Good afternoon from Detroit, where the Patriots visit the Lions tonight in preseason action. We'll get started in a few.
I'm here in downtown Detroit, where it's sort of neat. I look outside the hotel window and across the river is Canada. Had a nice trip to town. We've been here quite a bit in recent years -- preseason game, Thanksgiving game etc. City has fallen on some tough times.
What's on your mind today?
It didn't take long for Amendola to show why people say he is injury prone. He needs to play 16 games for that label to be shred. I am not comfortable with 3 rookie WRs and and 2 other who get injured often. This could be a tough year for the offense passing wise. Hopefully the running stays solid.
Rick, I don't expect for us to see Amendola tonight. He's hobbled. I'm told it's not his head. I'm also told it's not a major concern from the club. This is about being smart. Sort of reminds me of 2007 training camp with Randy Moss when he tweaked a hamstring and they held him out. He was ready opening day. I expect Amendola to be ready opening day this year. I'm not sure the injury prone label is fair, but it's out there. A lot of injuries are about timing. Amendola's a tough player.
Mike, What value does Tebow add as the 3rd string QB? We would be better off releasing him and keeping an extra WR or DB. I don't think too many teams are willing to sign him so if we still want him sign him to the practice squad and have him develop there. Thoughts??
Chris, I can see looking at the hundreds of questoins in the queue that Tebow is a hot topic today. First, Tebow is not eligible for the practice squad. As for what Tebow adds as a third QB, this is what I'd say: 1) Scout-team QB to run the option; 2) Good locker-room presence; 3) Third layer of insurance if something happens to Brady or Mallett (if Brady was ever injured, I could envision Tebow taking some snaps in an option-based attack). Is that enough to earn a roster spot? I don't have a great feel for how the coaching staff views it. After Friday night's performance vs. the Buccaneers, I can understand why some are wondering about Tebow's value. That was ugly.
Could Cunningham stick to fortify DT depth, particularly on third down?
Cunningham is an interesting case, Watson. I actually view him as the best option as a fill-in for Rob Ninkovich or Chandler Jones if either of the starters at DE were injured. But I think his sub-rushing role could be filled capably by Marcus Benard. So with Justin Francis replacing Cunningham as the top backup DE late last year, and seemingly keeping the spot this year, and Benard's emergence, Cunningham looks like he's on some shaky ground. The injury doesn't help.
I don't really wanna be the guy to pose a Tebow question, but you have to figure he's gotta show something tonight, no?
Brian, with Tom Brady expected to play into the third quarter, we might not see much of Tebow tonight, if at all.
Mike, i dont know why you or anyone should be surprised at Tavon Wilson's slip down the depth chat. You keep saying he is a second round draft pick - which of course he was - but he was picked too high - he is more like a 6/7 rounder. Same with Dowling, he was injured from high school and now we are all shocked he is injured again - come on
John, multiple teams I've spoken with agree with you on Wilson (the Patriots had him rated significantly higher than them) but disagree on Dowling. Dowling was probably a 2-3 on most teams' boards, from the intel I've gathered. Might have been a 1 if he came out after his junior year.
Hi Mike. What is your take on Leon Washington? Do you think he makes the team or is a "surprise" cut at the end? I haven't see much of him to warrant a roster spot that couldn't be atoned by other players -- i.e. Vereen out of backfield, Edelmen on PR, or anyone else on KR.
Washington hasn't done much, and when I asked BB about him on Tuesday, my takeaway from his response was that it was sort of lukewarm. Saying that, it's always dangerous to read into BB's words/tone. Here is my take on Washington: He's the type of guy I want on my team, sort of reminds me of what it was like when the club had Roman Phifer and some of those savvy veterans in the championship years. Would just like to see him get some opportunities in the kickoff return game so we can get a feel for how explosive he still is in that area.
OL line play is ciritical to offensieve success, yet seems to get lost in topics of QB play, RB depth or dynamic young WRs. With paper-thin depth at RG, can Will Svitek be an acceptable stop-gap in your view? Will health return for OG starters for Game 1, and will the Pats need to look outside for more depth?
I think there's a good chance they could claim an OL this year, similar to what they did last year with Matt Tennant, when teams trim rosters to 53. Svitek would be a capable fill-in. If we're talking about 16 games, though, that's where some concern would lie.
Amendola injured? Didn't see that coming...
Wes, I love ya, but did you just join the chat from the training room in Denver? Hope that sprained ankle is feeling better.
Hey mike. What time do you head to the stadium. Like to say a quick hello pre-game.
Hi Brad, I'll be over there mid-afternoon. Have some work to do this afternoon so maybe we can catch up pre-game?
Mike, I tried to get at you a couple of times about the Tebow read option thing. Curious, can't Edelman do it? Edelman in fact simulated Tebow pre Broncos game '11. Debunk Tebow=Scout team then?
Adam, Edelman certainly capable.
Hi Mike, with Amendola, the solid play so far by the three rookie receivers and a surprise in Sudfeld....along with Brady looking as accurate as ever...is it just maybe possible that this offense could be as potent as last year?
Yes, Jim. In fact, I think the upside for this group is greater than last year. But there will be some growing pains, for sure. We can bank of it. Few rookies come in and just hit the ground running at that position.
Point blank when does Ras - I - Dowling get released?
Dan, given some of the other questions they have at the position (Alfonzo Dennard's legal issues; depth concerns), I think he's still around this year. If you let him go, have to ask the question, "Who replaces him?" Don't want to create a hole just for the sake of creating a hole.
Mike, the lack of depth at DT is scary. Did they expect more from Armstead and is he in jeopardy of getting cut or will they stash him on IR?
Yes, they had big plans for Armstead. His situation was unexpected. Has left a hole that I would imagine they look to fill when rosters are trimmed to 53 around the NFL.
Should we read anything into the fact that Dobson only got 2 snaps with Brady last week? You'd think they'd want to develop some chemistry between the two.
John, I think the information has some value. Here is the way I view it: Dobson has had some ups and downs since being drafted, including a rocky start to his spring workouts. He's still learning what it takes to be a pro in terms of what is expected on a day-in and day-out basis, and sometimes there are hard lessons that come with that. That's how I read into the 2 snaps with Brady last Friday, in addition to noting that the Patriots will use different personnel on a week-to-week basis, which might be a factor as well.
Do you think Dobson or Thompkins steps up to the #2 receiver behind Danny?
Nick, sort of piggy-backing off the last thought, I could see them switching things up between the Nos. 2-5 WRs on a weekly basis depending on the matchup. But based on what we've seen to this point, I'd give the nod to Thompkins right now.
Although I loved the chemistry between TB and Amendola, I'm concerned the Pats are going to run the same offense heavily dependent on the TE and slot receiver. Teams like the Giants and the Ravens have easily countered it. What's your take
I think they are more capable of threatening the outer edges of the field, and the deep third, with the personnel they have this year compared to the last few years. Just need to see Dobson keep progressing. He's the top guy to do that IMO.
Is Richard Seymour on anyone's radar? Would he be a good fit to add some depth to the D line?
The Falcons explored adding Seymour, but it looked to me like they couldn't agree on financial terms.
Hey Mike, First time posting a question, everyday reader of your work though. Great stuff btw. Anyways, in regards to Tebow why are Pats fans so against this guy? He hasn't done a thing wrong in New England yet it seems everyone wants to attack him? We still have Brady, isn't this guy here to learn from the bests and develop? Why not give him some time? Hes going to prepare us extremely well for running QBs and hes a great teammate whose work ethic will only rub off on his teammates. I'm a Pats fan till the day I die. He's not taking Bradys spot so support the guy. Why does everyone want to hate on players on our team? Don't get it.
Sgt Sweet, thanks for what you do. Tebow is a lightning rod, that's for sure. I've never seen anything like it. From my view, all he does is work hard and has tried to fit in. Can't get upset about that. As for the performance, which has been shaky in games, I think the concern is that his presence could actually hinder the development of young WRs. Also, maybe he is getting judged on a different scale than others, and that rubs some people the wrong way because it might take a spot away from a more deserving player. Like most anything else, there are a lot of layers to it.
Is Richard Marshall on the Pats' radar? Belichick liked him coming out of college as I recall.
Dave, I think Marshall could be a solid signing for them. I haven't heard of any concrete interest, but if we break down the CBs, this is what I see: 1) Talib; 2) Dennard; 3) Arrington; 4) Dowling; 5) Ryan; 6) Green. With Dennard's legal uncertainty, and Dowling's injury situation, I think Marshall could help them. I'll keep an eye on it.
I try and try but 'm not impressed with the Pats defensive strides over the last 5 seasons. Is it scheme, talent or coaching Mike? Could Nick Caserio help coach these players up?
Dino, it comes down to BB. With all due respect to defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, this is still BB's defense, and I think Patricia would agree with it. Here is a question I've wondered for a while now: BB has changed as the game has changed when it comes to offense, but has he done the same on defense? I say that with the attacking defenses in mind. They don't seem to attack as much as others, although I don't have the data on hand to know if that "feel" is a reality.
1) Talib; 2) Dennard; 3) Arrington; 4) Dowling; 5) Ryan; 6) Green.So no Cole?
Tony, I missed Cole. He should be in there in the 6 spot. Push Green to 7. Slot guy, as we know.
I think people are reading too much into the 2 snaps last week for Dobson. Last year everyone thought Welker was being phased out in week 1. Look how that turned out.
Ferdie, there is always a danger of reading too much into snap counts. The one difference on this point is that we have stressed how important it is for these rookies to be on the field with Tom Brady during this crucial developmental period. So when one of those rookies is limited to 2 snaps with Brady, I do find that notable. As for what it all means, and why, that's where the picture is tougher to decipher.
"Tebow is a lightning rod, that's for sure. I've never seen anything like it" I have Mike and his name was Doug Flutie. Flutie had a much better arm though.
David, I have made the Tebow-to-Flutie link but I just feel like this is at a whole different level.
Are Pats managing Adrian Wilson's snaps?
Hi Matt. They are basically rotating Wilson with Steve Gregory in a 2a/2b type of arrangement. I think they'd play the safety they feel creates the best matchup for them on a specific week.
Is Armstead is jeopardy of being cut? Or is he most likely PUP bound? I sure hope its the latter.
Jake, he won't be cut. He's currently on the non-football illness list. Doesn't appear that he's close to coming off it.
Mike, I am interested to hear your take on the Rob Gronkowski to PUP list after training camp? Does Coach B have a track record we could reference to know which way he is leaning?
Scott, every situation is different based on the medical information available at the time. My hunch: He sticks on the active roster because they will have enough information to give them some hope that Gronkowski could start practicing by late September.
Mike, I think Gostkowski did an amazing job replacing the great Adam Vinatieri, but after a few misses over the first 2 preseason games and a "down" year for him last year, are the Pats working out any other kickers?
Will, BB gave Gostkowski a pretty big vote of confidence the other day, saying he had confidence that Gostkowski is one of the best kickers in the NFL. They haven't worked out any kickers that I am aware of. Gostkowski's misses are from 44, 50 and 53. Not excusing the misses, but also not chip shots.
With Gronk likely out for week 1 vs Bills, will Zach Sudfield be our starting TE, has he passd Ballard, H-man and Fells on the depth chart?
Scott, Sudfeld looks like their top "move" TE right now, which is the old Aaron Hernandez role. He also looks like the top option in the two-minute offense in the Gronk role in that package. So yes, if he continues on this trajectory, I could see him starting opening day in that "move" role if they open in the 2-TE package. Ballard looks like the top in-line blocker right now.
Why would Mesko's job be up for grabs but not Gostkowski's? Big cap hit an not real reliable in big games.
Mark, the coaches obviously see it differently. Part of it could be that there is no sure-fire answer to replace him and ensure an upgrade. Also, maybe they've determined that Gostkowski isn't the type of kicker who responds in the desired way to competition and it could lead to a negative net result when all is said and done. Just spitballing a few thoughts. I'm not sure the exact reason. Mesko was a little down last year IMO, but it looks to me like he's created some separation over the last week in the competition with impressive rookie Ryan Allen.
Mesko v. Allen... I think Mesko has shown a bit more to this point, but, but Allen could show us more over the next two games. If it is a tie, I give it to Allen because of freed up cap space for an OL or DB help. Your thoughts?
I lean toward Mesko, because he's also spent three years as the holder for Gostkowski. Some "concern" over altering the operation.
Defense is going to be big in this contest. With Megatron stating that he plans to play it will be very interesting to see how we fare. I am also very interested in both teams's pass rush....How closely will tonight's linup resemble what we might see opening day?
For the first two-plus quarters, should be pretty close to regular-season action and pace, Kris. Anxious to see how the Patriots fare against the big play. While the Lions' top offense has struggled a bit early in the preseason, they can get the ball downfield and represent a good test.
I disagree with the thought that we will carry a FB (Devlin) on your roster projection while leaving off Hooman. I think Hooman has shown a lot last season and was used different ways including a lead blocker. We signed him to a restricted free agent tender and think he should make the team. Thought?
Nic, you could be right. That was more of an economics thing. I don't think Hoomanawanui is appreciably better than Develin and he counts more than double the salary ($1.3 million vs. $400,000-plus). From a value perspective, is it really a $700,000 upgrade. Not so sure of that. Wouldn't be surprised if both don't make it.
Any chance both Zoltan and I make the roster?
I toyed with that idea on my latest projection, because I remember Bill Belichick saying one of his regrets was back in 2005 when he didn't find a way to keep kicker Robbie Gould. He would have been a good replacement for Adam Vinatieri, who was going into free agency the next year. In the end, I think he'd just lean toward Allen landing the job this year instead of keeping both.
Would the pats put Allen on the practice squad if he clears waivers? Assuming Mesko wins the job
Absolutely. That makes a lot of sense.
I love everything about the Patriots, and I understand the "we're all in this together" mentality, but I think it's a little rediculous to use those words "we" and "us" when talking about the Patriots. :)
Did I do that, Tom? Definite 15-yard penalty there.
Brandon Spikes appeared to be rushing the passer against the Bucs much more than usual. Is this something the defense has consciously added in practice? Might this be a sign that Spikes may get his wish to become a three-down player?
Michael, my view on those plays are that they are reads that Spikes is making post-snap, and not a designed blitz. So when Spikes sees the back stay in to pass-protect, then he rushes.
Hey Mike, i was wondering... as a native New Englander, a fan of football in general and someone who covers the Patriots, have you ever admitted who your favorite football team was growing up? Id love to think you were die hard pats fan growing up and still are but that's not the case in your profession? not everyone will cover a team they grew up rooting for correct? And when you do cover a team are you kinda not allowed to admit you like to root for another team? lol
Matt, I grew up in suburban Boston, so my rooting interest was naturally the Patriots in the 1980s. But it wasn't as "cool" to root for the team back then. They weren't often on TV. The organization was up and down. You didn't see a lot of Patriots gear that people wore in the schools I attended. I loved Steve Grogan. Would pretend to wear the neck roll in our Nerf football games. Also was naturally drawn to some of the better teams during that time. For some reason, I liked the Seahawks too -- Dave Krieg to Steve Largent.
What was Fells's injury? I missed that. Is he basically (not) playing himself off the roster? (And can you imagine a team like the Dolphins signing him, if cut?)
Matt, Fells has been banged up and not practicing in full. I would imagine if he doesn't make it here, he'll find a home somewhere.
Hi Mike. Following up on Hooman's cost: if he signs an RFA tender isn't that then guaranteed? How exactly does that type of tender work?
No, Robert, it is not guaranteed until the start of the regular season. We saw that last year with Brian Hoyer too. The $1.9m price tag was a bit rich for the Patriots' liking.
Bolden did some KR work last week. Is Washington on the way out?
I had previously thought Washington was a lock. I don't feel that way now. His spot might not be as certain as I initially envisioned.
Hi Mike,Re Tom (Mystic)'s post, I went back and checked the transcript, and you can pick up the 15-yarder for homerism. You were not guilty of using first-person pronouns in discussing the team.
"After further review ...
Who knew we had instant replay in the chat. That is fantastic.
Who has more fantasy upside over 16 games: Dobson or Thompkins?
Alan, higher upside for Dobson but I view Thompkins as the "safer" play right now. Just depends on how much risk you want to assume.
P.S. -- I think what "Tom from Mystic" might have meant is the "we" and "us" coming from those asking the questions.
Mike - who wins the final running back spot if they keep only 4 -- Bolden or Blount?
I think they both stick. Bolden is a core special teamer. He isn't going anywhere.Also think Blount has shown enough to stick.
That was a rather quick review and even quicker explanation!
LOL. When Ed Hochuli is calling the game, you know the microphone is going to get a workout.
Hi Mike. What is going on with our kickoff and kickoff coverage units? We never seem to stop the opponents inside the 20 no matter how deep in the endzone they get the ball and we barely make it out to the 20 even when catching it at or near the goal line. We hear all this stuff about how this player or that player has special teams value but those two units are not very special in my mind and haven't been for awhile now. Your thoughts?
Pretty shaky right now, Jim. Part of it is the personnel isn't all the same personnel we'll see during the regular season. But they should be better. Have to clean it up, for sure.
I'm fired up over the possibility of Tebow getting a roster spot because of how little he can add to a team. A locker room presence is the biggest reason he's there. Talent? I see a guy who excelled in college as a option QB and has declined in accuracy and talent in just 4 yrs. The naked eye shows someone who is slower than he was in college too. I would much rather see someone else fill this spot.
Understood, Eric. And in the end, I don't think too many will be surprised if he doesn't make it. But we should also keep in mind that there are different things that go in to comprising a 53-man roster, and we don't truly know what's important to BB.
I can't believe that no one has taken a run at Brandon Lloyd? 70 plus catches and 900 plus yards. Was he that much of a diva?
Jason, I don't think "diva" is the right word. Just a little different.
So Mike, do you think Vereen can handle the staple of the Patriots Offense, Direct Snap to the RB?
Yes, think Vereen has been impressive to this point. Played 12 percent of the offensive snaps last year. Figure that number will increase to over 30 percent this year, assuming good health. That was about the number that Danny Woodhead played in each of the last 2 seasons.
Hey Mike, any reports of what I said to the Michigan players? I was there, but I don't remember anything.
Haven't seen/heard anything, but if anything pops up, please pass it along. Would have liked to be in that room.
Mike, what are the odds Fletcher takes a big step forward this year? He always seems to be around the ball when he plays and I would love to see more of him...
Clint, Fletcher looks like the fifth LB on the depth chart behind Mayo, Hightower, Spikes and Collins. So technically, he's taking a step back, but if this makes sense, I think he can take a step forward as a player. I've been impresed with him this camp. His presence as the No. 5 LB reflects better dept at the position.
Mike, Miss reading all the comments on your excellent posts?I do.
Sure, Dan. All the commenters used to catch all my mistakes.
So Mike, you buyin' Madden 25?
Is that on Atari?
LOL Colin. Video games passed me by, unfortunately, about 15 years ago.
Mike when you say "different" when referring to Lloyd, can you be more specific? I know you don't want to be needlessly cruel or negative, but I think we'd all like to know what behavior lead him to be let go by so many teams.
Just a different guy, Jason. Sort of marched to the beat of his own drum. So if you're thinking about adding him to your team, probably a question to ask, "How is this guy going to fit in with our locker-room culture?"
Let's go for another 5...
Are the Pats a playoff team with Mallet starting 16 games?
This question stopped me in my tracks, Jeff. Tough one. I think they could win 9-10 games with Mallett, and one reason is the competition level in the AFC East. Does that get them into the playoffs?
Backup QBs tough to judge in preseason. I think Mallett would be a good emergency fill-in, similar to Cassel in 2008.
Nate Ebner: Does he make the 53?
I think so, Ben. Special teams value. One of their better coverage players.
How surprised would you be if the pats make it to the Super Bowl?
Not at all, Jason. If not the Patriots, then whom? Went over the league with Mike Giardi of Comcast SportsNet over dinner last night and we sort of came to the same conclusion: The Patriots have as good a chance as anyone.
Is this defense finally ready to be elite? It will have to be much better because the offense won't be able to save the day all the time. We've been waiting for the defense to improve since the embarrassing loss in 2006 in Indy
I haven't seen anything to indicate that will happen, Bobby. It looks sort of similar to last year's defense right now, from this view. That doesn't mean it will be, but just shooting it straight.
Jason Vega. Any update?
Signed with the Cowboys, I believe.
Mike, did you read the article on ESPN.com yesterday about how Pete Carroll is trying to change the professional football culture in Seattle? Interesting stuff. How do you think that compares to the mantra within the Patriots' organization?
Josh, Pete Carroll was in a tough spot in NE, following up Bill Parcells and then not having final say on the roster. I think that experience shaped, in many ways, how he has approached things in Seattle. Good story.
Hey Mike, with yours and Field's 3.0 roster projection I am still a bit concerned with the defensive tackle position. With only Forston and maybe Grissom as the back ups what do you think BB will do at that position? Does he wait and see who is out there after cut downs are made (like with Brain Waters) or is there a trade out there to be made?
Absolutely Sven. That should be a concern. Too light there IMO. Would imagine they are on the lookout. I'll try to go through some depth charts over the weekend to see who might be a potential target for them.
With the speed of play and the amount of injuries is a roster of 53 still feasible? Any talk of upping it to 58-60?
Stuart, that's more of an ownership-level question, because it's more money paid out. I think they feel like the 8-man practice squad covers them pretty good right now.
If Amendola is out tonight against the Lions, we all assume Edelman will get the nod at the slot position. Do you see Coach B throwing in Boyce at that spot and seeing how he performs? i see Boyce as a potential slot guy
Would think we see both of them, Zach. Boyce is an inside/out guy who can play both spots. I've assumed it will be Edelman, but wouldn't count out Boyce or even Thompkins in there.
Would think we see both of them, Zach. Boyce is an inside/out guy who can play both spots. I've assumed it will be Edelman, but wouldn't count out Boyce or even Thompkins in there.
Hi, Mike. The critics of Gostkowski focus entirely on his missed FGA's and ignore the high amount of touchbacks he provides. Isn't there excellent value in that aspect of his job and might you do more to offer that reminder next time he misses one?
Point made, Hoss. Yes, that is also a part of Gostkowski's job description and he generally does it well.
are these players on here even really players asking questions or just random people pretending to be ???
Just having a little fun, Andy. I'm sure the players are busy preparing to be at their best for tonight.
Mike, what are you looking forward to most tonight? I am looking forward to see how the offense does without Danny and the Talib/Johnson match up
Let's end with this one, Dave. Looking forward to seeing how the Patriots protect Tom Brady against a tough Lions front. Also how they defend the big play against the Lions' vertical attack. This is good environment for football. Hope we get some noise to see how the Patriots respond.
Thanks to all for chatting today. We'll do it again next week. Enjoy the game.