At this time next week, the Gillette Stadium game field will be prepped and painted for actual meaningful football between the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs.
Much must transpire between now and then. The Patriots take on the New York Giants in their final preseason game Thursday night, then head coach Bill Belichick and his staff must trim the 90-man roster to 53 players, assemble a practice squad, reshuffle their roster, weigh the pros and cons of a few trades and maybe reshuffle their practice squad a few times. Oh, and they have to game plan and prepare their players for the Chiefs.
It should be a fun week.
Let’s get into this week’s mailbag.
@DougKyed congrats on the baby! Is there room left on the adam butler bandwagon? #MailDoug
First of all, thank you. Baby Olivia Kyed is happy and healthy at home in the shadow of Gillette Stadium here in Southeastern Massachusetts.
And we’re still accepting passengers, but space is limited on the Adam Butler bandwagon after last week’s performance.
I noticed this week I keep comparing Butler to Dominique Easley and Anthony Johnson because those are the most recent undersized interior pass rushers the Patriots have rostered, and it’s not exactly instilling confidence in fans about the undrafted rookie defensive tackle.
I should also be comparing him to Mike Wright and Jarvis Green. Wright, like Butler, was an undrafted free agent who excelled as an interior rusher. Wright never emerged as a starter but was a key role player in New England for seven seasons.
It’s possible Butler ends up more like Easley or Johnson than Wright or Green, but he’s shown a ton of upside as a rookie this summer, and it’s always fun to be positive about undrafted free agents.
Butler, who can play both defensive tackle and defensive end, has a solid chance of making the Patriots’ 53-man roster because of their shallow pass-rush depth chart.
Pats haven’t typically carried 3 qbs on active roster, what are chances Brissett doesn’t make team?
They’re decent. It sounds like Jacoby Brissett will play a TON in the Patriots’ final preseason game Thursday night. How he performs could ultimately determine whether he’s on this team next week, because he hasn’t looked great in two preseason games.
Would the Patriots trust Brissett this season if their top two quarterbacks went down? Are they confident he’ll improve enough someday that he’ll be better than a replacement-caliber backup quarterback? I personally haven’t seen enough improvement over the course of this offseason.
Brissett was included on every 53-man roster projection, but it’s coming down to the wire. Every spot on the 53-man roster is important. At the same time, the Patriots must absolutely know they’ll lose him if he hits waivers.
There’s no way the Buffalo Bills or New York Jets would pass up sticking it to the Patriots if he hits waivers. I entirely believe either team would use a roster spot for spite.
Could the Patriots trade Brissett? It would be worth gauging interest in him before the Patriots attempt to waive him to then slip him onto their practice squad.
Will Hightower play more edge?
That’s the way it looks, but we won’t know for sure until Week 1. The Patriots did a pretty good job of guarding Hightower’s 2017 role heading into the season. He stayed on the physically unable to perform list throughout open training camp practices in front of fans and the media and didn’t play in the Patriots’ third preseason game. It’s highly unlikely he plays Thursday night against the Giants, so … we’ll see.
If we had to guess, it appears linebacker Harvey Langi has been playing Hightower’s future role in practice and preseason games, which is on the edge. Hightower is a fantastic pass rusher so it would make sense to line him up opposite Trey Flowers to get after the QB.
The Patriots surely aren’t crying themselves to sleep knowing the Kansas City Chiefs don’t know how to prepare for Hightower in Week 1.
#maildoug Will we see opposing running backs rampaging into the Patriots secondary after catching short passes?
It’s … possible.
Hightower also is the Patriots’ most dependable coverage linebacker. If Hightower is on the edge, then either David Harris or Elandon Roberts likely will be in the middle unless the Patriots decide to move Kyle Van Noy or Shea McClellin into that role.
Van Noy can be trusted in coverage, but Harris is a step slower than he was in his prime, Roberts struggles in that role and McClellin is inexperienced.
Covering running backs out of the backfield could be a work in progress for the 2017 Patriots.
Congrats Doug! Can Malcolm Mitchell play the slot receiver role or is he more of an outside guy?
He’s definitely more of an outside wide receiver, but there’s still a decent chance he receives regular No. 3 snaps over Danny Amendola. And that’s because both Chris Hogan and Brandin Cooks have played in the slot before.
I’d expect Amendola to play in special situations, including third down, but Hogan and Cooks are the top players to take over Julian Edelman’s actual role after the receiver tore his ACL.
Dude who gets cut that we are going to cringe about later #MailDoug?
So, who will be this year’s Cre’von LeBlanc, who the Bears claimed after the Patriots waived him last summer?
It’s Butler if the Patriots cut him, but that seems unlikely at this point.
Maybe cornerback Kenny Moore? Maybe wide receiver Austin Carr or tight end Jacob Hollister? Maybe cornerback D.J. Killings? I like Moore, Carr, Hollister and Killings, but they haven’t consistently dominated in preseason games.
Know #maildoug has passed, but wonder your thoughts on the emotional loss of Edelman’s injury? Can’t just replace that w/”next man up” stuff
I agree. Edelman is a fantastic player, but he and Tom Brady also are the heart and soul of the offense. Edelman drives his teammates to a different level with his intensity.
There’s a moment that stands out from one of last season’s mic’d up segments when Chris Hogan congratulated Edelman for breaking Wes Welker’s franchise record for postseason receptions in the Patriots’ divisional round win over the Houston Texans.
“(Expletive) that. I want a win. Let’s go. I hate that.”
Then Hogan, like an easily influenced younger brother, quickly changed his tune.
“Yeah, (expletive) that.”
Edelman dragged Hogan right back into the game and into the moment. It’s tough not to take things deadly serious with Edelman in your ear. And obviously Brady helps bring the same intensity, but it’s nice to have two guys with a similar mindset in your huddle.
Let’s go rapid fire.
Olivia, how do you like the world?
Well, she can’t talk or write yet, but she seems to be enjoying herself.
Tonight, she watched “Do Your Job Part 2,” “America’s Game: 2016 Patriots” and “Hard Knocks,” so she’s getting an early education in football.
I highly recommend “Do Your Job” and “America’s Game” to Patriots fans. “Do Your Job” features the Patriots coaches and takes a more serious and football-centric approach. “America’s Game” has interviews with Edelman, Hightower and LeGarrette Blount and is overall lighter fare. Both are great.
“Do Your Job Part 2” premieres Sunday on NBC at 7 p.m. ET. It also airs Wednesday at 8 p.m. on NFL Network, followed by “America’s Game: 2016 Patriots” at 9 p.m.
Ask Olivia if David Harris is on the bubble bc that’s what Jeff Howe says? ?
She’s not sure, because he can’t talk or write yet, but I’d say Harris is not a lock. Does that mean he’s on the bubble? I’m not sure, because I’m still not totally sure if I understand what a roster bubble even is and what it means to be in, out or on the bubble.
If Harris plays a lot Thursday night, then we’ll know he’s firmly on the bubble. Whatever that means.
What’s Olivia’s hottest take right now?
She thinks the Patriots should sign Terrell Owens. She’s been spending too much time on Twitter.
#maildoug Who’s her favorite player? Want to see if Jimmy G is picking up steam with the younger generation.
It’s Adam Butler because I won’t shut up about him.
@DougKyed does TB12 use the restroom? That’s the REAL question here ?
Why is that the real question here? Is the other option that he just goes in the woods? This is a weird question. Next.
Who do you believe will lead the backfield in carries sir?
Mike Gillislee. As long as he’s still healthy to start the season.
Are there actually 90 lockers in the locker room, or do some guys have to share during preseason?
There are currently 79 lockers in the Patriots’ locker room. Most rookies have to share a locker. Safety Damarius Travis currently has his own locker because it’s a metal temporary locker.
This is why you read the mailbag.
give me on good reason why TO isn’t on the pats roster right now #MailDoug congrats again on the baby
Get off Twitter, Olivia.
Thumbnail photo via Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports Images