Good afternoon and welcome to today's Patriots chat. Thanks for joining in.
Just wanted to say hello and let everyone know I'm ready to go. Will just double check that the chat is working and we'll get it going.
Just a quick test note to see if we're up and running.
Testing from the mother ship ...
I am here in Tampa. Came in late last night on a flight out of Boston. Looking forward to tonight's game, as always. Know the preseason can be tough to digest for some, but I still appreciate some of the lower-level guys on the roster and seeing them develop etc.
Thanks for your patience, as we work through an initial technical glitch, and we'll get started here shortly.
And it looks like we're good to go...
does mallet or hoyer get traded before the season starts? Going wiht the thoguht that their perceived value is peaked right now?
Nothing would surprise me, Yash, although I'm not sure what the market would be. If one of them gets traded, I think it's Hoyer. A team like San Francisco -- in theory -- would make some sense. That's all speculation on my part. I think Mallett sticks throughout this year.
MikeNot happy with your place of employmentESPN Boston Hall of Fame.........NO JOHN HANNAH........BOOOOOOOOOO, thumbs down, dislike button, etc...I'd boycott if it wasn't for you
Thanks for checking out the Hall, Dan. Just five initial inductees. Tough for Hannah to break through a group of Russell, Bird, Orr, Williams and Auerbach. I think he has a strong chance next year.
Mike, are you at all surprised Wilfork received benefits while at "The U"? College football is so big now that it's to the point where everyone expects players to be receiving clothes, food, jewelry, money, etc. Schools should appreciate their athletes more as the revenue generated from athletics ultimately benefits the entire school community.
Mike, I can't say I'm surprised, and it's more my feelings about college athletics than Wilfork himself.
A little off topic here, but what's your best memory of a Patriots game?
I think it would be the 2007 regular-season finale and the back-to-back plays -- Brady to Moss. First, the incompletion on the long bomb. Then going back to Moss the next play for the record-breaking score. That moment right there was hair-on-your-neck raising, especially with the perfect season at stake. That whole night was special to be in the stadium.
Also have fond memories of attending games with my dad, making our way up to the last row in the old stadium, and looking into the press box and saying hello to veteran writers Ron Hobson, Kevin Mannix, Carlo Imelio and others through the glass. We used to bring them food from our tailgate. When I think of sports, a big part of it is memories like that, sharing it with people closest to you and seeing things you'd never thought you'd see.
will the pats keep 3 qbs?
Tim, while we touched on the possibility of a trade earlier in the chat, my sense is that the market won't generate and they'll end up keeping 3 this year. Not sure there's another team in the NFL with a better QB situation outside of N.E. and Green Bay.
Do you expect Big Vince to comment on his time at THE U?
Derek, Vince said last night on Twitter that he doesn't think it's appropriate to comment during the investigation.
Hey Mike, what are your thoughts on why Maneri has remained with the team thus far while a guy like LeVoir, who's been with the team for the last few years and understands the offensive schemes probably a little better, gets cut? Is it a matter of Maneri being that much better than LeVoir, or is Maneri showing some developmental skills that LeVoir isn't? Thanks for your input, Mike. Great stuff as always!
I think Maneri has more upside, CB. He has good feet (former TE) and has developed more strength in the offseason. He played every snap in the preseason opener and had "more positives than negatives" according to Bill Belichick. The Patriots thought enough of him last year to claim him on waivers and give him a spot on the 53-man roster to open the season (before moving him to practice squad).
Mike,as we get closer to roster cuts, can you remind us all of the timeframes involved. For example, how long does someone have to clear waivers? Are there any new changes as a result of the CBA? How many players can remain on the practice squad and...can the Pats just put someone on the practice squad or do other teams get a shot at him first? Love your work.
Here are some answers, Dave:1. Roster cut to 75 is on Aug. 302. Roster cut to 53 is on Sept. 33. Waivers are a 24-hour process4. Practice squad remains at 8 players.5. Practice squad players have to clear waivers first, so any team can claim them.
Mike, I'm curious about the Patriots' travel habits when visiting an opponent, i.e. do they take a commercial jet or do they have a "team" jet? And do you (the media) get to travel with the team, or do you take a separate flight? Thanks for your great chats, Mike!
The Patriots charter their own jet. Media members not affiliated with the team don't travel on the charter, although I've asked some players if I could fit in their luggage in hopes of picking up some inside information.
Mike, in drafting my 53-men roster prediction, I am inclined to have only 2 TEs. As the health of some players are uncertain, I'd like to carry extra interior OL and S instead of TE. I think it will be okay as two of OT have TE experience and they will help the team in 3 TE formation. I also am worried that Hernandez is not a true TE per se and he might not be a good blocker in power situation. Your thoughts?
I think you hit on a good point, MarkJ, in that you have different kinds of TEs. Gronkowski and Hernandez are locks, but Hernandez is not a pure TE. So I think you want to add a third -- either Lee Smith (5th round pick) or Will Yeatman (rookie free agent).
The Offensive line in general and Nate Solder in particular will be tested tonight going up against the Bucs more cohesive front seven. Adrian Clayborn should be a good test for Solder. I would like to see Ridley get a few carries against the Bucs starters to see how he measures up after a solid showing last week. The mobility of Bucs 2nd string QB Josh Johnson will test the discipline of the Pats evolving defense.
All good points, munchkin. I concur.
Hi Mike: I'm a bit confused with the Merriweather thing, why would they let Page go if the team was concerned about safety? I thought this was a strong point on the defense, what do you see lacking here, and is their someone out there better than Brandon?
I feel the same way, Corky. Here is what I think happened: I believe the club liked what it had entering camp and might have been a little disappointed with what Meriweather was doing on the field after that. So their projection was altered after a few weeks of practice. If they knew then what they know now, I think they probably would have re-signed Page. In terms of what's lacking with Meriweather, my sense is that it's playing more within the system and having better chemistry with his fellow safety.
Are you surprised by the seemingly rapid fall of Mark LeVoir? Given the not-insubstantial contract he got, the Pats clearly once thought highly of him. Was there an injury issue?
Don't believe so, John. I was a little surprised at the timing of it. I don't think it will be long before LeVoir is on another team (Chiefs?) because I think he can still play and help a team as a third/fourth OT.
Thoughts on Mallett? I feel that he was the best passer coming out of college and the smear campaign is only gonna make more teams regret not drafting him. Pats fans will love him.
Really impressed, Dave. One of my favorite players to watch in practice. I like the way he works and his arm strength is remarkable. Sometimes I think there is smoke coming off the ball.
Who is the Backup Quarterback for Tom Brady for the New England Patriots in 2011?
I still think it's Brian Hoyer as the No. 2, but that has been a good competition. Want to see more of Mallett in different situations and think we will tonight.
Hi Mike, I remember last pre season the defense stayed very plain and simple throughou the 4 games due to the younger players. This year the team is slightly older but in the first game seemed to call a lot more blitzes and stunts. Do you think this is an indication of trying to be a more aggressive defense or is the team simply further along overall in understanding the playbook and individual assignments?
Eric, I think it's just a little bit of a different style of defense in terms of the techniques they are playing. It's a bit more of an attacking style in my view.
Mike what does your projection for the starting D-line look like at this point? In other words who are your starting 4 on the D-line?
In a perfect Patriots world, I think they're looking at LDE Jermaine Cunningham/DT Vince Wilfork/DT Albert Haynesworth/DE Andre Carter. Eric Moore figures to line up in Cunningham's spot tonight.
Hi Mike love the chat, I was at the teams practice on tuesday and from what I saw Ryan Mallett had a better practice than Brian Hoyer. At one point the offense went for a run after Hoyer threw an interception right into a safety's hands. With the practices that they both have had this week, could Mallett get a majority of the second team reps tonight?
I agree with that obseravtion, Ben. One factor to keep in mind, though, is that Hoyer was running the scout-team offense that day. They were running plays off cards, not their own stuff, so that could have contributed to Hoyer's tough day. He did not look good that day to me.
We are going to the final session of training camp on Saturday. (Rain, rain, stay away). Any quick tips?
Andy, my tips are to lower expectations. It's going to be a short session (maybe just an hour) and I wouldn't expect to see much. So whoever you are coming with, know that you probably won't see as much as you would on a normal practice, but take the time to tour the team's Hall of Fame, and Patriot Place, and make a day of it.
Mike! What's with your man-crush on Andre Carter? Should we expect him to make as big an impact tonight as your boy Kade Weston did in preseason game 1???
Dave, you make me laugh. Carter had a good of practice. I was actually a little disappointed in Weston in the preseason opener. He pushed the pocket a little bit, but I think he's sort of flat-lined since I saw him make a mark earlier in camp. That happens over the course of time and that's why an observation seven days ago required some follow-up as time passes.
Hi Mike. Thanks for chatting today. I am scratching my head a little bit with the way BB is using Jermaine Cunningham. It would seem that he's a little undersized to play DE - even in a 4-3 front. Why not move him to strong side LB? That way you'd have your 3 best linebackers from last year on the field at all times (Mayo, Spikes, Cunningham) and you could utilize the depth at DL (thinking a rotation of Ellis, Carter, Anderson, Moore and Gerard Warren) to still get to the QB. I would think that there's enough speed amongst those guys at the DE position to create the pressure they need - and Cunningham would seem to be an upgrade at OLB from Guyton or Ninkovitch. I realize its a moot point if he's not on the field, of course, so hopefully he gets well quickly. But what are your thoughts on this?
Rob, when I read this, it reminded me a little bit of what the Giants did with Mathias Kiwanuka a few years ago, trying him as an off-the-line linebacker. I do think Cunningham is an on-the-line player in this system, and that strongside LB spot is an off-the-line position in a four-man line. I'm not sure Cunningham is the type of guy you want running down the field with a TE. It might be worth a try, but my first thought is that it wouldn't be the best fit.
Mike, while i do agree that Hoyer & Mallet looked good last week lets not forget they were both playing w/ backups
All fair, Bob.
Mike, I'm a little concerned for Brady's blind side against Tampa Bay tonight. Solder is a rookie with no OTA's, no offseason program, only training camp/practices... Should we be concerned for Brady against Tampa Bay's young and fast 4-3 defense in tonight's "meaningless" exhibition game? It seems that a majority of the Patriots' opponents always seem to 'bring it' in these type of games. Your thoughts?
I definitely think that's something to keep an eye on, Adonde'. I like what I've seen from Solder, although he sometimes seems to struggle with inside moves. Let's watch that tonight.
Why doesn't the NFL have a shorter term DL for non season ending injuries. It doesn't seem financially prudent to pay salaries for players and not play them.
Jim, I'm glad you brought this up. They had talked about introducing this as part of the new CBA, but I don't think it happened. I'm curious why myself. You've given me something to follow up on. Thanks.
Hey Mike! how worried should Patriots fan be that Albert Haynsworth hasn't been seen on the practice field or what is going to be these first two preseason games? Is there any way of knowing if he is going to be a good fit?
I wouldn't worry, Matt. This reminds me of 2007 with Randy Moss. Pats playing it safe. Here is a comment from Bill Belichick from sports radio WEEI earlier this week: "I think Albert has been great since he's been here. He's worked hard. He's done more than really what we've asked him to do. He's put in a lot of extra time and a lot of extra effort to get back on the field, to study, to catch up on things from a playbook standpoint that's he a little behind on."
That tells me all I need to know.
when do you expect Spikes and Ras I back? What are realistic expectations coming off injuries?
Wish I had a better answer for you, Hoogie. I'd estimate within two weeks, but would stress that's solely a guess.
Hey Mike, after Belichick retires from coaching do you think he will move in front office and contiue his drafting magic for the Patriots?
I don't, Alex. I envision him coaching Division 3 college lacrosse somewhere and sipping margaritas on Nantucket.
Mike, I keep getting the feeling if the defense for this team can gel we could have a better overall team than 07, am I crazy or is that possible?
I think the defense could be better, Mike. That offense from '07, I'm not sure we'll ever see that again.
Can I watch the game online tonight?
Can any of our chatters help Matt out? This is not an area of expertise on this end.
Mike,You have noted that you were initially unimpressed with OchoCinco's downfield speed. Although, I have read that he has caught several long passes in practice. No one is comparing him the Randy Moss, but is he our best downfield threat? Over Branch and Price?
It looks that way to me, Matt. I don't see Ochocinco as a blazer but he has beaten some defensive backs deep in practice.
Hi, Mike: Many players on the bubble may find themselves on this year's team because of their contributions to special teams. When a player like Slater is deemed a special teams "ace", what sort of special skills is the player brining to the table? What do the coaches evaluate when they look at the special teams abilities of players? Is it vision, decision-making, judgment, speed, something else, or a combination? Thanks, and keep up the good work!
Good one, Mitchell. I thought Scott O'Brien, the special teams coach, explained this well. Let me see if I can dig up this comments quickly.
Scott O'Brien on Matthew Slater:
"You've got to love him. He has got a passion for it. He is fast, he's big, he's physical. And he's learning as he goes. He's learning to be able to recognize quicker so his reaction becomes quicker so his relocation becomes quicker, which gets him in the best spot he possibly can."
Scott O'Brien on Slater (con't): "That comes with experience too. There's soundness to the madness in coverage."
Good Matthew Slater talk. He's had a nice camp from this view.
Mike, here's a FREE website for those wanting to watch tonight's game: www.firstrowsports.eu.You're welcome! :)
Not sure about online but NFL network is runnning it on tape delay tonight
Is Wes Welker 100% recovered from last season's injury?
Yes, Vic, and Welker said this week he feels as if he's in the best shape of his career. It shows on the field.
Will the Pats play their starters today? Why didn't they do it last week, it seemed like every other team played their entire roster.
I think many of them will, Ravi. Here is a list of players not expected to play tonight.http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/new-england-patriots/post/_/id/4700257/players-unlikely-to-play-what-it-means-2
Hey Mike, this secondary gave up alot of yards last year. In your eyes, how have they addressed the need to upgrade and get better?
Jack, I'd say better pass rush and the return of CB Leigh Bodden should help. Safety a bit shaky right now.
Patriots have injuries up to wazoo... i heard Vereen is going on IR. What's up w/ that?
I've looked at injuries a little bit differently Jim. The main thing right now is balancing getting players ready for the season-opener and the 16-game regular season. Some of the guys who have been held out are more precautionary in nature, I sense. It's all about managing the health of the roster. I'd be surprised if Vereen lands on IR. I think he can help them this year.
Mike - do you have any concerns with Steven Gostkowski returning to pre injury form??
I don't John. He hit from 43 and 46 in the preseason opener and I've seen him cranking it from 53 and beyond in practice. The next step in the progression is handling kickoffs, which he should do in the coming weeks. UMass Chris Koepplin probably handles them tonight.
Hey, Mike love all your work as a journalist! Although a nice player with great energy, there is no way Sergio Brown usurps Meriweather's spot in the starting lineup right?
I'd never say never, Ben, but I'd put my chips on Meriweather at this point.
Do you think Taylor Price has a realistic chance to supplant Branch or Ochocinco for an outside starting job this season?
Not at this point, Colin. Still has to earn the trust of Brady that he'll be in the right spot at the right time.
Another Belichick retirement question -- could you ever see him doing TV when his coaching days or done? I don't see him having that type of personality, but I would have said the same about Parcells, who does a decent job.
I think he'd be good at it, but don't see him being too interested in it.
hey mike, whats up with theres rumors that ochocinco or haynesworth might be cut? are the real rumors?
Dan, I wouldn't read anything into them. They'll be on the team and contributing.
Hey Mike, really enjoy your mailbag and chats. What is Chad Ochocinco truly bringing to this team this year. I feel like at this point in his career he is a mediocre receiver at best. Arn't we still lacking the deep threat to put us over the top that a Taylor Price could become?
Tim, he's a good route-runner and that probably can't be stressed enough when it comes to the Patriots system. Brady demands it. You have to be in the right spot at the right time and developing that rapport between QB/WR is crucial. Price isn't there yet, but he shows promise to keep working with him.
Might Hoyer?s running the scout team this week simply be because he can mimic mobile QB Josh Freeman better than Ryan Mallett? That would make more since than MY wild claim that "a team must be interested in Brian Hoyer."
Maybe Clark. I read into it as a sign that the coaching staff wants to see more from Mallett in this environment. I could be wrong.
From what you have observed at practice, can you offer your opinion on Albert Haynesworth so far? Are you optimistic about what he will do this year? It just seems to me he could be a huge hit or miss type player this year.
Derek, the few practices we saw from him, he looked like a beast to me. I think he helps this team.
Mike, role do you see Dane Fletcher having? Has he vaulted above Guyon on the depth chart?
Peg, I think Guyton has slipped a bit here. Tough preseason opener for him in my view. Fletcher, on the flip side, is on the rise, having taken advantage of Brandon Spikes' injury. I see Fletcher as a top backup when all is said and done, and one who could eventually sneak into the top 3.
Mike, love the blog. What is the deal with Ras-I Dowling? He held out for the first few days of camp, got hurt when he got there, and hasn't been heard from since. In my mind, the first pick of the 2nd round is too valuable to waste on someone could begin the year on PUP. What are your thoughts on his development and his draft selection?
Thanks for the love, Cat. Dowling has a hamstring injury. Just have to be careful there. Obviously disappointing. Still think he helps them this year. Talked to at least one other team that liked him in the second round as well, so don't think it's a major reach.
Mike, what is your opinion as to on Brace's development to date and chancs to make this team?
Don't mean to be hard on Brace, Mort, but I think his status is one of the bigger disappointments of camp. I think he opens camp on the reserve/PUP list and then we see where we are in Week 7.
I have been very impressed by Taylor Price in camp, however once the season starts, what is his role on the team? If Matt Slater is the special teams ace/WR, what role is there for Price behind the Big 3 WR and Edelman?
Real good one, Tom. Right now I see him on the edge of being active on the 46-man game-day roster as a fifth receiver. Depending on the needs of that week, and the health of other receivers, he could be inactive.
Mike:If Matt Light continues to not be on the field, isn't it wiser to to move Vollmer over to the left side, until his return? It would be unfortunate if Solder, because of his lack of experience, misses a block and Brady get injured.
That's how the Patriots opened camp, Karl, and if Light can't play in the season opener it's something to consider. If me, I move Vollmer over in that scenario.
Mike, I thought it was interesting that Bodden was in the slot last week in the Nickel. Do you think that is something we are likely to see during the season and do you think he is the best guy for the role?
Yes and yes slappy. I like him in there. Sturdy at 6-foot-1, 193 pounds, and quick enough to deal with some of the receivers you see inside.
In case you were wondering, the players listed were undrafted players who made the final roster over the last three seasons. This season it actually seems like TE Will Yeatman will be the undrafted player this year to make the squad.
I'm expecting to see a lot of Yeatman tonight, Alvin. I view this as his chance to make a run at fifth-round pick Lee Smith (Marshall) for a roster spot.
Mike, who is the one Patriot's player you are looking forward to seeing most tonight in Tampa Bay? (mine being Ocho)
I've got a little Mallett fever, Jacob. I still think Hoyer is the No. 2, but I've enjoyed watching Mallett in camp. I want to see if he can build off last week.
I've always thought that if the lockout weren't in effect the Pats would have traded Merriweather at the draft.He's a pro-bowler and will want that type of contract,but I don't think nor do I think the Pats believe he's really that caliber of player.What happens with him? Any trade rumors out ther?
At this point, I think the Patriots are better with Meriweather than the value they would get in return (assuming a mid-round pick). That could always change. I look at some of the recent shuffling at the position as trying to light a fire under him.
Will there be any joint practices with other teams during the preseason? Aside from that meathead Jack Del Rio, BB seems to have good relationships with other coaches, right?
I thought they might do it in Detroit, and there was some discussion about doing it with another club, but it looks like that has been shelved for this year, barring a late change.
surprised to hear that t.price wont be playing tonight, thought he had a chance to really standout again especially w tom playing, any particular reason he isn't playing?
Was just a little banged up, Tim, after last Thursday's game.
Hey Mike, are you in Tampa for tonight's game?
I am, Roberto. Always feel fortunate to have this opportunity to travel to games.
Hey, Mike,How has Mike Wright's recovery gone since his concussion in November? Where do you see him fitting in this (semi-)new defense this season?
Bob, I have some concerns for Wright. I didn't get a good vibe after listening to him in an early-camp interview, as something didn't seem right to me. I have hesitated from reading too much into it, but the longer he is out of practice, it makes me wonder about his health. Here's hoping he finds himself in a better place soon. I wonder how much the team can count on him right now, though.
Let's go for another 5...
Mike, do you think Darius Butler is on the outside looking in at CB right now? Will BB feel comfortable going in to the season with McCourty, Bodden, Arrington and Dowling.
Ambrose, I think Butler is really on the edge. Looking forward to seeing him return some kickoffs tonight to see what he can do there. Dowling's hamstring injury might save him.
Mike, who's less likely to work for the media after they retire, Kevin Garnett or Tom Brady?
Brady. Faulk does a nice job on New England Sports Network, as he looks ahead to a future role as an analyst.
Mike which Patriots running back should I take in my fantasy league!?
Tim, I think it's a time share. Would need some more information, but still view Green-Ellis as No. 1.
Over or under 3 series tonight for Brady?
Biggest thing to me, Pete, is how the first few series go. Belichick always seems to have a number of plays in mind, and slightly tweaks it based on the action. 20-25 snaps would be my guess.
Mike, with Wes Welkers contract expiring after this season. What do you think is a realistic deal to keep him here?
I think so, Mark. The pairing between the sides has benefitted both. Why not continue it?
Hi Mike- You said last week that you wanted to see how Taylor Price performed in the preseason game. Well, what's your take on the WR corps? Does this put Tate's spot on the team in doubt?
I keep Tate on, but I can see the case that others make that he could be in trouble.
Interested in watching Ted Larsen tonight. I have always wondered when a team gives up on a player and then they go an succeed elsewhere if the Coaches second guess themselves with their decisions. I trust BB and we are normally on the upside of these ala Woodhead, Moss, Welker etc....
Me too, Mike. Sometimes I think I mention Larsen too much. Had a friend tell me that, and ask me, "Do you think he's John Hannah or something?"
Mike, any chance they keep all 4 tight ends (thinking of Smith and Yeatman here)?
Yes, Nick, I see that as an outside chance. Probably means you're coming down to 5 WRs (not including Slater) and Tate could be the odd man out.
Has Mark Anderson really looked that good in camp?
I wouldn't go over the top, Eric, but I thought he was strong in the preseason opener.
Mike, gun to your head, who is the 3rd tight end, Smith or Yeatman? Or do both make it?
Smith, with the hope that Yeatman lands on practice squad. Could change tonight if Yeatman shows up in big way.
Can you explain the criteria for having a game blackout on local tv?
Butch, it would be not enough tickets sold in home market.
Assuming good health, what do you think is the % of snaps Haynesworth plays this year?
I'd start at 50 percent, Max, and then hope it goes up from there.
Mike, finish this sentence: The best part about covering the Patriots is_____________.
Let's end on this one, Jacob, as it's sort of a fun one. The best about covering the Patriots is ... watching a high level of football, covering one of the greatest coaches of all-time, being paid to do so to take care of my family, and writing to a passionate audience that cares deeply about the team.
Thanks to everyone for joining the chat today. Looking forward to tonight's game. We'll chat again next Thursday.