Patriots Mailbag: Logan Ryan, Malcolm Butler Should Start At Cornerback

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Hey, Roger Goodell: The New England Patriots report to training camp Wednesday, and they probably want to know if they’ll have their starting quarterback to begin the season.

The NFL commissioner already has had 35 days to consider Tom Brady’s four-game suspension appeal, and it’s unclear what possibly could take this long for Goodell to decide the QB’s fate. Nothing has changed over the last month, and Goodell has had the Wells Report in his possession for nearly three months.

Deflategate is far from over, even once Goodell announces his decision, and we should resign ourselves to the fact that this story probably isn’t going away this season. If Brady isn’t happy with Goodell’s ruling (likely), there’s a good chance the Patriots quarterback and the NFL Players Association will take the NFL to court.

Because nothing progresses quickly in the NFL, there’s a chance that lawsuit could extend into the season, and Brady actually might not serve a possible suspension until midway through the season or in 2016.

Fortunately, with training camp officially starting Thursday, there will be actual football to discuss. Get ready for camp with NESN.com’s post-vacation mailbag:

Who do you think our Starting Corners will be?
–@BOSSMAYNE_DEE

Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan and Robert McClain appeared to be the front-runners for the top three cornerback spots during the offseason training program, but the real competition starts Thursday, when the pads come on and contact and one-on-one drills are allowed.

I also believe it’s in the Patriots’ best interest for Butler and Ryan to be their top corners. They have the highest upside, and both players come at a lower price tag than veteran Bradley Fletcher.

Butler and Ryan had solid rookie seasons, but Ryan became a little lost in the shuffle last season with Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner starting. With two wide-open starting roles, Ryan really could shine in 2015.

@DougKyedNESN what’s the biggest difference between the atmosphere in Foxboro this year, versus being in Hawaii
–@PP_Rich_Hill

I’m returning from vacation at the same time as the Patriots, and while it will be exciting to be back in Foxboro for training camp, southeastern Massachusetts isn’t exactly Hawaii.

I’d say the biggest difference is that my view from training camp will be the Sharon, Mass., bluffs, not the wide-open ocean and Diamond Head. Bluffs are cool, though.

@DougKyedNESN If #ThunderAussie was an NFL player, what position?
–@CStrable

This is my dog, Thunder.

At just 55 pounds, he’d be a little undersized to play defense, but I think he might have a future as a wide receiver (more like retriever). His catching skills are improving, and he has a great vertical leap and a propensity for spectacular catches. It’s nearly impossible to pry a ball out of his mouth, though I’m not sure how well his “I’ll drop the ball and then quickly pick it up as my owner goes to bend down” move will go over with head coaches.

Sure, the taunts could get in his opponents’ heads, but it’s a little risky. He also could be used on end-arounds, punt and kick returns. There are faster dogs, but his agility and open-field vision are special.

@DougKyedNESN What’s your view of Chung and his role going into 2015 with Revis and Browner no longer in the fold?
–@MTM558

I still expect Patrick Chung to be a starter and have a major role, but he might not be on the field for all three downs. Chung is at his best playing near the line of scrimmage in a Cover-1 scheme (man coverage with one safety back deep), and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Patriots use Duron Harmon or rookie Jordan Richards if they go to a Cover-2 (zone coverage with two safeties back deep).

Chung could be used as an early downs specialist, with Harmon, who was solid in 2014 against the pass, in on third down. The Patriots are deep and versatile at safety, which should help their secondary after it lost Revis and Browner.

@DougKyedNESN expectations for Tyler Gaffney?
–@PatriotsFans1

I think Gaffney could be a three-down player, like he was at Stanford. From watching his 2013 tape, I saw a player who could run between the tackles, catch passes out of the backfield and be used in pass protection. At 225 pounds, he’s bigger than a typical Patriots third-down back, and he has some tough competition for early down snaps.

I think expectations should be tempered for Gaffney, however, since he was a sixth-round draft pick who missed all of last season with an injury. He’s definitely talented, though.

@DougKyedNESN how much are you not excited for Brock/Taker II?
–@lobster_dog

Well, I definitely don’t think it will be a good match, since the Undertaker literally looks like “the Deadman” these days, but Brock Lesnar always is fun to watch, and the buildup of this match has been solid so far. I will be slightly uncomfortable every time Lesnar takes the Undertaker to Suplex City, however, because I don’t think Taker needs any more concussions at 50 years old.

I think I’m the only wrestling fan in the world actually excited for the inevitable John Cena-Seth Rollins SummerSlam match, however. Cena has been incredible this year, and I can’t remember the last time he wrestled a bad match.

Cena-Rollins will be entertaining regardless of the result, and while I certainly hope Rollins wins (because who needs another Cena title run?), the impending doom that Sheamus will cash in the Money In The Bank briefcase casts an unfortunate shadow over any and all WWE proceedings.

My hope is the WWE realizes how badly it messed up by giving Sheamus the briefcase and that he will be one of the few MITB winners not to successfully cash in.

I also love the current Stardust-Neville feud. Throw in a possible Kevin Owens-Cesaro match, a couple divas matches, and Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose against the Wyatt Family, and SummerSlam is looking pretty exciting.

Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images

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