Good afternoon and welcome to today's chat. I'm here in Tampa at One Buccaneers Place following today's joint practice between the Patriots and Buccaneers.
It's been a spirited couple days here. From a media perspective, it's always interesting to see a different facility, a different locker room, a different way of doing things. The Buccaneers have a nice set-up here. As Bill Belichick joked at his Wednesday news conference, "they're treating you guys pretty good."
Let's get it going today. We'll extend until 2 p.m.. What's on your mind?
What do you believe the Patriots should do with Alfonzo "Fonzie" Dennard.
Zachary, Dennard just returned to practice Wednesday/Thursday after missing 16 practices with a hamstring injury. So I think the evaluation period over the next week is crucial. If they see enough, he could stick as a fifth cornerback. If they don't, I think it's a waive-and-hope-he-makes-it-practice squad type of deal. Tough call. I initially had him on IR, but now that he's back, I think it could go either way. I'm going to try to sneak him on to my next roster projection.
Now that you ahve seen us against someone else: Is the front seven not as good as in practice because the Oline is weak; or is the Oline better than they seem, they just have to practice against a great front seven.
Montreal, we didn't get to watch this aspect of practice. We only got to see the first half-hour of practice -- no 11-on-11 stuff. In the games we've seen, I think it's looked good.
Hey Mike, how is Jake Bequette doing this preseason? I haven't heard or seen much about him after he was drafted and it seemed like he might be able to carve out a role as third down pass-rusher.
Cole, Bequette caught my eyes today because he was wearing white sleeves under his jersey, sort of the Under Armour type stuff. In this heat, I was thinking that was a little different. In terms of his play, I think he's shown quickness off the edge. Looks like a No. 5 DE on the depth chart right now behind Jones, Ninkovich, Cunningham and Scott.
After Will Allen's performance when he came in for Patrick Chung, do you believe he has a good chance of making the 53 man roster
Just doubled you up Zachary, because Allen was a player I wanted to touch on. Don't think we'll see him Friday, as he walked off with a member of the athletic training staff after agility drills today. I think it's going to be hard for him to crack this roster, but Chung's injury could help. So I'd say it's contingent on how healthy Chung is.
Should I be worried about our Depth at Tight End? Is Fells really capable of giving Gronk or Hernandez a rest once in a while?
No worries, Kevin. Fells is good enough to help out if needd. Good depth there.
With the first cut of the roster happening on Monday, should we expect players possibly headed to the practice squad to still be on the roster on Tuesday? My candidates would be Ebert, Urban or Silvestro, maybe Bolden or Kettani, Jeremiah Warren, and a OL man or two. Who do you think might be cut for the practice squad (assuming they clear waivers)?
Gary, the practice squad can't be formed until Sept. 1 at noon ET. Of all the names mentioned, I think Bolden has the best chance to potentially be on the roster. All the others would be good candidates, assuming I have my practice squad rules down correctly.
When could Brian Waters come back because it looks like we need him? Do you see Jeff Demps making the roster? How many players are allowed on the practice squad?
Max, I'm starting to doubt on Waters coming back, but it's just speculatory on my part. As for Demps, I see him on the final 53-man roster. The practice squad is an 8-man max.
Reports on Julian Edelman have been pretty positive this pre-season. Do you think he has the skill set to fill in for Deion Branch's role from last season? Or is he forever stuck behind Welker/Hernandez as an 'inside' receiver?
Matt, I think he's more of an inside WR. Agree on Edelman having a strong camp, but would just mention that some of his decision-making on punts/kickoffs has been a little shaky of late. Needs some tightening up and I think he will do that.
Mike, whats your take on the possibility of the Patriots making a play for Maurice Jones-Drew? What would the Pats need to give up in your opinion? Welker? Draft picks?
I don't see it, Elliot. Don't think they want to pay big bucks at that position, and believe they like the youth and upside they have at the position -- especially at the economic value they have it.
Has Josh Barrett shown anything in camp? Have not heard a word about him. Is he in the mix at safety at all? Thanks.
David, I don't see Barrett in the safety mix. If I had to break down the depth chart, it looks like Gregory-Chung, Wilson-Ihedigbo and then Ebner.
How has Dan Koppen been recovering from his gruesome injury ?
Shana, I think Koppen has made a comeback in the last 10 days. I'm glad I kept him on my roster projection. I think he's going to make the club.
I know it is a little premature to think this, but with how good [Chandler] Jones has been looking, is it possible the Patriots could sign Andre Carter and have their own version of Freeney and Mathis? With the LB's the Pats have every QB we face would be scared to death. Do you think this is possible?
Conrad, I'd be surprised at a Carter signing at this point. I think they really like the Jones/Ninkovich pairing at end. Ninkovich is really quick. Plays hard. Disciplined. Then with Cunningham as the third man in, it's a nice group at end, and there is more promise behind them with Bequette and possibly Francis.
Maybe it's a bit too premature, but I am extremely excited about the signing of Jeff Demps. To what extent do you think he will be used this year? Will he be just a special teamer, or will he be a factor at half back?
Clayton, I can't think of another rookie free agent that has generated as much excitement as Demps. My guess would be that Demps is primary a kickoff returner initially and is gradually eased into the offensive mix at RB. Someone asked if he could threaten Danny Woodhead for a roster spot. I'd be surprised if that happened, but they do play similar roles.
Mike you describe the Bucks practice facilities and how they compare to the Pats. It didn't look like the facility was right next to the stadium like the Pats have. Which do you like best?
Pete, I really enjoy stuff like this. The stadium is within walking distance of the Bucs' facilities here. So a nice set-up. I'm just not sure if the Bucs can use the stadium whenever they like, which would be great if that was the case. I sort of like the Patriots' set-up best -- facilities right at the stadium so you can get right on that field when you want. But this is very nice too.
Hi Mike, with Solder struggling at LT, and Vollmer having played fairly well when he had played there, do you see a switching of positions.
I don't see it, Kenney, and I said this before Dante Scarnecchia passionately defended both Solder and Cannon on Wednesday. Have to give them some time. There are going to be some growing pains, but Solder, in particular, is going to be a good player.
I noticed against Philadelphia, there seemed to be an emphasis placed on screen plays, which didn't seem to go over all to well save one play. Do you think we'll see a ton of them this season, or is it a case of "I don't want to show you too much".
Patrick, I do think we'll see more of the screen this year under Josh McDaniels.
Whts Patrick Chung health looking like? Think he'll play against Tampa? We def need him healthy
Thomas, a fairly safe bet we won't see Chung as he hasn't practiced the last two days.
I thought Nike Foles, the 3rd stringer rookie of the Eagles did an excellent job passing the ball against us, does that put any worry for you that the patriots will again be very weak against the pass?
Not so much, Danny. I think it's hard to read into preseason games like that. A lot of key defenders were out as well.
I really expect huge improvement on the line with Mankins and Seabass back - particularly on the left side. I think part of Solder's issues have been the lack of veteran experience helping him prepare for coverage each play - which he received all last year from either Waters or Mankins. Do you agree?
Mike, I could that a little bit. But more so, what I see is a few technique breakdowns. Nothing that can't be corrected.
Didn't you feel that the defense was only a piece or two away from being a good defense last year? They needed a free safety to compliment Chung. They pick up Gregory. Check. They needed a edge pass-rush. They pick up Scott, draft Jones and Bequette. They had very good LBs in Spikes and Mayo so they pick up Hightower to elevate the corps even more. Overall this D looks faster and versatile. There's a lot to look forward to. If McCourty finds his 2010 form this defense will be elite.
Eric, I do think there are positive things to look forward to with the defense. I'm also a little hesitant to read too much into these preseason results, as I remember doing so last year and it didn't really turn out like we wrote it. But I think the shift from a more traditional 3-4 under Belichick to more of a hybrid 4-3/3-4 with those hybrid DE/OLB types on both sides is notable. Makes them a faster D. More versatile too.
Hello Mike. As everyone has likely pondered at some point, what does the addition of Jeff Demps mean to the Patriots in regard to roster management? For locks, we have Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen. I would have put Danny Woodhead in there as well, but there is rising speculation that he may be on the outs if Vereen can emerge (similar play style) and if Demps can seize the kickoff return job. Is Bolden still "secure" as we once believed? He had a very up and down game on Monday in regards to special teams, and having sat right behind Ivan Fears at practice a few times, Bolden always seems to do something to make Fears lose his temper. How about that fullback situation?
Real good topic here, Matthew. Tough call. I've been sorting it out in my head, and haven't come to a conclusion to be honest. Could Woodhead be a surprise cut? Maybe Bolden doesn't make it after all? Just not sure right now. Need a little more time to let it play out.
Mike, how's your candid impression on the Bucs facility? Is their media room better than others in the NFL?
MarkJ, this is an open media room, with a long rectangular table in the middle and cubicles around it. The facility is about five years old, so it's nice.
Roster cuts are coming up. We've been focusing on who's on the bubble for the Pats, but I'm wondering about the other direction: Is there any position where you see the Pats looking to pick up a tough cut from another team. OT is the obvious place of need, IMO, but conventional wisdom says that there aren't enough decent tackles to go around (see: NYJ). Any other place where the NEP roster looks thin enough to be improved by claiming somebody off waivers? Fifth CB or safety? Sixth LB?
DJ, I think all could fit, and would think a lot would depend on the quality of players available.
Hi Mike, have you seen the patriots employ any of the old 3-4 defense at all these preseason or training camp? They used to switch a lot and able to employ both. I've only noticed mainly the sub packages and the 4-3.
Danny, they've played 3-4, but not the way we've seen it in the past with those three big DEs up front.
Mike - I have read in a few places that the Brian absence could be related to his contract - have you heard similar comments about this?
Stewart, just speculation, but have heard it. Would just stress it's speculation.
I guess I jinxed the Fanene signing by asking about him in this week's mailbag... Do you see fellow umass alum James Ihedigbo making this club?
Owen, I think Ihedigbo is on the bubble. I'd put him on right now based on his special teams contributions and smarts at a safety position where they could be banged up with Chung.
Mike I think its time for People to lower their Expectations for this season because I think we are going to see Significant Growing Pains on the Offensive Line What Do you think?
Anthony, I think the concerns up front are fair, but I'd just say look around the NFL and who isn't having o-line issues. The Jets look like a mess, for example. I think they'll be competitive.
With all the excitment around the core of recievers brought into camp, who do you think makes the final cut and why?
Jim, I'd say it's Welker, Lloyd, Branch, Edelman, Slater, with Gaffney's health putting him on the bubble.
Reasons why: Welker/Lloyd locks as 1-2. Branch has proven his worth with a strong preseason performance vs. Eagles. He can still run and get open. Edelman and Slater add special teams value and Edelman is also your Welker insurance. Stallworth -- nice camp, but just not enough.
Mike, any candidates for 2012's shocking "we didn't see this one coming" veteran release?
Matt, Gaffney and Woodhead were the first to come to mind. Not saying it will happen, but perhaps they could be pressed for a spot.
How is Welker looking for this season? Also, thoughts on what Tampa looks like compared to the Pats. Thanks
Geoff, Welker didn't practice Thursday, putting his status for Friday night's game in doubt. No need to push if it will affect him in the season opener. As for what Tampa looks like compared to Pats, we haven't seen much of the practices. Media is asked to leave after 30 minutes. One thing: Tampa plays a different style. So you look at a player like Lavonte David. He's a linebacker for the Bucs. Looked like he'd be a safety in the Patriots' scheme.
Mike - do you expect the normal starters to play on Friday or will this be a repeat of Monday?
Yes, thinking we'll see the starters into the third quarter. Traditionally, Bill Belichick has liked to have one game in the preseason where the players get a feel for what it's like to come out of the locker room at halftime. Conditioning is also important to consider.
Mike so far wich player has been sureprising you in a positive and also in a negative way?
Surprising -- Brace/Cunningham. Rebounds camps for both. I think they're both on the roster. Negative -- Cannon. Not saying it can't happen for him (he's still raw) but wasn't expecting the level of struggle at RT.
Mike, can you please give us your impression of the best special teams performers so far, as an indication of which bubble players might make the 53 due to their ST value? Seems like BB usually keeps about 5 "ST only" guys, but maybe that is not he case this year given the stiff competition?
Niko Koutouvides, Nate Ebner, James Ihedigbo are three who come to mind in that "we're keeping them for special teams" category. I know it's not five, but I'd be stretching it to add two more.
Hi Mike - first, thank you so much for taking a few minutes to chat with be prior to the Bruce concert at Fenway last week. In my opinion, you saw one of, if not THE best, US outdoor shows in ESB history. Incredible show. Lots of questions out there about the OL and the defense obviously. We have a very easy schedule though. If you had to pick a surprise cut at this point, who would it be? I would go with Stallworth (maybe no longer a surprise but anyway..).
Jason D, was great to meet you and make the connection that I probably covered your high school games back at Westborough (Mass) High. Agree on Springsteen show. Best I've ever seen. Would agree on Stallworth. Don't see him on the 53-man roster right now.
Who are the 3 - 5 players who you'll be watching Friday night to see if they will contribute to the Roster? Any chance we see Demps play with the O?
Blake, I think we have a chance to see Demps on Friday play a little offense. As for the players I'm anxious to see -- Tavon Wilson (starting next to Steve Gregory at safety), Julian Edelman/Nate Ebner (possibly playing in place of Wes Welker in slot), Spencer Larsen (fullback making a late bid for a spot), Alfonzo Dennard (rookie CB likely makes return after missing a lot of time), Ron Brace (can he keep it up?).
Mike,I am very concerned Wleker did not participate in This weeks side drill with Brady and Co. as well as sitting out today. Do you have any thought on the situation?
T.J., my first thought is that something might have tightened up on him and it's better to play it safe than sorry. Pure speculation on my part. In times like these, you always err on the side of caution. Doesn't seem anything too serious. Don't think he would have made the trip if it was.
Is Deion Branch roster spot in jeopardy, I noticed he was playing in the 4th quarter Monday night?
Frank, Branch played every snap but one in that game (minus 2-point conversion). I don't think it means he's in trouble. I think they wanted to take a closer look at him, and also give the QBs a chance to throw to an experienced target so they could better evaluate them.
Im highly dissapointed in the release on Fanene (My day was ruined when i heard the news) Was this decision based only due to Fanene's health? Or does it show the coaches have some confidence in Brace's ability to step up this season?
Tarae, I don't think it has much of anything to do with Brace as it does Fanene. Weird situation there. They spent a lot of money and that's not obviuously the way they drew it up.
Since the likes of Connolly, Wendell, and McDonald have looked fairly good so far, is there any chance that Logan Mankins shifts to LT, as he has done before in a pinch? Especially if Waters returns, the interior line depth will be far superior to the tackle depth.
Don't think so, Prasad. Think they are committed to Solder there for now, and like Mankins at guard.
Ryan Mallett threw a 20 yard laser beam at the end of the first quarter against the Eagles. Deion Branch was in traffic and the pocket was collapsing around Ryan, and he still threaded an absolute bullet to his receivers hands. That, for me, was a turning point in Mallett's level of play that I hadn't seen before, albeit with limited opportunities. If Mallett can consistently deliver the ball that way, it seems like his velocity becomes lethal because DBs can't react to the ball and close up throwing lanes. Thoughts?
Tyler, thought it was his best throw of the night, stepping into the pocket and delivering that strike. He also had a few others that weren't as good (INT on sideline nullified by penalty). Thought Mallett made strides, but when rookie Nick Foles is the best QB on the field, it adds context to the discussion.
Mike, how one arth will we replace the 20 sacks provided by Mark Anderson and Andre Carter? I don't see 20 coming from Chandler Jones. Seems we have gone backwards, nto forward, in the pass rush area. Why not bring back Carter?
Glen, I like the DE situation, both for the present and future. Think we are overlooking Ninkovich here. Good player. Can get after the quarterback. Like their depth as well.
Mike: Does Brandon Bolden's poor performance on Monday coupled with Jeff Demps now on the roster reduce his chances for a roster spot?
Matt, Bolden has slipped a bit in the last week, but I'm going to keep him on the roster. Think part of the struggles have been the coaching staff trying different things with him to see how much he could do.
Hey Mike, not looking to throw anyone under the bus here, but who should take most of the blame for the failed Fanene signing? The player for non-disclosure? The Pats medical staff for not recognizing an existing injury? Or is this just a case where the rehab is taking far longer than expected? Thanks.
RBF, I wouldn't place the blame on Fanene. He passed a physical with the team. I don't have enough information to be able to answer this one, but I'd just say the way the Patriots' structure is set up, the buck stops at Bill Belichick. He signed off on targeting the player in the first place, so if we're looking at the first person to question as to why the team spent almost $4 million and then released the player, that seems like the right place to start.
Who do you have as a possible breakout star that has flown under the radar thus far?
Dan, not sure it will be enough to land a spot on the 53-man roster, but impressive what Alex Silvestro has done in his transition from DE to TE.
Hey Mike, read an interesting article on espn by afc east analyst james walker about Tom Brady not getting enough live action this preseason. How has Brady looked in practices so far? Has he gotten the reps necessary to continue to be the dominant quarterbacks he has been of late? As Pats fans, we often take him for granted and assume he will be the same old Brady, but he is 35 and can show signs of aging at any moment. If you could give us some more detail on his performance this offseason that would be appreciated.
Joe, I think Brady has received good reps and would expect him to play into the third quarter Friday night. If making a list of concerns heading into the Sept. 9 season opener at Tennessee, that would be near the bottom.
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Mike, I was interested when McCourty said that practicing against the Bucs was a chance to practice against "different style" receivers. I was wondering if you think that one of the problems the Pats DBs might face is they typically practice against a different style of receiver than most teams feature? The Pats DBs spend all week working against shiftier, smaller, less fast receivers and then are charged with covering taller, stronger, possibly faster WRs on Sundays. Is this a hindrance?
I think it's pretty much the norm, George. Use the Bucs as an example. They probably benefit from facing the smaller, shiftier WRs the Patriots have because they don't have too many on their roster like that. Don't see it as a major deal.
with alex silvestro preforming at tightend this preseason whats the likelyhood of fells or shank making the roster could silvestro be like edelman was last season and make contributions to all three spectrums of the game?
Brandon, in the end, I think Silvestro might be a luxury they can't afford. I do think Fells will be on the 53-man roster and Shiancoe is an unfortunate cut because of health (hamstring).
I'm a New England transplant and a big Patriots fan. I haven't heard much on former USF lineman Jeremiah Warren. Do you think he'll stick around for the Patriots? Maybe make the practice squad?
Allan, I could see Warren sticking around on the practice squad. Don't see him making the 53-man roster.
Let's go for another 5...
GOOD AFTERNOON MIKE just wanted to no what your thoughts are about the back up qbs little showdown on monday night i thought mallet did a much better job then hoyer but i also beleive belichek pefers picking the guy thats been in the system longer. i know its just a matter of time before mallet takes the #2 spot behind brady but after watching hoyer struggle against philly i think that switch should happen sooner rather then later. your thoughts?
Hi Josh. I did think Mallett closed the gap at No. 2. Do think we need to see a little more before saying who is indeed the No. 2.
Do you think BB called his Old friend Charlie Weis or Urban Meyer before deciding to sign Demps to the somewhat generous deal?
If Demps had been drafted this year what round would you have projected him to go?
Anywhere from 4-7, but those numbers could have risen based on strong pre-draft performances in combine and workouts. Speed is scintillating to teams.
Hi Mike, Do you have any updates on Mike Wright's recovery? I thought of him while listening to an interview of UCLA LB Patrick Larrimore who retired from football in college due to concussions.
Mike won't be playing again, from what I understand. Has to put his long-term health as the top priority and playing is too risky.
Hi Mike. Where do Hightower and Spikes fit in the 4-3 (with Mayo on the field)? Can all three be out there at the same time, or would we only see that when the Pats play a 3-4? When they do play the 3-4, would it be Spikes or at the other ILB spot next to Mayo? I'm sure Belichick will rotate them to keep them fresh, but do we know his preference for those three players in the 4-3 vs. 3-4?
Yes, Greg, I see Spikes as the MLB, Hightower as the SLB and Mayo as the WLB. Nice 1-2-3 combo.
What are the chances that Nate Ebner has carved out a roster spot? If so, who does this impact in the secondary?
I think Ebner will be on the club. He's come on strong.
Hi Mike, Is it hot and humid in Tampa today?
Al, it is hot and humid, but probably not as much as it would normally be. Still, I asked Logan Mankins about it after practice and he said it was plenty hot and humid and that it should benefit the club.
Do you have any tips as to how us out of towners could stream the game tomorrow night? Thanks.
Matt, check NFL.com, I believe they have a package that you can purchase.
10 yard penalty for being late
Hey, I was on time! The answers just took a few minutes to show up. Honest.
Mike...please turn on the Auto-Update so we don't have to hit "refresh" to see the questions
Bummer Dave. I just saw this at the end of the chat. Apologies.
Given lack of FB reps this summer, does McDaniels scrap his FB/2back love, and just sling it?
I still think we'll see 2-back stuff in some form. Might be a TE back there (Fells?).
Hi, Mike. Whats your outlook going forward concerning Waters?
Chris, just a hunch, but I'm thinking he won't be back. I could be way off.
When I first heard the Demps signing, I immediately thought, "Poor man's Percy Harvin." Is this analogy far off?
Will, probably more of a RB than Harvin, who is a WR. But some natural similarities there.
Mike, who would you consider the Pats biggest "rival" in the AFC? The Jets have cooled off, Peyton's not on Indy anymore, Tebows a backup, and Pitt doesnt seem to be the same "Pitt" anymore. Think the Ravens have taken the Patriots top spot for rivalry?
Will, the Ravens, Steelers and Texans were the top teams to come to mind. Steelers always tough in my view. But forced to pick one, I'd go Ravens.
Mike you have said before that you did not think the Patriots would keep 7 receivers because only Slater and Edelman would have special team impact. I think special teams are very important but also think depth at important positions such as WR is important as well. Keeping player good special teams player like Koutouvides, and White are important but neither of them or some others are options to start or play a lot of valuable time if injuries occur. Your thoughts?
David, I'm starting to lean in the other direction and thinking it could be just 5 WRs. With Hernandez playing a WR-like role, that helps too. Not saying that's what it will be, but something I'm kicking around. One of those special teams guys -- like Koutouvides or White -- needs to be on the roster. A core special teamer who plays on the "Big 4" is really valuable.
Anyone got a light one we could end on?
come on man i put my ? in an hour ago why no love for for dude from up north
i like pie. and now for another question is there any chance vareen gets the upper hand on ridly for the starting rb job ive been inpressed with him so far and think he kinda reminds me of sammy morris a little bit your thoughts mike
Respect to Maine, of course, Josh. Lot of questions get fired in here. I think it's about even right now with Ridley/Vereen. No clear leader. Vereen has made up some ground from early in camp.
Mike, Has any Ribbing happened with the Brady Dog Collar photos yet? The man can do no wrong in my eyes but those were difficult photos to digest
Haven't heard any...
Mike, from my view it seems Cunningham is having a very good preseason. Is it possible for him to overtake Ninkovich and start or is he a clear backup DE?
Paul, I don't see him overtaking Ninkovich, but perhaps it becomes more of a rotation at times. Rotating three would keep them fresh.
Mike, quantify the sense of urgency from Belichik and Brady this season compared to previous seasons
Pete, really it's the same as always and that's what makes them Belichick and Brady. They never change.
you left off Slater on your 5 man special teams list
He should be on there, for sure. Was thinking more bubble type guys.
Grrrrr you make me angry.
Don't want to make you angry, Henry. Apologies. 300-plus questions in the chat. Can't get to them all.
Do you think anyone will even watch another Red Sox game after the Patriots season starts? That team is awful!
DJ, I think the Patriots will be a welcome diversion for many fans.
Btw, thanks for going over the alloted time once again, love the weekly chat!
You got it, Dave. Let's end it there. Thanks to everyone for a great chat. Enjoy tomorrow night's game and we'll do it again next week.