's obvious we have a lot of work to do as well.
Anthony
San Jose, Calif.

Better watch out, Anthony. You keep talking rationally like that and the Ask PFW legion might start attacking you for being negative after a win. We were all surprised to see Brady drop back to pass after Dillon picked up 5 yards on first down, and had run well all night. Yes, this was exactly the scenario I envisioned Dillon paying huge dividends when they made the choice to pick him up. The team struggled putting teams away last year and it did the same thing Thursday night. I'd like to see Dillon grinding out the clock – or at least being given the chance to. Belichick said the Colts defense was stacked to stop the run and that's why the decision to throw was made. He said it wasn't like they were in a prevent or anything. But it's safe to say the Colts weren't in a prevent on first down, either, and Dillon still rumbled 5 yards. Two more runs would have at least eaten up some clock even if he didn't pick up the first down.
Paul Perillo

During last night's game Tom Brady kept yelling out "57's the Mike" or "52's the Mike." What does that mean? It cost him on one play for the delay of game penalty. Also, what do you think about the strategy of using the whole play clock every down, it is good to keep the Colts offense off the field, but doesn't the D-Line pick up the snap count that way?
Dave Doerneman
Harrisburg, Pa.

Brady points out who the Mike is before every play. He even does this during training camp practices. The Mike is the middle linebacker and identifying him helps the blockers with their assignments. It's a way the Patriots (and several other teams) like to get organized before the snap. I can assure you they didn't get a delay of game penalty because Brady called out the Mike. He was trying to change the play at the line and simply took too much time to do so. It happens once in a while. And most plays take a pretty big chunk of the play clock before the ball is snapped. It's not necessarily used as a way to keep the opposing offense off the field (although in a case like with the Colts it's certainly an added bonus). With just 40 seconds between every play, there isn't much time to get the play called in the huddle, break to the line of scrimmage, have all the players shift and go into motion, call any audibles there may be and then call the signals before snapping the ball. Generally if you watch the play clock there is usually less than five seconds left when the ball is snapped pretty much on every play with every team.
Paul Perillo

Watching the Colts-Pats game on Thursday, it was not hard to see the run defense was not up to par. Do you think it had more to do with the coaches scheming to take Manning out of the game, or was it lack of conditioning of the players, or was it because Ted Washington is not there (along with Bobby Hamilton). I hope it not because of Big Ted, otherwise this could be a season long problem.
Jim
Rochester, N.Y.

Not having Washington certainly doesn't help. He is great at controlling the middle of the field and forcing opposing double teams, something the Colts did not have to do to Traylor and Wilfork on Thursday. But I do believe the Patriots had to be more concerned with the Indy passing attack and thus suffered a little on run defense. That doesn't excuse the performance, but crowding the line to shut down the run surely would have led to Manning putting it up more often and potentially making more big plays. The defensive results in the opener were subpar at best but the Colts offense can make a lot of units look bad.
Paul Perillo

During the game vs. the Colts the TV commentators attributed the Colts rushing success to the their handling of the NT. When he was pushed right, James cut left, and when he was pushed left, James cut right. While the NT may lose the initial one on one battle with the center, shouldn't there have been help from the two middle LBs? They're supposed to cover the gaps if a RB breaks the line. Also, why didn't we go to a four-man front to stop the running game? The three man front was not able to.
Andrew Chea
Nassau, Bahamas

The commentators were right. The Colts handled the Patriots nose tackles and that made it possible for Edgerrin James to run wild. But the more important factor was that Indy handled the nose tackles one-on-one without having to double team. This allowed other Colts blockers to get into the gaps to get the linebackers. Now, defensive players are supposed to get blocked on every play and it's their job to get off those blocks. So to say the blockers were able to get to the linebackers is in no way exonerating them from blame. The Colts offense played well and the Patriots defense did not. I'm not sure what Belichick's plans are for the future concerning the 3-4/4-3, but I think most coaches would tell you the 3-4 is more of a run-stopping alignment than the 4-3. Maybe that's changed recently but that's how it was always considered in the past. Four linebackers give you an extra run-stopper inside to run to the football. Like I said, maybe the current NFL with the emphasis on the short passing game has changed this theory, but I don't think the Patriots problems on Thursday were scheme related. Whether they used a 3-4 or a 4-3, the Patriots were knocked off the ball.
Paul Perillo

I know there are rules for WRs on when they should be on the line or off the line. But are there any rules for how far left or right they have to be, like 5 or 10 yards from the TE or lineman? If the ball is spotted on the left hashmark can a WR be 1 yard away from the right sideline?
Mike
Davenport, Iowa

As long as the formation is legal with seven players on the line of scrimmage, the wideouts can be as close or as far away from the interior linemen as they want. A wide receiver can line up right next to the tight end, right next to the sideline or anywhere in between. As long as the receiver is properly positioned in terms of on the line or in the backfield, he can be anywhere in the formation.
Paul Perillo

I have a quick comment on Corey Dillon. He showed more explosiveness than we've seen from a Patriots back in a while. However, two of his biggest plays in the Colts game were made in a "supporting" role – first, when he picked up a stunt on the right side of the line in pass protection in the second quarter and knocked two rushers out of the play, and second, when he recovered Brady's fumble late in the fourth quarter. I hope other Pats fans noticed his team play on those downs, and the effort he showed in executing plays, even when he wasn't the guy to get the ball.I have one question: On many plays during the Colts game, you could hear Tom Brady shout "Omaha" immediately prior to the snap. What does "Omaha" mean, when is it used, and is there a risk that defensive linemen or blitzers could use the cadence to time the snap of the ball?

Hurricane Ivan Dale
Washington D.C.

Dillon was certainly all Patriots fans hoped he'd be and more as far as running the football was concerned. He showed a willingness to do the little things as well, but I have a different view of the second play you're talking about. He was forced to recover Brady's fumble largely because he was beaten badly by a rusher on the play and failed to make his block. That's not to say he was beaten because of an unwillingness to do his job or anything like that. But I don't see where recovering the fumble after missing his block is cause for any celebration.
As for the Omaha call, it's something we've heard a lot at training camp this year and in the past. There are other calls Brady makes frequently as well. I can't tell you exactly what the call means other than it informs the rest of the offense about the play. (I asked a couple of players about it but they not surprising were unwilling to give away any secrets). But Omaha is not part of the cadence and opponents can't time the snap based on that. You may have seen the ball snapped after Omaha was called, but it's not something where the opponent knows the snap is imminent after hearing it.
Paul Perillo

Based on the preseason, do you think that it is safe to say that Rosevelt Colvin has made a full recovery from his injury? Also, how long do you think that it will be before P.K. Sam sees any playing time?
Will
State College, Pa.

Only Colvin himself knows how close to 100 percent he is at this point in his recovery. He said after one of the preseason games that he expected to be sure the following day and that was something he was going to have to live with for the rest of his career and probably the rest of his life. How close that makes him to fully recovered is impossible to say. But it's clear he's still working his way back to the player he was before the injury. As for Sam, he is likely to continue being one of the inactive receivers most weeks unless a rash of injuries at the position ensues. He missed most of camp and already has much less experience than the other five receivers. But he did show some promise early in camp and could be an impact player in the future and he can build on that.
Paul Perillo

It seems unfair to compare Brady with Peyton Manning. Peyton plays to score on every possession; that is why they score so many points. However, Brady seems to play to win. If he has the lead, he doesn't throw the risky passes; he sees the value in punting rather than risking a turnover. That is why Brady has two Super Bowl MVPs, and Manning has league MVPs: one plays to win, and the other plays to put up big numbers. I suppose my question is "Is there a question in this diatribe?"
Brian
Bangor, Maine

You may not have asked a question Brian, but I could not disagree more with your "diatribe." Peyton plays to score on every possession … and this is somehow deemed to be a bad thing?? What am I missing? You can believe that Brady is trying to score on every possession as well. You say that if Brady has the lead he doesn't throw risky passes. Well against the Colts he did just that twice in the fourth quarter. One was picked off and the other was dropped by a Colts defender. He did the same thing in Indy last year and was picked off late in the game with the lead. Brady is normally a very effective and efficient quarterback who doesn't make many mistakes, but all quarterbacks make some mistakes – Brady included. Manning doesn't recklessly throw the ball around with a lead disregarding the outcome in order to put up big numbers. No one does that and it's very unfair to make such a claim. I'm sure Manning would rather have a couple of wins under his belt against the Patriots in Foxboro rather than a couple of the big passing games he's had. To say he doesn't care about winning makes no sense. Tom Brady isn't the only quarterback in football who tries to win.
Paul Perillo

An audio delay can be purchased to make the video and audio in sync. You'll have to rout the audio from your TV to the delay to a stereo. Try FullCompass.com. A professional stereo audio delay will only cost you $300 plus adapters.
Cary
Ipswich, Mass.

Hey Guys, in the last Ask PFW, you had a guy ask about synchronizing the radio broadcast and HDTV broadcasts. Just wanted to pipe in that there are several not so difficult solutions:1 - If he has a computer near the TV, I'm guessing the broadcast over the Internet (from NFL.com) may be delayed by about the two seconds required, or the stream can easily be delayed if not.2 - if no computer, he could add a DSP (Digital Signal Processor) to his radio (between receiver and speakers) with a built-in adjustable delay and delay the signal. He can get a unit like this one http://www.behringer.com/DSP110/index.cfm?lang=ENG for maybe 70 bucks on ebay. I'm assuming others may have this issue/question as well, so please pass along.

Michael
San Diego, Calif.

This is in response to the question someone posted about syncing up your HDTV broadcast with the radio broadcast. Unfortunately, the answer is neither cheap nor easy, but here goes. Hopefully you're using some type of surround sound system to go with your HDTV. If you are, it may just take replacing the receiver with a new model that actually has a built in delay for the audio. There are some new models on the market by Denon and Yamaha that have this feature. They will set you back between $800 to $1,000, but they are some of the best sounding receivers out there. Hope this helps guys. Go Pats!
Russ Chalmers
Peabody, Mass.

Thanks to all of those who helped out.
Paul Perillo

What's the deal with Ty Law? Rumor has it he was released.
Joey Tanner
Okinawa, Japan

Don't believe every rumor you hear, Joey, Ty has not been released. Tell your friends in the Far East that Law is still playing cornerback for the Patriots.
Paul Perillo

Just wondering what's going on with the reserve/did not report list … not that Wilbert Brown could EVER mean anything to the team, but what is that list and what kind of options does a player on it have?
Tom
Boston, Mass.

That list allows the Patriots to retain a player's rights (in this case Brown's) even though he never showed up for camp. If they didn't place him on a reserve list, they would have had to keep him on the 53-man roster or release him and lose his rights. This way, if Brown decides to return, the Patriots can decide if they want to put him on the roster or let him go. The player only has the option of returning to the Patriots or staying out of football.
Paul Perillo

Has Curtis Martin ever been nicknamed CUMAR?
David Charron
Glendale, Ariz.

Hey DaChar, as far as I know Curtis has never been called Cumar. I've seen him listed that way on message boards, but I've never heard anyone refer to him by that name.
PaPer

My question is why is the league so against celebrations after a score. In my opinion it makes a team work better together when they can all celebrate a little together as a team and even the fans get involved a lot of times. I believe it just promotes more team unity I am very confused as to why this is such a big no-no now.
Michael Coocen
Enfield, Conn.

While I tend to agree with you, I also can understand why the league is trying to curtail some of these celebrations. What's been happening in the last decade or so is kids are emulating what they see on TV. The throat slash gesture in particular was something kids started doing that greatly concerned Pop Warner football administrators and high school coaches alike. I agree that many of the so-called "choreographed celebrations" that have been frowned upon are simply harmless fun, but when opponents start taking offense to them and fights ensure, now the league has a problem. These are the issues they are trying to avoid by legislating the penalties into the game. I don't agree with it fully, but some of the nonsense had to stop somewhere.
Paul Perillo

Do you think that the critics don't consider the Pats a dynasty because they don't have any "big name" superstars or is winning two out of three Super Bowls not enough?
Donny
Tampa, Fla.

I'm really not sure what the critics think. My opinion is two great years is not a dynasty. It would be more like five or six straight years of high-level play. I'm not saying the Patriots need to win the Super Bowl five or six times in order to be a dynasty. But winning one, then missing the playoffs, then winning one doesn't make a dynasty. San Francisco in the '80s was a dynasty – they either won it all or were very much in contention almost every year. Same for Pittsburgh in the '70s – four titles in six years and in contention during the others. Time will tell if the Patriots will become a dynasty, but it won't be because of so-called superstars.
Paul Perillo

I'm pretty sure you guys at PFW have a million questions every week. But I was hoping you could tell me what happened to J.R. Redmond, Fred Coleman and Jimmy Farris?
Austin Hill
Weymouth, Mass.

Other than simply giving you some updates on their careers, I really don't have much information for you. Redmond is alive and well playing in Oakland. He had one carry for 7 yards and three catches for 29 more in the opener. He also fumbled. Farris is with Atlanta but was held without a catch in the opener. He had six catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns last year. Coleman is no longer in the NFL.
Paul Perillo

Looking up some stats I noticed Troy Brown has some outstanding numbers for an eighth-round pick. What do you think of his chances of making it to the Hall of Fame? I know he should be a lock for the Patriots Hall of Fame.
Thomas Menard
San Diego, Calif.

Troy has basically no chance to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That's not meant as a slam on Troy, but the Hall of Fame is the best or the best. Troy has been to the Pro Bowl once so far in his 11-year career. He basically had three "Hall of Fame" caliber seasons – 2000-2002 – when he caught 83, 101 and 97 passes. Other than that, he's been an average player statistically. He could be a candidate for the Patriots Hall of Fame, especially if he eventually passes Stanley Morgan for the all-time receptions lead (he needs 76 more catches to pass Morgan's total of 534). His numbers are excellent for such a low-round pick, but that isn't part of the Hall's criteria. He's a solid player but not anywhere near the caliber of Jerry Rice or Marvin Harrison – both of whom will eventually wind up in the Hall of Fame.
Paul Perillo

My question is about the TE position. I think the Patriots have three very good TEs but I was wondering if one of them would be the clear-cut guy this year or in the near future. I think Ben Watson has shown some real promise and would be able to be the man if he could develop his blocking. What do you guys think?
Curtis
Somerset, Mass.

I don't think the Patriots want to have one clear-cut guy manning the tight end position. The offense relies on several packages that require two and sometimes three at that position. It's a very important part of their game plan every week so I really don't see one guy getting all the time. Now, if you're asking which has the potential to be the best all around player at that spot, my pick would be Graham, mostly because of his immense blocking. He's a good receiver who's had some trouble holding onto the ball occasionally but also has shown the ability to make plays. Watson looks like he could be in a similar mold but I'm not sure he's as good a blocker as Graham. Fauria is a nice reliable outlet receiver, especially in the red zone, but 32 and won't be a part of the team's long-range plans.
Paul Perillo

First off I want to say great job every week guys. Now down to business. Last year the Pats started more rookies than any other team in the league if my memory serves me correctly. I think that a guy like Vince Wilfork could be huge help in the middle (no pun intended). Keith Traylor is getting older and down the stretch he'll probably need rest. Wilfork's youth may be a big factor. I've read here that Ben Watson will be greatly involved and I wanted to know how many formations really involve 2 or 3 tight ends (Graham, Watson, Fauria).
Mitch
Flower Mound, Texas

Flower Mound?? Must be tough living in Texas in a place called Flower Mound. I can hear Louis Gossett Jr. now … "Only two things come from Flower Mound, Texas, Mitch, steers and" … But I digress … Wilfork will definitely be a big part of the defense. He started in the opener and should get plenty of action, especially with Belichick using him at both end and nose tackle in the 3-4. That versatility should allow him to make an impact as a rookie. As for the tight ends, last year the team used multiple tight end sets about 30 percent of the time, and that was without Watson and with Fred Baxter spending most games on the inactive list. I'd expect two and three tight ends to be on the field for an even larger percentage this season with Graham and Watson both possessing tremendous athleticism for the position.
Paul Perillo

I think Stanley Morgan's omission from the Pats Hall of Fame is a travesty. Although Troy Brown will overtake his record 534 receptions shortly, he will never surpass his incredible yards/catch average of 19.4 or his 67 TDs. Also what's keeping the Pats from retiring Steve Grogan's No. 14? What's your take?
Bud
Milton, Mass.

I'm not so sure Brown will overtake Morgan's mark. He still needs 76 catches, and if he doesn't get them this year he may not get a chance to get them next year. He would be entering his 13th season and his contract, after the latest restructuring, is getting pretty big. The cap number will be cost prohibitive so Brown could be in his final year with the Patriots. Now they could redo his deal again and he could be back. But either way, Morgan is far and away the best receiver the Patriots have ever had. He without question should be in the team Hall of Fame and his 19.4 yards per catch will unquestionably not be duplicated by anyone with the many catches. As for Grogan, his number probably should be retired but it's tough to retire every worthy player. Drew Bledsoe also could be a candidate, and clearly Brady is on the way as well. That would make 11, 12 and 14. Once numbers start going into hibernation, it limits the remaining options for the current players. I think Grogan is deserving, but I can understand if they wait.
Paul Perillo

A question I know I can only get answered by PFW: Both Orlando Pace ("franchise" free agent) and Walter Jones ("franchise" player) joined their respective teams this week after signing the one-year tender offer from their teams whom used the franchise tag on them. Pace signed a deal worth $7.02 million while Jones signed a deal reportedly worth $7.1 million. Why the difference in the contract? If the team franchises a player shouldn't the one-year tender equal to the average of the top five at that position in this case offensive line. What's the difference between franchise free agent and franchise player? Both of these guys play tackle why wouldn't they get the same deal? I am assuming your answer can be applied to Charles Woodson $8.782 (exclusive franchise tag) million and Chris McAllister $7.1 million (franchise free agent tag). While we're on the subject does the franchise tag take into account both bonuses and salary or only base salary?
Kainne Hansbury
Medway, Mass.

According to NFLPA documents, Pace's 2004 salary is listed at $7,021,000 while Jones' is $7,084,800. McAlister is slated to make $7,154,000 this season while Woodson will make $8,781,000. According to the list I found, only Woodson was listed as an exclusive franchise player while the others were simply termed franchise players. The only difference is the exclusive tag prohibits other teams from negotiating with the player. Regular franchise players are free to negotiate. But the salaries for both designations are the same: the average of the top five players or 120 percent of the player's previous salary, whichever sum is greater. I don't know for sure, but my guess for the difference in salaries for the players at the same positions would be the 120 percent rule. In Woodson's case, 120 percent of his previous salary must have been higher than the average of the top five cornerbacks, thus putting his current number higher than McAlister's. Pace 2004 salary is right on the amount slated for franchise offensive linemen while Jones' is slightly higher. That must mean 120 percent of Jones' previous salary was greater than the franchise number. Again, I don't know this for sure, but that's my best guess. I'm sure if this is wrong we'll be getting plenty of emailers letting me know next week.
Paul Perillo

Two quick things: First, assuming Ty Law has another Pro Bowl caliber year, is it possible that the Patriots keep him next year with his high cap number and then franchise him for 2006? This would give the Patriots some leverage in negotiations or in a sign and trade deal. Second, did the Patriots need to guarantee Tom Brady's salary to meet the salary cap this year? It was my understanding that they already were under the cap.
Rocky
Framingham, Mass.

It always possible, but certainly not probable. I think this is Ty Law's last season in New England, regardless of how well he plays. His salary is getting to the level the Patriots generally try to avoid. And Law will not accept less money. His cap number will make it almost impossible for the team to hold onto him. If he does return in 2005, franchising a would-be 32 year-old cornerback for what will likely an eight figure base salary would be unlikely. Just my opinion. As for Brady's restructuring, according to espn.com, the Patriots were going to be over the cap without making that move and thus had little choice. They were under the cap using the top 51 salaries (as the cap is computed during training camp and before the season) but once the regular 53-man roster is set, everyone counts against the cap, including injured lists and practice squad players. Once that was set to go into effect, the Patriots would have been over the cap without restructuring Brady's deal.
Paul Perillo

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