Friday Bag: How can Brady simulate taking hits during suspension?


Friday Bag: How can Brady simulate taking hits during suspension?

FOXBORO -- Every Friday Tom E. Curran, Mike Giardi and Phil Perry will take your Patriots questions on Twitter and answer them as a joint mailbag -- or a Friday Bag, as they call it. 

Got questions? Tweet the guys using the hashtag #FridayBag. But for now, have at the first Bag of the 2016 season. 

TC: Thanks for the question, Kenneth! I’m guessing you mean Pats-related. Nobody will ever come out of nowhere in a way similar to Dion Lewis. I’ve never seen a player go from castoff to – literally – the most elusive and electrifying running back in the league. So let’s go with two surprises. One, Anthony Johnson is going to bring his preseason performance into the regular season and be a significant contributor. Two, A.J. Derby will score more than five touchdowns this season

TC: That’s a really good question, Mary-Beth. I’d say because they have other guys dedicated to that spot as opposed to Slater who is almost exclusively a special teams guy. Get him hurt on a curl route and you’ve lost one of your most important players.

TC: Jonny Romo!!!!! Kensil, the NFL VP of Operations who led the charge when the NFL stormed the Patriots gates looking for something to hang them with, told me at the March 2015 NFL Annual Meeting in that he was pissed at me because of my coverage and would set the record straight when everything was over. I had not yet begun to piss him off at that juncture. When I circled back at the 2016 Annual Meeting he indicated we wouldn’t be speaking in the future.

TC: Good question, Mike. Getting ready for the physical abuse is No. 1. It’s hard to get ready for the kind of pummeling a body takes on NFL Sundays because there’s not much tackling in everyday life. That’s something that – believe it or not – Brady prepares for with body coach Alex Guerrero by falling, rolling and getting whacked with bags as he does. Second, keeping his mind right. He can’t get the four weeks back and he can’t make up for them against Cleveland or in any other game so he’s got to take what’s given him and not try to overdo. Three, practice with more than just wideouts. Get people who can replicate a rush and make him move and deliver the ball in game-type looks

TC: PD, I think it must be similar to the famous answer provided by Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart on what defines pornography: They know it when they see it. In Cam Newton’s case, yeah, the hits to the head were fully visible on replay. They deserved to be flagged and weren’t. So a theory as to why they weren’t? Newton is so mobile and active and gets in the areas outside the pocket where he loses quarterback protection and becomes a runner that officials are treating him a bit differently even when he is clearly a thrower. Second, as it pertains to why the concussion spotters didn’t get him off the field? Obviously, there has to be some trepidation about injecting themselves into the game by buzzing down to take out the 2015 MVP for a sideline once-over during a possible game-winning drive in the opener. But I think we have to also acknowledge that the spotters could explain away Newton’s slow rise after the helmet-to-helmet hit as not being unusual for him. He takes a lot of big shots and is often somewhat slow to rise. So, without the flag saying, “We saw it down here on the field…” the medical staff had some cover to err on the side of “let it go…”

TC: Hey, Bill. It takes a while to reveal itself. We didn’t really know OL was an issue until the injuries rained down. This year, running game. Massive concern.

TC: Hey, Blast. They are going to ride with Cannon, no doubt. There’s not going to be anyone superior on a practice squad. And I don’t think either L’Adrian Waddle or Cameron Fleming will unseat Cannon. He’s the guy.

TC: Full game, Stuart? Kinda hard for me to assert that. However, the candor with which Gronk opened his media session speaking at length about how he’s week-to-week and his hammy is nagging him is so out of the ordinary as to seem a major gameplan red herring sent upstream by the team. Wouldn’t shock me one bit to see him go eight catches, 96 yards and two TDs.

MG: Fifty, great question. It’s all about building trust, treating the players like they’re, you know, actual human beings. Talk about the kids, the alma mater, the weather, whatever. Don’t do this with a microphone in their face, or a tape recorder. I also find that if you’re critical of a player, sometimes you need to make yourself available to them, and let them know what you said and why. The occasional guy will get pissed. But most appreciate your willingness to show your face and engage in a discussion. Sometimes they even give you info that changes your view. Good give and take. I think Phil and Tom do terrific jobs working the room and treating the players like they want to be treated.

MG: Sue, I too like a plan. Bill Belichick said Thursday he has one, but wouldn’t reveal exactly what that was. He does have multiple options. Julian Edelman was a collegiate QB at Kent State and has thrown a few passes in the NFL on trick plays. He’d be a hell of a old-school, veer or option offense QB even now. AJ Derby may play tight end for the Pats but he too is a converted QB who was still playing the position just a few years ago. Lastly, I could see Danny Amendola politicking for a shot.

Shimon, sometimes we get along, sometimes we don’t, so I appreciate the question. I’m still of the opinion that the best approach would be to spread out the Arizona defense by going empty. That will force the Cards to reveal what they’re doing that split second sooner, and help Garoppolo’s decision making. However if you watched what Denver did last night versus Carolina, you could make the argument that heavier sets benefitted Trevor Siemian. That run game took some pressure off the young QB and also allowed play action to be a factor. Question is: Do the Pats have that same kind of rushing attack?

MG: T.J…no.

MG: Mr. Q…no.

MG: Scar has already made a difference with Marcus Cannon, who was the Pats best offensive lineman in the preseason, and rookie Joe Thuney, who has left guard on lockdown. But there are some depth concerns, and Nate Solder scuffled the last couple weeks of the preseason and then tweaked that hamstring versus the Giants. Few have the big fella’s athleticism, but they need some consistency out of that spot.

PP: Clinton, when it comes to this season, you're probably right. But like so many Patriots roster moves, this was done with an eye towards the future. Had the team kept Jones, though, they likely would have lost him to free agency in the offseason, receiving only a compensatory pick in return. Instead, the Patriots received Jonathan Cooper and -- via the Cards second-round pick Bill Belichick acquired -- Joe Thuney and Malcolm Mitchell as compensation for the Pro Bowl defensive end. That's two potential 2016 starters, one of which is under contract for four years, and another promising rookie receiver. Not a bad haul. 

PP: Thanks for checking in, Cian. Hamstring injuries can linger for extended periods of time, and I'd say Gronkowski's already has to some extent. He suffered the injury earliy in the first joint practice against the Bears last month, and it's still an ongoing issue even though the All-Pro tight end hasn't played a single game between then and now. How he performs against Arizona, and the kind of in-game maintenance the injury requires, if any, will give us a pretty good sense of just how serious this one is. We'll have him in our sights throughout the night, whether he's warming up, in the game or on the sideline.

PP: I mean, anything's possible, Cody. I'd think the Patriots might have a hard time getting a running back, interior offensive lineman or receiver in this year, though. Before you jump down my throat to tell me Julian Edelman is among the most talented pass-catchers in the game, let me remind you it's actually kind of tough to make the Pro Bowl at that spot. Edelman had career years in 2013 and 2014, catching a combined 197 passes for over 2,000 yards, and he's still waiting on his first Pro Bowl nod. What's interesting is that I can't name a position defensively where I can't realistically picture one Patriots making it. Defensive tackle, defensive end, linebacker, corner, safety -- wouldn't be shocked to see them get one at each spot. They almost did it last year.

PP: Edelman, but it'll be closer than people think. I think Hogan will have some value. Worth grabbing him if he's available in your league. Also an interesting play in daily. He showed early on that he could grasp the offense, and the quarterbacks seem to trust him. 

PP: I think Malcolm Butler's physical skill set would give him the best chance to slow down Brown. The only question is would the Patriots feel comfortable with a scenario in which Justin Coleman or Cyrus Jones is asked to run with Larry Fitzgerald or Michael Floyd? Logan Ryan could take one of those two and be effective, but the other matchup would be a check in favor of the Cardinals. I wouldn't be surprised to see Butler on Fitzgerald, Ryan on Floyd and Coleman or Jones on Brown with help over the top. His speed makes him a game-breaker worthy of two sets of eyes.

PP: Don't think so, Bogie. Jones is under contract for only this season. Brown is under contract for this season and 2017. He's younger, cheaper, and I think he's the team's best receiver. He's certainly its best deep threat, and a critical part of Bruce Arians' offense is making use of the deep ball. Would be asking a lot for the Cardinals to part ways with him. 

PP: Interesting question, Sean. I'm not sure we'll see the Patriots blitz more, but I do think we'll continue to see them try to take advantage of their versatile personnel in order to get to the quarterback in a variety of ways. For example, the Patriots might only rush four on three consecutive downs, and it might be the four down linemen on first down. But on second down, it might be Dont'a Hightower, Jamie Collins and two defensive tackles getting after the passer. On third down, it could be Anthony Johnson and Jabaal Sheard rushing from the inside, while Barkevious Mingo and Trey Flowers come off the edge. They'll move pieces around to keep opponents guessing. 

What are the Patriots getting in Cordarrelle Patterson?

What are the Patriots getting in Cordarrelle Patterson?

The Patriots have made a trade with the Raiders to acquire receiver and special teamer Cordarrelle Patterson, according to a source. The deal, first reported by Pardon My Take, is an interesting one because it lands Patterson with the team that passed on the opportunity to draft him back in 2013. 


Bill Belichick dealt the No. 29 overall pick to the Vikings that year in exchange for four selections, including a second-rounder and a third-rounder. The second-rounder became Jamie Collins, and the third became Logan Ryan. The Patriots also took Josh Boyce with a fourth they received in the trade, and the fourth pick (a seventh) was traded to Tampa Bay in exchange for LeGarrette Blount. The Vikings took Patterson. 

Patterson's career to this point has been a mixed bag. One of the top athletes in the 2013 draft, the Tennessee product never quite panned out as a go-to No. 1 receiver. He has not missed a game in five seasons, but he has never cracked 600 offensive snaps in a single season. The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder has turned himself into more of a gadget receiver as well as one of the game's best special teamers. 

Here's what the Patriots are getting in Patterson . . . 

TOP-TIER SPECIAL TEAMER: Patterson has solidified himself as one of the NFL's best kick-returners. In five seasons, he's ranked as the top returner in terms of average yards per return three times. He's never been outside of the top 10 in the league in that category. Last year he was sixth in the NFL with a 28.3 yards per return average. Patterson has also become a highly-effective gunner on punt units, a role he thrived in once he embraced it, and he has kick coverage experience. Patterson has not been a punt-returner. He has just one punt return under his belt compared to 153 kick returns. Patterson has been named a First-Team All-Pro twice for his work in the kicking game. 

INCONSISTENT RECEIVER: Patterson has never been able to take his explosiveness and translate that into consistent production offensively. He's not thought of as a precise route-runner, and he has a reputation as a "body-catcher." Yet, because he's so dynamic with the ball in his hands, offenses in Oakland and Minnesota have found ways to get the ball in his hands. He'll align in the backfield, take reverses and catch screens just to try to get him the ball in space where he can let his natural abilities take over. If he gets a crease, he can create a chunk play in a blink. 

THE COST: Patterson is in the second year of a two-year deal he signed with the Raiders last offseason. He has a base salary of $3 million and a cap hit of $3.25 million. The Patriots will be sending a fifth-rounder to the Raiders and getting a sixth-rounder back. (As an aside . . . The Patriots have used one fifth-round pick in the last six drafts. It was spent on long-snapper Joe Cardona. Why are they constantly dealing fifths away? Inside the Pylon's Dave Archibald did an interesting piece on that topic about a year and a half ago. The gist is that a) there's a significant drop-off in your chances of finding a star in the fifth compared to the fourth, and b) the talent in the fifth round, by some metrics, hasn't proven to be all that different from the sixth or seventh rounds.) 

THE FIT: Patterson is a relatively low-risk acquisition because of his cap hit (which on the Patriots slots him in between Shea McClellin and Chris Hogan) and because of the draft capital required to nab him. Trading for a player like Patterson as opposed to signing another team's free agent has the added benefit of not impacting the compensatory-pick formula. Patterson also fills a few needs. His abilities as a kick-returner will be more than suitable with last year's primary kick returner for the Patriots, Dion Lewis, out of the mix. What Patterson can do as a gunner and in kick coverage will also be useful with Johnson Bademosi now elsewhere. There's also a chance Matthew Slater plays in a different city in 2017, in which case Patterson's contributions as a gunner and in kick coverage could be critical. With Brandin Cooks, Julian Edelman and Hogan all established in the Patriots offense, Patterson won't be expected to take on a heavy role in the Patriots offense. However, if he can pick up a new system, perhaps he could take on a role as a No. 4 or 5 wideout who benefits from plays designed to get him touches in space. Malcolm Mitchell, Phillip Dorsett and Kenny Britt -- now alongside Patterson -- will all be competing for time in New England's offense. Former Patriots coaching assistant Mike Lombardi seems to believe it's unlikely Patterson contributes offensively


Patriots acquire WR Cordarrelle Patterson in trade with Raiders

Patriots acquire WR Cordarrelle Patterson in trade with Raiders

The Patriots have acquired wide receiver and kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson in a trade with the Raiders, NBC Sports Boston's Phil Perry confirms.

Pardon My Take, a podcast by Barstool Sports, first reported the news.

Ian Rapaport of NFL Network reports the Patriots sent a fifth-round pick to Oakland and received a Raiders' sixth-rounder along with Patterson.

More to come...