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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Thu Apr 22 | 02:00 PM - 11:59 PM

Ask PFW: Your football buffet

Here we go. The questions came from everywhere this week. We got readers insulting other readers and defending some others. It's becoming a free-for-all so I tried to rope it all in. Yes, it looks like Terrell Buckley could be coming back. And Chris in Franklin. I'm not sure I like you, but I hope I passed your test.

I am the smartest person ever. I can't believe how dumb your other readers are. You should have a special Arrogant S.O.B. Edition of AskPFW just for me. Why do you answer such stupid (i.e. not mine) questions? I have two questions: What position does Bill Belichick play? and will Mike Cloud be the offensive Coordinator once Charlie Weis is gone?I figured you guys could just run this at the top of your column and save the space.

Bryan McBryan Bryanham
Barrington, R.I.

You figured right. We have to be polite you know. People, we are trying to provide a service for all of you, even those who might be new to football. Sorry if we insult some of the more knowledgeable fans by answering questions like the free safety/strong safety one a few weeks back. Hopefully we can do enough to keep you all interested, but if not your opinions are always welcomed. We love you all in our happy place.

Hello guys! First of all I am living in Europe and until a few years ago I wasn't very familiar with the football played in US. I became a Patriot fan since the Super Bowl XXXVI. I was so impressed about the Cinderella story of Tom Brady. After that I start watching every game broadcasted in Romania and read everything about the Patriots Nations. I want to congratulate you for the work you're doing. I really hope that next year the Patriots will become World Champions once again.
Mihai
Bucharest, Romania

Thanks Mihai. Welcome to Patriots Land. You picked a good time to follow them.

Question for you: Assume we have Rosie healthy, Willie Mac healthy, Vrabel healthy, Johnson healthy, Bruschi healthy, Klecko "groomed" and healthy, Chatham healthy...who are our four starting linebackers come September and why? Just looking for your opinion on which players strengths would work best together. Thanks guys! (If you lived in South Boston you wouldn't get much sleep either!)
Sleepless in South Boston
Boston, Mass.

My four linebackers would probably be Johnson and Bruschi inside and Vrabel and Colvin outside. That's a tough call because I think you can change Phifer with either Bruschi or Johnson. Bruschi has been very productive and just has to be in my lineup, and while he can play on the strong side, I like him on the weak side a little better. Johnson has more experience on the inside and particularly on the strong side than Phifer, which is why, in your idealistic-everybody-is-perfectly-healthy world, I go with Ted, but Phifer would also play a lot. On the edges, Colvin is a young pass rusher who is ideal for a 3-4 outside linebacker position. He can stand up and line up on the end with his hand down and has excellent rush skills. Vrabel is a similar type player and may not be quite as quick as Colvin. McGinest had a terrific season last year, but his health concerns me if I had to depend on him on an every down basis again this year. Like Phifer, he would get plenty of playing time, but I would manage it, which is why the other two would get the nod as starters. That's why the age of this position isn't alarming yet. There is talented depth and all these guys can play and are virtually interchangeable even though they have different strengths and weaknesses. I'm not sure Dan Klecko can be an every down linebacker yet. We'll have to see him there, but at 280 pounds, he's a little heavy for that spot. Levon Kirkland probably played at that weight, but he had ridiculous freak-like speed for a player that size. I like Chatham in his current role. He's featured on teams and can fill in when needed at linebacker and can contribute. Watch for Tully Banta-Cain's improvement.

How good is our front lint at creating holes for Dillon to run through? I know Smith wasn't much of a feature back, but you have to wonder if that may have been a product of the offense not creating lanes for him to run through? How good do you think we are up front in that regard?
Jeremy J
Exeter, N.H.

It's always a combination of things. Great runners generally have a way of making offensive lines look better and great lines make runners look better. I think the Patriots had an OK line with an OK runner, which made the running game just OK. Sometimes it was good and sometimes it wasn't. What I like about the Patriots line is that when the game plan really calls for them to get physical and they are challenged by a physical front, those guys up front generally play well and answer the challenge. Look at the games against Tennessee last year or the Super Bowl against Carolina. They won the physical battles against defensive fronts that most would agree had an edge in overall talent. Against the Colts, they also got physical and beat that team up. I think Smith was the same way. When it was time to step up and play physical and run over a defense, he did a decent job. When he was trying to be a big-play runner, he didn't do a very good job. The Patriots front line should get some credit this year with Dillon running behind it, but will it be Dillon's doing or the line's? That question will come into this forum in September. The Patriots front plays with an attitude when it needs to. Guys like Joe Andruzzi and Matt Light make sure of it.

You guys are pretty good at answering all the questions regarding trade deals, free agency, statistics and other stupid ones pertaining to nothing. I'm curious about your knowledge of the actual game. I'm talkin X's and O's here. So I'm gonna put you to the test and quiz you because I already know the answer. (so put away the cheat sheets, and random statistical analysis, and take out your #2 pencil.) Can you describe the roles of all DB's in a cover 2 defense compared to their roles in a cover 3 and cover 4 when the D is aligned in a base 3-4? Sorry to put you on the spot but I figured it would be kinda fun.(oh yeah, one more thing. If you don't post this with an answer i'll go under the assumption that you know nothing about the actual game of football and I will NEVER check this page again and I will CANCEL my subscription). Good Luck!!
Chris
Franklin, Mass.

OK tough guy. That's very mature of you. But since I can sink to any maturity level I take the bait. I'll take the first part of your comments as a compliment. But when I answer this, I will check to see if you subscribe and if you don't, you have to for five years. That's fair right? I mean you're making threats and all so be the tough guy you are and back it up. You know what happens when you assume right? Anyway, to your question. A cover two is a two-deep zone where the safties are responsible for the deep halves of the field and the corners the outside short zone (curl and flat area). You have five underneath zone defenders each responsible for an area. In a cover 3, both corners and the free safety are deep defenders and you have four underneath zone defenders, which in this case of your base 3-4 would include three LBs and the SS. In cover 4 the deep part of the field is split in four with the CBs and safeties all matching up with the vertical receivers and the LBs playing zone underneath. It's awfully big of you, though, to apologize for putting us on the spot. Thanks and I hope you enjoy reading the paper and checking this page EVERY WEEK.

Hey guys great column. I get a kick out of reading it every week. One of the best parts is when guys go off about how stupid some of the questions you guys answer are. They don't seem to realize that we all started learning about football at the same level, and that these "dumb questions" are being asked by people who support the team, and will grow as fans.Now that I am done with the Hallmark moment, I would like to propose something to drive those people batty. People should try and email the dumbest question to you each week to make sure these people keep getting cheesed off. I would like to start this off with the following question:"I have heard and read in many football articles, the Pats receivers being referred to as the 'Smurfs' due to their small size. If you had to assign one of the Smurf's names to a Pats receiver, what would it be and why? For example as the elder statesman of the group Troy Brown would be Papa Smurf..etc"

Marc Boucher
Moncton, NB
Canada

That would certainly start the ball rolling. Oh man. I mean, the real Smurfs? Pick some names – Handy, Vanity, Brainy? Sad that I remember even those. Now, the Smurfs were the Redskins receivers in the 80s. I asked David Patten a couple of years ago for a nickname and he came up with the Runts – like the candy. He said is was because they were small, but were hard on the outside. Go with that one. The Runts.

Should Gino Cappelletti be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame? Also, Is there a way for fans to contact those who vote on the players to get into the Hall?
Murph
Kingston, Mass.

I think Gino should be in, but I am biased. But fans can nominate someone for consideration. This was taken from profootballhof.com:
"Any fan may nominate any qualified person who has been connected with pro football in any capacity simply by writing to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The only restriction is that a player must have been retired at least five years before he can be considered. For example, a candidate for the 2004 class must have concluded his career not later than the 1998 season.
For a non-player, there is no mandatory retirement period, but a coach must be retired before he may be considered. Every nomination received will be processed and forwarded to the Board of Selectors.
It is important to emphasize that the Hall of Fame itself has no say whatsoever as to who is or is not elected to membership. The only function of the staff is to process the nominations as they arrive and to coordinate the annual meeting."
That site also lists all the voters. Good luck.

With all this talk of Cedric Cobbs and Corey Dillion, what ever happened to Kevin Faulk. Is he still on the roster and if he is will he just play special teams. Thanks for all the great stuff you guys put out. I hope you can answer this!!!
Brett
Portage, Mich.

Brett, you had a couple of good questions this week. Kevin re-signed with the club and is expected to be a significant part of the offense as a third down back and to spell Corey Dillon occasion. I don't think Kevin will ever be the every down back on this team and think he is more effective when his strengths are accented and his weaknesses minimized. His limitations might get exposed a bit when he is asked to do too much. So I think that Cedric Cobbs or Mike Cloud might be better suited to be a true backup running back in the case that Dillon was hurt and out for an extended period. But Faulk is still here and should continue to fill a big role as a change-of-pace runner and a receiver out or the backfield, a role he excels in.

Hi. I LAUGHED LIKE CRAZY at the QUESTION where the poster MIXED THE capitals. YOU GUYS are so funny. DON"T STOP THE HUMOR. Anyway, I have a question. The Pats just waived a DT Louis Gachelin. Is that the same thing as putting him on waivers? If he's not taken by another team, will he be eligible for the practice squad? Is there a limit to the number of players on the PS? Also, you stated the P.K. Sam may end up there. Does that mean you think he will clear waivers? PS THANKS FOR POSTING THE "DUMB" QUESTIONS. I'm one of those fans who benefit.
April
Bridgewater, Mass.

You are welcome April. That Paul Perillo is a funny guy. It's something in the water in Peabody. The practice squad is not formed until after final cuts in September or late August. After all cuts clear waivers, players who are eligible may be signed to a team's practice squad. The limit was five, but was changed to 8 players this spring. Gachelin would be eligible as of now, but if he got cut in May before even making it to June mini-camp, I would say that his chances of being re-signed to the practice squad in September are pretty slim. I don't think PK Sam would clear waivers if he was released so I don't think there is a realistic chance that he will be on the practice squad. But I may be buying into the local hype surrounding him. He was, after all, a fifth round pick.

Hi guys, I'm a long time reader and first time questioner! And yes, the name of the town that I live in really is called "Celebration". (Insert: "Kool and the Gang" song or joke here!) But seriously, in last week's "Ask PFW" you mentioned that this year's practice squad roster has expanded in size. The roster size had been set at five players for several years. What has it been increased to now? I would think that for a team with a lot of quality roster depth, like the Patriots seem to have, that this might be a very good thing? Do you have any thoughts on this subject? And now it's suck-up time...keep up the fantastic work on the finest football periodical this side of the Yukon...and for that matter, on the other side too!
Ken
Celebration, Fla.

Celebration was my Karaoke song in college. No wonder my wife fell in love with me in that establishment. Anyway, as I mentioned, the practice squad limit is now 8. Do I think that gives the Patriots advantage? It's only an advantage if you evaluate better than the other teams and find some players who you can develop. Some teams use the practice squad to grab players to practice with for the main purpose of taking reps and not asking starters to do too much during the week. The Patriots are one of the teams that look to develop players. It's more of a developmental squad for them rather than a practice squad. I think that increasing the total to 8 can be good if it's used well. Will they find some more Tom Ashworths and Russ Hochtseins? Not that these guys are All-Pros, but they contributed last year for a championship team and both spent time on the Patriots practice squad. So I guess, to answer your question, it can help them down the line, but those players are always eligible to sign with another team.

Thanks guys for helping with my football withdrawal symptoms. What is your opinion on why there is this perception that the Pats are building their team on the cheap just because they don't operate like Snyder does. When I last checked they still were spending right up to the cap limit. One more question, is there a limit to the period of time a player is considered a June 1 cut. Was Lawyer Milloy a June 1 cut? Thanks and keep up the good work.
Chris
Peabody, Mass.

The Patriots get that reputation because they don't seem to want to pay out huge signing bonuses to so-called star players. Yes they spend to the cap, but if you look at annual cash payouts, they don't usually rank near the top of the league. It's all accounting because every dime you pay will someday count against the cap and the Patriots do spend to the cap. They just do it by sharing the wealth. I think they have more than 20 players earning $1 million or more. It's not an all-or-nothing team like it was when Belichick got here. In his first year, they had about a dozen undrafted rookie free agents on the roster. I think they had one last year (Shawn Mayer). They've created a more balanced and deeper roster by sharing the wealth. They may not boast the most talented players 1-25 in the league, but they would likely be near the top when measuring 1-53. The Patriots also try to avoid precedent-setting bonuses that will force their hand down the line and leave them with an unmanageable cap situation. If they gave Damien Woody $9 million in bonus money, what would they have to give Light? Seymour? Where does it end? They get criticized for their philosophy seemingly as much as Daniel Snyder does for over-spending the other way. I can tell you that the Patriots are probably not the first place agents call when shopping their clients. Ty Law was the highest paid corner last year in terms of cap value and Adam Vinatieri was the highest paid kicker. Others like Brady and Colvin rank near the top of their respective positions in terms of salary. Should they have the highest paid at each position? People that criticize their spending approach don't have to manage a salary cap and haven't won two championships in three years thanks largely to a deep roster capable of sustaining a high level of play through injuries. They could manipulate it for a time and they do to a degree by guaranteeing salaries to push back cap hits, but you always have to pay the piper. The bottom line is that the Patriots pay more people more money rather than pay a few people most of the money. You're not going to change perception. Some won't be satisfied until the Patriots are paying all their guys top dollar the way they did back in the mid to late 90s. Law, Johnson, McGinest, Lane, Rucci, etc. What motivates players? There is a ton of risk in paying out huge bonus money and some will get it. Most won't. Call them cheap. I don't think they care. They pay market value. Do you know Paul Perillo? He's from Peabody.

Hey guys, I don't like to think too far into the future, but I just read an informative article describing the Pats' recent contract moves in order to free up cap room for this season. I know that managing the cap is a season-to-season ordeal, but it seems that by "solving" this year's problems the Pats have set themselves up for an even worse situation next year. Any prognostication on what the cap situation will be going into the 2005 season?... No? hmmm, never mind.
Andy CAP
Beantown, Mass.

Well Andy Cap, you mustn't be from Boston. Bostonians rarely call it Beantown. I don't know what the cap situation will be next year, but it will be similar to this year. They will get some contracts – Milloy, Smith off of it, but they will always have a fair amount of dead money because that's the system. These moves they've made recently are not crippling types of moves, but rather minor adjustments. It's not like they are taking John Elway's $7 million salary and guaranteeing it and adding three years to his deal when they know he will retire at the end of the year resulting in a major cap acceleration. These are all pretty small moves and the hits will come over time. Troy Brown's will likely come next year with about $750,000 of dead money while Vrabel's will come further down the line. They will up against the cap next year and every year, but it will remain manageable because they haven't signed any debilitating deals. That's why they get called cheap.

Do you know what the plans are this year for the tight end situation? The Pats went and drafted Ben Watson when they had a good tight end core in Daniel Graham and Christian Fauria. Not really sure what their plans are with Fauria being the oldest of the group. Graham has had some problem with his hands. But I heard that he has been working hard in the offseason. If the plan is to keep Fauria, I'm not sure that picking up Watson 1st rounds 32pick was a wise choice, taking in account the problems with Ty Law, it seems that the Pats could have pick up a better replacement even if Law is there this year. Thanks for addressing this question I'm sure that other were wondering the same thing.
Eric Bouza
Pueblo West, Colo.

The Patriots felt the value was good there for Watson. What can I tell you? Fauria is in the last year of his contract and will likely be gone after the season. He is a nice player, to be sure, and has tremendous hands, but he lacks the speed that Graham and Watson bring to the table and is more of a short-pass type of tight end who lacks some of the versatility of the other two in terms of running all kinds of routes. That said, he has proven to the most reliable player at the position. Graham has been inconsistent to say the least. He still has potential and talent to be an impact player at that position, but adding Watson gives the team two of those types. They are TEs who can block and create mismatches down the field for big-play opportunities. They both need to show consistent hands. All will have a role in 2004, but it's impossible to predict how quickly Watson will work his way in as a rookie. Fauria will likely keep the seat warm this year and then head to unrestricted free agency after the season. Assuming the guy was worth the 32nd pick, and I don't evaluate college talent, I think it could be a real solid choice and add another weapon to a diverse offense. They have stockpiled corners in case Law is gone. I don't think they could have drafted a player at Watson's spot that would replace Law any better than anyone on the current roster.

Great job guys, I love reading your answers. I have a quick question. In your opinion, based on the Draft choices, transactions that have occurred so far and the upcoming schedule how far do you think the Pats will go this year. Will this team be able to repeat?
Kumar
Hackettstown, N.J.

Let's see. Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the best team in football? Kumar. I think they have as good a chance as anybody to win it, but the odds of repeating are certainly stacked against them. The experience of having defended a title two years ago will help them. They are not on cloud nine in preparing for 2004 the way they were for 2002. But the defending champ is always pegged as the best team coming back. No one was going to beat Tampa and that defense last year, but teams did. What the heck, my crystal ball says they will it all. So go with it. Just don't make any real bets that could get you in trouble.

Hey guys. I am probably the only Pats fan for 200 miles (the rest are Vikings/Broncos/Chiefs fans) and I read Ask PFW every week. Just wanted to know what does the receiver corps do to improve their abilities during the offseason? Thanks and keep up the good work.
Mike Jensen
Sioux Falls, S.D.

They train in the weight room to get faster, stronger and more durable. They watch film to study their techniques and route-running nuances. They work with the quarterbacks running routes to improve their timing and they catch balls from the jugs machine to keep their hands sharp or improve upon them.

Guys, thanks for this forum - it certainly keeps us transplanted Pats fans in touch. Some quick questions: There are bunch of us in the Las Vegas area planning to go to AZ in week 2, do the Patriots have "official" fan clubs in other cities? If so, is there one in Phoenix we can coordinate a great big tailgate party? Lastly, at some point after the SB 36 victory a 3D version of the championship ring was posted on the website, are there plans to do the same for SB 38's ring?
Mark
Henderson, Nev.

There is a huge Patriots Fan Club in Arizona. There are no "official" Patriots fan clubs, but the one in Arizona is highly active. Their website is www.nepfca.com/Patriots/. Also, the team gets its rings in June 13. I'm sure we'll have an image of it on the site that evening.

Hey guys. Quick question, no right answer: who's your favorite "unsung" Patriot of the past 20 years, say someone of the Mosi Tatupu or Marty Moore mold? Thanks!
Chris Warner
Bronx, N.Y.

Can Troy Brown qualify? He's not unsung anymore, but he was for a period of time. He's my pick.

Are the pats thinking about using more 4-3 set with there being so many d-line men on the team?
Roscoe
Bradford, N.H.

Roscoe, you should have had the spin-off show instead of Enos. Who was Enos to get his own show? You had the dog and you were the boss. You have an original name sir and I apologize for my weak attempt at unoriginal humor. The Pats will continue to play a combination of 3-4 and 4-3. They are a multiple front team, but their base will be a 3-4. While they seem to have a group of solid linemen and excellent depth, most of the guys are defensive tackle types that play the end in a 3-4. The linebacking corps has been built for a 3-4 with McGinest, Vrabel and Banta-Cain better suited for that front. Colvin is probably the most interchangeable in terms of 3-4 and 4-3. McGinest would have to be an end in a 4-3 and I'm not sure how effective he'd be as a run defender with his hand down anymore. Vrabel played outside in a 4-3 for much of 2002 and even late in 2001, but is more effective in a 3-4. Phifer would be better suited as an OLB in a 4-3 while I don't think it matters to Bruschi and Johnson. Most of the linemen could play either front and will do so. But Belichick has built his team to be a 3-4 base defense.

Paul - You were asked who you believed would be the top 5 receivers to make the Pats team and you said Brown, Branch, Givens, Patten and Johnson with PK Sam going to the practice squad.My concerns with trying to put Sam on the Practice squad is this:1) The Patriots have to waive him and anyone can claim him2) Anyone can sign a practice squad player after they have cleared waivers.There was almost an audible groan over the TV set when PK Sam's name was announced by the Patriots. The kid was very highly touted and many rumors had him being a low 1st round pick next year had he stayed in school. There were numerous teams lining up to try and take him in the 5th round.My question is this: With this other information and the fact that cutting Patten would save the Pats about a million against the cap, do you still think that the Patriots try to put Sam on the Practice squad?

DaBruinz
Upland, Calif.

I disagree with Paul on this one. Sam will either make the team, get cut and sign elsewhere or get hurt and end up on IR. I think the potential exists to keep six receivers, although that's tough given that most of them don't contribute in kick or punt coverage, but rather only as returners. I don't think Sam would clear waivers, but don't forget, he was a fifth round pick so everybody had plenty of chances to select him. So let's not overvalue the guy. I have bought into the hype that he could be a steal and I thought he looked good during rookie camp. That's why I disagree with Paulie Paul.

hey guys! quick question, im a huge bruschi fan and since its his last contracted season with us(ahhhhh), do you think he'llre-sign with us or retire or go into free agency? scary thought, thanks guys! keep it up!!

Julie
Peabody, Mass.

I think Tedy Bruschi will re-sign here and finish his career here assuming he remains productive. He negotiates his own contracts and my guess is that after eight years, he will try to stay as long as he feels the Patriots aren't trying to put the screws to him financially. Do you know Paul Perillo? He's from Peabody.

Hey how about y'all not leave out the southern Patriots fan and post a question for me for once! The Pats are notoriously known for dumping HUGE names and making them cap casualties. After reading that Troy Brown's contract had been extended who might be the odd man out this year looking to wear a new uniform? Also how long do you see Corey Dillon wearing a Pats uniform? and do you see the Pats in the near future looking to lock up a young gun, or is Cedric Cobbs the possible answer???? Dont leave me out...I want people to know that the Pats are well represented here in Carolina (Panthers were lucky anyway to make it that far!).
Matt
Beaufort, "The" South Carolina

Notorious for dumping HUGE names? They cut Lawyer. They traded Drew after Tom Brady emerged and in doing so avoided a never-ending controversy. Who else? Are you counting Armstrong or Coates? Armstrong retired and Ben Coates played one more season and caught 8 passes. It comes to an end for everybody. I don't know if I would describe them as notorious for whacking big names. Will there be a surprise cut at the end of training camp? Probably. Maybe one of these older players will have finally lost a step. You think the Jets thought Marvin Jones and Mo Lewis would lose a little last year? You just never know when that will happen to a guy. I think Dillon is here for two years. I haven't seen Cobbs to know if he can be the replacement or if another player will have to be obtained to run the ball down the line. Sorry on that one.

Two Questions.....Has there ever been an Arena Football player to make it to the Patriots team -even if they failed to make the team?.....and the 2nd question is that Corey Dillon will be wearing no. 28 jersey, the same number Curtis Martin did and I hope Corey has similar success in the backfield...What other players (RBs) wore no. 28 for the Patriots?.....I am the biggest fan in Pennsylvania for the Pats and subscribe to Patriots Football Weekly and love to read all of the articles and opinions of all 3 of the greatest knowledgeable patriot information writers to be known to man!!
Wayne German
Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

Defensive lineman Bernard Holsey played Arena Football and for the 2002 Patriots and David Patten also played. I couldn't tell you if any guys who never made the team played. Shane Stafford was a guy the Patriots allocated to Europe who played Arena ball, but he never even made it to training camp. The following players have worn No. 28 for the Patriots and all except Martin are defensive backs: Dave Cloutier, David Hendley, Corey Ivy, Dion Lambert, Curtis Martin, Dave Mason and Art McMahon.

First off you guys do a great job keep it going! My question is about the Patriots secondary. Assuming Ty Law is with the Patriots next season how do you see the secondary shaping up with the addition of veterans Jeff Burris and Otis Smith. Also do you think BB and Romeo are considering moving Eugene Wilson to CB (I hope not!). And despite Tyrone Poole's surprising season last year I was wondering if Asante Samuel is ready to step into the starting role of CB for this team. Thanks for your patience and keep up the great work! See you in sec 136!
Connecticut Patriots Fan
Darien, Conn.

Had a few questions on this topic CPF in 136. It also looks like Terrell Buckley could be headed back this way. I think that Law and either Samuel or Poole will start with Wilson and Harrison starting at safety. Either Poole or Samuel will be the nickel. That leaves Burris, Smith, possibly Buckley as well as the rookie safeties Reid and Scott along with Shawn Mayer. I didn't count Je'Rod Cherry because he is a special teamer only. I would say that at least two of those guys get cut and at least one from the group of Burris, Smith and Buckley and maybe two of those three. I don't know how Samuel has progressed, but I would say that a year in the system and a year in the offseason program has helped him and he will be better. I think he will be given every chance to win the starting job.

Your column is great. I am wondering how Rodney Harrison is recovering from his broken arm and if he will be play this year? I believe he was one of the keys to the Pats success last year and would be sorely missed if not able to return. Thank you.
Bart
Rockland, Maine

Rodney is doing well and is apparently fully recovered. Pick up the latest issue of Patriots Football Weekly for Paul Perillo's story on Rodney. That's his boy. His new Drew if you will.

Given the current problems with Ty Law and his pending free agency, wouldn't it make sense to try and trade him before the start of the season or else he ends up like Lawyer Milloy and the Patriots get nothing for him. In my opinion, I think the Pats could deal him to the Raiders in exchange for one of their many behemoth offensive linemen. Something the PATS could probably use.
Michael Vigean
Marlboro, Mass.

Good luck. First off, Ty is not a pending free agent. He is under contract through 2005. Also, why would a team trade for him unless it knows it can sign him to a reasonable contract. The Raiders already have a cornerback represented by the Postons (Law's agents) who they have unable to reach an agreement with and have had to franchise (Charles Woodson). Also, why do you want to trade one of the best corners in the league. If Bill Belichick has no problem with him being here, I sure don't. He never called me a liar even if he did question my integrity in a recent conversation. I think that's OK though because I've probably questioned his too.

Do you think with the signing of the "old" corners (Smith and Burris) and the drafting of the young free safety (Reid), that the Pats are determined to have flexibility at the free safety position (allowing them to move Wilson to CB) just in case Law proves to be too much trouble once camp starts. Or do you think they're just signing and a draft pick that made sense regardless of the Law situation?
Dean Chandler
Aurora, Calif.

I think Belichick was uneasy with the lack of depth in the secondary last year and is making sure that he has more flexibility this year. I believe he will leave Wilson at safety unless a move back to corner becomes necessary. He liked the coverage ability that Wilson gave him from that spot that allowed him to stay with four defensive backs in some passing situations. He could match Wilson up with a receiver from his safety position and leave his linebackers on the field to defend the run. Belichick likes to have experienced depth and those guys give him that.

The hard work and dedication you and writers put forth is surely admirable. Keeping us loyal Pats Fans in the loop allows me to sleep at night. Now please just answer a few ?. Pretty please with snow from the 2001 Raiders game on top. This is my 5th time asking ?. 0 answered. I almost feel bad for the guy or girl who asked that FS/SS ?. Just about everyone has ripped them apart. Show some love Patriots fans. Not everyone is a football enthusiast. If they didn't answer these ? how are they supposed to become football enthusiast. Yet I will NOT excuse the worlds dumbest statement EVER. (cutting Deion Branch). Deion is the future, face it. Well I hope my statements and Butt kissing were enough to get you to answer my ?.1. With Jason Gildon on the FA market in a week, could it be possible we will see him in a Patriot uniform pending some obvious cuts?2. Was giving aging Troy Brown an extension the best thing to do instead of extending the young and talented David Givens?3. How did the tickets sell out so quickly. And where is the best place to buy them now.4. Do you think trading Rohan Davey after this season gets through will get us a 1-3rd pick in the 2006 draft and would it be a smart move?5. What veterans do see getting cut this year before this season starts, beside the obvious Ty Law.(good LUCK Ty, PLEASE don't go to the Jets.)

Greg "Tacoman" Bob
West Haven, Conn.

First, I don't think the Patriots will sign Gildon. They are deep at linebacker and if they were going to add another guy, I don't think it would be another aging veteran. Now if they know something about Colvin's health, or lack thereof, that I don't, then it would be more of a possibility. At this point, I don't see it.
Next, Troy Brown wasn't truly extended. They gave him some of his salary as a bonus that can be prorated and then added a year so that the bonus hit is spread out over two years. It just was an accounting tactic to lower his 2004 cap hit.
At this point, I don't think you get a 1, 2 or 3 for Davey. He hasn't played in the NFL. If has a big preseason coming off a strong Europe season, he could garner some interest from teams looking for a young quarterback to turn to.
Finally, I don't think Ty Law will get cut, but if he does, it will be before training camp starts. They won't pay him a $1 million reporting bonus and then cut him.

I asked this question a few months ago but I didn't get a response so I am trying again since the website had an article that reminded me of my question. Ben Coates is my all-time favorite Patriot and I was wondering what you guys thought his chances were of getting into either the Hall of Fame or the Patriots Hall of Fame. You could certainly make the argument that he was the best all-around tight end in the game from the mid to late nineties and I just wanted to get your take on him. Thanks.
Greg
Brighton, Mass.

I think Ben is a legitimate candidate for the Patriots HoF, but I don't think he had the longevity to make it to Canton. He was terrific for a relatively short period of time, and could get some votes. It just ended so quickly for him that I think that will hurt him.

First off I love you guys it's hard to find good pats info down here in the south(not to mention getting to watch the games).Being in Dolphin country down here I hear a lot about Ricky this Ricky that. But the truth is the dolphins never had a great running back in their franchise history and still managed to have the best win percentage in football history. Same could go for the Pats, aside from the decades lasting success, never a solid, every down back. Now that we have one (Dillon) do you think there is anyway we could stay on top while altering that(everybody shifting, what's going on, open the game with a 5 receiver set)pass first mentality that Charlie is so good at? I just think if we lose Charlie or his intuition as coordinator our keep 'em guessing offense will lose its edge. Do you agree? Also hate to crowd the questions but do you think there is any possibility at all BB will force Ty Law to share the same 2 week before the season fate that Lawyer faced? Plz respond. dedicated fan of yours and the WORLD CHAMPS.
Shawn Tavares
Miami, Fla.

I addressed the Law thing a couple of questions ago. But to reiterate, he won't get cut a week before the season because of his $1 million training camp reporting bonus. If he is to be cut, he will be cut before camp. I also don't think the Patriots will change their offensive approach. Weis had Curtis Martin in New York and ran the same system. Do I think that Dillon will play a bigger role in the offense that Smith? Yes. I don't think the coaching staff's approach will change though. Dillon might be on the field more than Smith because he can also catch it better than his predecessor. The Pats ran it 473 times last year and I don't see them running much more. It's just that Dillon will get more of the work than Smith did.

Is it true Colvin was offered more money to go somewhere else but declined to come to new england? and do you know which team offered him more?
Rich
New Orleans, La.

The Cardinals apparently offered him a deal with around a $12 million signing bonus. He came to New England for a bonus about half that size.

RE: Why do teams sometimes have players peddling away on exercise bikes in the middle of games? It doesn't make sense to me.Answer: During strenuous exercise, lactic acid is produced in the muscles. If you are extremely active, then stop for a while, this acid can build up and result in muscle soreness (burning pain). Riding the bike prevents the acid build up by keeping the athlete moderately active, while not tiring them out, thus preventing muscle soreness.

Tim Machan
Medicine Hat, Alberta

Tim obviously a PT, a doctor or a runner. Thanks for the official explanation.

Purely speculative, but do you think there is more to Tom Brady's shoulder surgery than we are being told? The Patriots get Dillon and then load up at Tight End. Sounds like a running game developing over a passing game.A diehard Patriots fan in Oakland. This could get me killed out here.

Douglas
Oakland, Calif.

No. Brady is fine and the Patriots are trying to improve on offense. There is no ulterior motive.

There is a general consensus among NFL "experts" that the Pats have strengthened themselves in the offseason. In general, we lost very few of our starters and for the most part losses were replaced by equal or better players. With the additions of Dillon, Wilfork, Watson, Bailey, Traylor, Sam, Cobbs, the return of Rosie, the maturing of Klecko and Warren, Weis and Romeo staying on board, Brown re-signing, Davey growing into a exceptional backup, a "herd" of quality receivers, and our stable of well rested veteran leaders, where are our greatest weaknesses? What do you expect to be done between now and September 9th to correct/strengthen those weaknesses? Can you update us on Harrison's arm? Bethel's stomach surgery and recovery? Assuming you agree that we have improved our team since winning the Super Bowl…what team in the league do you think has the ability to stop us and why? Should I book my rooms in Jacksonville now?
Brett
St. Johnsbury, Vt.

Book em Brett. The Patriots are not markedly better than they were last year, but better nonetheless. I think the only question I have is on the offensive line where they lost Woody and Compton and only signed Bob Hallen. I know guys stepped up last year when called upon, but can Russ Hochstein man the left guard position full time? Maybe, but I don't know, which is why I think that position has some questions to answer. Assuming the linebackers maintain their level of play, I see no reason why this team should not be as effective as last year's defensively. That alone makes them a contender. I also think the offense, with Dillon, will be better. Harrison is fine. I don't have an update for you on Bethel. What team can stop us? This league has parity and the Patriots are not that much better than anyone. So I don't freaking know. How about Jacksonville, Tennessee or Denver. Maybe Philly. Baltimore? Washington with Joe Gibbs? Seattle?

Is adding Dillon to the Pats a no brainer, good move? The Pats have had great success with an adequate running game and dynamic passing game. Do we run the risk of changing our style and messing up a good thing. Bottom line, are the Pats going to become a running team with a predictable passing game?
Paul Sala
Bar Harbor, Maine

No. No. No. It's always good to add good players. As long as Dillon is a good teammate, it's a good move. No brainer. Don't worry about messing up a good thing? How good was it? The Patriots ranked 27th in rushing offense, 17th in total offense, 14th in third down offense. 16th in first downs, 27th in red zone offense and 13th in average first down gain. Is that so good? They will be better assuming the offensive line holds up its end.

I look forward to this column every week. Great job. My question Is this: We could use some depth at MLB. Marvin Jones(released from NYJ) and Michael Barrow(from NYG) are both available and about the same age and stats. Jones played under BB in NY. They say his play has slipped, but they said that about Rodney too. Nothing has been said or written about these guys that I have seen. Is there a possibility that we sign one of these guys? They are both 31, so they have a few good years left.
Dave
Montague City, Mass.

I think the Patriots have enough aging linebackers. They have six veterans to man their four spots. Why is someone else's aging players better than the ones they have. Who do you want to cut to make room? No. I don't see them signing those guys. The Jets couldn't stop anyone on the ground last year and the linebackers were largely blamed for that. Jones and Mo Lewis both got cut. The Patriots aging linebackers obviously out-played those guys.

which off-season loss do you think will hurt the team the most? and which off-season acquisition do you think will help the team the most?
David
Bronx, N.Y.

Because of who the Patriots found to replace big Ted Washington, I would say Woody is the biggest loss right now. That could change based on how the replacements play, but for now I'll go with Woody. Dillon is the acquisition that will help most. Was that part a trick question?

does bethel johnson have the fastest 40 time in the nfl?
Jacob
Queens, N.Y.

He's fast. No one will ever catch him from behind. So it doesn't matter what is 40 time is and I don't know if his is the fastest in the league. It's irrelevant. He can run really, really fast. Really Fast.

I have noticed various interest this offseason in Tully Banta-Cain. You guys in PFW have talked about him more and I have seen people in chat rooms talking about his "impact" this year. This guy is a second year, seventh round draft pick who was injured last year and saw limited time on special teams and spot duty. Don´t get me wrong, I would love to see him improve his second year a la David Givens, a fellow seventh round pick, but why the extra attention on him? Is there something about him we should all know?
Shane
Miami, Fla.

Well Shane, I think he started to show up on special teams at the end of last season and did OK in the limited reps they gave him on defense. One of the reasons he dropped in the draft was that people had to project him as a linebacker and measure him as a 3-4 outside guy rather than as a 4-3end like he played in college. His college position coach also coached Green Bay's KGB and told me that Tully was better than KGB at similar points in their careers. I just think he has upside. I look forward to seeing if he has improved significantly this summer. There is some intrigue there on our part I guess. Nothing more or secret.

Do you guys think Ty Warren was a mistake? Many do. i haven't seen his contribution to the team yet.
Joey
New York, N.Y.

It's too early to tell. What he does this season will go a long way toward measuring the success or failure of that pick. I don't think you can judge him off one season, but he played OK when given the chance. He will be counted upon more heavily this season so this will be a telling year. I spoke to him a couple weeks ago and he feels good about his development and his comfort level with the defensive system. That was a big adjustment for him. Check back next February on this one.

Hey, guys. I'm just curious what the players are actually doing now. What is their workout schedule like? Do they go over plays with coaches and watch film, or are they just showing up to lift weights and run? I hear about "passing camp," but I'm not sure what it entails. Any press access?Thanks, and please keep up the good work.

Chris Warner
Bronx, N.Y.

Chris, a two-time this week. Ill get grilled form answering two of yours and not someone else's. But you know what? Dems Da Breaks. The Patriots offseason workouts consist of weight training, conditioning speed work, film work, technique work. The whole thing. They watch film and do position specific drills. They work on strengthening their weaknesses. There is no press access to the passing camps, but it's just instructional work designed to implement systematic alterations and get everyone up to speed so that they can have a productive mandatory mini-camp.

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