by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff
And we’re back! Almost. Sort of.
Anyway, looking forward to camp, and coming at it with many questions for 2011. While some could get answered early, many won’t get figured out until several weeks from now.
If you get a chance to see a New England practice in person, we recommend it. (For those who can’t make it and would like a review of how Coach Bill Belichick runs preseason practices, take a gander at this piece from three years ago that runs down a typical practice drill-by-drill.)
The Brady Bunk: Oh, no! Tom Brady hasn’t been in Foxboro practicing with his teammates since February! What’s going to happen? Does he still care about football? Can he still be a great quarterback?
You know what? Just – shush.
Living On The Edge: Wait, is pressuring opposing QBs an issue? Should we talk about defensive lineman Mike Wright leading the team with 5.5 sacks last year, or is that still a sore subject considering the Patriots waited until Round Six to draft a pass-rusher?
Nothing against Markell Carter, but having a rookie come in and make an impact as a 3-4 outside linebacker seems like a bit much to ask. (What say you, Jermaine Cunningham?)
Who Wants Moore? Does that make last year’s midseason spark Eric Moore the answer? Considering Moore was a Florida Tusker at this time last year, other teams might scout him better after watching some bona fide NFL footage.
Taylor Suited: So, how’s this Taylor Price kid going to fit, in light of the fact that he only played in one game last year and has had zilch practice time with teammates this off-season? Hard to tell. Speaking of young receivers…
Tate The Player, Not The Game: Hey, Brandon Tate. We keep hearing about you breaking out. You’re in year three. It’s time for you to live up to your “veteran” status, my fresh-faced friend.
Cannon Fodder: Really hoping rookie offensive lineman Marcus Cannon can report to camp after his treatments for cancer this summer. We expect him to find his way to the Player Unable to Perform (PUP) list, delaying a decision on whether or not he’ll play this year.
Personally, we wouldn’t mind watching his 355-pound frame pushing some people around, but if we have to wait to see it, we have no complaints.
Turn On Your Heart, Light: Tackle Matt Light has got to stick around the only franchise he’s ever known for another season. Doesn’t he? Please?
Swing Logan, Sweet Chariot: Guard Logan Mankins has got to stick around the only franchise he’s ever known for another season. Right? Franchised? Please?
Win, Loss, Ty: New England’s record could depend on the health and welfare of veteran defensive end Ty Warren, who missed 2010 due to injury. While the Pats have plenty of bodies to fill up the end spots (Wright, Ron Brace, Marcus Stroud, to name a few), only Warren (That’s Ty – no offense, Gerard Warren) consistently contains his side.
This Is The End; My Only Friend, The End: So, do tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez start 2011 like the same Brady security blankets of 2010, or do we see some holes in their respective games?
Old Pirates, Yes They Ras-I: Speaking of a Redemption Song, can second-round pick Ras-I Dowling prove he was worthy of a first-round selection? Can he compete with veteran Leigh Bodden for playing time? Between Dowling, Bodden and Devin McCourty, who’s best suited to take nickel responsibilities?
(We vote for McCourty. Which, of course, means so close to nothing that the number zero feels like we’re invading its personal space.)
Safety Dance: At what point will Brandon Meriweather do something regretful? Is solid vet James Sanders sticking around? Will Patrick Chung keep his starting spot, and has he improved his coverage skills?
For a position that seems loaded, lots of questions there.
I’m Free, Free Falling: What a tense summer to have rookie free agent status. (As proof, check out this previous piece on four such hopefuls.) As rosters expand, that means plenty of undrafted youngsters will travel to Foxboro this summer. With New England’s record of keeping these castaways each year, who will find his way into Gillette for 2011?
Coach Seats: And what of the various assistant coaching switches and their potential effect on the squad? Will the lockout wreak havoc with the young players, or will it play out as a preseason hiccup?
Any other inquiries, please post them below. We will have plenty of answers soon. Whether or not they’ll end up correct, well, that’s another issue.
Email Chris Warner at firstname.lastname@example.org