Every Friday, Tom E. Curran, Mike Giardi and Phil Perry answer your Patriots questions in a joint mailbag, or Friday Bag as they call it.
- Phil Perry: How will Patriots replace Hightower
- Belichick disappointed for Hightower but 'it gives somebody else opportunities'
Got a question for the trio? Hit them up on Twitter using the hashtag #FridayBag. Here's this week's installment:
Outside of CLE, Is it a challenge for the Pats to find trading partners as I'm sure no one wants to help them. #FridayBag— Edward Ingraham (@Whofan70) October 27, 2017
TC: Sure. They have a few teams they can deal with. Some have former Pats executives in the mix - Detroit with Bob Quinn, Jon Robinson in Tennessee, Jason Licht in Tampa and Thomas Dimitroff in Atlanta - but the Pats have also dealt with the Eagles and Cardinals since the start of the 2016 season. So there are teams out there. It's finding the right partner to dance with.
Why is Jordan Richards still on this team after 2 1/2 years? There's *no one* out there who could contribute more? #FridayBag— The Whiner (@FineWhiner) October 27, 2017
TC: Hello Whiner,
I'm with you. The wonders of Jordan Richards elude me. He's a second-round pick and been here since 2015 and he's got 38 tackles in three seasons. He had three tackles last year.
He's shown a level of capability this year as a box safety playing alongside linebackers and he can hit but he doesn't seem particularly adept at anything. Certainly nothing on the level of what someone would expect from a second-round pick. Maybe with Hightower down and a linebacker need he gets a little more run. Personally, I'd have preferred the team keep Kamu Grugier-Hill last year.
Who has been the most pleasant surprise for the Patriots so far this year? #FridayBag— Harry Mann Jr. (@harryjunior1985) October 27, 2017
TC: That's a good question, Harry. I'd say Gronk. Adam Butler. Lawrence Guy. And especially Danny Amendola. Nobody's made more clutch catches this year on necessary third downs. He's got 29 catches for 324 yards on 36 targets. He's also averaging 13.1 yards on 10 punt returns and the Patriots entered the season not knowing who would fill that punt return void. So I'll gola with Dola.
1) does Harris stay on over Roberts? Did not seem like liability vs pass and Roberts is, 2) any chance Gilmore Wally Pipp’d by JB?— Shimon Cohen (@ShimonDCohen) October 23, 2017
PP: Our guy Shimon was so fired up for the Bag, he couldn't wait to get his questions in. Appreciate that kind of aggressiveness! Let's blow through these quickly...1) I still think if Roberts is healthy that the Patriots will use him over Harris. He's been ahead of Harris on the depth chart all season, and I could be wrong, but I find it a little hard to believe that after 19 snaps against the Falcons -- even though Harris performed well -- the Patriots would all of a sudden have a different perspective on what's best for them at that position. 2) Is there a chance? Sure. Eventually. If Gilmore proves himself to be a liability. But if he's healthy, he's playing. The Patriots aren't giving up on him after five games, especially since Week 5 was his best outing. 3) Allen's just not giving them much of anything right now, which is odd because he's by all accounts an intelligent person. I wonder if maybe there's a chance he's thinking a little too much, if at this point he's pressing, and if that's hindering him on the field. We know he's been a non-factor as a receiver, but his positive moments as a blocker have been relatively few and far between, too. Maybe he can use the upcoming bye to put some extra time in and approach his role as if he's starting with a clean slate.
We need some help somewhere along the front 7; any possibilities out there?— Sean Ashley (@SeanAshley7) October 26, 2017
PP: Thanks for checking in, Sean. We hit on a bunch of intriguing possibilities here, but I'll also mention a couple of names I didn't include in that piece, both of whom were players the Patriots practiced against this summer: Lerentee McCray of the Jags and Ufomba Kamalu of the Texans. We know the Patriots have a history of scooping up joint-practice opponents, and those are players who may not cost all that much in terms of compensation. You can find more details on McCray and Kamalu here.
More prominent role for Harris or does Shea step into that 2nd LB behind KVN— JPP008 (@PatsSoxFanVA) October 26, 2017
PP: How McClellin fits into the equation will be interesting to watch play out. He has experience on the edge. He has experience off the line. That versatility may give him a leg up on Roberts or Hightower as the No. 2 behind Van Noy. In obvious running situations, I'd still give Roberts the nod, but McClellin is probably the best option in coverage when talking about those three. In all likelihood, they'll mix and match depending on the situation. McClellin's eligible to return off IR Week 10.
Does a trade with SEA, Graham for Allen/OT make any sense? Or focus on defense for a Hightower replacement?— SecretSquirrel1918 (@andrewmedlock) October 26, 2017
PP: Drewski, I don't think that would make sense for the Seahawks. They'd be getting a backup tackle (which they could probably use) and a struggling tight end in exchange for one of the better tight ends in football. Graham isn't what he once was, but he's still more valuable than what they'd be getting in that exchange. Never say never when it comes to Bill Belichick accumulating tight ends, but I think focusing on the front seven is where the Patriots would go in a trade if they were to make one.
No one will answer my question: Who smells the worst after practice or games? I need answers, Phil!— Nick Montecalvo (@MonteOutdoors) October 26, 2017
I want to know what you guys are seeing with Dorsett. Is there a breakout game looming?— Friend 2 the Sea Turtles (@terruntz) October 26, 2017
PP: He could see more opportunities if Amendola's knee injury limits him moving forward, T. But as the fourth receiver on the depth chart he has to make plays when he has the chance, and he has to stay penalty-free. Tom Brady's been picked twice when targeting Dorsett in the last two weeks (one of which was wiped because of a roughing-the-passer penalty), and Dorsett picked up a block-in-the-back penalty early against the Falcons. He started the game last week (good!) but ended up playing only eight snaps (not as good!). I don't think a breakout game is imminent, but I wouldn't rule out a productive one. Baby steps.
Think the Pat's will give Nink a call?— Sue Streeter (@sustreets) October 26, 2017
Is Akeem Ayers on the Pats radar?— JTK (@Durango136) October 26, 2017
MG: Combo plattering these two questions. Neither guy has played a down of football this season, and in Nink’s case, he hasn’t even tried to do anything since June with pads on. I don’t care how much you work out, how much time you spend lifting and running and doing agility drills, there’s being in shape and there’s being in football shape. There’s no comparison between the two. If they’re depending on either to make any kind of impact, let alone a big one, they’re screwed.
Jimmy going to be the QB next year?— K (@KSoley) October 26, 2017
MG: All depends on if Brady is truly sincere when he says he’s playing another 57 years. But can we talk about the difference between Brady, 40, and Matt Ryan, 32, reigning MVP of the league? Ryan had to make four or five throws when the game was still a game Sunday night and missed every single one of them. He wasn’t pressured on those occasions. He had his targets open. And that dude couldn’t put the ball where it needed to be. Contrast that with Brady. That wasn’t a Brady game. The Pats didn’t ask him to carry them. But in big spots, Tommy boy made every single flipping throw. It was glorious to watch.
As for Jimmy, the Pats want him here next year and beyond. We’ll see how it plays out. They control him contractually for the next two seasons if they want to use that tag. Michael Holley says they won’t do it next year. Michael Holley is wrong.
With Hightower now gone for the season, is it even worth it to finish out the season? Asking for a concerned friend. #fridaybag— Edward Ingraham (@Whofan70) October 26, 2017
MG: The injury bummed me out too, Ed, and let’s face it, we all went into the season knowing Hightower was a high injury risk and was going to miss some games. But an entire season? Damn. They don’t have one player on the roster who can duplicate what he does. Hell, they don’t have three or four players on the roster that do what he does, but they’re going to have to figure out a way. Can’t say as I’m overly confident because Hightower has a penchant for making a bunch of unseen plays and then - BOOM - the big play, but I’m also smart enough to not write off Belichick and Patricia.
What were your impressions of Harris against the Falcon? Ready to take over middle while VanNoy moves outside?— Mr.Quindazzi (@MrQuindazzi) October 26, 2017
MG: Q!!!!!!! My impressions were that if you get him going side to side, Harris is in deep trouble, but when he’s able to go downhill, he’s still got a decent burst and power. I’m hopeful that the Pats give him a lot of snaps this weekend and we can see how it really works. I also am convinced the communication is better with Harris out there then it is with Elandon Roberts.