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Patriots Replay Thu Apr 15 | 12:00 AM - 11:55 AM

Ask PFW: Touching all bases

With the losses of Mike Compton and Damien Woody it seems we are pretty flimsy at the center position. Hochstein can play a little center but besides that Koppen is the only center on the team. Do you think we will dip into the free agency, and if so, who do you have your eyes on? By the way what happened to um I'm blanking out that center we got from Buffalo last year? You don't think Bob Hallen will be the next victim of the guard curse do you?
Greg K.
Weston, Conn.

I guess you are blanking out Greg. Maybe too much partying down there in Connecticut over the Huskies national championship hoop teams. You answered your own question and didn't realize it. Bob Hallen has experience playing center (he filled in for an injured Jason Ball in San Diego) and could serve as a backup for Koppen with Hochstein. Also, Bill Conaty was the player from Buffalo you're thinking of from last year. He was placed on injured reserve at the end of training camp and then agreed to an injury settlement with the Patriots that allowed him to sign elsewhere.
Paul Perillo

How does a Plaxico Burress plus a draft pick or another player for Ty Law trade sound like to you guys? Big tall, strong receiver would help us, Law would help them, get rid of his salary and calm the locker room down. What do you think?
Jerry Maisel
Montreal, Quebec

I understand what you're trying to do here but I don't think that deal would make a lot of sense for the Patriots. First off, the Patriots offense has operated well despite the lack of a so-called "impact" receiver with size. Burress is certainly talented but the crew of Brown, Givens, Patten, Branch and Johnson has performed well. But even more important to me is Burress' current attitude. We all want to get rid of Law because of his contract stance, but Burress is causing his share of problems in Pittsburgh. He sat out a mini-camp because it fell over Mother's Day weekend and his mother passed away two years ago. He's looking for a new contract just like Law so the Patriots might be getting rid of one headache and taking on another. Bottom line to me is Law plays a more valuable position and the team would be wise to keep him until they had a suitable replacement.
Paul Perillo

Do you think it possible that Willie Mac could be moved back to right end? With Colvin coming back, Vrabel could move to the right with Colvin staying on the left side. And also because the next guy in line for the right end spot would be Rodney Bailey?
Will Perez
Richmond, Va.

That's absolutely a possibility. If Colvin makes it back 100 percent, the Patriots might want all three outside linebackers on the field – McGinest, Vrabel and Colvin. If that's the case, Vrabel and McGinest certainly could be used as defensive linemen. But that would change the alignment somewhat because neither would be an ideal defensive end in a 3-4 set. Ends in that alignment are more like tackles in a 4-3. I think they'll stick with their 3-4 principles and use the added defensive linemen in a rotation while the outside linebackers can also rotate to stay fresh. The good thing here is the flexibility all these players will give Belichick and Crennel. These two have shown they can be awfully scary when they're allowed to be creative.
Paul Perillo

I READ IN THE A LOCAL PAPER THAT THE PATS WERE EXPECTING COMPENSATION FOR LOSING WASHINGTON AND WOODY. I THOUGHT THAT BOTH WERE UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS THIS YEAR AND THAT IF ANY TEAM SIGNED THEM, THEY'RE FREE FROM PAYING COMPENSATION TO THE PATS. IF THIS IS TRUE THEN WHEN WILL WE SEE THE COMPENSATION, IS IT BECAUSE THERE WAS TAMPERING WITH WASHINGTON?
Eric
Salem, Mass.

You're a little confused here Eric, but since you grew up in Salem that's understandable. My wife grew up there and I can tell you she's pretty confused a lot too. The Patriots will likely get compensation for losing their unrestricted free agents this season but it won't be from the team's that signed them. Oakland won't owe the Patriots a draft pick for signing Ted Washington. The NFL awards compensation picks based on a formula they use that balances unrestricted free agent signings vs. losses for individual teams. The compensation consists of draft pick awarded between rounds 3-7 and are given the following year. So if the league awards the Patriots extra picks for losing Washington and Woody, they'll get those picks in the 2005 draft. Also, any tampering charges have nothing to do with compensation picks. If Oakland indeed tampered with Washington the league would punish the Raiders but the Patriots wouldn't get anything out it.
Paul Perillo

Bobby Hamilton has been signed by Oakland, but did the Pats try hard to re-sign him and his money and/or other demands got in the way; or was this a case of, thanks for 4 years... good bye?
Steve
Norwell, Mass.

The writing seemed to be on the wall for Hamilton when the Patriots picked up Keith Traylor and Rodney Bailey and then drafted two rookie defensive linemen in April. They offered Hamilton something near the veteran minimum back before the draft and he decided to look elsewhere. So it does appear to be a case of thanks for four years, but with all the young, talented defensive linemen the Patriots have it's not surprising the team wasn't willing to give him much money.
Paul Perillo

When is Curtis Martin's contract up in New York? Do you think he would consider coming back to New England? Do you think it would be a good fit? Also, I have season tickets in the third level at Gillette. Are there any plans on installing escalators?
Charlie
Newington, Conn.

Martin is signed through 2005 and he just turned 31 at the beginning of May. That would make him 33 (unless the Jets released him) before the Patriots would have a chance to sign him and that probably would not make a lot of sense. He's a classy player and has always run hard and performed well for his team, but running backs approaching their mid-30s aren't generally high commodities in the NFL. And sorry Charlie, there are no current plans to add escalators at Gillette Stadium.
Paul Perillo

BOY...You guys are quicker than Bugs Bunny on Viagra...NOT. It has been two days and no update referring to the Bobby Hamilton deal. How about some particulars? Also, who, in your supreme opinion, do you think can fill the void?
James
Brunswick, Maine

You're wondering who will fill Bobby Hamilton's void on the defensive line and you're criticizing our speed on the updates?? Take your pick James. Rodney Bailey? Ty Warren? Jarvis Green? Marquise Hill? Not to mention the likes of Vince Wilfork and Keith Traylor inside. The Patriots added four defensive linemen through free agency and the draft before Hamilton signed with Oakland. I'd assume Belichick and Crennel feel at least one of them can fill the void. And I'll leave the knowledge of Viagara to you.
Paul Perillo

In your opinion, would Bill Belichick still make the Corey Dillon trade if he knew that Steven Jackson would be available at 21?
Rick
Richmond, Va.

That's a good question. Without having a chance to sit and talk with Belichick about this, my guess would be that if he had to choose between Dillon and Wilfork at 21 or Jackson at 21, he'd take the former. Entering the draft, there was a decent chance that Jackson was going to be available at 21. Some mocks had him going higher and some had him falling to the Patriots. (In fact, many had the Patriots taking him until they made the Dillon trade). So from that I'd have to say that Belichick felt he'd rather have Dillon plus another player at 21 than Jackson. Once that player became Wilfork, I don't think there's any question he'd have taken what he has now over Jackson.
Paul Perillo

What are the general parameters for the number of players per position on a 53 man roster. Obviously special teams play will dictate the last few but there must be some general parameters like 6-9 dbs and 7-8 LBs. I figure many of us in Patriots Nation have nothing better to obsess about than whether Jamil Soriano will make the 53-man roster.
Peter Dwyer
Santa Fe, N.M.

Some quick Paul Perillo trivia for you Peter … New Mexico is one of only nine states I've never been in. I bet you're psyched to know that! Anyway, the parameters you're talking about here are just what you say – general. Belichick likes to keep between 8-10 defensive backs, for example. But more important than each individual position is the quality of players. Belichick has stated many times in his four years that he's looking for the best 53 players. He's kept a long snapper. He's kept four quarterbacks. He's kept players who are exclusively special teamers. He doesn't care as much about the breakdown by position as he does about the quality of the players in general. In other words, if 11 of the best 53 players to emerge from training camp turn out to be defensive backs, expect all 11 to be a part of the 53-man roster on Sept. 9.
Paul Perillo

SUPPOSE BOTH ROMEO AND WEIS WEREN'T BACK IN 2005 AND THE PATS PROMOTED FROM WITHIN, WHAT DO YOU SUPPOSE THE DEPTH CHART AT OFFENSIVE AND DEFENSIVE COORDINATORES WOULD BE? ALSO HOW DEVASTATING WOULD IT BE IF EITHER OR BOTH LEFT WITHIN THE DIVISION?
Mr. Jules
Wethersfield, Conn.

Another tough hypothetical question to answer but since you're asking, Mr. Jules, I'll toss some names out there. On defense, the consensus seems to be defensive backs coach Eric Mangini, who's been with Belichick since the Cleveland days. Mangini was wooed by Oakland to be the Raiders defensive coordinator during the offseason and turned them down before Al Davis turned to former outside linebackers coach Rob Ryan. My guess is Mangini is waiting his turn for that spot here in New England, and if/when Romeo gets his well-deserved chance to be a head coach Belichick won't have far to look for a replacement.

The offensive coordinator is a bit tougher to forecast. On the current staff, if Weis indeed is coaching somewhere else in 2005, my guess would be Jeff Davidson, who currently is the assistant offensive line/tight ends coach. Davidson called the plays during the preseason in 2002 while Weis recovered from complications stemming from his stomach surgery. Assistant head coach/offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia has plenty of experience but I'm not sure he's interested in moving any further up the ranks. Running backs coach Ivan Fears also has a lot of experience and could be in the mix. The rest of the offensive coaches – Brian Daboll and Josh McDaniels – probably lack the requisite experience to make the jump. Perhaps Belichick would look outside the organization for his next offensive coordinator.

As for your final question, I don't think it would be a major deal if Weis and/or Crennel end up coaching in the AFC East. Obviously they would have plenty of knowledge of the Patriots system and personnel, but Belichick would also know all the tendencies his former coaches would bring to their new teams, thus somewhat neutralizing any advantages either would hope to gain. But it certainly would make a good story.
Paul Perillo

This comment is for Jake, the elitist from the Cape. BRAVO MY MAN! My sentiments exactly. The guy wanting to dump Branch tweaked my nerves too. Some of these questions/comments leave me wondering just how knowledgeable New England sports fans really are. Maybe PFW should start an expert version. Just a thought. I know this won't get printed in your weekly column, but feel free to pass this to Jake for me. Keep up the great work guys. A transplanted elitist (from R.I.)
Ed Viens
San Antonio, Texas

You're from Rhode Island … know-it-all attitude, conceited manner, you're opinion is the only one that matters … this reminds me of another Rhode Island native – our own Bryan Morry. That explains it. So you and Jake have different thoughts than another reader so he's automatically wrong and you're right? Now I understand. You're right about one thing, Ed – you certainly are an elitist.
Paul Perillo

I noticed on the depth chart that Klecko is listed at OLB. I thought for sure that they might get him to play ILB because I was sure they'd target ILB in the draft and when they didn't draft any, I came to the conclusion that Klecko would be converted to ILB. Has there been any official announcement of his position change? Would he be better suited inside instead of outside? How much do they want him to weigh? Is Tully Banta-Cain going to rotate with McGinest and Colvin at the ROLB spot this year? Is Ethan Kelley going to be a part of the D-line rotation? Is he viewed as a 3-4 end or nose tackle?
Erik Siversten
Fairhaven, Mass.

You almost broke the record for most questions in one post there Eric. I'll try to answer as many as I can. First, there's been no "official" announcement from the Patriots about Klecko's position change. He has said in a few interviews that he will work at linebacker, as has his position coach Pepper Johnson. He's listed at outside linebacker because during the preseason last year he spent some time playing on the edge. My guess is he'll work on the inside if he in fact becomes a full-time linebacker this year. I think he's better suited to play inside because I don't think he's fast enough to play on the outside in space and cover backs out of the backfield. Maybe exclusively as a pass rusher he'd be OK. I have no idea how much the Patriots would like him to weigh but I'd assume they'd like him to be substantially less than the 283 he played at up front last year. As for Banta-Cain, who knows? I could see him getting increased playing time in 2004, but I could also see him getting cut if he hasn't made significant progress in the offseason. Same for Kelley, who is viewed more as a nose tackle than and end in the 3-4. It will be a little easier to rate these guys once camp gets underway in July. Until then, my guess is Banta-Cain remains a special teamer while Kelley will have a tough time making the roster.
Paul Perillo

There is a pro-wrestling promotion out there right now called NWA/TNA. They recently got a television deal with Fox Sports Net. There is a performer on the roster known as "The Alpha Male" Monty Brown. They state that he is an ex-linebacker who played for the New England Patriots. Is this Vincent Brown?? I know in the early '90s Vincent Brown was called "The Undertaker" by teammates, and NFL players voted him as having the best physique. So it makes sense that Monty Brown is actually Vincent Brown. You know anything about this??
Joe
Toms River, N.J.

While I know nothing about The Alpha Male, I can tell you that Monty Brown was a linebacker that played for the Patriots in 1996. He was a free agent pickup from Buffalo that year and started 11 games. Although he strongly resembled Vincent Brown in physique, he never really panned out as a player and never approached The Undertaker's production. So it makes sense that The Alpha Male actually is Monty Brown, former Patriots linebacker. The Alpha Male? Whatever happened to great wrestling nicknames like Superfly Snuka, Macho Man Savage and The Rock?
Paul Perillo

Aggh! I'm so sick of the stupid questions you guys so graciously answer! "Ask PFW" should be reserved for intelligent questions and insight, not for asking What's Brady's favorite color, etc. OK ... enough with the venting. I've sent in this question a FEW times, but have never seen a reply: Is there any kind of "walk-on" opportunity in the NFL anymore? Is it possible for someone with what they perceive to be "talent" show up at training camp and try out? Also, will there ever be Football 101 for guys? It would be great for guys new to football to go and learn about the best sport ever created. My wife has been and loved it!! I'm thinking of going in drag just for the tour. (Go ahead - fire away on this one!!) PS: you guys are awesome!
Dana
Warwick, R.I.

You're lucky you stuck that blatant attempt to suck up at the end Dana or I'd really have to take you up on your offer and rip you. I was only joking about Rhode Island earlier, but seriously what is wrong with you people down there? You're ripping other people's questions and you want to know if a person can simply try to walk on to a professional sports team? This isn't grade school soccer. The Patriots, and every other NFL team, put forth a great deal of effort toward scouting and work hard to determine which players might be worthy of competing for a job in training camp. Even a guy like Stephen Neal, who hadn't played competitive football since junior high school, wouldn't have been allowed to just walk off the street into Patriots camp for a tryout unannounced. Are there individuals out there who potentially could play in the NFL but never played in college and thus have gone unnoticed? Most certainly yes. But teams can't waste time holding Community Auditions with Belichick filling Dave Maynard's old TV role. And you might want to get that dress and wig ready because I don't think there are any plans for a Football 101 for men.
Paul Perillo

Hey guys, great stuff week after week. My question deals with the selection criteria for the Hall of Fame, and where our present guys don't fit that mold. When I look at players in the Hall, I see mostly guys who were dominating players on dominant teams. The Pats players don't fit that mold, and yet I'd gladly take our roster with our staff against any in history. Is there room in the Hall for players (like ours) whose success depended on their smarts as opposed to physical dominance?
Barry Not Bryan
Sanbornton, N.H.

I understand where you're coming from Barry Not Bryan, but I don't think there is room for such players among the game's elite. I'm not dismissing what the Patriots have done and are doing, but to me a Hall of Fame player has to be the best at his position for a long period of time. I think the Patriots have a few players who potentially could have Hall of Fame credentials (Brady, Seymour, Law, Vinatieri) so maybe this team will be represented in Canton at some point. But to lower the criteria to recognize individual members of a certain team would be wrong in my opinion. And I have to strongly disagree with your opinion of taking this roster with this staff over any in history. While it's impossible to compare players from different eras, my feeling is Belichick and his staff would only be more effective with better players. If, say the mid-'70s Pittsburgh Steelers defense was available I'd like to see Belichick and Crennel get the chance to work with that group.
Paul Perillo

I greatly enjoy and look forward to reading Ask PFW each week. I think it offers a great service to all levels of Pats fans. My question revolves around the Pats defense for next year. They are being very secretive about the status of LB Rosevelt Colvin. I'm sure a lot of questions about his health will be answered when training camp starts. Do you think he will return midseason (or earlier/later) to a level close or at his previous playing ability and that is why they passed on a LB in the entire draft? Also, what is your initial impression of draftee Cedric Cobbs? Is he a legitimate primary back if Dillon falters in a year or two?
Peter F.
Hingham, Mass.

The Patriots haven't really been all that secretive about Colvin, it's just the offseason and Belichick isn't answering questions every day like he does during the year. Colvin continues to rehab and is working hard to be ready for the 2004 season. Shameless self-promotion alert I sat and talked with Colvin last week and will be writing a feature for the next issue of Patriots Football Weekly, which will hit newsstands June 2. He says he feeling great and is getting better and better all the time. He didn't say when he would start practicing full-time with the team once training camp begins, but he fully expects to be part of the 2004 Patriots. There's no way of knowing how effective he will be until he gets on the field with his pads on and starts playing. As for Cobbs, I think he showed some quick feet during rookie mini-camp but will need plenty of work in the passing game. The good news is with Dillon here, Cobbs has plenty of time to pick up the nuances of a pro offense and should be ready for an increased role when Dillon's Patriots days are over.
Paul Perillo

Three questions: (1) Who would win an arm wrestling tournament, Andy, Paul or Bryan-with-a-Y? (2) Who would get the first-round bye? (3) Seriously folks, as fellow first rounders, we have to assume Wilfork will have a first year similar to Ty Warren (although there seems to be more hype surrounding the 2004 DT pick). That means rotating into the lineup, with possible increased playing time toward December if he produces. Everyone is concerned about "starving" Ty, but if the line can't occupy blockers, then Bruschi/Vrabel/Colvin(?) can't generate pressure, and we would have secondary problems if we had Deion Sanders and Mike Haynes on the corners. Can Traylor/Wilfork combine to equal Washington? Is Warren ready to break out? How do coaches feel about Jarvis Green vs. Warren? It seems Jarvis shows up big in big games all of a sudden.
Bob
Washington, D.C.

I'll get the serious part of your question first – Andy would have to be the favorite and receive the first-round bye. He's younger, stronger, in better shape and he has the inside knowledge of the supplement industry that Bryan and I lack. So the preliminary match between Bryan and I would be a toss up. If it was just a pure fight, I'd kill him. But that's a different story. Arm wrestling is different, so it could go either way. But whoever wins would simply earn the right to get killed by Andy in the final. At least that's what Bryan and I tell him so he doesn't go into any sort of "rage."

As for the rest … I would think Wilfork should provide more on the field than Warren did a year ago. Even though he was taken eight spots behind Warren (21-13), I think he's perfectly suited for the Patriots defense and could even be starting as early as late September. Until then, I would at least expect him to be in a regular rotation up front, especially with the departure of four veteran d-linemen in the offseason. It's impossible to replace Ted Washington at nose tackle. He might have to be considered the best to ever play that position. But with Traylor and Wilfork the Patriots should be able to minimize his loss and not suffer greatly. Green and Warren, to me, are totally different players even though they basically play the same position. Warren is more of a run-stuffer who can provide occasional pressure. I see Green as more of a nickel defense, pass-rushing type who can provide pressure off the edge. I like both players and I do think Warren is going see an expanded role this season.
Paul Perillo

Thanks for the great forum. I just received word that the Pats have renegotiated Troy Brown's contract. What great news! He has earned it by playing hard and probably for less than his market value, particularly in 2000 and 2001. I was concerned with all the able bodies at WR that the Pats were going to release Troy or force his hand with offering him less money. I think the Pats would have taken a huge PR hit had they released him. Are there any other players (i.e. Vinatieri and Bruschi in '05) that you think the Pats might take care of with guaranteed salaries?
Mark
San Diego, Calif.

I certainly agree with your assessment of the Troy Brown situation. Some guys mean more to their team than simply their statistics and Brown is one of them. He's been through an awful lot with this organization and it was nice to see the Patriots took care of him – while also lowering his 2004 cap number at the same time. Vinatieri already has a guaranteed contract so if the team does anything with him it would have to be a straight extension. Bruschi would be more like Brown's case. He's entering the final year of his deal (and like Brown could make the argument that he's out-produced his contract). I'm not aware if the Patriots have talked to Bruschi about staying around after this season, but I think it would make perfect sense.
Paul Perillo

Do you think there is a chance that Benjamin Watson could not only be used out of a 3 tight set this season, but also as a slot receiver (4.4 speed) to catch one of those BBs from TB over the middle then continuing on through the secondary leaving shards of linebackers, cornerbacks, and safeties in his wake to the end zone? Then finishing off by leaping over the short side wall end zone to autograph my College Final Exams? Post this for its colorful imagery alone, but when it happens remember where you heard it first. And it wasn't on PVN.
Brian Oakes
Stoughton, Mass.

Actually you're wrong Brian. I did hear it first on PVN, they have everything on that show first. I can definitely see your little dream sequence coming true, Watson will be used in the slot, just like Graham has been used in the past. The Pats will no doubt try to get him down the seam and make some big plays with their newest weapon. I'm not sure about the shards of players in his wake of the Lambeau, err, Gillette Leap, but hey, maybe he will sign your college final exams, although I have no idea why you'd want that.
Paul Perillo

Do you think that the Patriots would try to get free agent from the Dolphins DE Adewale Ogunleye? That would be great to see him on the other side of Richard Seymour!
Eric Bouza
Pueblo West, Colo.

My first inclination would be make fun of your name and wonder if you were "boozing it up" before sending this question. But since your question isn't all that dumb, I guess I'll just answer it. The Patriots would have to trade for Ogunleye at this point because he was a restricted free agent and the period to sign such players has ended. So it's highly unlikely the Patriots could acquire him at this point. Now, Ogunleye is more of a 4-3 end and is much smaller than Seymour and the Patriots other outside guys up front. At 260 pounds, he would have a tough time playing end in the Patriots 3-4. It is conceivable that he could play outside as a pass rushing linebacker like Mike Vrabel, although I must admit I don't know Ogunleye well enough to know if he possesses the skills to do that. So while it may appear to be a perfect fit to add his double digit sacks opposite Seymour, Ogunleye's skill set might not necessarily translate to what the Patriots like to do.
Paul Perillo

I think DEION BRANCH, BETHEL JOHNSON AND DAVID PATTEN should play wide receiver this year and SAM SHOULD PLAY SOME TIMES SO that TOM HAS A TARGET TO THROW DEEPER DOWN FIELD. Here's the question, will Cedric play COREY'S back up?
Dan Johnson
North Easton, Mass.

WHAT HAPPENED when you were TYPING OUT your question, Dan? DID YOUR computer's SHIFT KEY STICK or something? WHY ARE some of the words in all CAPS WHILE OTHERS aren't? The BATTLE FOR DILLON'S BACKUP will be between Cobbs and CLOUD. IF COBBS SHOWS he's ready TO BE THE BACKUP, he'll probably WIN THE JOB. If it looks like he'll NEED MORE TIME TO DEVELOP, Cloud will probably get the nod. That will be SOMETHING TO KEEP AN eye on during training camp.
Paul Perillo

This is actually a statement rather than a question. And just know that I respect everyone's opinion. I'm sick of hearing "problems" and "Corey Dillon" in the same sentence. I'm sick of hearing people say that he will be a cancer and blah, blah, blah. All that stuff is bull. The reason I believe Corey will behave this year is because he wants to WIN. He even said it himself. He doesn't want money because he could have gotten that if he stayed in Cincy. He even took a pay cut to be here. Why? Because he wants a SB ring so badly that he's willing to do whatever is necessary to remain on this team, including staying out of trouble. So don't bash him until the end of next season. Then, we'll all say what we want. But right now I'm showing my support, and so should all of you because if you think about it, he WILL improve this team. Also, for that person who flipped out on PFW writers for posting easy questions – take a chill-pill. If everybody knew everything about football there wouldn't be an "Ask PFW" so chill out.
Dillon Fan
Patriots Nation, Mass.

Wow. I guess there's not much to add to that. The morale of the story is we can't say anything negative about any Patriots if we live in Patriots Nation. To do that, we have to wait until the players leave and play for another team. I do agree with one thing: Corey Dillon will most definitely improve this team on the field.
Paul Perillo

Nice job on the column, I look forward to it every week! Chas Gessner is someone who I have been watching since the time we picked him up. As you know he was very good in college, and now seems to be excelling in NFL Europe as well. I personally think that he is going to find his way onto the Patriots this year as the sixth receiver. I hope he does anyway, because I think he'll get poached from the practice squad otherwise. What are your thoughts on this?
Frank Brown
Manchester, N.H.

Gessner has enjoyed a nice season playing in Berlin with Rohan Davey. But like Davey, he'll need to show that improvement during training camp here in Foxborough if he's going to carve out a role. Personally I don't share your optimism for him being the sixth receiver. First, I'm not sure Belichick will keep six receivers. He didn't last year. And even if he does, assuming Brown, Branch, Givens and Johnson are locks, he would still have to beat out either Patten, Sam or Stokes. I think with the expanded practice squad Gessner will likely find himself there once again.
Paul Perillo

You stated you believe that the Pats targeted moving up in the first round to take Wilfork. But what evidence leads you to believe this. They waited quite a while to make the selection and Belichick has stated that they had considered making a few trades in the first round (I'm personally guessing that swapping w/ the Bills for Losman was one of them heavily considered). I think from all accounts I've heard (Mike Tice interview) Belichick was on the phone inquiring about Vernon Carey and the Pats have been heavily rumored to have tried to move up for Will Smith. What solid info. do you have about their draft strategy and how it unfolded.
Jay
Charleston, S.C.

I guess it all depends on who and what you want to believe, Jay. I personally don't think there was even the remotest chance that the Patriots were talking to Minnesota about taking Vernon Carey. I know the Boston Globe has written this several times but I simply don't buy it. First, Belichick admitted he was speaking with Minnesota, but that it was in regards to a defensive player. So if that's true it couldn't have been Carey. Second, someone very high up in the Patriots organization once told me "we would never take a guard in the first round because you can always find a guard." I know Carey is projected to switch to tackle, but that would be a pretty big risk for a college player who played mostly guard. I can't really say for certain why I believe the Patriots were interested in trading up for Wilfork, but I believe they had their eyes on him. As far as taking a lot of time making the pick, that's pretty much the standard operating procedure for all teams. Everyone uses most of its allotted time to explore all trade possibilities – even when the player it wants is still on the board. For argument's sake, if the Bills were looking to move up to 21 to take Losman, the Patriots may have been weighing whatever package Buffalo would have given against taking Wilfork. I see nothing wrong with covering all your bases before making a move. In this case, I feel Wilfork was the guy they wanted and they were thrilled he was still there at 21.
Paul Perillo

I know the Pats have an open training camp down at Bryant College where fans can go and watch, I am just wandering when that is (specific dates)and if you need tickets or anything or if you had a link to a training camp schedule that would work too.
Bobby
Auburn, N.H.

The Pats moved training camp to Gillette Stadium last year and that's where the practices will be held this summer. The official camp dates have not yet been made public but usually it gets underway sometime in late July. Check with Patriots.com for an announcement on the official opening of camp and for the practice schedule.
Paul Perillo

Can you explain the significance of the June 1 date re: players (release/keep)? Who on the Pats are affected? Regarding them, what are the advantages/disadvantages of keeping each. Hope this is not too complicated, but I am sure you can sort it out!
Henry
Ossipee, N.H.

To paraphrase the immortal Forrest Gump, "I'm not a smart man but I know what June 1 means, Henry." June 1 has become a significant date in the NFL offseason calendar because of the salary cap. Teams that release players after June 1 can distribute any remaining cap (pro-rated signing bonus) hit over two years rather than one. If a player signs a five-year, $15 million deal with a $5 million signing bonus, the average annual cap hit on that deal would be $3 million ($2 million a year in salary plus $1 million each year for the bonus). Assuming the player is on the roster for the first three years of the deal that would leave $2 million in remaining signing bonus. If the team wants to release the player before the fourth year, doing so before June 1 would make it a $2 million cap hit while after June 1 would make it $1 million for the current year and the rest (another $1 million in this case) would take place the following year. I don't see the Patriots having to release anyone under this scenario this June. The team's cap situation seems pretty solid with the exception of Ty Law. If the Patriots released the corner, it would cost the team around $5.5 million against the cap. Since he has two years left on his deal that number would be cut roughly in half if they released him after June 1. But there's always a chance someone goes this year. After all, no one expected Lawyer Milloy to get the gate in 2003, even though that really wasn't a "June 1 release" by definition.
Paul Perillo

I have a question on Rosevelt Colvin's hip injury. Can you tell me of any big name players that have come back from such an injury and were still as effective as they were before their injury?
Scott Daggett
Harrisville, R.I.

I posed your question to Rosevelt himself, Scott, and he reports that safety Deon Grant had a similar injury and returned to play at a Pro Bowl level last season for the Carolina Panthers. He said there really aren't a lot of players who suffered the same injury to refer to but there have been some like former Chargers running back Lionel James and former Patriots camp player Dyshod Carter. Second shameless plug alert Once again check out the next issue of PFW for more on Colvin's current situation.
Paul Perillo

What do you think of making a straight trade of Ty Law for Mckenzie of the Packers? Both are unhappy, both are corners, both want a change of scenery, and both could help the team they're traded to. Law might be a little better, but Mckenzie is two years younger … or (contracts notwithstanding), is this just too simplified?
Joe Duquain
Atlanta, Ga.

On the surface, your trade makes sense. Both players are disgruntled and both want out. I just think Ty Law is a much better player than Mike McKenzie. Now, I can't say I'm all that familiar with the ins and outs of McKenzie's game since I don't get to watch him all that often. But from what I do see I think Law is better and I wouldn't make that move. I'd rather hold onto Law, plan to draft a corner early next year or sign a quality corner in free agency and cut ties with him before the 2005 season.
Paul Perillo

I just have a quick question about the pats wide receiver corps. They have a very talented corps with great depth, who do u think there top five will be? Also, is there anyone out there that you think may surprise me this season?
Shawn
Raynham, Mass.

A really quick answer without seeing anything in training camp … here's my guess. The Patriots will keep five receivers – Brown, Branch, Givens, Johnson and Patten. I think Sam will wind up on the practice squad. That leaves Stokes and Gessner out. As for a surprise, I'm not sure if a first-round pick qualifies as surprising but I think Ty Warren will open some eyes for the Pats this year.
Paul Perillo

Please Please Please answer my question this time guys!!! Where is David Patten? Is he still on the Pats? And what do you think the starting 5 wide receivers will be? One more question. Where did Antowain Smith go?
Alex
Decatur, Ga.

Geez, Alex, if you're going to act like Wendy Whiner to get your question answered, at least ask a good one. These are the kinds of questions Jake rips us for answering. David Patten is on the Patriots roster. He was injured last season, had knee surgery, and will be back for camp. Check the above question for my predictions on the receiving corps. And Antowain Smith remains an unrestricted free agent at this time.
Paul Perillo

Why do teams sometimes have players peddling away on exercise bikes in the middle of games? It doesn't make sense to me.
Adam
Lawrence, Kan.

Usually when you see a player riding a stationary bike during a game he's either trying to keep loose or is nursing some kind of leg/knee injury. Either way, the movement helps to keep the player warmed up and ready to go back into the game.
Paul Perillo

YOU GUYS ARE VERY INFORMATIVE WITH YOUR ANSWERS AND COMMENTARY. NOW THAT I RAISED YOUR EGO A BIT, PLEASE ANSWER A QUESTION THAT IS REALLY BOTHERING ME. IS IT POSSIBLE IN THE REALM OF THINGS TO MAKE BETHEL JOHNSON A PART TIME RUNNING BACK? WITH HIS SPEED HE COULD EASILY TURN THE CORNER BEFORE THOSE BIG HEAVY LINEMAN AND LINEBACKERS COULD GET TO HIM, AND HE WOULD PROVIDE ANOTHER WEAPON FOR CHARLIE TO USE. WE DO NOT WANT TO RUN BETWEEN THE TACKLES SO MUCH, AS IT REALLY DOES NOT ACCOMPLISH ANYTHING. OOPS I HAVE ANOTHER QUESTION, REGARDING EVERYONE'S FAVORITE "MIKE CLOUD". WHAT WAS WRONG WITH HIM LAST YEAR, ALMOST EVERY TIME HE PLAYED, HE SCORED TOUCHDOWNS, THEN ALL OF A SUDDEN HE IS NOT PLAYING ANYMORE. WAS HE IN BB'S DOGHOUSE "WOOF-WOOF." THANKS FOR THE SUPERB ANSWERS TO THESE QUESTIONS.
Ron. D.
Merrimack Valley, Mass.

While I guess anything is possible, I just don't see Bethel Johnson switching to running back. He's 5-11 and 200 pounds, which isn't ideal size for a guy to withstand the pounding running backs take. That's one of the reasons Kevin Faulk hasn't really been more than a change-of-pace back. Your idea for having him run exclusively wide also doesn't seem to make much sense. If a defense knows where a play is going, the offense has no chance. It doesn't matter how fast a player is, if the defense knows where he's going, it will stop him. Mike Cloud was a backup running back last year and that's how he was used. I don't think he was in Bill's doghouse or anything like that. I think Antowain Smith was the proven commodity and he was the starter, especially down the stretch. Cloud did a nice job in his limited opportunities but many people seem to forget his so-so performances against the Giants and Miami when his role was expanded. Aside from the Tennessee game, he didn't generate very much yardage.
Paul Perillo

Has Irving Fryar ever played in a game with Drew Bledsoe? I was curious if Bledsoe ever completed a pass to him, but I don't think they were on the Patriots roster at the same time, right?
Gary S.
Woodridge, Ill.

Yes! You are correct, oh great one! Fryar left the Patriots after the 1992 season, one year before Bledsoe arrived. Bill Parcells took over in 1993 and during that offseason he asked Fryar if he wanted to be part of a rebuilding program or if he wanted to be traded. Fryar opted for the latter and was sent to Miami, where he torched the Patriots on opening day 1994 with a monster game in a 39-35 Dolphins win.
Paul Perillo

Andy, Man! I'm an administrator at a university and thought I had it bad hearing how to do my job from all the smarty-pants PhDs, but they're nothing as compared to the legions of Pats/PFW fans – wow! That being said, why do you answer all those stupid questions – just kidding!A: I love the fact that even though you are employed by the Kraft family you are not nearly the Home-Towner as the PFW imitator at the Globe.B: I love the Corey Dillon move. He's desperately trying to shake the bad guy label, had a diminished role in Cincy and feels like he has a lot to prove. On top of that he altered his contract to come here. The move enable the Pats to pick Wilfork and Watson in the first round, who I think will play big roles quickly, and take a chance on a RB in the later rounds. I don't think he did a lot to shake the image in the Globe (May 17) but why do you seem to be so down on him?

Pats Fan on the Tundra
Juneau, Alaska

I'll answer for Andy since I'm up this week. First, thanks for the kind words and for understanding. We try to look at things as objectively as possible and not just say what we think the Kraft family or the rest of the organization wants us to. It's not always easy, but that's the objective here.

Now, as for Dillon, I believe and have stated several times that this trade was an excellent one for the Patriots. They acquired a Pro Bowl running back for a second-round pick. That's a no-brainer to me and well worth any risk. So with that said I don't think the team made a poor move. But I do have some concerns dealing with Dillon's past. I won't rehash my feelings again but my guess is that's what Andy's feelings are as well. But I look forward to meeting him this summer and I hope his problems are in the past and the Patriots have a running game come September.
Paul Perillo

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