Patriots Mailbag: When Will New England Add Practice Squad Quarterback?


Sep 6, 2019

Sunday night cannot come quickly enough.

The New England Patriots kick off their season at home on Sunday at 8:20 p.m. against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Finally, we can put preseason, roster cuts, roster projections and speculation behind us and get into some real football.

Let’s get into this week’s mailbag.

What returning player do you think will make the biggest improvement this year?
— @TuckerOol
Maybe Sony Michel? He would be my breakout candidate if he stays healthy.

Consider that Michel had 280 carries for 1,267 yards and 12 touchdowns, averaging 4.5 yards per carry in 16 combined regular and postseason games last year. He looked better this preseason than he did as a rookie, and I think he’ll add some pass-catching to his arsenal.

I think Danny Shelton will be much better this season, as well.

I would say JC Jackson, but I honestly don’t know how much better he could play than he did as a rookie in 2018.

Who do you think the Patriots will add to the practice team as quarterback and who will be cut to make room?
— @RommelRoo
There’s no guarantee the Patriots will sign a quarterback to their practice squad this season. The Patriots didn’t have a practice squad quarterback in 2013 when the QB room only included Tom Brady and Ryan Mallett.

The Patriots only had a practice squad QB at the very beginning (McLeod Bethel-Thompson) and end (Garrett Gilbert) of the 2014 season when it was Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo on the depth chart. They didn’t have a practice squad QB at all in 2015 or 2016. They had three QBs on the active roster in 2016 with Brady, Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett, however. They only had Taylor Heinecke on their practice squad briefly in 2017. Danny Etling was the practice squad QB all of last season.

So, if I had to guess, I’d expect the Patriots to maybe sign a QB to their practice squad at some point this season, but he might not last for very long. The QB room will probably be just Brady and Jarrett Stidham for most of the year.

“Do Your Job Pt. 3” felt a bit like a precursor to a torch-passing from Belichick to McDaniels to me.
Was I imagining this or could this have been deliberate by the Pats as a kind of preparation for things to come?

Also: How’s Olivia? Is she excited for the new Season?
— @timm_weinert
I don’t think it’s a crazy thought. I think the “Do You Job Part III” special showed a unique look at the respect Bill Belichick has for Josh McDaniels. I think ultimately McDaniels’ next move depends on when Belichick retires. I don’t know if he’s going to be willing to wait for another, say, five years for another head coaching opportunity. Maybe he does. But I’d think he’d want to get going on the next step of his career sooner rather than later.

And Olivia is great. I’ll try to indoctrinate her into football more this season.

if teams could only have 11 players to play both offense and defense what would the pats starters be?
— @kentsmithNYT
Oh man, that’s tough. Tom Brady would have to be included, right? The dropoff on defense would be worth it for him to play quarterback. I think all teams would basically just go shorthanded on defense to get a decent quarterback on the field. Mobile QBs like Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray would be even more valuable in this format.

I’d go with:

QB/S Tom Brady
RB/S Devin McCourty
WR/CB Stephon Gilmore
WR/CB JC Jackson
WR/CB Julian Edelman
TE/LB Jamie Collins
OT/DT Isaiah Wynn
OT/DT Marcus Cannon
G/DL Michael Bennett
G/DL Shaq Mason
C/LB Dont’a Hightower

We needed the extra speed on defense to make up for Brady, so we had to eliminate a linebacker/fullback (we’d use Kyle Van Noy) to put Jackson in there. We also decided to go with McCourty over a running back for the same reason.

I think that’s a pretty solid team. Players who were tough to leave off: James White, Josh Gordon, Lawrence Guy, Van Noy and Patrick Chung.

And yes, we did think about having Edelman, Collins, Gilmore, Jakobi Meyers or even Jarrett Stidham play quarterback to put a little bit more speed on defense. Ultimately, it wasn’t worth it.

This is a tough one. Who makes the he day 46 vs PIT?
— @Captmike24
I think it might be easier to just guess the inactives.

Care to take a first stab at inactives for Sunday night?
— @LafortuneMike
There we go.

My guess:

RB Damien Harris
WR Demaryius Thomas
TE Matt LaCosse
OL Jermaine Eluemunor
OLB Shilique Calhoun
CB Joejuan Williams
S Obi Melifonwu

Some other considerations: Gunner Olszewski, Jakobi Meyers, Korey Cunningham, Russell Bodine, Chase Winovich and Deatrich Wise.

Prediction @ receiver when Meredith and harry come back?
— @elijah__d
I would guess Harry is back in Week 9 as soon as he’s eligible to come off of injured reserve. I have no idea what they’ll do to make room for him, but a move wouldn’t necessarily have to come at wide receiver.

If I had to guess on Meredith, I’d probably say he comes back next season. He’s a good emergency option to have on the physically unable to perform list in case anything goes wrong with Edelman, Gordon, Demaryius Thomas, or N’Keal Harry, but if everyone stays healthy, there’s probably not a spot for him this year.

What would a Thuney extension look like and do the Pats have the space under their cap now to pull one off?
— @GregMooreNH
Bigger than Shaq Mason’s five-year, $45 million deal from last season. Maybe a hair above Ali Marpet’s five-year, $54 million contract?

I’ve said it before, but I’d be surprised if the Patriots are able to bring back Thuney next season. Eluemunor or Hjalte Froholdt could be the starting left guard in 2020.

Surprised by the lack of a DB on the practice squad. Seems like even filling a scout team would be a challenge. You expect this to change in the coming weeks?
— @Capybara4444
I think they want to sign someone else to the practice squad. That’s why they worked out six defensive backs earlier this week.

I’d say a move likely will come next week to bring in a practice squad cornerback. They already have enough safety depth on their active roster with six players.

Let’s go rapid fire.

What’s the most challenging part of your job covering the Patriots once the season gets started? #MailDoug
— @SenecaDavid1
When to know to stop working. I think I accidentally worked from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. on Wednesday.

Demaryius Thomas. Will he have more than 500 yards 4 TDS? Just your gut feeling. What’s his stat line end of season?
Gut feeling: Yes. Let’s say 600 yards and five touchdowns.

What team this season will the Patriots inexplicably lose to? #mailDoug
— @Joooeeek
Great question. Maybe Week 7 against the Jets in New York?

How many fantasy leagues are too many? #MailDoug
— @ejlinehan
I’m in four leagues this year. I’ll let you know at the end of the season if the answer is four.

Do you watch AEW? What do you think of it?
— @cstandrew13
I’m going to AEW in Boston on Oct. 9. I watched All In but not All Out. I like it. It’s a better option than WWE.

Who’s hair will Brady cut next?
— @LanginErin
It seems like N’Keal Harry avoided the Brady haircut. It’s pretty funny that Brady likes giving rookie haircuts so much. Maybe he should scrap this whole football thing and the TB12 venture and go to barber school. Great Cuts might be hiring if Supercuts isn’t.

When does the NFL season begin?
— @CastigFan1337
Last night. You missed it!

Who u got in tonight’s game.
— @jamie000420
I’ll bet the Green Bay Packers win 10-3.

Do you think Patriots fans are appreciative of what they’ve witnessed the past 20 years?
— @luchougolini
Yes but maybe not enough.

Who do you think will lead the team in rec this year?
— @swagg_z0mbie

Think the pats could kick the tires on TE’s like gates or Wilson
— @Pats5X712
I think they’ll see what they have in Lance Kendricks and Ben Watson before they go outside the organization. I suppose it wouldn’t shock me, though.

If Gunner doesn’t return kicks (only punts) who ends up doing it this season?
— @proudblackmatt
I have no idea. I think Brandon Bolden and Jonathan Jones are candidates.

Are you surprised Ryan Allen does not have a job yet? #MailDoug
— @JustinEldridge5
Yes. Very, actually.

@DougKyed Can we officially stop using the phrase, “and it’s not even close.” feels over used by every writer. Time for a change. #maildoug
— @whatisatweetnik
Do you think it’s the most overused phrase, and it’s not even close?

If the Raiders release Antonio Brown. Do Patriots sign him on a non guaranteed 1 year prove it deal? #MailDoug
— @Rudens23
No way. I’d stay far away from that situation if I were an NFL general manager.

Favorite hardcore band? #maildoug
— @adamxmaid
That’s really tough. It’s between American Nightmare and Have Heart. I know picking Have Heart makes me sound a little basic, but my best memories in the scene involve that band.

An underrated favorite of mine is With Honor.

@DougKyed I grabbed D Thomas in the 14th round of my 12 person FF league. Sneaky good pick?
— @JDEZ1687
Yes. I also have Thomas in a 12-team league.

Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images
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