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Ask PFW: Who makes the cut?

I know I may be out of line, but what about talking Drew out of retirement to handle the back-up situation?? I'd say his youth outweighs Vinnies, and I don't think he's injured. Oh and I still want A.Tippett IN THE HALL!
Robert Panneitz

I agree that Andre Tippet should be in the Hall for sure. Next year is a huge year for Tip. After 2008, the heavy hitters start coming up over the next few years. Guys like Emmitt Smith, Jerry Rice, Marshal Faulk, Tim Brown and Deion Sanders just to name a few. I believe next year is Tippet's best chance to be inducted into the Hall of Fame for a while and I'll be rooting hard for him to get in. He really deserves it.

No way Drew Bledsoe comes back to the Patriots. Vinny was the third-string quarterback last year. I don't think Bledsoe would be interested in playing behind a guy who hasn't started a game since high school. It's just my opinion but I think we've seen the last of Bledsoe. He's done all he can in the NFL and now he'll spend most of his time focused on fly-fishing.
-Tom Casale

At 6'5" and 250lbs, shouldn't Pierre Woods be touted as the next McGinest? I saw him in summer camp last year wearing a #55 bib over his jersey and got excited for such. The difference between his being a first-rounder and an un-drafted free agent is the idiosyncratic Lloyd Carr and Lloyd Carr alone.John Sears

I think Woods is one of the most improved players so far in training camp. He has that explosive first step that you just can't teach good pass rushers. The biggest compliment I can give Woods is he looks like he belongs. Fans always ask us to break down this and break down that but sometimes a guy just passes the eye test. When I see Woods on the field, he looks like he belongs there to me. If Woods can continue to develop, I think he has a chance to be a factor for the Patriots at outside linebacker in the near future. As an undrafted free agent, even if Woods just becomes a decent pass rushing backup, it would be a heck of a story. But I'll go one step further and say Woods has the physical ability to be an NFL starter someday, as long as he keeps progressing and working hard.

We all know how I feel about Lloyd Carr, so I won't go into that. Let's just say if he spent as much time coaching as he did putting people in his doghouse, Michigan would have already won seven National Championships during Carr's mediocre tenure.
-Tom Casale

Ok, a non-Samuel question ahead. Who or maybe how does the league decide what the schedules will be for the teams for the upcoming season? I heard on NFL Network that the Jets have a tough schedule this season. And I am just wondering if there is a method to the schedules. Thanks for all the training camp coverage. As always good job guys!Rene Hanson

Every year each NFL team plays the teams in their division, plus a division in the AFC and NFC. For instance, last year the Patriots played the AFC South and the NFC North. This season, they play the AFC North and the NFC East. That's why you heard the Jets have a tough schedule this year. Because the AFC East, AFC North and NFC East are all projected to be tough divisions. Although, I always hate to say a team has a tough schedule in August. Chances are, some of the teams expected to be good won't be and some of the teams expected to be bad will be competitive. It happens every year and I doubt 2007 will be any different.
-Tom Casale

First off, I want to thank PFW for the great job they do every magazine. And for those of you following the blog, yes, I really am Ben from Boxborough! I really hope I can get back at Andy Hart... Anyways, does anybody at PFW have a source directly involved in the Samuel holdout/sign decision (such as Alonzo Shavers) to update the fans, whether it be a news bulletin or a blitz, or a reply on Ask PFW? I am interested in hearing Asante's logic behind holding out and losing money because of it.Ben from Boxborough

Well Ben, I don't have an inside source so I can't really give you any breaking news on the situation. But I should point out that Samuel isn't losing out on much money right now other than his minimal training camp pay that all players receive. He'll start losing big money if he misses regular season games. That's the exact reason why I expect him back before Week 1. It's one thing to miss practices in 90-degree heat but it's another to miss a paycheck. Money talks and my guess is it's telling Samuel to sign the franchise tender by opening day. Also, bring that picture we took together at training camp with you if you come to another practice and I'll sign it. That way if you ever need 12 cents, you'll have something to sell.
-Tom Casale

Hey PFW Guys, great coverage as always. My question is about the situation at receiver. We've heard a lot about Jabar Gaffney and Randy Moss, but I was wondering who's more likely to get cut at this point, Reche Caldwell or Kelly Washington? Not a whole lot has been said about either and if that's the case I would think Caldwell has the edge because of his chemistry with Brady. I was also wondering how many RBs you predict the Pats will carry into the regular season? Sammy Morris doesn't exactly seem like a short yardage back so I was wondering if we could see 4 on the roster. There's always Heath Evans, but who would block for him?DC

Luckily for Patriots fans, I don't make decisions regarding the football team. But if I were to make an educated guess I would say Caldwell and Evans will both make the team. Evans is a lock in my opinion and Caldwell should grab the last receiver spot. I actually thought Caldwell could be a surprise cut last month, so it wouldn't shock me if he was released, but right now I think he's on the team. Evans, Laurence Maroney, Kevin Faulk and Sammy Morris at running back. I don't think Garrett Mills makes the cut this year.

And I think Maroney will be the short-yardage back. I'm pretty sure he can get 1 yard when the team needs it. Evans is actually a terrible short-yardage runner, so I doubt you will see him in that role very often this year.
-Tom Casale

I am from Kelly Washington's hometown and was just curious to see how he is doing. Does it look like he'll make the team?Dale Hurd

Well Dale, as I stated above, I think Reche Caldwell gets the last roster spot at receiver. I have Randy Moss, Jabar Gaffney, Wes Welker, Donte' Stallworth, Troy Brown, Chad Jackson and Caldwell making the team. I just don't think there is any room for Washington. He isn't a natural pass catcher by any means. Washington fights the ball and has a bad habit of jumping in the air when he doesn't need to. My guess is Washington is released in a couple of weeks and signs on with the Tennessee Titans or New York Jets. The Patriots are just too deep at receiver for Washington to make the roster in my opinion.
-Tom Casale

I was just looking at the list that ESPN accumulated of current players that they think will go to the hall of fame. At 19 years of age I haven't watched the careers of hall of famers and just heard legends so I'm not sure what it takes to become a hall of famer. Brady and Seymour are rather obvious, but are there any other members of the patriot dynasty that you think will eventually end up in Canton? Bruschi? McGinest? They didn't show that much love to Rodney, but I think he will go to the hall when his career is over. I know that this is a rather ridiculous question and virtually impossible to answer but what relatively new patriots do you think will make it to Canton? Asante? I don't think so. Maroney? Maybe if he lives up to potential. What are your thoughts?Frank Osborn

Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are first ballot locks. Robert Kraft has a good chance of making the Hall too in my opinion. After that, you are looking at Adam Vinatieri, Ty Law, Richard Seymour and Rodney Harrison as possibilities, but none of them are sure things. Seymour isn't even close to being obvious. Just take a look at some of the players at that position who aren't in the Hall of Fame yet (Richard Dent, Fred Dean, Harvey Martin). Tedy Bruschi and Willie McGinest were great players but neither is going to Canton. Laurence Maroney has played one season, so that's like saying Brady Quinn will make it. And as for that ESPN article you are referring to, the next time I read something that ridiculous and insignificant, my guess is the name "Andy Hart" will appear in the byline.
-Tom Casale

There was a lot of talk about Stephen Gostkowski last season, and will he be able to replace Vinatieri. I think he did a great job last season. What do you guys think about our kicker? What is our punting situation? Is Josh Miller the Guy??Joseph West

Gostkowski is fine and the coaching staff obviously thinks so as well seeing they didn't bother to bring in another kicker to take reps during training camp. I'll tell you why I really like Gostkowski. He went 8-for-8 in the postseason. That's where a kicker earns his bacon in my book. That's the reason why Vinatieri is so revered and Mike Vanderjagt is the butt of jokes. Who is the more accurate kicker statistically? Is that the guy you want on the field when the game is on the line in the playoffs? I don't think so. Kickers are going to miss kicks, that's a given. But it's when they miss them that's important and Gostkowski was perfect on the big stage.

You'll have to ask Erik for an in-depth breakdown of the punting battle but if I had to guess, I say Miller wins the job or the team brings in another veteran punter. I like Danny Baugher but I just don't think he'll be the Patriots opening day punter, so I give Miller the edge right now. However, the youngster can make things even more interesting with a strong performance this weekend in Tampa.
-Tom Casale

I have been a fan all my life of the NFL and have never been able to get enough. UNTIL NOW! How can I get a hold of someone to let them know that the Hall of Fame induction was terrible!! It was the most drawn out, boring, depressing 3 and a half hours of television I've seen in years!! I've been to livelier funerals!!! WOW !!! Hide the knives! Get the Prozac! The inductees weren't the problem...the somber, catatonic approach to this was!! I REALLY hope they do MUCH better next year!! I can't find an email address for the Hall of Fame on their site. They almost seem reluctant to give it out after that poor excuse for a celebration!Bob Benjamin

Bob, I just wish you could give a speech at the Hall of Fame inductions. With all of those exclamation points, your speech is bound to be much more entertaining than most of the inductees. I do agree with you about the speeches but it's pretty much the same thing every year. Unless you are a huge fan of a particular player or the team he played on, the Hall of Fame inductions aren't the most thrilling thing in the world to watch. Unless you just got an HDTV like I did. Then you will watch grass grow as long it's in HD. I love that thing.
-Tom Casale

I believe when you think of the Patriots the first thing that comes to mind is offense, we all know its great. But I believe there are some questions to be answered on defense. I know that Bill Belichick loves experience but experience doesn't help when your players are so old and weak that they get burned by every receiver out on the field! I've go to admit I love Ellis Hobbs and think he is going to become a star in this league someday. But I don't see with the age on defense how our players are going to last a half of a game, by mid. season these guys will be out of gas! I like Adalius but I think it would be a mistake making him an inside linebacker, it would take away his full potential. I would just like to know what you guys think and what does the defense need improving on.Keenan Stroup

I don't think age will be a problem, per say, unless a lot of injuries occur. If Harrison, Vrabel and Bruschi all have nagging injuries throughout the season, then you might be able to say that age got the better of them. But I don't think age is a concern because the defensive line is in its prime. When you say age, you are talking about a couple of players. However, when you look at the defense as a whole, it isn't old at all. Richard Seymour, Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork, Adalius Thomas, Eugene Wilson, Ellis Hobbs and Asante Samuel (assuming he's here) aren't old and I just named seven starters on defense. The team is a little long in the tooth at linebacker, I'll give you that. But unless a rash of injuries hits that position, it's not going to matter because the Patriots starting linebackers are as good as any unit in the NFL.

The other reason I'm not concerned with the defense is because Bill Belichick is still the coach. I think Belichick would field a pretty good defense regardless of the players he has because he's such a good coach. Add to that the current talent the Patriots have on the defensive side of the ball and I don't see where all the worries are coming from. To be honest with you, I have many more questions regarding the offense. Can the offensive line play with more consistency? Will Maroney be able to carry the load? Will all the new additions at receiver pan out? I'm not worried at all about the Patriots defense. Give me that defensive front and Belichick calling the shots and I'll give you a top 10 defense at the end of the year.
-Tom Casale

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