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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Thu May 16 - 02:00 PM | Tue May 21 - 11:55 AM

Ask PFW: You got your Brown back

Much like Troy Brown, I’m back.

Welcome back Troy Brown! The folks who peppered PFW with questions about your return can finally relax and I'd like to enlist them to move on to another campaign...bring back Ty Law. Yes, the Patriots have stockpiled a slew of castoffs and spare parts (Duane Starks, Chad Scott and Hank Poteat come to mind) to shore up the CB position, but have they really improved themselves? Each of the new acquisitions come in with recent health problems, and we won't know much of anything until after the games begin. I can see the point of view that says they won the Super Bowl last year without Ty, but to paraphrase BB, "Last year is last year" and every team looks to improve in the off-season. Ty Law is a proven entity (when healthy) and no other NFL team has made an offer to him. He did not burn any bridges (to my knowledge) when he left and no one has come right out and said no way will he be back. So the question is: could the Patriots find a way to bring back Ty Law? If so, is there any CAP room left and what (hypothetically) might it take to get him signed? Ty's market value may be much lower than some people think and I'd hate to see him go to the Jets or Colts without at least putting up a fight for his services.John Farrell

It would make for nice theatre and all, but I don't think there is much of a chance of Law returning to New England. He's looking for too much money, the team is already eating some dead money (just over $3 million) from his release and Belichick and Co. have moved on. Now if you tell me that Law doesn't get any offers and is willing to return for the veteran minimum or something ridiculous like that, then maybe there is a chance. Beyond that, I think the Law era in New England has passed.
Andy Hart


Why are you yelling? Just kidding, but from what I am told by those more in the know with computers writing emails in all caps is synonymous with yelling. While I don't really care, you might want to keep that in mind when you email important people like your wife or your boss. Just a suggestion. As for your email, I think Brown has a greater value here than he does elsewhere. Let's face it, we don't really know how much is left in his tank as a receiver. He could still be a very productive third or fourth receiver, but I don't think too many teams are looking to throw years and money at a 30-something, 12-year veteran receiver to fill such a role. His best fit is in a Patriots uniform. He belongs in New England. And now, hopefully that is where Troy will finish his career.
Andy Hart

I'm so happy Troy Brown is coming back for another season w/ the Pats. How will this affect Tim Dwight's playing time as he was expected to fill in a role as a slot receiver/returner?
Moses Ip

I think Dwight could find himself in a serious fight for a roster spot. While he might have a little more hop in his step (although injuries/durability are a concern), Brown is a proven commodity with this team. If Brown and the other receivers all make it through camp healthy, I don't necessarily thing Dwight is roster lock.
Andy Hart

I just heard about Brown coming back and wanted to say... WELCOME HOME!!!!
Michael Hobbs

Does it seem most likely for us to move Chad Brown to ILB this season? It seems like with Willie Mac, Mike Vrabel, and Rosevelt Colvin (plus other serviceable OLBs) on the outside, and really only Ted Johnson (plus Monty Beisel? and a couple marginal ILBs) in the middle, we'll need a veteran player with some wheels. (Even if we bring Phifer back.) Maybe a better question is: How soon can we expect to know who goes where? Mini-camp? Training camp? Pre-season? Or do you think BB intends to keep players moving around at LB?
John Constantine

Lots of questions in a single email, but I will do my best. Brown will start his time in New England as an inside linebacker, along with guys like Johnson, Beisel and Ryan Claridge. And by the way, I do believe there is still a very real chance that Phifer will be back in the mix by the time the season rolls around. Call it a hunch, but I think that is strong possibility. As far as when we will find out how this all unfolds, I think we will get a little bit of a taste during mini camp in June, but obviously will have a much better idea when training camp and the preseason games come in August. Even beyond that, as you alluded, BB likes to keep all these guys on their toes and will likely move them around as needed during the season.
Andy Hart

I know PFW has done an excellent job recognizing Rodney Harrison over the past two seasons (e.g. 2003 and 2004 MVP); however, his level of excellence has escaped the national media. New England Patriot fans certainly know he is one of the emotional leaders of the defense. However, does anyone realize statistically his achievements in the last 6 playoff games may be unmatched in NFL history? Can you do some research and see how Rodney stacks up as far as INTs in NFL playoff history? He has six INTs for the Patriots in six games. He also has a FF and two sacks.
Mark Woelfel

Mark, the following is courtesy of the Patriots crack (or is it cracked up?) media relations staff:
"Harrison has come up big on the biggest stage, with six interceptions in his last six playoff games, including two in Super Bowl XXXIX. His four picks in the 2004 playoffs tied for the third most in a single postseason since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. Additionally, his six career playoff interceptions are tied for the fourth most since the merger."
I would just disagree with you on one point, I think Harrison has gotten his share of national attention. He's been voted All-Pro by the media (while missing out on the Pro Bowl thanks to the voting of his fellow players and coaches) and has been a frequent subject of written and TV interviews over the last year at the national level. Bottom line, he's good and I think most people have recognized that.
Andy Hart

With the release of Keith Traylor, the Patriots obviously feel that Vince Wilfork will step up. But will he play on every down this year or will someone rotate with him on run or pass downs? Who might rotate with him? Jarvis Green or Ethan Kelley?Ryan

While I expect Wilfork to have a huge season in his second year, I don't think he's likely to play every play. I would assume Kelley will see some time at nose and with the variety of fronts the team uses, others like Jarvis Green will rotate through he lineup. Ty Warren, Richard Seymour and Wilfork will be the main cogs in the 3-4 front, but the depth and youth of the line as a whole should allow for a great deal of rotating that should help to keep everyone healthy and fresher.
Andy Hart

I feel we need to develop a strong backup RB to Corey Dillon this year. First, he's got a lot of mileage on him and although I think he still has a lot left, look at how badly we needed a first down to ice the Eagles in the Super Bowl and when Dillon couldn't re-enter the game, we looked vulnerable. Same thing happened in the Steelers game that Dillon couldn't play, 14 yards rushing for the game. Secondly, I hear Kory Chapman is ripping up the NFL Europe league, can he be the guy? If Cedric Cobbs is the guy they are hoping for, why wasn't he sent to NFL Europe as well? He needs the experience, no? Do you guys have a guess as to whom may emerge to be an between the tackles every down backup RB that can run the ball effectively? Birmingham, Earl Charles, Cobbs, Chapman, anyone else.......? My guess is Cobbs is their guy, but he has a long ways to go, no?
Kevin Darcy

My guess would be the same as yours, because quite honestly I am intrigued by Cobbs' mix of size, speed and athletic ability. Coming from an archaic offense in college he has had to work hard to acclimate himself to a pro passing game, including pass protection. If he has taken large strides in that area I think he could be the guy, otherwise I think there is an open battle there that will include Chapman. While he's done well in Europe, I still think he has a lot to prove. And the I think the reason Cobbs was kept here rather than being sent to Europe is that they wanted him to work in their system, with their coaches, in order to help him make the pro adjustment. While Chapman, an undrafted player out of Jacksonville State, has to prove that he can physically compete at the NFL level, I think Cobbs' questions are less about the physical tools and more about the mental transition and ability to grasp an NFL system.
Andy Hart

I'm as happy as the next person that Troy Brown was brought back, but this move makes the wide receiver position on the Patriots too crowded. Someone obviously has to go, and the choice won't be easy. Besides Deion Branch and David Givens as the starters, there is no one I see with a definite role. I don't think they'd cut David Terrell after signing him earlier this offseason. Also I don't think it would be smart cutting Bethel Johnson or P.K. Sam yet; Bethel seems to keep improving while Sam has a lot of potential. Jake Schifino is obviously a long shot to make the team, along with NFL Europe allocations Ricky Bryant and Cedric James. Then there's Tim Dwight who might be the odd man out, although I think he's a better punt returner than Troy Brown. Keeping 6 WR's on a team is questionable, and there's no way Belichick will keep 7. How do you see this playing out?
Jay Corbeille

As you said, it will play out. We all know there will be injuries in camp and some of these decisions will be easy. After that, as I said earlier, I think there will be a very good battle at wide receiver. I reserve the right to change my mind (and this isn't taking into account injuries or reserve-type lists), but as of right now I say Branch, Givens, Terrell, Brown, Johnson and Sam are all on the opening day roster. But a lot can happen between now and September.
Andy Hart

What do you guys know about our 3rd round pick, Nick Kaczur? I haven't seen much about him in the papers since the draft. I did read however that he did not stick around for the rookie camp and that he was drafted in the first round of the CFL draft. Any chance he goes home to Canada to play ball instead of signing with the Patriots? Thanks guys. Joe Hall

Considering the big difference in pay between the CFL and the NFL, I doubt very much that Kaczur would turn down a shot in New England for a career north of the border. And just to clarify things, Kaczur left rookie camp to return home to deal with a death in his family. It wasn't a situation, as you characterized it, where he "did not stick around." I fully expect Kaczur to sign with the Patriots and fight for playing time over the next couple of seasons.
Andy Hart

Congratulations to OTIS Smith for being able to finish his career as a PATRIOT. When my fellow pat-fan friend told me of his one day sign/retire move. Immediately the first thing that came to mind was his Fum Ret TD in AFC Champ against Jags. The crowd at Foxboro as loud as ever for that game. My friend then reminded me of his unbelievable efforts in SBXXXVI and how he almost stole the MVP for that game (I thought it should go to Law & Smith for stopping the greatest show on TURF). OTIS, we will never forget you and you will always be known to me and my friends simply as--My Man. Thank you
Brian Silva

It's the support and memories like that, Brian, that made Smith want to retire as a Patriot. Well said and I share your congratulations to Smith for a very long, productive, well-deserved NFL career.
Andy Hart

Hi Guys, There is no doubt in my mind Belichick can run the offense effectively - I have a huge amount of respect for this undisputable football genius. However, running the offense is not his only job, being a head coach is a 15hr/day job and being an offensive coordinator is a 15hr/day job, so how will he be able to handle both? In my opinion the risk that excessive pressure and long hours will be too much for Belichick to handle long term is the biggest risk the Patriots currently face (even more than a Brady injury - the # 2 risk). The Patriots are not facing a bunch of pansies this season; each game has the potential to rival the intensity and sophistication of the 2005 post-season. Watching all that film, creating/adjusting the plays, running the practice drills so all the players know what they are doing and, (oh yeah I almost forgot), being the head coach - the amount of work seems incomprehensible to me. A head coach/offensive coordinator that gives up the notion of sleep does not sound to me like a recipe for success. I hope you have some words of encouragement that somehow for a guy like Bill Belichick this is no big deal! Len LaPadula Amherst, NH
P.S. In his last journal, Kory Chapman alluded that B.B. is looking for a new offensive coordinator; do you think he knows something we don't?

Wish I could help you out, but I am also concerned with Belichick's ability to handle the play calling duties as head coach. I think he will be OK in managing all the game planning and weekly preparation, but I wonder if his focus will be split during the games. Will he be able to turn his back to the field and work with the offense at times on the sidelines? Will he be distracted from the field while trying to help the defense on the sidelines? Will he be successful in adjusting his play calling, sensing trends, reacting and getting a play calling feel for the game? These are the questions that I have. I think he has all the ability and knowledge to do both jobs, but I still think there will be a transition period and that splitting his focus on game days will be a challenge. And as far as the Chapman comment, I think he was just referencing the fact that Charlie Weis is no longer with the team. I don't think he knows anything more than that. There will not be a new offensive coordinator hired before next offseason. I can virtually guarantee that.
Andy Hart

Now that OTIS has retired, can you please explain exactly what a one-day contract that is meant for retirement involves? (pay etc)Roger Guay

A one-day contract is really a formality so that players can "retire" with a certain team. There is no real money involved because there is no signing bonus or anything of that nature. It's merely procedural and sentimental paperwork.
Andy Hart

Thanks PFW for looking at the question. Where is Kliff Kingsbury right now?
Christopher Tansey

Kingsbury is with the New Orleans Saints. He spent last season on the team's practice squad. Some reports out of New Orleans state that Kingsbury could battle veteran Todd Bouman for the backup job behind starter Aaron Brooks this season, although the team also drafted Adrian McPherson in April.
Andy Hart

For those down on the acquisition of Doug Flutie, I would like to remind them of the fantastic job Damon Huard did (2003) each week in practice emulating the opposing quarterback for the following weeks game. Who better than Doug Flutie to fill this role for the 2005 season? Just check out the schedule and look at the quarterbacks the PATS will be facing this season. Who can you think of that would better serve this role?Bob Robertson

While I am not necessarily a huge fan of the Flutie signing, I don't think it hurts. He has plenty of experience and if that gets put to use running the scout team then that is a good thing. You would definitely be hard pressed to find a veteran backup quarterback to fill such a role with more experience in all levels of football and all systems than Flutie.
Andy Hart

Most Patriot fans have only one doubt about getting three in a row this year and its clearly the play calling for the offence. We have not heard anything about it so far and it's as if it's not a problem at all? The dynasty is far from fading out but we need some one to call the plays. Hopefully you can give me some insight on this topic going into the 2005 season. Is Tom Brady going to be a Marino or is Bill ready to be a Walsh ? We hate to question the Patriots coaching but we need some sleep at night !Roscoe Lallier

It is my understanding that Belichick will be calling the plays in games come September. Beyond that, and whether that will be a successful filling of that role or not, I don't have much more to add. Belichick had experience calling the plays in Cleveland but that was a long time ago. Only time will tell how that works out here and what effect it will have on the Patriots offensive production in 2005.
Andy Hart

I listen to the show every week, and you guys do a great job (the sound bites crack me up). I just had a quick question about 3 games to glory. I was thinking about picking it up, but I was wondering if it features the complete Super Bowl. I have another Pats DVD that does, but the 3 Games to Glory sounds like it has pretty good extra features. Does it have the whole Super Bowl on it? Thanks guys!
Justin York

3 Games to Glory III does in fact include every play from the last Super Bowl, as well as endless amounts of extra footage and behind-the-scenes action that make it a must-have for all Patriots fans. (And in case you didn't know, my boss was involved with its production, so this answer should keep him happy. But it does really have footage of every play from the game.)
Andy Hart

I know 3 Super Bowls with Tom Brady as the QB can make so many of us forget what Drew Bledsoe did for the Patriots. He had some really good years and made some exciting plays. He was basically a big part of the foundation that initiated such a huge fan base, along with of course, the new ownership. Tom was the right move and he truly is so special (best QB by far in the league - doesn't need Peyton Manning's Dome stats to prove that, just the Super Bowl Rings). But, there still is a spot in the football heart for Drew. When he played for Buffalo I wanted his team to flop only because it was a divisional team. Now that he's in Dallas though I'm so pulling for him and his team to do well. How do you think he will fair in Dallas?Judy B

I am also pulling for Drew to have success in Dallas, but my analytical side thinks he is done. I just think the years of pounding and sacks have taken their toll on Bledsoe, both mentally and physically. I wish Drew luck in Dallas, I just think he is just about at the end of the road of his NFL career. But the memories of him slinging the ball around in New England in the mid-90s remain untarnished in my mind.
Andy Hart

Hey guys, thanks for keeping us fans informed and semi-sane during the lean months. Two quick questions: is the passing camp in June open to the public, and is there any word yet on the schedules for training camps later in the summer? Thanks again.Chris W.

The June mini camp is not open to the public, although it is open to the media so you will be able to read all about the mandatory camp right here on and in the pages of Patriots Football Weekly. As for training camp, I haven't heard any exact dates just yet, but as you probably know the last week of July is when it generally kicks off here at Gillette Stadium.
Andy Hart

Great job with the site, an excellent source of information for the rabid fan. Quick question, in the early part of the spring I had heard a lot of chatter about the Pats switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3 front. But based on all the moves they have made at LB (Beisel, Brown, Claridge, etc.) is that likely? Certainly there is great strength with the quality of talent up front (Seymour, Warren, Wilfork, Green, etc.) but why switch from something that has been so successful? Is this a knee jerk reaction to the uncertainty of Bruschi? And if a change does happen, how will it affect the DB's? I would think (in my uneducated opinion) that the 3-4 is a more aggressive, attacking approach (leaving the corners in more 1 on 1 coverage) while the 4-3 seeks to control the line of scrimmage and "flood the box" (allowing for better zone coverage). Thanks for your thoughts and September 8th can't get here fast enough.Mathew Varughese

With the number of linebackers the team has added this spring I think they are well stocked to remain in the 3-4. While the team will remain multiple in its fronts, as it has been over the last few seasons, the 3-4 front will still be the base its starts from. As Belichick said earlier this spring, the 3-4 will still be the first thing the defensive players are taught when they arrive in New England. Then they go from there. I think the talk of switching to the 4-3 on a more regular basis was pure speculation and never really got much consideration with those who matter, those working within the walls of Gillette Stadium.
Andy Hart

With the roster cuts likely being tight this year, do the Pats really need to dedicate 1/53rd of their roster to a guy (i.e. Lonie Paxton) whose one-and-only function is to snap the ball deep 5-10 times a game? The way BB values versatility, you'd think he'd find a 3rd TE or backup C or G or something who could both be a starting OL/TE in a pinch while at the same time acting as long snapper. I mean, it can't be that hard, can it? Virtually every one of the hundreds of NCAA teams out there manage to find a guy who can snap the ball long. Why can't the C simply act as long snapper? I just don't get it. Do most teams actually reserve a whole roster spot exclusively for the long snapper? I'd just really hate to see the Pats let go of a young developmental guy (i.e. the next Stephen Neal) or veteran depth (i.e. Chad Scott or even Troy Brown) in favor of keeping a guy who only long snaps.Thomas Bonneau

The job is that hard and a guy as good as Lonie Paxton is that valuable. With tight games and competitive nature of most NFL contests, the three points a team can get with a field goal are worth a single roster spot. As we have seen in recent years missed kicks and bad snaps cost teams games and playoff spots. The Patriots are lucky to have two of the best in Adam Vinatieri and Paxton. That isn't something that should change, regardless of how tight the battle for roster spots becomes. Until a backup can prove he can be as good as Paxton, nothing will change. So what's the lesson here? Parents, teach your kids to long snap. If they are good at it they can parlay it into long, lucrative NFL careers.
Andy Hart

I guess I should say first off that I am an avid fan of Army, but I wish success on any service academy player; oh, and I have some questions, too. First of all, I've heard it said that right now Eckel is the only "true" fullback on the Pats' roster. Is this true? And if so what does that really mean? Second, is there any word on Navy's plan to allow him to play? Third, considering his circumstances, could the deck be anymore stacked in Eckel's favor for him to make the team? Fourth, would Belichick ever allow Eckel the opportunity to make the fullback position cool again? Peace out.
Brendan Jones

The question with Eckel surrounds his blocking ability. He's proven to be a strong runner and good athlete with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons at Navy. If he can show solid blocking ability to go along with his running skills and potential contributions in the passing game I think he might have a chance to stick. Based on what Eckel said during rookie camp, if he makes the roster he thinks the Navy will allow him to play this season. And considering Belichick's ties to the Naval Academy and respect of the military way of life, I think Eckel will be given every shot to earn a job as his only real competition is tailback/special teamer-turned-fullback Patrick Pass. Now whether Eckel can make the fullback position cool again, that might be a much greater challenge. I will be rooting for it though.
Andy Hart

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