Patriots Mailbag: Running Back Depth Could Be Boosted Through Trade

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Bill Belichick shocked the world by being unusually forthcoming this week.

Not only did the New England Patriots head coach announce Jimmy Garoppolo would start in Week 1 — something offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels would not do earlier to the media — he also jumped out in front of any potential quarterback controversies by saying Tom Brady would start in Week 5. Then he announced three transactions.

My head was spinning, but I appreciated it. He gave the talking heads one less thing to talk about and reporters one less thing to ask about. Is this a new era of Belichick pressers? Probably not, because he followed up that performance by shutting down most questions. But it would be great if it was.

Let’s get into this week’s mailbag, which includes some discussion on Belichick’s fashion.

@DougKyed most important camp battle?
— @ezlazar
It has to be the interior offensive line. Patriots O-line coach Dante Scarnecchia said Wednesday that he doesn’t want a rotation along the offensive line. That means the Patriots have to whittle their 11 interior offensive linemen — David Andrews, Chris Barker, Jonathan Cooper, Jon Halapio, Tre’ Jackson, Ted Karras (deep breath), Kyler Kerbyson, Josh Kline, Shaq Mason, Bryan Stork and Joe Thuney — to three starters.

Based on early practice reps, it looks like Bryan Stork, Joey Thuney and Jonathan Cooper are the favorites for the three roles, but Shaq Mason still isn’t 100 percent, and Tre’ Jackson is on the PUP list.

I think Stork, Thuney and Cooper are the Patriots’ most talented interior offensive linemen, but Kline, Mason, Andrews and even Jackson have a case to be made for deserving a starting spot. We’ll see how it shakes out.

Gordon torching us week 5 or nahh?
— @WestbrookStan
Nahh. Josh Gordon is very talented, but I don’t think the Cleveland Browns have a quarterback who could hit Bulbasaur with a Pokeball (just hitting you guys with some topical humor — no big deal).

@DougKyed who wears shorter sleeves to show off the guns – Belichick or Edelman
— @thefib0624
It definitely was Bill Belichick on Thursday.

NFL: New England Patriots-Training Camp

Not that I’ve seen anyone criticizing this look (though it undoubtedly happened on Twitter), but if you make fun of a 64-year-old man for wearing a sweatshirt with cut-off sleeves in 90-degree weather, then you hate fun. And America.

@DougKyed what if Jimmy plays completely lights out 4-0 ?
— @njjosselyn
Belichick already said Tom Brady will start in Week 5, so that’s what will happen.

If Garoppolo is lights out through four games, then the Patriots have the best backup in the NFL, and they’ll have a difficult decision to make next offseason.

@DougKyed can you see a two back, two tight end set this year as a common package?
— @Vermithrax16
I’d be surprised if the Patriots used that more than a handful of times this season, and that handful likely will come on or near the goal line. The Patriots are much more talented at tight end and wide receiver than they are at running back. I don’t think you want to take Chris Hogan or Danny Amendola off the field for another running back.

@DougKyed What position could you see the Patriots trading for in the preseason this year?
— @DanielVConnolly
They’re most shallow at running back, so if the right offer is out there, I could see them dealing for that position. It’s also not overly difficult for a running back to pick up a new offense.

The Tennessee Titans’ and Kansas City Chiefs’ running back depth charts are pretty crowded. If they all stay healthy through camp, then the Chiefs would be wise to unload Knile Davis, Spencer Ware, Charcandrick West or even Jamaal Charles through a trade.

@DougKyed do you think Edelman and Amendola both start the season on PUP?
— @ToriGrignon
No, I don’t think either one of them will start the season on PUP. They both were present for practice Thursday, though they didn’t participate.

I don’t think Julian Edelman would have been taking batting practice or grounders at shortstop with the Boston Red Sox if his foot injury was serious. I also don’t think Danny Amendola would have been running deep routes at the Tom Brady Football Challenge if his knee and ankle injuries were serious.

@DougKyed which rookie has been most impressive since OTAs to now? Most disappointing?
— @ConorAKAFrank
I’d go with Thuney, Jacoby Brissett or Cyrus Jones. Thuney is in contention for a starting role, Brissett has looked polished for a rookie signal-caller, and Jones is being asked to play cornerback and return kicks and punts.

Let’s go with Brissett, though. Most rookie quarterbacks look like crap in NFL practices. Brissett doesn’t.

@DougKyed What do you think Brady will do to stay sharp during his suspension? Knowing him he’s probably had a plan in place for months.
— @HoughtonJustin
He has plenty of options. I think he’ll work with Tom House, his private throwing coach. I think he’ll also work with some ex-teammates and free-agent wideouts. He could call up Wes Welker, Deion Branch or even Terrell Owens and throw the ol’ pigskin.

@DougKyed With Edelman and Amendola on PUP, which WR stand the most to gain from the increased reps?
— @MichaelMcD80393
I’d say Hogan, Keshawn Martin and Aaron Dobson. Hogan will receive plenty of valuable reps in their absence as he gains a rapport with Garoppolo and Brady, and Martin and Dobson have a chance to show they deserve a spot on the team.

@DougKyed At what point do you feel they should/think they will insert Jimmy in for full time reps? Who starts in preseason?
— @TheDTSB
They might wait until open practices are over, and they really start to prepare for the regular season. Right now is more about technique and fundamentals, and both quarterbacks need reps with their teammates, new and old.

That’s a good question about the preseason. Brady played in three preseason games last year, and he threw a combined nine passes in the first two. I’ll guess they each start two.

@DougKyed how was your offseason doug?
— @Cameronvogler
It was great, Cameron. Thanks for asking. I took a vacation to L.A., went to Cooperstown to watch Ken Griffey Jr. get inducted, played a lot of guitar and smoked a lot of barbecued meats. But mostly I sat on the coach a lot and slept in.

@DougKyed Hi Doug, what are your thoughts on the first #Raw & #Smackdown of the brand split and @wwebalor’s debut?
— @JeffWIIM
Raw: A+
Smackdown: B
Balor’s debut: A+++

I’m very excited about the future of Raw and less so about Smackdown and the thought of trying to watch two pay-per-views per month during the NFL season, when I can barely even watch Raw.

I’ll be doing a lot of DVRing and fast forwarding until February.

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