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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Wed Dec 02 | 12:00 AM - 11:55 AM

Patriots Unfiltered Q&A: Training camp standouts and concerns

20200825-UnfilteredQandA-PDC

The Patriots will be without several veteran players this year (Brady, Hightower, Chung, Cannon, Gostkowski). How do you think the leadership void will be filled, and how might this impact team chemistry and/or the locker room? -FullbackTom

I think they took good steps to ensure that D-Mac and Matthew Slater returned and they'll play a big part in maintaining the leadership standard that has existed. No question though, new leaders like Ja'Whaun Bentley and David Andrews have an opportunity to build bigger roles. Jonathan Jones spoke as well recently about stepping up with the younger guys, especially vital during the shortened preseason. So far it seems like the team has enough leadership to get everyone on track and even more players should emerge as the season progresses and new guys take on bigger roles, both on the field and off it. – Mike Dussault

Multiple QBs playing? Not like the saints where Taysom Hill plays flex, just like different QBs play based off the opponent. –Lineman65Viking

I know this is a buzz topic right now but I really don't see them going with two QBs. I think they'll lock in on someone and make one guy the starter and that's what we're starting to see in recent days. What has brought this up has just been how the QBs have all kind of been up and down early on for different reasons and no starter being obvious right out of the gate. But with Jarrett Stidham experiencing a setback that has limited him and Cam Newton improving every day, it's quickly becoming Cam's job. –Mike Dussault

In all seriousness, you and the PFW crew have been worried about the offense the last couple of shows, what type of season do you personally think we're in for here? Are we talking 8-8? Possibly even 6-10? –Constantin_Valdor

Yeah, the offense hasn't been great, but they've made some strides in recent days, even if Monday's practice wasn't quite as sharp as we might have hoped. They're going against a great defense too, especially through the air and that has made things difficult. It's a tough puzzle to dissect right now, even though they've looked pretty good running the ball, it's hard to tell how good they truly looked because they're not tackling. And while the passing game has struggled at times, the defensive backs are clearly the most experienced group. Like every year there might be a bit of a feeling out process for the offense, moreso than we're used to considering all the new faces. –Mike Dussault

As a fellow fan of the linemen, how would you rate this year's offensive line with last year's line? I know Cam is a lot more mobile than Brady was, but I'm afraid we're not going to get to see what he (or the other QBs) can do because of a substandard line. –Surfer417

The line is one of the few things I'm not too worried about at this point, they've looked very good, especially the interior veteran trio. There are some questions at right tackle but I think they have some options including Jermaine Eluemunor, Justin Herron and Korey Cunningham. The place where I get concerned is the depth because after the top four not much is proven. They need guys like Hjalte Froholdt and Mike Onwenu to emerge so that they have some reliable depth. If injuries strike the top line, especially at tackle, I'll be concerned. –Mike Dussault

Considering the pandemic has limited fans how much different is training camp now than when they're were fans? – Jay

Very different. The lack of atmosphere is strange but also slightly familiar for anyone who's played football and endured regular practices where no one but the parents are watching. It's too bad though, I think the team could use some of the noise and energy to help them with their preparations, especially to reproduce a with some added pressure game-like atmosphere. I'm sure it's a little easier on the players to get up for the grind of camp when there's a crowd there every day as well. Hopefully things will be back to normal next summer because there just isn't the same level of excitement without the fans just yet. –Mike Dussault

How do you think the pats use Phillips and Dugger at the safety position? Think any of them outright replace Chung past this year? –Myke_Ptyson

They both share similar skillsets with Chung and both have been very involved in camp early on. The line between linebackers and safeties continues to blur and these guys are vital players these days. Both are tough, athletic and fast. I still think Chung will have to be replaced piecemeal with the entire safety group. It's all very fluid who plays where and don't forget that Duron Harmon is gone too. The team has some good safety depth as well as good versatility across the defensive back group. But there's a lot to like about the additions of Phillips and Dugger and they should be expected to play significant roles. –Mike Dussault

What role do you see Dalton Keene taking on the team? Do you see him as an actual TE, a FB, an H-Back, or something in the middle? –MrFace1

He's got some versatility but he's mostly a tight end at this point. He, like most of the rookies, has had his moments good and bad. I think he's a player that could look a lot better when he can really run people over. Monday might've been his best day of practice yet as he had multiple catches in team periods. Keene should carve out a pretty extensive role on offense and special teams and I think we'll see the team get the ball in his hands in a number of different ways. –Mike Dussault

Which players are you most impressed with currently? –PatsFan4Life12

Kyle Dugger and Gunner Olszewski have been the two that have most impressed/excited me here through the first couple weeks of camp. Dugger has jumped right in and looked very comfortable doing a bunch of different things and playing in a bunch of different spots. His size jumps out at you. Gunner has had arguably the most noticeable year two jump in camp. After looking like he was trying to figure out how to be a receiver last summer, he looks the part this year with nice routes and showing NFL-level quickness in and out of his breaks. He just needs better consistency catching the ball and then he might really be an offensive contributor this season. Damien Harris has also showed improvement and some wiggle in his running. –Mike Dussault

If you could choose one player on the roster that would turn into a superstar, who would it be? Not a prediction, but which player would you most like to see succeed. – Flightofthefalcon

I'd probably just go with Jarrett Stidham because it would mean another 10-15 years of football awesomeness since we had a superstar at QB. Not saying he will be one, but ideally that's what I'd want. If Kyle Dugger turns into the next Ed Reed or Josh Uche becomes a three-down linebacker superstar I wouldn't complain either. This is an exciting part of this season though. A lot of young players are going to get chances they might not have ordinarily gotten and the team really needs a few guys to emerge as new core pieces going forward. –Mike Dussault

How have Deatrich Wise and Josh Uche played in camp so far? Which rookie, excluding Dugger, and sophomore are you most excited about based on their play this far? –CC333

Like all the rookies Uche is up and down from what I've seen. He's made some great reads and blitzes, but has also taken false steps in coverage and ends up chasing a completion. Wise has been his usual energetic and solid self as part of the d-line rotation. He's made some noise on pass rush reps, which is the strength of his game. Second-year guy would again be Gunner, he could fill a nice role as a third-down slot player and punt returner like Danny Amendola played. The team needs that kind of receiver, especially to back up Julian Edelman as well. For the non-Dugger rookie, I'm going to go with Uche. He's had his growing pains but I think he'll play as much as any rookie on the team this year and I'm hoping he adds speed and pass rush ability to the defense. –Mike Dussault

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