Good afternoon and welcome to today's chat. Getting started up here shortly.
Thanks to everyone for joining in. A lot to discuss.
This is when you know Patriots business is booming. Entering this chat room, there are 221 questions in the queue, and surely more to come. We'll get to as many as we can.
Mike I am having really bad flashbacks to the Summer of 2009 when the New England Patriots traded Richard Seymour before the season opener please tell me they are not going to do the same thing with Wes Welker!
No Welker trade. I'll give you my best educated guess -- personal issue was part of the reason he hasn't played, injury the other. Think he got dinged in Wednesday practice at Tampa. Not confirmed, but reading the tea leaves, that's my belief.
Hey Mike, I am thinking that Jake Bequette is going to be cut. He is clearly the worst out of the: himself, Scott, Cunningham, Francis competition. BB has never been one to worry about where someone was drafted before cutting them. Whether or not you agree with the first part, do you think there is any way he goes unclaimed if he is in fact cut and thus reverts back to practice squad.
Based on what we've seen in preseason games, I wouldn't argue. The only reason I see him being kept is the third-round draft status (similar to Taylor Price getting a red-shirt year of sorts). I was earmarking him for a spot on the 53-man roster but not on the 46-man game-day roster at this juncture.
Have the Patriots finally turned the corner in personnel with this new trend of locking players up with 2 years remaining on contract (Mayo, Gronkowski, Hernandez)? Cheaper cost to long term deals, players happy, locker room happy?
MZ, I think that is the easy answer -- that all of a sudden this is a change of philosophy. My feeling is that the truth lies somewhere in the middle. I do feel like they've somewhat shifted in terms of being willing to renegotiate a deal that early. But why is that the case? Part of it is the projected flat salary cap over the next two years. Smart teams will be proactive to strategize around that. No one is getting bailed out any more with a dramatic cap spike from one year to the next. Second, I don't think the deals that Mayo, Gronkowski and Hernandez signed were over the top. They conceded some significant ground to the team, giving the club an incentive to do that. No every player is willing to do that. So you have a few factors in play here. And as for the whole "players happy, locker-room happy", my feeling is that there is always going to be some type of discontent in some corners. Can't please everyone.
I know it's only pre-season but I can't remember a Bill B team looking as poor as this group. Are you at all concerned with the offensive line play and the defensive backfield?
It's funny, Dom, I turned to colleague Field Yates last night and said, "You know, this has not looked great this preseason. It probably means they will hang 38 on the Titans opening day." Tough to figure these things sometimes. I'm going to reserve judgment for now. A lot of talented players on this team. I think we've only seen an incomplete picture.
Hey Mike, do you see pats carrying 5 backs for the season and what about the speculation of Demps and IR
I asked Demps how he felt after the game and he said he was OK. Taking him at face value, I don't think we're looking at any season-ending type of deal. I do think we'll see five backs, which includes Demps. Electrifying potential with the ball in his hands.
The replacement officials stink. Please tell me the owners are talking to the regular officials to try to work things out. I do know Mr. Kraft played a huge part in ending the lockout last year. How involved is he with this problem? And do you think he will be able to help?
Wayne, Kraft was asked about this on Monday and it sounded to me like he was informed on the issues, and could certainly be a bridge-builder to helping the sides reach an agreement. I might be a more sympathetic sort than some, but I actually felt bad for referee Don King last night. He's trying his best. He's just been put in an unfair situation by the National Football League. That's why I included the NFL in the list of "downs" in our regular "3 up, 3 down" blog post after the game.
We seem so thin and we need to bolster up our offensive line, at least I think, if we are to make a run to the Super Bowl. Is there any unsigned good lineman out there that the Patriots could get? If coach called could he get Matt Light out of retirement?
Albert, my first thought is what a difference Sebastian Vollmer makes. In his nine snaps last night, the right side was in good hands. He's a powerful presence on the edge. So he'll help. Then you have Logan Mankins coming back; he played sparingly this preseason. I think that is the answer -- those two make a huge difference. And if Brian Waters decides to come back ... I think they have the answers in-house.
With the signing of Jeff Demps and his return ability and possible change of pace back and the showing Brandon Bolden has had in training camp, could Demps be the next Woodhead leaving Danny out of the running back mix and out of New England?
Gabriel, I think it's too risky. I'm going to give Woodhead more credit. He's proven to be durable and effective in the role. While Demps has exciting potential, let's see what he can do with it before we send Woodhead packing.
Don't you think either Gaffney or Stallworth should have been kept for depth? What if there is a major injury to Wes Welker or Brandon Lloyd, do you think Deion Branch can step up?
Alison, I think Branch has clearly earned that spot. So yes, I think he can step up, but not if asked to play 70-plus percent of the snaps as he did last year. Felt like that was asking too much. Also, no door closed on Stallworth/Gaffney possibly coming back at some point (if they don't sign elsewhere).
The Patriots released one of their more applauded offseason acquisitions in Jonathan Fanene last week. Obviously they were originally expecting him to play a big role when they picked him up. With his release, what does this mean for the starting defensive end position he leaves behind? I know to assume his shoes to be filled via committee, mostly Rob Ninkovich and probably Brandon Deaderick, right? But my main question is does this better open the door for the Patriots to reacquire Andre Carter? What do you see happening here?
Dashiell, in the Patriots' revamped scheme, Fanene was playing defensive tackle. So here is my depth chart projection for DT: Wilfork, Love, Brace, Deaderick.
At DE, it's Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Jermaine Cunningham, Trevor Scott, Justin Francis, Jake Bequette
My question has to do with the 53rd roster spot and the long snapping situation. Danny Aiken has been all over the place. Cana??t Ninkovich do as well or better to give that roster spot to another real football player?
Very observant eye, David. The snapping has been erratic. Another low one outside the target on a punt last night. Don't think you want Ninkovich doing that full-time given the important full-time role he has on D, but how about Lonie Paxton? He's available for a look-see.
With Ryan Mallett backing up Brady against the Bucs, is there a chance BB makes a surprise cut in Brian Hoyer? I know hea??s said in the past that ita??s a risk to go into the season with only two quarterbacks on the roster but he did it none-the-less.
It wouldn't shock me. But in my final 53-man projection, I'm going to keep Hoyer. Too risky for me going into the season with just 2 QBs.
Good to see the Pats lock up a guy like Aaron Hernandez. What does that mean for Welker? I have a feeling he may be traded before the season starts.
Carl, I don't think Welker will be traded. But what it means is that he'll be 32 next May and any deal he's likely to strike with the Patriots will be shorter-term in length -- 2 years, 3 years. I still think there is financial flexibility to get something done.
How much of a difference does a Pro Bowl guard make to a tackle? Marcus Cannon looked OK last year. So did Nate Solder, but that was with two Pro Bowl guards. Cannon is looking more like the guard he was originally drafted as. I am concerned with the tackle depth. Dante Scarnecchia has not yet worked his miracle on the O-Line.
It can help Shana, but to me, it still comes down to the player making a block. If Brian Waters was at right guard, I don't think the result would have been different in Tampa when Michael Bennett beat right tackle Marcus Cannon at the snap and crunched Tom Brady, who held the ball a bit too long.
I was wondering why some players were put on PUP while others were put on IR. Jake Ballard was put on PUP, but I thought he would be out for the year? Is there a chance he could play in 2012?
Clayton, there is a possibility he could play in 2012, although my understanding is that is unlikely at this time.
For me Nate Ebner is having the most impressive camp/preseason of all the rookies. Chandler Jones and Donta??a Hightower are living up to expectations, so while enjoyable, ita??s not impressive. Ebner has been making plays and seems like a hard-working, smart player. While still rough, I think he has tremendous potential and I see him living up to it. Steve Gregory will start, but he is older. In coming seasons I see Ebner replacing him. Thoughts?
Conrad, I share your thoughts on Ebner. I think his rise could have an interesting trickle-down effect on the final 53-man roster.
how much can we expect from Cunninham this year after his big preseason? Is it safe to say that he will get more reps then last year?
Paul, I do think it's safe to say Cunningham will get more reps this year. He projects as the third DE and also a dime rusher from an inside position. Cunningham only played 48 defensive snaps all last season. I could see him eclipsing that number in the first quarter of this season.
any andre carter updates?? i undertand we are stacked at DE but i really thought he was solid and an excellent locker room presence - and is the type of guy i would want chandler jones around ALL the time...
Charles, I don't see it happening with Carter. If he was ready to go, I think a team would have signed him by now. Pass rushers are hard to find.
Now that Mallett has improved, do you think it makes sense to trade Hoyer to free up a scarce roster spot?
Ryan, I don't see the value Hoyer has for another team in a trade, especially when he is scheduled to become a free agent nex season.
Hi, Mike. How will the McDaniels-co-ordinated offense differ from last season's iteration under O'Brien?
Roger, I think it will be similar. A few differences that come to mind are the potential for more screen passes and two-back sets.
You havn't answered my question over the past 4 weeks
Apologies Andrew. There are a lot of questions in here. Wish I could get to them all.
So which players do you see being resigned after this season. Chung, Vollmer, Arrington, Edelman, Fletcher, Woodhead? (Neglected Welker because I believe he is gone after the season)
Chung/Vollmer, I'd think they'd be contingent on health. Did they make it through the season healthy? So I'd say the last four are all good possibilities. Chung/Vollmer -- more data/time needed to make that call based on how the first 3 years of their career have been.
Hey Mike, greetings from the North End, I remember you saying that you enjoy Al Dente very much. My question pertains to Brian Waters, with the 53 man roster due Friday, is it safe to say that if he is coming back, it will have to be today or tomorrow morning? Will you and your co-reporters, the other Mike R and Field be making predictions for the divisions and a Super Bowl winner? I have the Patriots beating the Bears 29-24 in February (way to early I know). Thanks for everything and I hope last night's field report on the Giants' Hicks is not an indication you will be leaving us.
Thanks Jay. It's been too long since I've been in to the North End. Al Dente is terrific. On Waters, I don't think it's safe to say anything, but I do think it's notable that he still has a locker at the stadium. What I've come to know about Waters is that he is a prideful guy who is very close to his family in Texas. Coming to play in New England is a big sacrifice for him -- leaving his wife and kids for four months is not easy given their roots there. So I'd describe the situation as fluid, but trending in the direction that he could return to play another season. As for season predictions, those are coming next week.
Never understood why the pats didnt show more interest in ryan grant considering he seems to have more left in the tank than addai did and is also adequate at protecting a great qb
Joe, I think they were initially drawn more to Addai's versatility. Miscalculation. We all make mistakes.
It seems a lot of players on the defense stepped up and made plays last night. I wasn't keen on Rivera before but he had a decent game last night with the 12 tackles. He did miss a tackle for loss in the backfield though. Tarpinion looks like he did enough to secure a spot. Dennard made some plays but wasn't consistent. So who do you think stays in the secondary? Did Ihedigbo do enough? Did Dennard? And is it possible we keep all five running backs? I like what each can offer, 2 downhill runners in Ridley and Bolden, Woodhead for pass protection and "iq", Demps for speed and big play ability, and Vereen as a swiss army type. Plus game planning for 5 rbs for defenses would be tedious.
We're going to have our final 53-man roster projections on the site later today. Can I keep you in suspense?
how many sacks for Chandler Jones?
Paul, let's go with 8.
Don't want to sound negative but, why do I feel the offense is one injury(excluding Brady), away from being average. They lose a TE or Welker, they look average, no?
Waldo, maybe it's the optimist in me, but I think they'd be better than average. I'd use 2008 as an example of when the offense had to adjust after a big injury and everything worked out OK. Top-notch coaching plus solid talent = winning formula in my book.
Mike, very encouraged by the run D. David Wilson had been showing a lot the last two games. Giving him little running room should not go unnoticed. Overall the defense appears to be better than last year though the CB's have not impressed; right now they feel adequate. Safety play feels improved with the infusion of Gregory and the potential of Ebner and Wilson. If those guys continue to improve it will help solidify the overall play on the back end. I am very happy for Ron Brace. He looks to be in a position to make the squad outright. If he continues to develop along with Love there may be a couple of bodies to help spell Wilfork and give the team a great short yardage line of defense.
All good thoughts, Munchkin. I'd add that there is a big test ahead on Sept. 9. His name is Chris Johnson, and he's explosive.
Are you surprised that Marquice Cole did not play last night ? Do you think he has the 4th CB spot locked up, or was it because he was dinged ? If he's No. 4, I guess it's between Dennard and Moore for the 5th and probably final CB spot. Based on last night, who do you think will make the final roster ?
Lock it up for Cole, Lew. As for the Dennard vs. Moore debate, I'm leaning Dennard. Moore still has practice squad eligibility. So does Dennard. Possible they'll both be back -- either on roster or practice squad.
How do you see the state of the offensive line, once the regular season begins?
Mike, let's go Solder-Mankins-Connolly-Waters-Vollmer
Hey mike, I follow you all the way down here. 1st question- the backup quarterbacks are not the good. Why? And- I was at the Tampa game when Brady almost got killed. He was locked on Lloyd( which almost got Brady killed) and he just does not get open. Why?
Mike, on the second question, it takes some time to develop chemistry between a QB and WR. Let's give it some more time between Brady and Lloyd. As for the backups, I'd also exercise caution. In 2008, I learned a personal lesson that I haven't forgotten in this regard. Was very hard on Matt Cassel in the preseason after a stinker of a performance. Wrote something along the lines of, "If the Patriots ever have to turn to this guy, it could be ugly." In the spirit of holding myself accountable, how wrong was I? Look, we don't know what they're always trying to accomplish out there in preseason. Playing QB is about as tough as it gets. Did it look great this preseason for the backups? No. But I think it's too strong to say they stink.
Has Cunningham's preseason performance been indicative of an overall improvement over last season's or just a preseason flash?
Roger, I'd say overall improvement. Some good rush moves on display last night. We've seen them throughout camp.
Last night, Koppen, Wendell, Connolly and Thomas all played C leading me to believe that Koppen will be cut. The versatility of the other players makes them more valuable to have. Koppen plays one position where 3 others play 2. I hate to see him go but I think he?s an inevitable cut.
Eric, I could fall victim to reading too much into things on this one, but I got the sense after the game that Koppen knows it's coming. His status on the roster was one of the more intriguing things to me, and the fact he was playing in the fourth quarter of that game seemed revealing. He didn't want to talk about it. I respect that. I also thought that was telling.
Mike, as we all agree the Giants game was a Punting masterclass. How much of this was down to the fact both teams did not use 99% of their playbook. How many of the true formations and plays we will see in the regular season do teams actually use in preseason? It all seemed pretty vanilla from my perspective. Do teams protect these plays so the regular season opponents cannot get film time on them? As a final question, Why did some of the players who did not play dress in full kit and uniform for the game (ie Brady) and then stand on the sidleines?
Lee, I'd say the answer to that is a decisive yes. And as for the players dressing, it might be tied to this thought: BB believes that every game is a valuable experience, whether you are playing or not. The situations that come up are learning experiences and he wants those on the sideline into the game as if they could go in at any moment.
Have both Alfonzo Dennard and Marquice Cole secured spots on the final roster?
Matthew, Dennard very much on the bubble.
Mike, thanks for your hard work, we are all getting excited for next weekend! I view Jake Bequette as #6 out of 6 on the DE depth chart and I would take Francis over him in a heartbeat. You've written that he will be kept on the team as a 'developmental' player, but let's be honest, that really means 'he hasn't showed anything yet, but we drafted him early so we can't cut him.' The practice squad is meant for developmental players. Do you think Bequette has earned a spot on the roster? Personally I don't, and we all know Bill is not afraid to cut losses, but it still is unlikely that he would do so with a(n) (over-drafted) 3rd round pick. Putting Bequette on the roster seems to come at the expense of Scott or Francis.
Trent, I don't think Bequette has earned it based on performance.
But sometimes projecting potential is part of the gig too.
Hey Mike, do the Pats regain salary cap flexibility by dropping free agents they picked up and then let go> Seems like alot of wasted money that maybe Welker could have recieved. Does Tarpinian make the team over Rivera in your opinion? Thanks Mike.
Kenney, the top 51 salaries count against the cap in the offseason, so a lot of it depends on which veteran is released. They have "wasted" some money and it would interesting to add all that up. No team is perfect, but it seems like the Patriots had a few more misses this season. I do like Tarpinian right now, but am wondering if Rivera makes it as well.
Hi Mike, based on what I have seen in the last 2 games it looks like Brian Hoyer could be encluded in the cuts or possible traded. Why keep him around when he is going to be gone in 4 months.
Pete, the main reason is that if you don't have a quarterback who can run the offense, your season is in jeopardy of being sabotaged (see: Colts, 2011). If the Patriots keep only Brady and Mallett -- which is possible -- they are rolling some dice. Risky from this view.
OK NostradamReiss any other "hunches" you'd like to share with us ?
LOL, Mike. How about some lottery numbers? Just kidding. Sometimes you get them right, sometimes you get them wrong. Hopefully there are more in the "right" column, but I can think of quite a few things that haven't been!
Hey Mikey! Last night it seemed like Eli was holding onto the ball for a few extra seconds on several occasions, which would seem to indicate decent coverage in the secondary. Is that what you saw?
Scuba, I really need to take a closer look at that, even though it might be painful to have to watch that game over again. I thought the secondary seemed to do OK at initial glance.
Will the real officials make it back for the season so we can have correctly officiated games? The challenge in the 4th the BB threw was ignored to allow the punt to be kicked. They should have reviewed the call, if not to overturn because it was doubtful but to give the opportunity the challenge afforded.
Charles, BB and Coughlin were visibly frustrated last night. Tough to see. Coaches jobs are on the line. High stress business. You'd like to think they could at least have the certainty of knowing the games will be called at a professional level.
Mike, I bought a plane ticket to Logan Airport and I forgot on which day my flight was. Can you remind me?
Brian, I think it was tomorrow. LOL. Just in time to join the team for practices and the season-opener. Did you get a bump from your $1.4 million salary?
Have you heard any news on the Waters situation? Nobody on either side is elaborating on his absence from camp and I am wondering if Brian is just sitting out camp or if he is still contemplating whether or not to retire. Thoughts?
Brian, my read on the situation is this: Waters wants to play in 2012, and if he had his druthers, he would move New England closer to his home in Texas. This is a tough deal for him to move away from his family for four months and basically live out of a hotel. If this team was called the New England Texans, I don't think we'd be having this discussion. So in the end, it comes down to this, "What's in his heart?" Does he want another shot at the ring? Can he do it again for another 4 months? If the answers are yes, I think we'll see him in the coming days. If the answers are no, it's time to move on. No hard feelings.
I don't mean to skirt the question, but there are no right or wrong answers here. You can't tell another person how he or she should feel. You respect the way they do feel, and proceed from there.
Did Dennard make a case last night to get a spot on the roster?
Timmy, I think Dennard did all he could. Will it be enough? We have differing opinions here at ESPNBoston.com. I sort of like him.
Hey Mike what?s up? I am wondering what has come over Cunningham these past few months? Is this a case of being too good to be true? Do you think that he will be real deal for upcoming season?
Kenton, I think being part of the offseason program was big for him. He has put in the time. Thus, he deserves everything coming to him.
Mike ive been impressed with our undrafted guys espcially bolden...demps and justin francis..do you see any or all making the final 53 man roster? i think all 3 can stick and maek a contribution
I'd keep them all, Andrew.
Mike, for the last week you've repeatedly revealed your strong, shall we say, hunch that Brian Waters will be returning. This begs the question: how ready can he be to step in and make a real contribution? While I'm sure he hasn't been camping out on the sofa scarfing down beer and french fries, he can't possibly be ready to go. Even if he's been busting his butt with cardio and weights, that's not the same thing as hitting people and real live blocking. As you've acknowledged many times -- as has BB, too, of course -- there's being in shape and then there's being in FOOTBALL shape. And of course, there's also the business of developing a rhythm and chemistry with your fellow linemen, so that everyone's on the same page. It doesn't seem the Patriot way to have a guy just waltz in at the last minute and step right in. So if he does indeed return, how long do you think before he's worked back into the mix?
Brian, I'd use last year as an example. Signs on Sept. 4. Starts and plays (at a high level) on Sept. 12. I can't think of much stronger evidence than that unless he hasn't been training.
I couldn't watch the game, but looking at the box score it looks like Demps was nothing to write home about in regards to kickoffs (albeit with limited opportunities). Are the Pats still looking for that kick returner?
You're right, Ryan, there wasn't much there on KO returns. But I still think Demps is their guy.
Let's go for another 5...
Is 11 days too much time off before the season opener or is it just right?
Perfect, Clark. Hope all is well in Indy. Rosie Colvin doing Colts pre-game TV. Have they gone soft there? LOL.
Is it just me or is Nate Ebner a revelation in the secondary? Billed as a special-teamer, he seems to have a nose for the ball. Also, he seems to use his rugby background to secure tackles as opposed to trying to light runners up and risking a whiff. How high do you think his ceiling is?
Feel the same way, George. It caught my eye last night that after one third-down stop, Bill Belichick was speaking with Ebner on the sideline. Usually a good sign when the coach is doing that. Ceiling is high. Has a little bit of Stephen Neal to him in that regard.
How do the Pats replace the sacks from the DE position this year. Aren't last years sack leaders no longer with the team?? Seems to be and understated issue.
Don, I like what they have at DE. I think we'll see an upgrade, and as we know, it's more than just sacks.
Hey Mike, I haven't really heard anything about Kevin Faulk this preseason. Any word on what he's up to?
Andrew, he'd like to come back to the Patriots, but it's not looking promising.
Mike, While I was happy to see our young Safeties step up against the Giants last night, I would still be happier with Chung back out there starting (with Gregory). What is the word on his injury? Will he miss any regular season games?
Chris, I don't have any news on Chung, unfortunately. Apologies.
Mike, I believe there is more to the Welker story than is being reported. He missed a key preseason game last week (Bedard tweeted it was to attend a funeral) but my feeling is he wasn't excused by the team. Last night he wasn't in uniform on the sideline along with the rest of the uninjured starters. Is it safe to say there is some contentiousness going on between Welker and Belichick due to his contract situation?
Bill, I might be naive, but I don't think that's it. As noted earlier in the chat, I believe he got dinged in Wednesday's full-pads practice in Tampa. Educated speculation would be concussion. I'd stress that's just speculation on my part.
What was your impression on Demps' punt returns? Do you expect Demps to overtake Edelman (assuming both make the active roster) on punt returns this year?
Ryan, still think that's Edelman's job.
Hey Mike, My question is due to the lack of prodcutivity in this preseason with the offense and offensive line do you see this as a concern for the regular season, will this linger?
Pamela, the one thing I'd say is let's keep it in context of the entire NFL. It hasn't always looked great. But there isn't a team out there where it has. Everyone is a work in progress. I think the Patriots, led by this staff and with this talent on the roster, have proven to be a worthy investment.
mike, Brandon Lloyd has been a ghost in the preseason...i understand he and brady "know" the offense but is it NOT a little concerning that they are going into the start of the season with no real game reps as a complete starting unit (welker not playing at all, volmer 9 snaps, logan just getting back etc)...
Charles, I'd agree with your thoughts. I expected more.
Mike, other than his locker still being intact, is there any other reason for optimism regarding Waters?
Gregg, the optimism from this perspective is that I don't think he wants to retire. I believe the bigger question is: "Does he want to play so far away from home?" No easy answers there, but if he wants to play, the Patriots are his only option.
Ridley or Vereen, who do you like to replace BJGE?
Ridley would be the top option right now, assuming good health.
will you be tweeting the cuts throughout the day tomorrow to keep us updated? also, do you think any cuts will happen today?
Let's end on this one, Maurice. Any time I have credible info, I'll plan on tweeting it. The other point I'd make is that even though the deadline is 9 p.m. for cuts, that doesn't mean we'll know them at 9. It could be midnight. So hang on for the ride and let's roll...
Mike, you havent answered any questions from me in months. Is it because you dont like me, or because I havent been on a live chat in those months?
Glenn, I like everyone. It's probably more the volume of questions than anything. Total today: 342. Can't get to them all.
Thanks to everyone for chatting today. Enjoyable, as always. Have a great day and we'll do it again next week.