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Ask Shalise: Should the Patriots replace Ochocinco with Moss?

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff  October 3, 2011 04:00 PM

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Why are the Pats still holding on to Ron Brace and Brandon Deaderick? I know they don't count against the 53 man roster, but it’s not like they were stellar performers to hold in reserve either.
Bruce, Acton

You’re right that with both on the PUP list neither counts against the 53-man, and since neither is affecting the roster and both have cheap salaries (Brace’s base is $586,000 this year, Deaderick $450,000), why not? I know that Brace’s elbow surgery had a recovery time of a year, and since it was done in January of this year, he’s still well within that window. Deaderick underwent shoulder surgery in late January, but without knowing what it was for, I don’t know what the expected recovery time is. Brace has shown flashes when he played, and the Pats must have felt the same about Deaderick’s performance in his rookie season as well.

Shalise, how long before Ras-I Dowling becomes Eugene Wilson? It was interesting when they picked him that some analysts felt his skills may project well to safety. The Pats are carrying six cornerbacks and only four safeties, though special teams may have been a factor for a few for being kept. Could it also be that Bill Belichick may be bringing Dowling along for a transition to safety? Or maybe for a cornerback/safety hybrid?
Bob, California

Personally when I look at Dowling I don’t think he has the physical frame to handle being a safety. Certainly he has the height at 6-foot-2, and while he’s listed at 200 pounds, to see him in person he is thin. It would take quite a bit of work to put the weight on that he’d need, and he just might not be able to do it. Plus, given the injury history he has – injuries at Virginia are why he slid to the second round and he’s missed a bunch of practices since he’s been with the Patriots – do you want to risk putting him at a more physical position?

Did Bill Belichick totally blow it on his roster cutdown by not protecting either Lee Smith or Will Yeatman, two huge blocking tight ends? If he had it to do over again do you think he would have done it differently? After all, he ended up signing a tight end to the 53 man roster in Dan Gronkowski.
Don, Chandler, Ariz.

I think “blow it” might be a bit ... overblown, but I do think Belichick was surprised that both Smith and Yeatman were scooped up by the Bills and Dolphins, respectively. By the end of training camp, Yeatman had edged Smith for the role of third tight end, which was surprising given Yeatman’s lack of football experience in college and Smith’s scouting report, which called him a tenacious blocker. Neither Smith nor Yeatman has played in a game for their team yet.
However, you’re right. Once they were both gone, Belichick turned to Dan Gronkowski, though he isn’t a great blocker either. In a perfect world, given the injuries to Sebastian Vollmer and Aaron Hernandez, would the Patriots prefer to have another big tight end to help protect Tom Brady and open holes in the run game? Sure. But for now, they’re doing what they can with the players they have.

When a player is cut, and makes the roster on another team, how much insight can they bring to the new team regarding the Pats' playbook and tendencies? Also, do players on injured reserve and the physically unable to perform list get paid their contract salaries?
Dan, Bennington, Vt.

To your second question, players on IR and PUP make their full base salaries. To your first, I think it depends. Linebacker A.J. Edds, who was claimed off waivers from the Dolphins days before the season opener in Miami, said that he was able to tell his new teammates about the tendencies of the players they’d be facing, but he wasn’t able to give much insight into the playbook. (The Colts signed Edds off the Pats’ practice squad this week.)

With you having interviewed Bill Belichick for so long, was it a surprise to you seeing that side of him in “A Football Life”?
Tim, Allentown, Pa.

There were some things that were enlightening for me in the NFL Network program on Belichick. The moments at the old Meadowlands, when he got so emotional, and seeing him play golf (I don’t know why but I didn’t take him for a golfer) were highlights off the field, and we of course don’t see how he and Tom Brady interact in terms of meetings and preparing for an upcoming opponent. However, I wish there had been more about the Richard Seymour trade and also the chance to see how he addressed the team after the loss to Baltimore in the postseason that year. I can certainly see how it was enjoyable viewing for fans who generally see so little of him.

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