Good afternoon and welcome to today's chat. Going to take a quick inventory here.
Jelly Belly jellybeans -- check.
Springsteen playing on Sirius -- check.
Cup of coffee nearby -- check.
Got it all, we're ready to roll. What's on your mind today? We'll plan to chat until 1 p.m. ET. One week until training camp starts.
Mike, do any veterans voluntarily join the rookies early, or is that noy allowed?
Corey, my understanding is that the veterans can use the facility, but there are strict rules as to what they are allowed to do. They can't just jump into structured meetings right now, and in fact, I don't think the coaches want that. This is time for the rookies to get their individual attention. They've had some catch-up to do since they were drafted/signed, so it's probably more of a refresher course for them until the veterans officially report.
Do you think the Patriots will sign Andre Cater anytime during training camp?
Alec, after listening to Carter on SiriusXM NFL Radio on Wednesday, I am no longer as confident that Carter will be back. While it certainly could happen, it sounded like he's still working his way back. My hunch is that the Patriots will see what they have early in camp, and if it doesn't look like they envisioned, maybe then they pursue it. But for now, I don't sense anything is imminent.
Here is the link to our Patriots blog on ESPNBoston.com with Carter's comments.
I read Rodak's Bubble Watch on Dennard. If Dennard doesn't make the squad wouldn't he be a likely pick up by another team. Even though he was a late round pick - that was because of off-field concerns. With an offseason of working under the Pats system and the fact that his trial is not until December, wouldn't teams be more interested in him? I don't think Cole or Williams would be in the category. Shouldn't that increase Dennard's chances of making the squad?
Mike Rodak has his doubts about Dennard. I think he'll be on the roster, and that if he was waived, he'd probably get claimed on waivers. But let's not forget the scoreboard on this one: Rodak 1, Reiss 0. Last year, Rodak was correct in predicting Brandon Meriweather's release, while I thought he was off.
Hey Mike. Seems like we've been hosting a fair number of tight-ends over the past couple months. It could just be a training camp numbers/depth issue or injury insurance as Gronk's health is still somewhat in question. But I also wonder whether the team is looking for another standard in-line tight end to line up on the left side to move Hernandez into a more traditional WR role while still maintaining his versatility and not losing our effectiveness out of the 2-TE set. Is the team looking for a stop-gap option until Ballard gets healthy? Thoughts?
George, I think you're on to something. If Visanthe Shiancoe is in shape and they can come to a contract agreement, I think it's a no-brainer signing for the Patriots. Part of it is the Hernandez deal. I think they view him as much as a receiver/H-back as a TE, although they wouldn't say that. Also, you want to spread out some of the training camp workload at a position where it's hard to find guys. Ballard most definitely a 2013 projection than 2012.
Hey Mike, how would rate the ability of our TEs as run blockers? Obviously Gronk is a beast, but if Hernandez and Fells could both play a role in run blocking, do you see the Pats using any 3 TE sets this year? I can imagine having 3 TE on the field that can block and catch causing personel problems for an opposing team.
Absolutely Eric. They did the 3-TE sets quite a bit last year too (the third TE was a converted OL). Part of what makes that effective is that the defense usually counters with a base defense, and Brady can then spread them out with Gronk and Hernandez out wide, and it's just not fair. I expect to see more of it this year. Tight ends are the ultimate "matchup busters" if you can find good ones. As for run-blocking, I'd say Gronk is solid. Fells and Hernandez obviously not at that level, but they are competitive.
Mike, the Wilson pick lands somewhere in the top 3 surprising picks of BB's tenure (possibly THE most surprising). Since we heard next to nothing about the guy leading up to today's start of rookie mini-camp, will you give us your prediction/expectation of what we'll see from Wilson in camp and for the season? Also, let's get real about Carter. I read the repost of his interview today, and I'm thinking his injury was WAY worse than we originally thought. Your take?
On Tavon Wilson, I think the most realistic projection is sub defender (in nickel or dime), playing "in the box", perhaps in a similar role as we saw the Patriots experimenting with Tank Williams a few years back. Also, special teams. As for Andre Carter, I thought the same thing when listening to the Sirius interview. He said he had to re-learn how to walk. Was surprised at that. Class guy. I wish him the best.
I've been watching some clips of Tavon Wilson and it seems that he can contribute on special teams as well. If he can hold his own and Nate Ebner impresses, I think it'll knock Sergio Brown off the roster. Do you think this will happen?
I do, Matt. I think Sergio Brown has a real battle for a roster spot on his hands.
Hey Mike,I wanted to touch on discussion earlier in the week about these safeties around the league getting big contracts, and the correlation of Chung's contract ending at the end of the year. If we see a similar contribution from Chung this year (in my view, good but not elite) what do you expect from the Patriots side of things? I don't think he's a 7 mill+ per/yr guy, not even close actually. It's a while until we reach that point, and I'm sure his 2012 season will impact it heavily. But any idea where you expect this to go?
Tim, my first thought is franchise tag. That tag has been lower than others, making it a bit more manageable for teams to absorb. But before we get to that point, perhaps the sides reach an extension during the season (a la Dan Koppen a few years back). I wouldn't rule that out.
Hey Mike, what do I have to do to get an autograph at training camp?
Elliot, autographs of players are difficult and I'd say to anyone, come with low expectations. But it's worth a try so bring a Sharpie, something for them to sign, and hope for the best. After the practices, fans line up along the rope of the practice fields and players come by (usually a different position group each practice). Good luck.
Do you think the pats treated Welker fairly re his contract?
Keith, I think at the end of the day, when you look at the bottom line, they're paying him $9.5 million to play this year. If that's not fair, I'm not sure what is. That's a high-end-of-the-market contract for one year. I understand why Welker would want even more security, and I don't blame him for holding his line for it. To me, what's important to players is going to vary from case to case, and because of that I never feel comfortable saying what's right or what's not right for a player. But to answer the question, I do think the Patriots are treating Welker fairly.
Can Ballard go on IR once the season starts without being waived?
Yes, Gary, after the cut-down to 53 players.
Hey Mike, Do you think the Pats will carry 7 WR's? It seems that if Stallworth can bring something to the table in the form of KR it would only add to his value. Thanks as always!
I'd be surprised at 7, Tom. Six would be my max number.
Hi Mike, Do you play fantasy football? If so who do you like this year?
Jim, I actually don't play fantasy football. I played it a while back and found it took away my enjoyment of watching the games. I was rooting for my fantasy team instead of just enjoying what was unfolding on the team, and the feeling bothered me. I understand I'm in the minority. I respect the fantasy football, and understand it's a big part of our business, but I've just never caught the bug.
I saw that the Pats are bringing in Visanthe Shiancoe for a visit. My question is why they would do that when they've already brought in and cut another tight end (Bo Scaife) who was supposed to be emergency backup?
Matt, this move would make a lot of sense to me if Shiancoe is in shape and they can agree on a contract. Just filed a blog entry on this before our chat and I am going to cut and paste the link in here now, as it will be quicker to do and keep our chat moving.
Mike what are you most looking forward during training camp for NE its offense or defense?
Probably more defense, just because that's where I think more of the questions reside. Fun to see what the youngsters and newcomers might do as well.
Mike,I am interested in Ridley's ball security. Has anyone broken down (possibly Field Yates from a scouts perspective) the plays that he fumbled last year? Was it fighting for extra yards, poor carrying technique, carelessness, or great defensive play? Just wondering if it is something fixable from a coaching standpoint.Thanks.
Dan, that's a great idea for an update on our blog. I'm going to ask Field if he can do it. If not, maybe I can. Until then, check out this link from Erik Frenz on Bleacher Report. Erik is a hard worker who has occassionally contibuted to our site.
Mike, how many years do you think we have left to enjoy Bill and Tom and, in your hearts of hearts, do you believe that the Pats will WIN another Superbowl during this amazing era?
Steve, I vote for 5 more on Tom Brady, and possibly even longer for Bill Belichick. As for Brady's contract, we know he's locked up through 2014. So that would require another extension.
Mike do you think this is Wes Welker's last season in New England and what do you think was the deciding factor in a deal not getting done?
Anthony, I wouldn't definitely close the book on him right now. I do think it's likely he'll get to the open market in 2013 and then it just becomes a situation where another team potentially outbids the Patriots, or Welker pulls a Ray Allen and decides money isn't the most important thing to him. So, regardless, the Patriots would lose some leverage in that case. As for the deciding factor, I think it was total of guaranteed money and how it was all structured.
Mike, any sense from being arounf Foxboro whether Ras-I Dowling has bulked up, so that he tackles better and is more injury-resistant? I think he's a key piece in the puzzle this year.
Roger, I spoke with Dowling a bit in June and I didn't get the sense that he bulked up. But I know for certain he spent the entire offseason here in New England rehabbing and putting himself in the best possible position to succeed.
Hi Mike! Do you think the Schiancoe visit suggests that Gronk's ankle might not be ready to go at the start of the season?
Rob, I don't read into the Shiancoe visit like that. I think Gronkowski will be ready to go when it matters most -- the regular-season opener. They might manage him a bit more carefully in camp, and perhaps that's where Shiancoe comes into play a bit.
Hey Mike! Cant wait til football STARTS!! Question about the practice squad. Late round draft picks like Ebner, Dennard, and Ebert have little chance of making the 53 man roster with the amount of depth BB and co. have acquired this offseason. How do they become eligible for the practice squad? Do they have to pass through waivers first? I think Dennard will make the team for what it's worth.
Yes, Jim, they do have to pass through waivers and any team can claim them. That's what we saw happen last season with TEs Lee Smith (claimed by Buffalo Bills) and Will Yeatman (claimed by Miami Dolphins). That hurt a bit.
Mike, for me the story of the upcoming training camp is the depth of the roster and all the hard cuts that are going to have to be made. With so many guys who are better, or at least have more potential, than replacement players who are going to have to be cut, it seems like BB's hand is going to be forced. Three specific thoughts: (1) Fewer players make the roster for special teams (other than Slater). Can you really afford to keep Cole or Williams over Dennard, say, with the desperate need for cover corners these days? (2) Offensive personnel groups: Can the NEP really afford 3 TEs (who can't be Ventroned), 3 QBs, and a FB? I don't see how, unless they're prepared for painful cuts at WR and/or OL. I understand the hope that the QBs can be groomed as trade bait, but at what cost to roster depth?! (3) Youth versus veterans. With BB's focus on the future, I wouldn't be surprised to see some surprise cuts of veterans rather than give up on young guys who might have more upside down the road. Any broad brush thoughts about how the roster cuts might shake down?
Great stuff DJ. Seems like yesterday we were talking in the stands at Ford Field. Time flies. Like all your thoughts. The 3 QBs is what I'd focus on. It's just so dangerous to leave yourself thin with just 2. I think you have to keep 3, unless you've just lost belief in one of the backups or think you can get good value in a trade. The FB vs. TE thought was also interesting. Had similar thoughts. Something has to give. The final point would be that these things often have a way of working themselves out in camp (e.g. injuries).
Any update on the jersey numbers of Sterling Moore and Joseph Addai? If Addai takes #29 then what number will Sterling Moore wear?
Derrick, both remain in No. 29 for now.
Hi Mike I'm going to the Pats vs Rams game at Wembley in October and was just wondering if ESPN Boston and yourself were going to be there and if they/you would be holding any events? Thanks
Yes, Connor, I am planning on being there. I look forward to meeting you. Hoping we can plan an informal tweet-up. Stay tuned.
On a subject that's intrigued me throughout recent years. Many pundits would always laud the talents of Scott Pioli with his choices in Patriots drafts. It seemed to me, however, he got all the credit for his earlier choices ('03-'05) Wilfork, Mankins...and Belichik took the hit for drafting the Wheatley, Wilhite, Merriweather, and majority of the 2006 draft class which Pioli was responsible for as well. I understand about the 'hit & miss' and 'Brady 199th pick' factors but no one really delved into who was responsible for those past 'misses' and who should now be given credit for the recent improvement of draft talent.
Michael, my view is that all the picks from 2000-2012 have been Bill Belichick's, with meaningful contributions from Scott Pioli (2000-2008) and Nick Caserio (2009-present) in lead roles in the personnel department. I've always felt Belichick ran the draft room, but relied on Pioli, Caserio and the other scouts/personnel men for organization/opinion/analysis before making the final call himself.
Any chance the Pats bring in another veteran running back after camp cut downs?
I'd be surprised at that one right now, CapeKarl. Maybe if there was an injury situation.
IMO Welker is replaceable. New England's best player in TE 2009 playoff loss to Baltimore was Edelman. What are the chances that: Welker is tagged again, then traded for (a) pick(s), and Edelman becomes the number one slot guy? Or do we simply draft someone?
Sean, varying opinion on Edelman among our chatters. I still believe he has a future at WR; just needs more opportunity. One thing to keep in mind, his contract expires after this season as well. A tag-and-trade of Welker, similar to what the Patriots did with Matt Cassel (2009) and Tebucky Jones (2003) is always a possibility in 2013, but I'd rate it as a longshot. As for the future of the slot position, Welker/Edelman/Jeremy Ebert the top candidates right now. Some say Hernandez, but while I think he helps in the middle of the field, I see his skill set in a bit different light.
Mike,What should we be looking for going into rookie training camp? What should we expect to see from the rookies?
Zack, the things that interest me: 1) Defense. Do we notice anything different and how are the young guys fitting in?; 2) Offensive line. How is it all coming together?; 3) What Devin McCourty will we get?; 4) Who takes the ball at RB?; 5) Health of key players (Gronk, Vollmer, Mankins). Those are just a few...
Is that WR drafted from Ohio still on the team? Does he play any?
Keith, Taylor Price is now with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Hi Mike, what's your take on Matt Light joining your team at ESPN?
Fired up, Brian. First of all, great guy to me and I really respect what he's done with some of his off-field work. It's actually sparked me to try to do my own small part for some causes that have changed our lives (more details on this in the coming weeks/months). Second, the possibility to tap the knowledge of Matt, along with Tedy Bruschi, dramatically increases my understanding of what is happening on the field.
Mike... did you forget about me? Jellybeans?!?!?!
Is that you, Jim? While I'm a fan of the Dots, I have to confess, Jelly Belly's at No. 1 on the depth chart.
Mike, wouldn't Welker pulling a 'Ray Allen' fly in the face of the negotiations that just took place? He won't find any better situation in which to win a title... I say it comes down to money and years, which is hard to begrudge a player with a limited shelf life.
Tom, you could definitely say it would, but when emotions get involved anything is possible. Sometimes it becomes a matter of respect for players.
P.S. -- And while respect is often in the form of money, if it comes one year later than desired, perhaps that changes the dynamic.
It seems to me Arrington was better in the slot last year and Sterling Moore seemed more comfortable on the outside. Assuming McCourty and Dowling also play the outside, who else do you see as having potential to play the slot?
Arrington, Allen, Dennard, Cole the slot guys that seem to fit best based on what we've seen to this point.
mike, brady is getting older but still playing great is his age a concern for the patriots this season
I don't think so, Alex. Looks like the same old Brady, based on what we've seen to this point.
Penalty flag, Mike: You missed answering Dan (Leominster)'s question.
You posted Dan from Leominster's question but didnt post an answer
It is showing up for me. Not you?
Please tell Herm Edwards at ESPN that I don't need any advice from him on how to motivate my players. The last thing I'm telling them is we need to finish the SB off this year, that was last year, we're on to Week 1 and TEN. If he had any idea how to coach he'd be on the sidelines somewhere not wearing my hoodie in front of a camera!
Bill, call me when you get off the V Rings boat. I want to chat :)
Also, regarding a Meet-And-Greet in December for the Fins game, I suggest the Village Grill in Ft. Lauderdale... it's a huge Boston Sports hangout.
Thanks Tom. I'm going to try to reach out to all of our chatters/mailbaggers for suggestions like this over the course of the season. It's going to be fun.
hi Mike. Last year Big Vince played almost 85% of the snaps. With the new additions on the D, how much time do you think Vince will be on the field, and what might be the breakdown of down and distance, Pats being ahead, etc?
Bob, that's a really tough one to answer, but a good one. I think they would want to bring that number down a bit. We know he can do it all, but picking their spots with him a bit more seems like smart business. In terms of what situations, I wouldn't lock it into a down and distance, or scoreboard situation at this point. I'd look at it from the perspective of seeing what else you have available to you on the roster that week -- what are those players' strengths, weaknesses -- and go from there.
OK, the Dan (Leominster) answer is showing up for me now. Flag on me. (My computer's having some minor problems with reading the chat.)
Thanks Matt. That's why we have preseason. No need to throw the flag. The officials aren't coming to camp for another week!
Let's go for another 5...
Mike,Regarding the Welker situation, if the Pats are paying for future performance, then that performance should be defined.That would make it fair for both the team and the player. If the player is paid based on the average of the top 5 at the position,it seems that the expectation should be based on the performance of the top 5 (with Welker's performance not included). At the end of the season, an adjustment should be made based on whether the player exceeds or fails to meet the original expectation of performance. Do you know if this ever happens. I know this is a simple example that does not consider serious injuries and other complications.
If I'm following you right, Phil, the idea is that a player's contract could be adjusted upward or downward based on performance. Almost like having an adjutable rate loan? No such contract truly exists, although the presence of incentives in a contract creates a little bit of that dyanamic. Also, a team can approach a player to reduce his contract if it has plans to cut him. The player might agree, or might not.
I heard that Andre Carter would want to be paid like a pro bowler that he was. What would the price be to re-sign him and would it have to be a multi-year contract?
I'd be surprised if that's accurate, Cody. I think Carter will play this year (assuming good health) and I think he knows he won't get a Pro Bowl contract. Not given his injury situation at this point.
Hey Mike, So excited for training camp to begin! Do you think you will continue to report on the one-on-one drills? I thought your reports were a great indicator as to which pass rushers were really going to excel for the team (if I recall correctly both Andre Carter and Mark Anderson did well in these drills). As for my question, I'm a little surprised Mike Rodak only gave Alfonso Dennard a 45% chance at making the roster. All the media written scouting reports I've read note that Dennard is a very solid player with skills close to those of his former teammate Prince Amukamara. Would you assess his chances similarly or should I just wait a couple weeks and find out for myself?
Thanks Tron. We will continue to report on those one-on-one drills because they are some of the best competition in camp. That's where I first became high on Anderson. On Dennard, we touched on it a bit earlier in the chat. It's a weird dynamic, because a seventh-round pick is no given. At the same time, Dennard has good name recognition. I'd put the number a bit higher, maybe closer to 75 percent, but that's the fun of it. It's just an opinion. Mike Rodak's track record is solid (e.g. Meriweather cut).
I respectfully disagree with your colleague, Mike Rodak, on Dennard having a low probability of making the 53-man roster. In my mind, he's a solid infusion of youth and talent for a unit that ultimately had Julian Edelman taking reps. I understand the thought that Cole & Williams have an edge in special teams, but I think the Pats will get key contributions from other players on the roster in that area (Ebner?), thus opening a spot for Dennard.
Thanks Neil. You're not alone. This is going to be a fun one to follow.
Mike, am I the only one terrified about our offensive line situation? If Mankins and Waters are out of the picture, at least at the start of the year, do we have the depth to keep Brady upright?
AM, I think it's a fair concern. At the same time, if we look at all the top teams, I think they have some similar questions along the o-line. Baltimore. Yes. Houston. Yes. Pittsburgh. Yes. ... This is not an exception. Overall, I think there is enough depth to get by. My bigger question would be the Light-to-Solder transition. I think Solder is capable, but Light played very well last year.
Mike. Are you available for autographs before games? I'll be at the Jags game with my Sharpie!!
Let's catch up in December as that game gets closer. Maybe a tweet-up or something the day before?
Any word on the plan for Ryan Mallet or how he is doing behind the scenes? Seems like he could have been a steal for the Pats where he could become the starter after Brady... or they can can valuable assets for him in a trade?
Frank, this is one of the things I'm also very interested to watch in camp. High expectations for Mallett. He has that cannon. He can really throw the ball. My sense is that he's still trying to put all the other stuff together (e.g. mental, footwork etc.). To me, this remains an unknown.
How concerning is Dennard's legal issue for the team? Could he possibly face jail time?
Dave, with the trial pushed back to December, I think the concern is delayed. I'm not as familiar with the specifics as I should be, so I don't have the answer to the second question. Apologies.
Carter called Hightower a "beast". Can you see him develop into a Ray Lewis type player?
That comment stood out to me, too, Wayne. I think anything is possible for Hightower, a player Bill Belichick has already compared to Mike Vrabel in terms of his potential versatility and smarts.
My browser is all over the place too for what it's worth. I'm getting duplicate answers and out of order answers. Thought it was just me...
Bummer. Same for everyone else too?
What could be another reason why the pats are loading up on TE's? Maybe trading Hernandez while his stock his high? It just seems like they're bringing in a bunch of well known, good players at that position.
Derek, I think the Super Bowl reminder is a painful one. Gronk less than 100 percent and they had to reshape the offense. It's almost as if Belichick is saying, "I'm never going to let that happen again." Also, tough position to find. Can never have enough depth.
Hi Mike. Every year we see a few teams with these young rookie defenders with high motors making huge contributions. Of the rookies on D this year, who do you see getting "starter" type playing time and making that kind of contribution? Hightower? Jones? Bequette? Wilson?
Jimmy, we know they were in sub 63 percent of the time in the regular season and I see all of them as potential contributors in sub. So the playtime numbers could be high for all four if they are healthy. Bequette is one I have a little more question on, just because I've heard mixed things from scouts.
Had to refresh a few times to get it right.
Yeah, wonky chat today. When I refreshed page I found missing and out-of-order answers, though.
Good thing it's preseason. If this was the regular season, there would be fines and suspensions.
Based on Shane Vereen and Steven Ridley's potential, what two backs in the league could you see them turning into?
Great question, Robert, so let's end on it. You're testing me and I want to take a quick moment to scan some depth charts before answering. Start the play-clock...
Vereen (5-9, 205) = speed, sudden. I'm going to aim high for him. I'm not saying he will become this player, but the body type and potential is there to put him in the "possibly similar" category. Ray Rice (5-8, 212).
Again, Rice has done a lot in this league, and I'm not saying Vereen will become Rice. But I see some similarities.
As for Ridley, can we re-start the play clock?
As for Ridley, can we re-start the play clock?
Ridley (5-11, 220). Combination of speed, power. A bit bigger. Was initially thinking McFadden (6-2, 210), but backed off. How about the Saints' Pierre Thomas (5-11, 215). Ridley probably with some more upside, but Thomas a very good player.
Thanks to everyone for anotehr great chat. Went a little overtime today. Appreciate all the participation. Will try to circle back tomorrow on our Patriots blog and answer some more.