Good afternoon. Thanks for joining today's chat. I will go from noon-1 p.m., and then Tedy will be jumping in at 1. I see a lot of questions in here for Tedy, so I will pluck the ones that look like they are for either of us.
I will have to take a short break about 3-4 minutes into the chat for a quick phone interview on SportsCenter, and then I will come right back. So let's get started a few minutes early.
While I know it is extremely rare for the secretive Pats, how common are these joint practices every season?
Hi Jamie. The Saints did them last year with the Texans, so this isn't new to them. I'd say about 8-10 teams might do them annually -- that's an estimate -- but that number might increase with an 18-game season and just 2 preseason games.
Why cant the patriots just shell out the cash to Logan Mankins. They should be doing anything and everything to get him back after all of these injuries
Steve, I think the simple answer is that they feel they made a good offer to him. It's a case where the sides just can't agree on a middle ground. I don't see the Patriots significantly changing their offer based on current injuries, and it seems like there is a significant gap between them.
Do you think Jermaine Cunnigham and Tully Banta-Cain can satisfy the need for efficient pass rushers?
Kevin, I think the Patriots are short one pass rusher right now. I do think Rob Ninkovich could be a factor. He's a high-motor guy who looks quick to me. He's No. 50. Let's see if he shows up tonight.
Hi Mike! Thanks so much for keeping those of us not able to attend training camp in the loop! Could you elaborate a bit on what criteria the Patriots use in building the practice squad? Thank you.
Kristen, the practice squad is for eight players and they can only have a certain amount of NFL experience. So, for example, you couldn't put a veteran like WR Torry Holt on there. In forming the practice squad, the Patriots consider depth of the roster and where they could use more practice bodies. They also look to the future and consider what positions are best to develop young players.
Mike, I'm just wondering what your thoughts are on the Pats releasing Buddy Farnham. I saw him on the field at Brown and he definitely looked like he could hold his own in the NFL someday. Any chance we'll pick him back up for the practice squad once we get other positions squared away? Thanks!
Amy, I could see the Patriots bringing Farnham back on the practice squad during the season at some point. Right now, the teams moves are geared toward managing the roster for the preseason and making sure certain positions aren't taxed for game action. So I wouldn't rule it out. They are pretty deep at WR right now.
Tedy/Mike, With the additions of Crumpler and Gronkowski at TE, big bodies to take up space and defense, do you forsee the patriots running the ball more?
Joe, I think they need to. First, to create more balance. Second, to establish more of a physical identity. I think those TEs can help in that area.
My favorate WR on the roster is Torry Holt. How is he doing?Coukd doing rehab work in these weeks hurt his future with the team?
MarkJ, Holt is a professional. Such a smooth route-runner. He has been running in the second set of WRs in the three-WR package, alongside Taylor Price and Julian Edelman. I look at hom as No. 5-6 on the depth chart right now. I could see him not making this team, because a player in that spot has to usually be a factor on special teams. Wes Welker's quick return seems to have affected his battle for a roster spot.
Going to take a quick break for this phone interview on SportsCenter and will come right back. Short 5-minute timeout. I believe Tedy will follow up with a breakdown, so if you're near the TV, hop on over to SportsCenter.
Questions on SportsCenter were about Tom Brady and his contract; Will Wes Welker play tonight; and the first-team offense.
Thanks for the patience.
Mike, outside of Brady who do you think is the player the Pats could least afford to lose to an injury? Welker? Mayo? Wilfork?
Pete, right now I'd go with Wilfork. This team is banged up along the defensive front and losing him might lead to a collapse of the foundation they are trying to build.
Should we read anything into the fact that the winners of the off-season program were mainly second tier players? Should we be disappointed that relatively few of the starters were on the list?
I wouldn't read too much into that Jeff, without us knowing for sure what the criteria was for picking the awards. It's usually attendance, improvement from last year and performance. But I'm not sure if that is still the case.
hello riess... i was wondering with all the young players on defense why wouldn't the patriots try to find some older more experence players to help the young ones grow and mature? also why dont the patriots keep torri holt he is still valuable for his maturity and prescence?
Brian, I think they have a good mix between young and old on defense. A player like Leigh Bodden (8th season) helps the younger corners. A player like Jerod Mayo is only in his third season, but he's an "older" youngster based on his experience and maturity. Tully Banta-Cain (8th year) leads the OLBs, and the DL is quite experienced. On Holt, I think the Patriots would like to keep him, but it will come down to some tough decisions with special teams and Wes Welker in mind. I see Holt as insurance for Welker/Tate and right now, both Welker/Tate look like they are on course.
As of today it looks like there are 5 olbs on the roster. so when the Pats play their base 3-4, thats two starters and 3 backups. Is that enough depth for an entire season? Are there any other players already on the roster that could step in as an OLB such as an inside 'backer or a DE?
Ben, I think that is enough based on what they've gone with in the past in terms of pure numbers. Gary Guyton has played some OLB, in 2008, and while it's not ideal, he could be an emergency option. Maybe Brandon Spikes, too, but I don't think Guyton or Spikes is ideal there.
Mike, Sacking the QB is important but so is hurrying the QB. Are hurries on the QB an official NFL defensive stat? Is that something you could track for your readers during the season.?
Hurries would be a good one, David. That sounds like a good idea. It might be something easier to do after reviewing the game on tape. Hurries are not an official stat.
Mike, can you offer any insight on what is going on with Ron Brace? He has been present every day, working out with the conditioning coach, but apparently has not yet passed his physical. Do you know how regularly he attempts to pass the physical? And if he isn't trying to pass it everyday, is that his decision or the team's? Do you know what his physical entails? This seems like a very strange story, and they could really use him on the D-line right now.
Brad, I don't have any of those details locked down unfortunately. The Boston Herald reported that Brace did not pass the conditioning test, and I took that to mean the team felt he didn't come ready to work in terms of being in shape. I don't know how regularly he attempts to pass the physical, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn there was some "roster management" thinking when it came to Brace. Maybe the team feels he's already missed crucial time and the plan is to keep him on the reserve list for the first 6 games and preserve his roster spot.
Hi Mike, Do you think Spikes can play OLB? I read that he recently took reps there.
Alvin, I think Spikes could do it, but it's not ideal. He has not worked at OLB in the base defense in this training camp (he has lined up outside the tackle in a sub package because that was his assignment). I think he has his hands full with ILB right now.
is spikes really going to start? if so, he could be the steal of the draft
I think so. I sense that Bill Belichick is intrigued by Spikes' instincts and feel for the game. Tonight will be a good test to see how he hangs in against a tough offense.
Have Gronk and Hernandez exploited the Saints LB's/S's over the last couple of days as they were against the Pats LB's/S's?
Glenn, I think you are going to really like Hernandez. He's been the top rookie in camp in my opinion. Both showed up at different times in the joint practices. They will be a big factor for this team.
Hey Mike, could you see a Logan Mankins for Lamar Woodley trade? Both players have one year remaining on their deals and are entering the prime of their careers.
I don't think so, Mukundh, mainly because I don't see the Steelers going that route.
Did any of the Pats' secondary stand out against the Saints' elite passing game?
Nothing stood out to me, Damas. Darius Butler seemed to be in good position but had some trouble making plays on the ball. Devin McCourty hung in there, while the safeties looked sound. But overall, nothing that made you really take note.
Do you think the patriots defense has improved from last year and do you think rookies like Brandon Spikes, Jermaine Cunningham, and Devin McCourty will have an impact on defense?
The concern I'd have is the pass rush and defensive end spots. I think the preseason games will tell us some more. Right now, I'd be hesitant to say definitively that they will be better.
Have you heard any thoughts of using more 4-3 this year due to the dearth of experience @ LB?
Greg, I have not seen much 4-3 work in camp. We know it's part of the team's package, but right now, I don't see anything that signals a major shift to the four-man line.
How does Vince Wilfork look? It seemed to me that he struggled a bit without elite talent at the ends. Is he ready to be a leader of the defense?
Solid, Henry. An anchor. Consistent through 22 practices.
I think that Mankins is irreplaceable, but I think also that he will not be back, so I was wondering what do you think of Dan Connolly. I read that he lack some strenght, is it true?And do you think that the Patriots would trade for an LG?
Hi Matteo. Connolly reminds me of Russ Hochstein in the sense that you can win with him, but it's a dropoff from the first guy on the depth chart.
Mike, can you explain how practice squad eligibility works? How come a player like Green-Ellis won't be eligible for the practice squad, but Wheatley will?
Arjuna, a player's eligibility on the practice squad is affected, in part, by the number of games a player has played in during a season.
Mike, I heard that Ricky Sapp probably won't make the Eagles team. Would you try and sign him?
I do think they are one rusher short, Ric, but I haven't seen enough of Sapp to have an informed opinion one way or the other.
How has Tate and Price look against the Saints defense? You have mentioned that they needed to get some press coverage against them for a better overall evaluation.
I didn't see much press coverage in the joint practices, Glenn. Overall, though, I thought both looked like they belonged.
At first I thought watching the TE's and Tate on offense and the secondary's growth on defense would be the most critical point of tonight's game. But now with the holdout and injuries, it looks like watching the O and D-Lines will be more critical to seeing what the Pats can do on both sides of the deal. Your thoughts and what can we expect from them tonight?
Good point, Jack. The old cliche is that games are won and lost on the line. The Patriots are banged up along both sides of the line. One player to watch is Kade Weston, No. 66, at left end. He should play a lot of the game alongside Kyle Love (NT) and Brandon Deaderick (RDE). Maybe he flashes and could be an option to help at the all-important end spot.
Hi Mike. I would like to know what do you think about the camp that is having Brady. Do you think that is better than last year in august?And the same question fo Hoyer!Thanks
Solid for both. Hoyer looks like he's taken another step in his progression.
Do the Pats value Julian Edelman to keep him on the field in a slot position because based on his growth last year it would be a shame if they get enamored with Taylor Price or even Brandon Tate....Edelman looks to be the real deal ala Welker and Chrebet do you agree?
I think they are very high on Edelman, Rob. The question is where he fits with Welker on the field. It looks to me like the Patriots like Tate as the No. 3 option alongside Welker and Moss, because they view his skill set as best complementing the other two.
Mike, Do you get the sense that Derrick Burgess is simply waiting for the two-a-days to end- His lingering retirement decision seems a bit forced- particulalry given that he is not leaving behind some kind of substantial legacy as an NFL player.
Tough to tell Tom. I really don't have a feel on the Burgess situation.
Hi Mike - in your final roster projection, you have McKenzie not making the team...could you explain a little more why you have him on the outside looking in? Thanks!!
Sure Greg. Right now I look at the depth chart at ILB as Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes and Gary Guyton 1-2-3. They are locks. So then you are looking at Tyrone McKenzie, Thomas Williams and Eric Alexander at the 4-5-6 spots. You're probably keeping four there, maybe five. In my projection, I viewed Williams as having a better camp than McKenzie, while also factoring in his versatility to line up at fullback. It's hard not to root for McKenzie, as he's been through a lot, but I haven't seen much standing out right now and sometimes he seems to get caught up in the wash playing on the inside of that 3-4 defense. I want to see him in the games to better judge how well he is running. So the projection can always change after seeing games. My thoughts are based mostly on training camp practices and what we've seen in the past.
Mike, regarding Mankins, I feel that there is very little chance he ever puts on a Pats uniform again. Both sides are uniquely devoted to their positions here, and I don't see either of them conceding enough to the other to come to an agreement. In that vein, it seems foolish to me that they would not try to get something for him. At what point are we most likely to see a trade? Do you think Mankins would have to have an agreement in place with his new team before such a trade could be completed?
Brad, I don't think the door is necessarily closed to Mankins coming back. Sometimes a player's mindset can change when the game checks aren't coming in, or there is a realization that the game is moving on without them. If there was a trade, Mankins would have to have an agreement in place, because a player can't be traded without a signed contract. So there would be some logistics there to consummating the trade -- the Patriots would technically have to sign him to one deal, and then trade him to the team that he's worked out the other deal with.
During the regular season do you think we will see the Defense blitz some more to get some pressure on the QB?
Rich, the Patriots blitzed 40 percent of the time last season, which made them the seventh-most blitzing team in the NFL. I think what they need more than the blitz is the ability to get pressure with the standard four rushers. That's why players like Tully Banta-Cain, Rob Ninkovich and Jermaine Cunningham will be key to watch tonight.
Hey Mike, who is one rookie you're excited to see and think will play immediately?
Craig, I'd go with TE Aaron Hernandez. Very impressive camp.
Hey Mike, thanks for all your hard work bringing us the best insights and news from training camp. There has been a lot of buzz about Brandon Spikes (and I am excited to watch him tonight) but I was wondering what you have seen from Tyrone McKenzie. Has he shown anything to make the Pats think he will be a solid contributor in sub-packages on defense or special teams this year?
A hard hitter, Ian. I think he is still getting his legs under him coming back from that knee injury.
Mike, I was at practice yesterday and noted Kyle Arrington lining up opposite Darius Butler with what appeared to be the first string defense. I realize Bodden's hurt, but Arrington's inclusion with that unit surprised me. Is this an indictment of Wilhite, Wheatley, etc?
I don't think so, Neil. Arrington has spent most of camp working at LCB, so with Darius Butler kicked over to the right side, that spot should be manned by Devin McCourty tonight. When it's time for the reserves, Arrington will probably see a lot of time at LCB, with Wheatley at his customary RCB spot. Wilhite has been getting eased back into the mix after missing time with a hamstring injury. I think they know what they have in Wilhite and Wheatley and it's an evaluation thing with Arrington.
Hopefully this will be a moot point soon enough, but it kind of bothers me that Kraft's reason for not extending Brady is because he doesn't know what the "rules" will be in the future. Isn't he considered a leader among the owners? And won't all the owners be a part of making the salary cap "rules"? I find it hard to believe that the owners can't be creative with grandfathering in some contracts. I don't think the union would be against players receiving big money this year. I think it's bordering on collusion among the owners. Am I wrong in my thinking?
I think "not knowing the rules" can be a convenient crutch for ownership, but I do believe there is some validity to the thought. I also think it works both ways. From Brady's perspective, you also want to sign a deal that you think will hold up well when the new rules are applied in 2011.
Hi Mike,For the first time in a longtime I have no idea what to to expect from this Patriots Team. I'm excited about the injection of youth, but would you be suprised if this team went through a re-building yr with an 8-8 record?
Nick, my view of this team is that it has a lot of exciting young players. With that comes an element of the unknown. If things break right for them early, it could be something special. If things don't break right, it could be a longer-than-expected year.
Mike or Tedy, since we need help on the D line, which of the D line lower draft picks - B. Deaderick and K. Weston - look like they might develop into a good player (like M. Pryor did as a rookie)? Also, what contribution will T. Welch have on the O line this year based on what he's shown in camp?
I like Weston's size. He made an impressive stop on the goal-line in one training camp practice. As for Welch, I don't expect much this year, but I envision him making the roster as a strong developmental prospect. A player like him would be scooped up on waivers, I believe, by a tackle-needy team.
Mike, Tedy,I just read about the Saints injury to RB Hamilton. Did this injury happen on the new Gillette Stadium turf? If so, is this not a concern for players? I mean, a blown ACL while running a 1/2 speed drill seems hard to understand. I know the new field turf is supposed to be better, but this is kind of scary.Tedy specifically, what was the difference you noticed going from grass to the original field turf? Also, what are your thoughts about the new field turf compared to the old?
Jan, that was on the practice fields, not the new turf.
Mike,Have you heard any rumblings about signing Aaron Schobel? He has always been a dynamic pass rusher. It seems like he could really help the team out if he was willing to come here.
The rumblings I've heard is that Schobel hasn't shown much interest in playing anywhere but Houston at this point. At this point, I don't think the Patriots will allow themselves to be used as leverage to jack up the price on another team unless they thought they had a real chance on him. That could always change, but that's my read on it right now.
I know the Patriots want to be more physical and run the ball this year but with the injury riddled o line in limbo will they scrap this idea? It seems that the Pats have the best wide out and tight end combination they have had in years will this also contribute to running the ball less?
Evan, I saw some positive strides in the run game in one of the recent practices with the Saints. I think they can still stick with the running game and be successful. It's a commitment issue to me.
Mike - the Patriots just released LG Darnell Stapleton who was recently signed to provide depth at the guard position in the absence of Logan Mankins and Nick Kaczur...could this mean that something positive is happening with either Nick or Logan?
Nick, I don't believe that is the case. More than anything, I see the Patriots just managing their roster for the preseason opener. They don't want to overtax ceratin players and RB Thomas Clayton gives them another body on special teams.
will welker play tonight?
It is still up in the air, Killian. Welker hasn't faced live tackling to this point, and my hunch is that Bill Belichick would like to see him do that in more of a controlled setting. But nothing would surprise me.
Mike,I've read a ton about Brady's outbursts of frustration during practice from the training camp reports. Is it possible that his contract negotiations are spilling over to his play on the field? I have no doubt Brady will be given everything he deserves by the Patriots organization, but the frequency of the outbursts has been a little alarming.
Tedy, I want to put you on the spot right from the get go. If you are in charge of the Patriots defense how are you going to resolve the issues we have at the outside linebacker position, how do you prevent that position from being a huge liability?
I'd say absolutely not C.J. He is just trying to raise the level of play. He can compartmentalize that stuff very well.
I will take a couple of more questions before Tedy arrives...
OK everybody, we have a game to watch tonight. Real excited for the season. Let's talk some Patriots football.
What can we realistically except from Myron Pryor? He was much better than we expected last year.
Mike, I'd say sub rusher and interior option in four-man line schemes. Looks like he'll make the club and contribute. Backup NT to Wilfork as well. I think maybe a little better than we saw last year.
Hi Mike. We all heard that Spikes is impressing everyone at camp, but how is progressing his friend Cunningham? How do you judge him in the three phases (run, rush and coverage).
Neil, the season didn't start off well with the absence of Derrick Burgess and the release of Crabel. Tully Banta-Cain can hold down his side, but it's a huge question of who's going to be that OLB. Right now you're hoping Cunningham, the rookie can step up, but if he doesn't, Coach Belichick can always switch to a 4-3. But those plans are being thwarted due to the injury of Ty Warren. I feel like the defensive front seven couldn't have had a worse start to the season.
Tedy, only a few LB can do both inside and outside. Would you sort out, in the Patriots defence system, what are the major requirements for both positions?
Let's end on this one, Mimmo, before Tedy comes in here. Cunningham looks really fast to me. I like his speed rush. Tough player. It looked like he turned his ankle yesterday, so I'm curious to see if that affects him at all tonight. The best way to judge him is to see it in games, so let's wait for a few of those, but I'd say he shows promise.
Thanks to everyone for chatting over the first hour. Now it's Tedy's time.
The body type you want from an OLB has heighth and long arms. Think Mike Vrabel. He has to be strong versus TEs and have the ability to rush the passer. The ILB has to be tough and smart. He's the one that's going to be taking on the OG all day and making constant adjustments. I played at 6-1, 240 pounds, but I've seen it done from many different body types. In this defense, intelligence is the No. 1 trait you must have.
Hi Tedy, How many reps do you think Brady gets againts the Saints on Thursday? Do you think the defensive starters will get more reps than the offense?
At most, Tom will play a quarter and a half. Same with the defense. Then again, I've been a part of preseason games where we played awful and coach Belichick kept us in through the second half. Coach Belichick wants precise execution and if you do that, you'll be on the bench drinking Gatorade.
Tedy, you have always said players' contract situations are their own business. On Hard Knocks last night, it seemed the players on the Jets were letting it become a distraction. Do you see this situation hurting the locker room dynamic?
Aaron, I've been a part of teammate holdouts before. I've always respected when players wanted to play hardball for a better contract, but I never let it effect my job. The difference in New York is this: with Hard Knocks and all of the media attention this holdout is getting, the chances of it becoming a distraction for these players is much greater.
Hey Tedy, grew up watching you and love reading your input now here on the site...What do you think will be the toughest part of adjusting to the pro game for young Pats linebackers Spikes, Cunningham, McKenzie etc.?
Mike, the toughest part for these young linebackers is going to be making adjustments until the ball is snapped. Sometimes you have to make adjustments post snap also. Coach Belichick believes in adjusting to what offenses do. When you come from a program that wasn't as detailed oriented as the Patriots is, it can be difficult to get used to.
Question for Tedy: How would Schobel fit in this defense/lockeroom and how did the team feel when guys who played well against you (like Welker) came to the Pats?
I get the feeling that Schobel doesn't want to play in the 3-4. That was one of the problems he had with Buffalo. He wants to go home and play for the Texans. One other thing that's going to prevent him from coming here is he wants big money.
So Tedy do you expect Moss to have a even greater season than he had in the last two seasons because he had a great off season workout
Marcus, there are two things that will be good for Patriots fans regarding Randy Moss. Randy has said he wants to play more years and he's going into the last year of his contract. So for Randy to play additional years and get hte contract that he feels he deserves, he will have to have a productive year. The more TDs he scores is best for him and the Patriots.
Tedy. Do you see the Pats picking up any cut players as the pre-season roster for other teams starts to shape up?
You're right on the money Michael. The Patriots never rest in evaluating the talent of other teams in the NFL. In the preseason, young players know they're not just trying to make the team they're playing for, they're putting film out there for other teams to view, because the chances for them to be released can be high. I would anticipate more moves by the Patriots before the season begins.
Teddy Spikes has gotten a ton of pub through training camp thus far for his instincts and play- How would you size him up at this point (is the hype in anyway warrented)?
The one thing I hear about Spikes is that he's instinctive. That's the best thing you can say about an ILB. I know he's considered slow, but instincts can make up for that lack of speed. He has a chance to be a starter on this team.
Hey Tedy, big fan, been wearing your jersey on game days for many years. Could you comment on the unique characteristics of a Bill Belichick 3-4 defense as compared to other 3-4 defenses around the NFL? Is it more read and react as oppose to defenses like the Steelers/Jets which are more attacking?
Mike, I think you should be conducting this chat. You hit it on the head about the difference between the Patriots' 3-4 and other teams.
Tedy,Will the 2010 Pats run the ball with effectiveness? Last year's stats will tell you we could run the ball, but we all know this was a problem area, particularly when in obvious running situations. If we can run consistently this year I think this team can be an excellent one. Your thoughts?
This is one of my question marks for this team offensively. Welker's come back should be solid. The two new TEs are a great addition and should contribute. I'm worried about their effectiveness running the ball. I know we say this every year, but Laurence Maroney has to step up. If they can't run the ball somehow, someway, this team will struggle.
Hi Tedy, Do you think Tyrone McKenzie makes this team? I think his size and aggression make him better for that position than Spikes.
I've never met another player who is more eager to learn than Tyrone McKenzie. His knee injury last year was a huge set back. The emergence of Spikes hurts his roster spot, but I still think he's got a great chance to make this team. Keep an eye out on special teams for him tonight. He has to perform in that area of the game.
Tedy- who do you think is more of a threat to us in the East- Jets or Dolphins? Why?
I think the Jets are more of a threat. I think the Dolphins defense is suspect. There's a lot of Chad Henne loving out there, but he is unproven in my mind.
Hey Tedy, can you look into your crystal ball for us? It seems like youth is ready to shine on defense (and at WR and TE), where do you think that puts to Patriots in the next 5 years?
You're right about one thing Andy, this team is getting younger. It's the development of these younger players that will propel the future of this team. Is Devin McCourty for real? Can Darrius Butler step up? Will Jerod Mayo take his game to the next level? How much will Rob Gronkowski contribute? Is Brandon Spikes a player? Stay tuned.
Tedy, where do you see the patriots and jets ending up this year? Who do you think improved more? What will give one team the edge over the other?
I think it's the Jets or the Pats to win the AFC East. After watching Hard Knocks last night, I'm liking the Patriots more and more. The coaches on the Jets seem to be talking like they can't win without Revis. This is an explosive situation. I like how the Patriots have stayed quiet and gone about their work. Earlier in the offseason, I liked the Jets. But as I further assess this, I don't like teams with drama and now I'm thinking the way the Patriots are handling themselves in the training camp that they're looking more and more like AFC East champs again.
One of my favorite players growing up was Chris Slade- what was he like for you as a player/teammate?
Chris Slade was the first guy I carried shoulder pads for. I hated him for a day but after that, I looked up to him for the rest of my career.
Tedy, it is great to have one of the penultimate Patriots chatting with us on the ESPNBoston website. One of the rule changes addressed by visiting officials earlier in the week is an expansion of the "defenseless receiver" rule. Defenders are no longer allowed to hit a receiver, even if he is catching the ball, until he is able to anticipate and defend the hit. It seems to me that this will create a significant impact of the way defenses play and eliminates the possibility of the ball being jarred loose in the half second after the receiver has caught it. How do you see this impacting defenses?
Look to this new rule being called closely during the preseason. But if I'm a defender, I change nothing about the way I hit receivers. I stay away from helmet to helmet contact, but I don't lose my aggressiveness. That's a great way for defenders to handle this new rule: let the officials make the call and then go from there.
Tedy. Do you see any of the current DBs being more of a agressive blitzing type like Law and Harrison?
Patrick Chung has caught my eye this offseason. He's a smart player that's very aggressive. Look for him to fill that role of a do-it-all safety.
Tedy, hey man! Which TE do you think will have a bigger overall impact this year (blocking, receiving, red zone): Rob Gronkowski or Aaron Hernandez?
Lynchy, I'm hearing Aaron Hernandez is going to be special. He's a receiver in a TEs body. Let's see if Billy O'Brien uses him properly. On an overall aspect of TE contribution, I think Gronkowski has the possibility of being an every down contributor.
Hey Teddy, whats your opinion on Brian Hoyer? I liked him at Mich St and thought he did ok last season. Hows he doing in camp and what do you like/dislike about his game?
Zack, I know the coaches think highly of Brian Hoyer. The preseason is where he earns his keep. He must look good during these games or they will search out a veteran to be Tom's backup. Hoyer has gotten it done in the past, but he must show continued development in that offense.
Teddy, who do you think will be the toughest road game this year?
We will find out real early if the Pats can improve on their 1-6 record on the road last year. I say 1-6, because I don't count a road win in London versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Week 2 versus the New York Jets. Get it done.
Everyone in Pats nation will be watching the Raiders closely this season because of the draft pick. What is your feeling/what are you hearing on that team? 9-7? 8-8?
It's amazing what happens when you get rid of a negative influence like JaMarcus Russell. The Raiders believe they can win this year. For Pats fans, you don't want that to happen. But they play in a weak division and they have a possibility of going 8-8. I know you all are hoping for 0-16.
Tedy - how do you see the Logan Mankins situation shaking out? Trade? One-year pact? Long-term Deal? Or is the guy really going to sit out one year, possibly even two (with the labor deal)?
Worst case scenario we will see Mankins return in Week 10. That's how he will get his year toward free agency. Mankins is serious. The Patriots need to step up.
Who was the toughest player to tackle that you played against? LT in his prime? Barry Sanders?
Barry Sanders? I'm not that old.
What is your take on Tom's contract situation? Troy Brown mentioned last week that he thought something would get done prior to Tom playing in tonight's game- Would that be a priority for you if you Tom?
There's never a timeline on contracts of this magnitude. Everyone, I mean everyone, wants to see this contract completed. But when you're talking about possibly making Tom the highest paid player in the NFL, these things take time. Once again, stay tuned.
All right everybody, I have to run and do NFL Live. I'll be on at 4 p.m. with Cris Carter. I'll be watching the game tonight like everyone else. Go Pats!