Patriots Mailbag: Question Marks Abound At Receiver Ahead Of Training Camp

Bill Belichick let his team off on vacation three days early, but the New England Patriots head coach is making the most of the dog days of the offseason.

The Patriots hosted quarterback Christian Hackenberg on a visit Thursday — he didn’t sign — and they reportedly locked up fullback James Develin and long snapper Joe Cardona to contract extensions.

Fullbacks and long snappers don’t exactly push the needle, but it’s clear these signings also weren’t high priorities for the Patriots. They added some insurance at niche roles on the last day of the offseason. That seems tough to complain about. That hasn’t stopped certain negative-leaning fans and media types.

Let’s get into the last mailbag of the offseason. We’ll pick back up in late July.

What are the actual chances that Riley McCarron or Berrios makes a contribution as WR? We all love to think they will but what are they doing in practice? #MailDoug
— @zerowalls
A significant contribution? Not high, but there’s a better than 50 percent chance one of Riley McCarron or Braxton Berrios makes the Patriots’ initial 53-man roster in the wake of the four-game suspension Julian Edelman is facing. Someone has to return punts for the Patriots, and it either will be McCarron, Berrios or cornerback Cyrus Jones. Competition is higher at cornerback than it is at wide receiver at this time, and it would be wise for the Patriots to groom a future slot receiver with Danny Amendola now playing for the Miami Dolphins.

It’s definitely possible McCarron or Berrios contribute this season, but it does take time for a Patriots slot receiver to both learn the offense and gain the trust of quarterback Tom Brady.

We know Chris Hogan, barring injury, will be a starting receiver in the first four weeks of the season. After Hogan, it’s anyone’s guess. McCarron and Berrios are competing with Kenny Britt, Jordan Matthews, Cordarrelle Patterson, Phillip Dorsett, Malcolm Mitchell, Matthew Slater and Cody Hollister for snaps and roster spots.

How do you think Mitchell will start the season #MailDoug
— @Austinw7612
I have no idea. It’s not a great sign that Mitchell didn’t participate in a single drill during two open OTAs and three minicamp practices. It’s also, of course, a bad sign that Mitchell missed all of last season,

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I’m not counting on Mitchell in 2018 until I see him take the field in Week 1. Mitchell has played 18 of 46 possible NFL games, including preseason, regular season and playoffs, and just 40 of his last 85 games dating back to college.

He showed a lot of potential as a rookie, but he needs to get back on the field and prove he’s still that player. You can get your hopes up about Mitchell if you want, but you might be setting yourself up for disappointment.

Who do you think is going to win the starting job when it comes to the Jets quarterback situation? I know it’s not a patriots question because it’s not about the patriots but it is in the division.
— @Jadedhipster905
Here’s what the New York Jets probably should do: Give Teddy Bridgewater a ton of reps in the preseason and hope to trade him before the 2018 season, then give the starting role to Josh McCown until Sam Darnold proves himself.

If the Jets can’t trade Bridgewater, then start him over McCown and give Darnold some more time.

The Jets definitely improved their quarterback situation this year. At least Bryce Petty, who’s the worst AFC East quarterback the Patriots have played multiple times in the Bill Belichick era, and Hackenberg, who’s so bad he couldn’t pass Petty on the depth chart, are gone.

Let’s go rapid fire.

Do you Think JC Jackson is a 53-Man Roster Lock???
— @GamecockFury
Lock? No way. But after he was starting in OTAs and minicamp, I’m penciling him onto the 53-man roster.

#MailDoug Who will win World Cup 2018? ⚽
— @r_lopes12
I know so little about soccer. I’ll go with Brazil. That seems like a safe bet.

What are you doing with your vacation?
— @DanielVConnolly
Since the NFL takes a five-week vacation starting this weekend, so do I. I’ll be going to Los Angeles for a week starting Friday, and then I’ll be staying home taking care of our 9-month-old daughter. I’ll also go to the Cape for a couple of stretches.

What is your favourite dessert Doug?
— @Phil_Me_Up_
I like a good vanilla cake with a thick vanilla buttercream. Get light, fluffy buttercream out of my face.

I also like rhubarb pie, Oreo cheesecake, lemon meringue pie and apple pie.

What’s the #1 vacation you want to take before you die? Mine is Australia. #MailDoug
— @Kid_From_Quincy
Australia’s pretty high up there. I also want to drive across the country when my daughter gets older.

Do you know how to fold a fitted mattress sheet so it looks nice and square when you’re done? #MailDoug
— @EricCthebutler
I just don’t fold fitted sheets. That’s just not a thing I do with my life.

I guess I’m not an adult yet.

Predictions for who has the most rushing/receiving yards, rushing/receiving touchdowns, sacks/tackles?
— @jonothorpejazz
Receiving yards/touchdowns: Rob Gronkowski
Rushing yards/touchdowns: Sony Michel
Sacks: Trey Flowers
Tackles: Devin McCourty
Passing yards/touchdowns: Danny Etling

Just kidding. Tom Brady.

Top 5 NFL necks? #MailDoug
— @StephenPorier
I don’t think I can do a top five, but it’s hard to beat Patriots seventh-round pick Keion Crossen.

I don’t think that guy needs to wear shoulder pads.

He weighed 140 pounds coming out of high school and is now 180 pounds. I think he gained all of it between his chin and collarbone.

What are chances Edelman gets traded during the season? If so, what is his trade value?
— @mgreenberg99
Why would Edelman be traded?

What surprise player(s) do you predict won’t make the 53 this year?
— @TuckerOol
I don’t like predicting surprise cuts, but I could see scenarios where Eric Rowe is either starting Week 1 or on another roster.

Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images

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