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.
2 players we'll be talking about in 6 weeks with the opening question "Where did he come from .... ? "— Kenneth Scigulinsky (@Deeep_Blue) September 9, 2016
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
Every year we hear Slater is an option at WR, so why do we never see him play a snap or 2?— Mary-Beth McGrath (@marybethnepats) September 9, 2016
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.
Mike Kensil said he would give you an interview after Defategate was decided. Why hasn't he?— Jon (@Jon4033) September 9, 2016
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.
Top 3 priorities for Tom Brady for the next 4 wks for a successful transition back into game mode. Thanks Tom— Mike Ryan (@SNFMikeRyan) September 9, 2016
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
CAR doctor, consultants concluded no indication of concussion from video. What's NFL's threshold for "indication" of concussion?— Patriots Daily (@PatriotsDaily) September 9, 2016
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…”
What's the Achilles heel of this team? Last year OL, other years DBs, etc. What say you, Carnac?— Bill N....... (@ribill00) September 9, 2016
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.
is cannon the answer at RT or will they find someone on another teams practice squad?— ghostmalitia (@musketblast1776) September 9, 2016
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.
how likely is it that Gronk plays a full game on Sunday. Concerned for @Patriots and my FFL team.— Stuart Streuli (@sstreuli71) September 9, 2016
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.
Because I like to have a plan, what is the Pats plan for a 3rd string QB? Thanks! #FridayBag— Sue Lewis (@slml32) September 9, 2016
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.
#fridaybag how does O attack AZ? Also who does Butler cover?— Shimon Cohen, LCSW (@ShimonDCohen) September 9, 2016
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?
controlling tempo will be important. Can Jimmy do that with this running back corps? Sorry, I'm not sold on Blount. #fridaybag— Todd Landry (@tjland99) September 8, 2016
#fridaybag Do you feel like the current personnel and/or scheme make the Patriots vulnerable to the run?— Mr.Quindazzi (@MrQuindazzi) September 8, 2016
MG: Mr. Q…no.
It doesn't seem like the Pats have very much depth at OL. Can Scar coaching these guys up make a difference? #fridaybag— Pete🇺🇸🇺🇸 (@usafss74) September 8, 2016
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.
Did the Pats make a mistake in trading Jones? Regardless what they got back, his impact would have been much greater— Clinton (@ClintonOftedahl) September 8, 2016
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.
Are you worried about Gronk's hamstring lingering around for a while?— Cian (@Mo0n__Child) September 8, 2016
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.
Is there a position group on the Psts roster that does NOT have someone with a real shot at the pro bowl?— Cody James Cox (@CodyJCox) September 8, 2016
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.
Who covers John Brown and do you like the defensive backs chances against the trio of stout Arizona WR's?— Matt Taylor (@portsox17) September 8, 2016
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.
do you think AZ would have considered Chandler for John Brown?— xanny ainge (@Mr_546) September 8, 2016
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.
with corners he trusts and LB's and some linemen that can rush, will we see more blitzes?— Sean D (@iggyd23) September 8, 2016
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.