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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Tue May 21 - 02:00 PM | Thu May 23 - 09:55 AM

Patriots Unfiltered Q&A: Mayo's influence on the defense and kicker concerns

Fans' questions answered in our weekly mailbag.


Do any of you guys feel like [inside linebacker coach Jerod] Mayo's influence on the defense is contributing to their aggressiveness?
- Bob Parte

That's an interesting question, Bob. I think the aggressiveness we are seeing on defense is a combination a few different factors. For starters, there are so many veterans on this defense. The majority of the defense has been playing together for several seasons. They are comfortable playing together, and with that comes confidence. As a whole, the defense seems to take a lot of pride in their aggressive identity. If you watched any of the Do Your Job special that recapped Super Bowl LIII, Bill Belichick was very vocal about his pride in the defense and their ability to hold the Rams to just three points. To me, it seems like the veterans have carried that pride and identity over to this season. Mayo could be influencing them as well, but I believe the veteran leadership is playing a larger role. I also wonder if Belichick is actually more involved with the defense this season. During an interview with Willie McGinest in the preseason, Belichick stated that he would be more involved with the defense at the start of the season. Obviously, things change week to week in the NFL, but I'm curious how involved Belichick is with this group, and if that is also contributing to their aggressiveness. Of course, big leads in the first three games allowed the defense to be aggressive as well.
- Megan O'Brien

With the trade deadline fast upon us (October 30), do you see any potential trade opportunities for the Patriots?
- Cedric Duwat, London

I would not rule out a trade before the deadline particularly for an offensive lineman or tight end. Trent Williams is still on the market, but I think if the Patriots were willing to pay the price for Williams, it would have already happened. The offensive line issues date back to training camp. At tight end, I think we underestimated Gronkowski's importance in the blocking game. With lack of depth at tight end and James Develin going on IR, we are seeing how important those players are to the running game. Looking around the league, I'm not sure who the Patriots would make a trade for at tight end, but if they are targeting one specific area, this would be the position to look at.
- Megan O'Brien

Just curious: What is wrong with [kicker Stephen] Gostkowski? Not that anything is wrong, but he is missing more PATs than he has before.
- Steven Gadson

Gostkowski's season has not gotten off to a great start. After missing the extra point in Buffalo, it is fair to wonder if and when the Patriots will address the issue at kicker. I found myself wondering the same thing. However, there aren't many legitimate kickers available around the league. My best guess is that Gostkowski's season got off to a rough start, and now he is in his own head and overthinking PATs and makeable field goal situations. Let's hope Gostkowski can work with the coaching staff and turn the page, leaving his rocky start in the past.
- Megan O'Brien

I am not down on Sony Michel at all, despite his slow start. If teams focus on him as a runner, they will do so at their own peril and I clearly remember last year's playoff run where he was spectacular. That said, I am surprised [rookie draft choice Damien] Harris has yet to get even one carry. With these blowout wins, would it not make sense to see what he can do? He performed well in preseason. In doing so, you also protect your starters from injury. Makes perfect sense to me.
- Rick Malec

You bring up a really good point, Rick. I was surprised not to see Harris in the game against the Jets when he was active. Given Burkhead's history with injuries, I thought we would see Harris early on in the season to try and manage Burkhead's snaps. For whatever reason, the coaching staff has not looked to Harris yet, but perhaps in the next few weeks we could see him in the mix. It's also a numbers game. If Harris is active on game day then someone else can't be and right now the one place where there is plenty of depth is running back.
- Megan O'Brien

What do you think of Brandon Bolden taking over James Develin's role at fullback? I would think his experience would be better than Jakob Johnson.
- Norm Lavoie

As Belichick and the Patriots players mentioned this week, Develin's role is not one that can be replaced with just one player. I like where your head is at thinking to rely on Bolden more in a blocking role. I can see the Patriots using him there. I don't think it is a one-for-one Bolden for Develin, but I do think Bolden can contribute as a blocker.
- Megan O'Brien

What do you think are the five toughest games remaining on the Patriots' schedule?
- Richard Martin

The game against Kansas City is without question the most difficult game on the Patriots' schedule. The Patriots will be tested in the weeks leading up to the game as well. In my opinion, the five most difficult games are Week 9 at Baltimore, Week 11 at Philadelphia, Week 12 against Dallas and Week 14 against Kansas City.
- Megan O'Brien

Would like to know what the status of N'Keal Harry is. Is he out for the season? Is he participating in practice? Where is he? Have not heard any news.
- David Cote

N'Keal Harry was placed on IR before the regular season began. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Harry is dealing with an ankle injury. He is not eligible to return until after Week 8. There is a chance that Harry does not return this season. James Develin and Isaiah Wynn are also on IR. The team is only allowed to return two players from IR during the season so one of those three players will not return. Harry has been spotted around the locker room but a lot of the decision of who to return from IR will have to do with the state of the team when the time comes.
- Megan O'Brien

Why isn't Yodny Cajuste practicing? Is he still overcoming offseason surgery? Did the Pats not know the extent of the injury when they drafted him?
- Bijah LaFollette

We have not seen Yodny Cajuste since the Patriots drafted him. Prior to the draft, Cajuste reportedly underwent a surgery on his quadriceps. Given the surgery took place before the draft, I assume the Patriots knew about his injury and the procedure. To answer your question about why he isn't practicing, I imagine it is because he is still rehabbing from the procedure.
- Megan O'Brien

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