Good afternoon. This should be a fun chat, because we have 14 training camp practices to talk about, dissect and analyze. We know a lot more about this Patriots team than we did at this time last week. So let's get after it for the next hour.
with ron brace having a poor season and being on nfi will he make the final 53?
I think Ron Brace is one of the big disappointments of camp. If I had to guess, he will open the season on the active/physically unable to perform list, presevering his roster spot. He's missed a lot of time.
Mike, I plan on attending the Saints practice. I will call the hotline, and I know it will be a "controlled" practice, but can you share some light on if plays will be full speed, full contact etc? Thanks and keep up the great work.
I don't know for sure, Sully, but I'd think one of the three practices will be full speed, full contact. The key will be picking the right one. If I had to guess, I'll say the 3:45 p.m. Tuesday practice.
Hi Mike, People have been in awe of Tate, but I remember similar reactions to Chad Jackson. He could do no wrong! Seeing that how poorly we drafted WR and RB positions, shouldn't we withhold judgment and see how he performs in real settings. People are already talking about cutting Holt and starting Tate against Moss. I think that is rubbish as Holt is a battle tested vet and Tate is just coming into his 1st training camp as a healthy player.
I think you bring up a great point, Maddy. Tate can look great in practice, but let's see how he does in games, getting off the jam. Then we can make a final call.
Does Logan Mankins hold all the cards? if the new cba (assuming there is one) reverts back to 5 yrs. for free agency, wouldn't Mankins have that and not have to play at all this season and still become a free agent? Is there anything the Pats have as far as rules go to combat this? Thanks.
I don't think Mankins holds all the cards, Rob, as it's still possible that players will need six years to become free agents in the new CBA. If it reverts to four or five, then you are right, but there are no guarantees that will be the case. I don't think there is anything the Patriots could do to combat that, except for the franchise tag, assuming that is available to them.
Is Adalius Thomas signed anywhere? How about Crable did anyone pick him up? Thanks.
That's a "no" and a "no".
Mike, the Revis saga unfolding w/ the Jets is quite interesting. They're having issues before they're even out of camp. Personally, I see this as the tip of the iceberg with respect to some of the attitudes in that lockerroom (Cromartie, Tomlinson, Holmes, etc). But with specific regard to Revis, how drastically would a prolonged holdout alter the landscape in the AFC east?
I think it's huge, Neil. He is the best CB in the NFL in my opinion and that is a major, major loss if he's not there. Maybe that's why I saw Randy Moss smiling after practice today.
How likely is it that opposing teams have sent scouts to watch patriots training camp and would the patriots do the same? perhaps to teams they have not played in a few years just to gain information? is this illegal?
I think this question cameup last week, Lee, and I incorrectly responded that I couldn't see anything stopping a team from doing that. I later learned that it is prohibited.
DO you really think the pats are going to get Aaron Schobel, we need help at pass rush badly, think he could be a quick fix?
Chris, I think they should put their best foot forward in trying to sign Schobel. But in the end, it will come down to Schobel's desires and I'm not sure what he's thinking. He has said (before being released) that he'd like to play for the Texans, assuming the Texans would be interested. That is a big factor. I do know that Bill Belichick can be persuasive. Just ask Rodney Harrison. He was sitting in Al Davis's office in Oakland, I believe, when Belichick called him to hastily arrange a free-agent visit. Harrison was on the next flight to New England and signed the next morning.
Hi Mike: Busy week in camp, seems that some more pieces falling in place, but very little news on our running backs, how is the ground game looking to you? Any one back standing out? and if you were to pick the guys to get the carries who gets the ball?
Some disappointment at the goal-line with the running game this morning and overall. No back stands out to me at this time. I think Sammy Morris might be their best early-down option.
Is spikes going to start this year in new England?
I'm going to go out on a limb and say yes. I think Belichick really likes him.
Mike, do you think Taylor Price will see any significant playing time this season? It seems that the Pats generally do not let rookie WRs play that much in their first season so I'm wondering if Taylor may fall into that trap or actually be a difference maker.
I think he'll be No. 5 on the depth chart, behind Moss, Welker, Tate and Edelman. Injuries would be the biggest factor to Price breaking through.
Mike, it seems like BB is suspiciously quiet about Schobel, to the point where I really think they are trying to get him. Have you heard ANY updates? Do you have any feeling for it at all? I happen to totally agree with you that he may be just the medicine they need.
I wouldn't read into Belichick being suspiciously quiet or anything like that. One thing a team doesn't want to do is allow it to be used as leverage (e.g. the Rams and T.O.). So I think he believes it's best to keep intentions under wraps. It's hard for me to believe they wouldn't be in the mix.
Mike, first of all..good job by the rookie Rodak. Good, solid info. Now..I expected a stonger push from McKenzie after working hard for a year. Is he having a strong camp, or is a case of Spikes having a stronger one?
I'm glad you noticed the work of student assistant Mike Rodak. Remember the name. He's going to be an NFL general manager one day. I just told him to remember me and asked him to please return my calls. ... As for McKenzie, he is a hard hitter, a very physical player. However, I thought it was telling that when Gary Guyton went out with that knee injury Sunday, it was Spikes who got the call. He is ahead of McKenzie right now.
How are the receivers not named Moss coming along? Is Julian Edelman stepping up now that the spotlight is on him?
I think the receivers are doing what they need to do, but I truly believe the only way to evaluate them is in games, when facing physical play at the line of scrimmage. They are all getting free releases right now.
Hearing about Spikes playing tall with leverage makes me wonder how he would fit on the outside, understanding he is a bit shorter than BB's prototype. What are your thoughts here?
Pure ILB in the 3-4 alignment, Jason, and I wouldn't move him around. That OLB spot in the 3-4 is like a defensive end.
Hello Mike. I know the Bills have release Aaron Schobel...and I have read your articles on how we should sign him, and I couldn't agree more. I think he would be an instant help and a depleted position on our team. I know he has played end in the 4-3, and you said he could be used as a rush end. What my question would be is will he be used as an OLB? Or strictly a rush end on sub packages?
I think his role could be exactly what the team had Derrick Burgess do last season, and Burgess played 57 percent of the snaps. It's easy for us to get caught up in starter/sub package stuff, but the way the Patriots vary their defensive packages, it really doesn't matter. Last year's Colts game is a good example. The team played a four-man line with two rush ends for the entire game. If Schobel is on the Patriots, he'd have played every snap in that game. But maybe the next week, against a more power-based offense, he'd be more in a sub role. I don't see him as an early-down OLB in the 3-4 if he comes here.
Hi Mike, I'm reading a lot about the progress of Darius Butler but could you go into detail more on your impressions of 1st round pick Devin McCourty?
Solid. That's probably the best way I'd describe it. This morning, he had nice coverage on Welker on a route to the back right-hand corner of the end zone. I remember how disappointed many fans were when the Patriots selected him, but watching him through 14 training camp practices the first thought that came to mind was: "Looks like the Patriots hit another one; a solid, safe pick."
The Pat's "inability to rush the passer" is a constant theme across the country and the assumption is that the only way to apply pressure is from the outside linebacker position. But the D line has a lot of flexibility (Pryor, Wright, Warren) and the crew of D backs are all tough and very fast. Along with TBC and perhaps Cunningham, why isn't that enough to get the job done? Especially with BB coaching the defense.
It could be, Ralph. Belichick often talks about team defense. However, I still have my doubts based on their current personnel. I think they are one rusher short right now.
Mike, Haynesworth has to take the conditioning test because he didn't participate in OTAs. Shawn Crable took part in OTAs but was still required to take the conditioning test. Is this just a procedural difference between the Redskins and the Patriots? Do the Pats require everyone to pass a conditioning test?
As I understand it, the Patriots require all players to pass a conditioning test.
It appears that most Pats fans believe that Logan Mankins turned down a "very generous" long term contract offer, making him the bad guy. I think he's being treated this way unfairly based on rumors & not facts. Do you personally know all the details of this "great" offer - total compensation, distribution, amount guaranteed, siging bonus, option bobus, roster bonus, workout bonus, performance bonuses ... ?
I don't know the complete structure and bonus payments, but I have a feel for total dollars and length. I think we can get bogged down getting into the numbers, and I'd rather focus on the bottom line. Mankins is a good player, the Patriots aren't as good without him, and the sides aren't talking. So who is going to make the first call? To me, that is the issue. Both sides are in the right to some degree, so my issue is "Why don't you just get together and work it out, face to face?"
Plenty has been said about the pass rush this summer, but what about the front sevens ability to stop the run? Improved? Same? Worse? With the other AFC East teams being run first we need this unit to be stout.
Tough to tell right now, Clark, because there has been no live tackling through 14 practices. We'll have to wait and see on that one.
Any surprise guys who you see making the team?
One surprise-type player who has caught the eye in camp and would potentially fall into this category is LB Thomas Williams. His potential fullback-type role could be a difference-maker for him. Rookie FAs Kyle Love (DL) and Dane Fletcher (ILB) have also shown up, but more from a practice-squad perspective.
Hi Mike, I think this offense is going as good as they have ever had. With Randy and Welker back and a slew of talent vying for 3 and 4 on the depth chart, a truly dynamic pass catching TE option for Brady and Crumpler as solid as Watson ever was on run blocking, with Brady one full year removed from the rehab season, Vollmer replacing Kaczur spot at RT and the RB's healthy (at least at the start)...that leaves the only hole being Mankins slot on the line (which still may work out?), so other than injuries, why would this team not put up a truly dominant offensive season and run more if their defense is a bit shallow and needs less field time and/or just go out and light up the passing lanes if the defense is holdin its own? This offense is more diverse than ever and deadly.
I think you hit it, Steve. The offensive line. It's early yet, but I don't sense this unit has that physical edge which is desired just yet. For example, this morning, fourth-and-1 from the 2 and they are stopped on a run to the right side. Too much penetration, with rookie DL Kade Weston among those disrupting the play.
Mike - You probably get this question alot but it's important to know, does Randy still have the burners that he has relied on for so long?
Yes, Nick. He is having a great camp in my opinion.
Mike - I've been reading about how Devin McCourty is getting plenty of reps with the first unit..is there a good chance that he will jump Darius Butler this early?
Always a chance, but I still think it's Butler's job. Part of it is that they are working the corners in different spots.
Mike, we've talked in length about the possibility of the Pats cutting down to four running backs, but do you see the possibility of them cutting down to three, with one or two on the practice squad? The reason I say this is because it sounds like Green-Ellis and Fred Taylor are having a poor camp.
Three would be too light in my opinion, Arjuna. I think four is the right number. The preseason games should provide a better feel for that.
When starters go down to injury, like Ty Warren, Mike Wright, & Nick Kazcur, I expect to see the depth come from recent draft picks who get a chance to shine. Do you think it is troubling that relatively high draft picks like Ron Brace or Rich Ohrnberger can't get on the field w/ the 1's even though injuries and Logan Mankins no-show should give them their shot?
I think there are a couple of layers on this one, Spike O Like (I just wanted to type that). First, on the d-line, it helps to get the veterans Damione Lewis and Gerard Warren some reps at DE because they are in a new system. But as for the young guys, it's hard to argue that Brace's lack of presence isn't a disappointment. As for Ohrnberger, he just might not have the strength. I've seen him get knocked back a few times and I'm looking for that mean streak that scouts saw at Penn State. It hasn't shown itself on the field to date.
Do you think the Patriots will get a contract done for Tom Brady before the season starts? I think the longer this goes on the more chances he might feel hurt and bolt to California.
Hi Har. Hope your trip to Boston has been a good one. If I had to guess, I'd say there will be no extension before the start of the season.
What's the deal with Ron Brace? Will he play this year, and if he does do you think he will make an impact? After all, he was a pretty high draft pick.
I think Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald is out ahead on this one. He reported today that Brace has been experiencing muscle cramps and failed his conditioning test. Given that information, if I'm the Patriots, I'd start him on the PUP list this season and preserve his roster spot until he's ready to go.
Mike is Aaron Hernandez proving to be a steal in the draft?? And is Torry Holt gonna be the ex factor we hoped?
To me, Hernandez has been the most impressive rookie. Sticky hands. Sharp route-runner. Practices hard. Some might look at him laboring at times in practice and wonder "is he in shape?", but I view it differently. I think he's practicing all-out on every snap and he needs to learn to pace himself. ... As for Torry Holt, I still think it's best to wait on evaluating these receivers until we see how they perform in preseason games, when they are trying to get off the line of scrimmage against press coverage.
With the over abundance of "youth" in our secondary do you see one of them.....Chung emerging as the "play maker" that can really change games this year?
Yes, I like Chung being a playmaker, but I also see Meriweather, Bodden, Butler and McCourty in that playmaking type role. I'm predicting Butler as the team's leader in INTs.
Mike,OK so Spikes isn't a typical OLB. How about Guyton out there? If I remember it correctly he is supposed to be quite fast for his size.
To me, Guyton isn't sturdy enough to play OLB. Bill Belichick said he could be competitive out there, but I still have visions of the 2008 Seahawks game when he had a tough time at OLB and was replaced by Rosie Colvin, who had been on the couch the week before. Maybe that's harsh of me, to hold one performance against him, but I just think you need a bit more size and power at that OLB spot in the 3-4.
Sounds like Zac Robinson has been a disaster so far, but I haven't heard much about Hoyer. How does he look in his 2nd training camp? Has he made the infamous second-year-leap?
Hoyer had a good day today, showcasing his accuracy in the "bucket" drill by throwing the ball in the bucket from about 25 yards out. His big test will come in the preseason games, but I see progress.
Hey Mike, I heard a rumor that Leigh Bodden limped off the field today at practice. If this is true, do you have any information about it?
Bodden didn't finish the practice. Always dangerous to read into things, so we'll wait until the afternoon session to see if he's still out there. It wasn't like he was carted off or anything. He watched the remainder of practice from the sidelines.
Do the Pats have a physical presence at safety? Merriweather and Chung look kind of small to me, more pass coverage types than hammers.
Brandon McGowan. He can be a linebacker-type option, depending on the package, as we saw in 2009.
Mike, If Burgess retires, what happens to that signing bonus he took?
Think it was $100,000. Pats would get it back, I'm fairly certain.
Hi Mike--thanks for keeping us supplied with Pats news through the doldrums. You've said that a Ted Washington-type trade might be necessary in order to fix our pass rush issues. If that's the case, who would you target? Is there a team out there with a surplus of players at OLB or DE who would seem like a good candidate for a deal? Is there a particular player you think is worth pursuing?
At this point, I don't think it needs to be a trade. With Aaron Schobel available, he's the guy in my view. Now it's just a matter of closing the deal, assuming he'd be willing.
Mike, I believe you have indicated that Ghiaciuc was signed as more or less a camp body. It seems that this team has drafted or carried signed a number of FA O-Linemen; what is the true status of the upside depth for this offensive line? If Mankins moves on and Kazur/Neal can't play 16 games how will this offensive line hold up for the upcoming season?
Great question, and I view the Ghiaciuc signing as a bad sign for Rich Ohrnberger, the 2009 fourth-round pick who was acquired with the two fifth-rounders that the Patriots netted by trading Ellis Hobbs. I think players like Dan Connolly and Ryan Wendell are more depth guys. If you're opening the season with them, it's probably not ideal.
Heard anything on the Logan Mankins situation? Are teams and players REALLY preparted to go throughout the season without a resolution to these tender issues? (Vincent Jackson in SD as well)
Is the Burgess situation really a case of retirement or just not having to go through a full camp? If Burgess is really gone, do any of the young Patriot inside linebackers (Spikes, Guyton or McKenzie) give them the position flexibility to move outside (like Vrabel moved inside for a season several years ago) or do they need to go and get someone?
When we talk about moving outside, Bo, I think you're looking for a guy with some pass-rush explosion off the edge. I don't see it from the ILB group.
Hey Mike, my question's about the cornerback situation. Word out of training camp is that Darius Butler is a developing stud, so let's slot him in as a starter. Although Bodden was their best corner last year and we signed him to a high-priced extension, I've also heard McCourty is getting some serious reps with the first team alongside Butler. In your opinion, what are the chances that we see Butler and McCourty starting the majority of games this year? If those chances are good, I know that you need three good corners in the NFL, but does that make Bodden expendable based on his high priced contract?
I don't think it makes Bodden expendable, because I believe Belichick views the No. 3 corner as important as the No. 1 guy. I think we'll see a Butler/Bodden starting combo, with McCourty the top backup at the outside positions. Looks like a real promising trio to me.
Mike, it looks like Brace will be the highest drafted player to be cut this year. Do the BB admit that they are a poor drafting team or not? Have they done anything to change how they evaluate players?
Rick, as disappointing as Brace's situation is, I don't think it's fair to look through that narrow of a lens. After all, they did draft Sebastian Vollmer in that same second round last year.
I'm not saying they are perfect. They make mistakes like other teams as well. But overall, I think the Patriots' draft record stacks up pretty well against the rest of the NFL.
We all thought it was unrealistic that Jason Taylor would become a Jet, but Rex Ryan convinced him he would get the most sacks of his career; carving out a nice little niche for Taylor. Do you think a similar thing could happen in NE? I would love to see TBC, Mayo and Schobel harassing the quarterback...
To be honest, John, I'm still puzzled why the Patriots didn't land Taylor. Maybe they tried and it was just a price thing. But if they could get Schobel, I think that would be even better.
Mike, How is Tom Brady doing in practice? We've seen him out of sync last year on many occasions overthrowing the receivers. Your take on this please.
A bit up and down, Veeru.
I keep reading that the offense is struggling in training camp. Is this something to worry about?
Too early, Rob, to really worry. The spot that would concern me is that left guard position. Mankins was a consistent presence there. Physical and tough. It's been a revolving door early in camp and I think it's affected the line's ability to gel a bit.
Any updates on my UGA boy Kade Weston?
Made a big stop on the goal-line today, with some nice penetration on the defensive line side. Big man. Plays with some power. Looks like a good practice squad prospect.
Hi Mike, what do make of Julian Edelman working out with the running backs at training camp? Is Belichick thinking of using Edelman in a wildcat type formation, or maybe a 3rd down receiving back in some situations?
One thought comes to mind: Offensive coaches getting creative.
Hey Mike, love the reporting from camp! Makes the dog-days go by a little bit faster :) I was wondering what your read on Gerard Warren is; I have hope BB can find a lot of good traits to bring out in this former first round pick! He must be getting a lot of reps with Brace out.
I like what we have seen so far on Warren. One thing that stood out was how he stayed after practice to tutor rookie OLB Jermaine Cunningham on hand techniques rushing the passer. To me, that reflected a player who was committed to his craft and the team he is working for. Now, let's see how he plays some of these techniques in games.
Given the quality WR depth, why is Welker participating in contact drills? Doesn't the risk of aggravating his injured knee outweigh the benefit of adding him to a group consisting of Moss, Holt, Edelman, Hernandez, Price, Tate, and Faulk?
I think it's a push and pull on this, Ben. Welker wants to get the muscle memory back and get his feel back. So you want to have him get in there a bit. It's not something he will just be able to turn on when it's time. At the same time, you want to develop some of these younger receivers. So I think you pick your spots.
Ron Brace hasn't practiced yet do think it's solely because he didn't pass the training test? I can't think of any player that needs the practice more than Brace. Your thoughts.
I agree, David. Sort of feel like I'm piling on here, but I think it's one of the top disappointments of camp to date. Injuries happen. If we knew the context of how he was injured, it would help better understand his situation. My hunch is that the team felt he wasn't in the best condition when players reported for camp, but it's just a hunch.
Let's go for another 5 here...
Morning from the West Coast! 2 short questions for you. 1. After being at training camp who as of now do you think will line up opposite of Moss? 2. Who do you project to be the 4 starting linebackers?
Good morning Ernie. In the 3 receiver set, I like Welker and Tate, although Tate is still a wild card based on what he does in preseason games. At LB, I'm going with Jermaine Cunningham/Tully Banta-Cain at OLB and Brandon Spikes/Jerod Mayo at ILB.
I feel that everyone is counting out the Patriots. The media is in love with the Jets but if you think about it, the Jets got a free win against the Colts that got them to the playoffs. how good do you think the Jets will be.
Their defense should be tough, but I still like the Patriots in the AFC East.
Mike and Mike Picked 8-8 and 9-7 respectively, are you still holding on to 11-5. With no OLB and no Ty warren being injured, and all RBs not improved, and receivers dropping catches, and QB being inconsistent, i do not see any positives for the team to be spoken in the top 10.
I'm holding on to my 11-5, Karthik. I put my name on it, so I have to own it.
Mike, with the lack of depth at OLB and the uncertainty around Burgess (who isn't a great fit for their system anyway), why do you think the Pats are so slow/reluctant /unable to make the moves needed to bring in the talent they need the last few years? As a single example (of many), Jason Taylor went to the Jets with seemingly no counter from the Pats at all.
On Taylor, it's quite possible the Pats were in it and we just don't know about it. Sometimes those things stay under the radar.
I read that Julian Edelman looked like he had been having some struggles. Is that accurate? I assume he has been running with the first team for the most part? How has he been looking?
I think he's been solid. One of the team's offseason award winners. He's dropped a few, but overall, he looks sharp to me.
Sounds like the team has been struggling in red zone drills...what exactly has been the trouble? Is it offense not on the same page? Defense too good to get around. O-Line not creating holes? Combination of things? Thanks for the updates on everything, Mike. It's awesome for those of us who can't get out there to see it for ourselves.
I think it's the offensive line. Need more push. Also, appreciate the thanks, but I'll return it to you. Thanks for reading all the stuff. As you can imagine, we're not complaining about what we do -- we get to watch football and write about it.
Overall, are you more or less optimistic re the Pats now then you were prior to camp? Or, to put the questions another way, are you seing the development in the young players that this team needs in order for it to win?On another level, if you are more optimistic, doesn't having 4 picks in the first 2 rounds make you quite optimistic, maybe not for this year, but for next year and on, that the Pats can back to the promised land?
I'm in the same spot, PvM. Like the youth, but with the youth/potential comes some growing pains. To me, it's an intriguing team because of that. I like the "fresh start, fresh faces" theme for this season.
Courtesy of Adam Schefter's Tweeting, I just heard that Elvis Dumervil may be out for most or all of the season. It seems like that would up the competition for pass rushers even more, particularly from a team with a coach from the Belichick tree... Would Denver be looking for similar traits in an OLB?
Hey Mike, thanks for the great job you're doing keeping us updated throughout training camp. How has Tom Brady seemed this year compared to years past in terms of when he shows up in the morning, his interactions with teammates and coaches, the overall drive he seems to have and things like that? I know it's come up over the last few years that now with a family and different lifestyle that he may not be as committed to football, and I don't buy that at all as I still feel he's 100% committed to the team, but I'm curious to know how he presents himself specifically this year (during practice, film sessions, down time with teammates) in training camp compared to when he was in his early- to mid-20's?
Thanks Jim. Your question is especially timely. Brady was as fiery as we've seen in this morning practice. He was not happy with the level of play of the offense and he let his teammates know about it in a booming voice that might have been heard in nearby Wrentham.
From what I've seen at camp and gathered from reports, Tate is making tough catches but dropping lots of easy ones. Is that true?
I don't know if I'd say that's accurate. He's dropped a few, for sure, but overall I think he's grown with each practice. I made the point to Mike Rodak, who has been filing practice reports, that it seems like Tate has built on each practice and become more comfortable.
hi mike,is the aaron schobel inerest from the team legit, or is it media driven?
I'd say media driven at this point, as no one from the Patriots has indicated any interest publicly.
In regards to the Pats schedule this year, could the game in Cleveland be a darkhorse to give NE trouble? Especially with Mangini there?
I believe that's the one opponent that will be coming off a bye before facing the Patriots. That game looks sneaky tough to me, Adam, in part because of that, if I remember correctly.
Mike--Will Brett Favre play or not? Just kidding.
Ha. I was going to say let's end on that one, but I can't let it happen. No Favre Zone here.
How has Cunningham looked in practice? Is he able to provide any good pressure on the QB?
Let's end on this one, John, as there seems to be a lot of interest in Cunningham. I think he is their fastest OLB. When he splits out wide against the tackle, he has a very explosive first step in his rush and gets on the tackle quickly. You can see he is still new to the position and gets swallowed up at times, which is what I'd expect. Plays with good effort. It looks to me like there is some promise there.
Thanks to everyone for chatting today. We have 14 training camp practices in the book. Next week's chat will come on the afternoon of the team's preseason game against the Saints. Enjoy the day and we'll catch up next week.