Tom Brady’s returning from a four-game suspension this week, in case you haven’t heard.
You wouldn’t really know if you lived in the New England Patriots’ locker room (which would be weird). It’s been business as usual for the Patriots, who essentially are acting like Brady is any other player.
The Patriots ignore the noise and avoid distractions better than any other team and downplaying Brady’s return has been a walk in the park.
Read below, watch above and enjoy this week’s mailbag.
@DougKyed is @AlbertBreer right when will Gronk be traded #maildoug
@DougKyed should we be worried about Gronk & his performance? Albert Breer mentioned future possibility of trade cause of injuries #mailDoug
Gotta give the people what they want. Here’s the clip of Albert Breer discussing the possibility that Rob Gronkowski could be traded.
I can’t see it happening soon, but the Patriots traded Richard Seymour and Logan Mankins, both of whom were the best at their positions, so it’s certainly possible.
I definitely would be shocked if Gronkowski was traded, but he’s also handled differently than any other Patriots player. If Bill Belichick decides he no longer deserves that type of treatment, and if Gronk reacts negatively toward being handled like the rest of his teammates, then perhaps it could happen.
I can understand why it’s being mentioned. Gronkowski gets hurt a lot. He’s the best tight end in the NFL by a long shot, but he’s frequently banged up. The Patriots obviously have decided he’s worth it. However, haven’t decided he’s worth it enough to up his contract at this point.
@DougKyed How many games will it take for Brady to be Brady?
I don’t think Tom Brady will begin the season with any rust. I’m not sure if that’s a hot take or not, but Brady obviously worked out while serving his suspension, he’s been throwing to Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and James White for years, and he spent all summer throwing to Martellus Bennett and Chris Hogan.
Maybe a normal quarterback would have some rust to knock off, but this is Tom Brady. I believe he’ll look like himself on the first drive.
@DougKyed – Do you think DJ Foster will get more opportunities as 3rd down back. Are you surprised at his lack of involvement so far?
It’s certainly possible with Brandon Bolden nursing a knee injury. Since Bolden didn’t practice Wednesday or Thursday, it’s highly unlikely he plays Sunday. That would mean Foster will be the Patriots’ No. 3 running back, unless they sign Bishop Sankey off the practice squad.
LeGarrette Blount also has a hip injury, so it’s possible the Patriots will try to take the load off of him slightly. That could mean catches and carries for Foster. He might also serve as the Patriots’ kick returner this week given Cyrus Jones’ issues in the role last week.
@DougKyed does Eric Rowe have a chance at being the number 3 corner now that he is healthy? #maildoug
Not permanently but certainly in some matchups. Justin Coleman has been solid in the nickel role, and some matchups will dictate more work for free safety Duron Harmon than a third cornerback. But if the Patriots are playing a team with a tall No. 3 receiver, then Eric Rowe would be a nice matchup.
@DougKyed Do you think the patriots bring in a DT before Sunday?
Definitely. Vincent Valentine missed practice Wednesday and Thursday, and he was walking gingerly in the locker room. That leaves the Patriots with just two healthy defensive tackles, starters Malcom Brown and Alan Branch.
The Patriots probably would have signed John Hughes, but he latched on with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers because he didn’t want to bounce on and off New England’s roster all year. Since the Patriots haven’t signed a free agent, they’ll likely sign either Woodrow Hamilton or Anthony Johnson off the practice squad. Hamilton is the most likely candidate, because at 6-foot-3, 315 pounds, he has the size to rotate with Brown and Branch.
How much longer will it take for Mingo to get significant reps on defense? What is preventing him right now? #maildoug @DougKyed
I expected Mingo to take on a bigger role while Rob Ninkovich served his four-game suspension, but Jonathan Freeny and Shea McClellin filled in. It would be interesting to see Mingo take on a rover role on second or third down. It might take an injury or two for that to happen, though.
Let’s go rapid fire:
#maildoug how many yards and TD’s do you believe Brady will throw Sunday?
Let’s say 300 yards and three touchdowns. Start off with a bang.
@DougKyed How many crazy Legal formations will Pats use when they play Ravens this year?
Probably none, but I guarantee there will be laughter in the press box when there’s an eligible tackle in the game. Reporters love laughing about eligible tackles.
@DougKyed Tell me all your thoughts on Doug #maildoug
The best around.
@DougKyed can I start gronk this week finally ?
Yes. Do it.
I expect Gronk to be much closer to himself this week.
Flipping between the Red Sox and Thursday night game while procrastinating. I leave for Cleveland Friday morning and haven’t packed yet. ?
@DougKyed #maildoug. Has Brady done enough to reclaim the starting spot? #questionsIwishsomeonewouldaskbelichick
I guess we’ll find out Saturday afternoon, when the Patriots have to activate him. My guess: yes.
@DougKyed #maildoug was grok being left out because of injury or preventing injury do to how aggressive he plays saving him for TB to return
Good question. I tried to answer that question here.
@DougKyed #maildoug Do you have any update on Dion? With a banged up RB’s I am surprised we haven’t signed someone… good news for Lewis?
Dion Lewis, who’s currently on PUP, expects to be “back on the field soon,” ESPN’s Mike Reiss reported Sunday. Lewis can’t return off the PUP list until Week 7. If it was just a minor cleanup procedure, that’s not out of the realm of possibility. He’s been in the facility recently.
@DougKyed What does Ninko’s return mean for Chris Long?
I don’t think it means much. It means more for Freeny and McClellin.
I expect Ninkovich to move to strong-side linebacker, a role Dont’a Hightower has been playing, in the base defense. I expect Hightower to then move to middle linebacker.
The Patriots rarely have run a standard 4-3 base defense this season. They’ve switched from a 4-3 under to a 3-4. Either way, Ninkovich will play on the line when he’s used as a strong-side linebacker.
In nickel on early downs, Ninkovich likely will rotate with Chris Long and Jabaal Sheard at defensive end, taking over for Trey Flowers. On third down, Ninkovich, Long, Sheard and Flowers all can be on the field at the same time.
@DougKyed #maildoug do you see Sankey getting promoted soon?
I wouldn’t be shocked, but if it’s happening, no one seems to know yet.
@DougKyed How does one be a Doug K assistant?
Can you transcribe? I hate transcribing. Transcribing is terrible. Transcribing is worse than packing.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images