-- John Murray, Weymouth
Kicking off a new season
Welcome back to "Ask Nick." I have to say that I was overwhelmed by the several hundred e-mails I received here in Week One. Glad to be back after an off-season hiatus in which I had the pleasure to return to my old beat - the Red Sox.
The good news is the quality of the questions continues to be unbelievable. The bad news is, I can't answer all of them and for that I apologize. What I hope to do in the interest of fairness, is to answer as many as time will allow. That will mean shorter responses, so I hope you understand. I try to take a cross section of topics as well as a cross section of the country and the world, but I'll always answer more questions from the New England region.
In the future if I have not answered one of your questions for couple of weeks, rest assured it's not because I've ignored you because I do read every question. Please insert a note saying "Nick, you haven't answered one of my questions for a couple of weeks" and I will make a special effort to post your question with an answer. There will be times I don't know the answer, and I will write that because I certainly don't claim to know everything.
You can certainly e-mail me at Cafardo@Globe.com if you would like to receive an individual answer.
Let me also add, that as someone who is not an "Internet person" I am truly impressed with the professionalism shown by the e-mailers. It shows me that Patriots fans are very knowledgeable, smart, and classy people.
Let's move on to other topics:
1. Running backs. The majority of questions this week were about the concern of the running back situation. On Thursday, the Patriots released information that Mike Cloud, the former Boston College star, had undergone surgery. It appears to be on his calf and he'll miss a good chunk of the season. Cloud had looked pretty well in drills, but as has been reported, he would not have been able to play until the fifth game of the season due to a suspension for testing positive for a banned supplement. This leaves the Pats with Antowain Smith, Kevin Faulk, J.R. Redmond (who has also been hurt), and Antwoine Womack, who hasn't been on the field yet as he completes the rehab of his ACL innury which kept him out of last season. Do the Patriots have enough at this position? Don't be surprised to see someone added, but I think they're going with Smith with Faulk getting a lot of reps. Question is can Redmond make a splash?
2. Team speed. The Patriots have improved their overall team speed, according to Bill Belichick. Is it Tampa Bay or Philadelphia speed? Don't think so. Belichick does agree it is better than last year, and that's great news.
3. Gillette Stadium. Having the camp at Gillette appears to be more convenient for most fans rather than Bryant College in Smithfield, R.I., but there have been some fans who lived closer to Smithfield, who feel it's inconvenient for them. There are obviously better facilities here, with state-of-the-art weight rooms and meeting rooms, etc. Not to mention the staff here is setting up the stage for the Bruce Springsteen concert this weekend.
4. Who do I like so far?
Ty Warren looks like a solid young player who should be decent when he learns how to play in this league.
You see by my responses to questions about Daniel Graham, that I feel he's going to be a very good player in this league.
Rookie receiver Bethel Johnson is really fast.
I get the feeling free-agent receiver Dedric Ward is going to have a big role on this team.
Rosevelt Colvin is really disruptive on the field. He's been in Tom Brady's face a few times all ready.
Brady's shoulder is fine. Don't worry about that.
Good to see Troy Brown healthy.
Yes, the workouts are not nearly as demanding as they were back in the Tuna Days. But they are very organized.
There's still some concern about injuries on the offensive line, but Brendan Sai and Bill Conaty provide nice depth at guard and center.
Celebrity restaurant review
In tribute to the great season by the Sox:
Jerry Trupiano, Red Sox radio broadcaster: "Acapulco" in Franklin. Jerry loves the steak fajitas.
Joe Castiglione, Red Sox radio broadcaster: "Luciano's" in Foxboro. Joe usually goes there with former Red Sox manager Joe Morgan. They love the appetizers and the chicken with olives in pasta. Joe also loves "Barker Tavern" in Scituate, where he has the swordfish and an ice cream puff for dessert.
Don Orsillo, NESN play-by-play: McCormick & Schmick in Boston at the Park Plaza: Don loves the lobster and the raspberry crème brûlée.
Jerry Remy, NESN color: "Capital Grille" in Boston. Jerry dreams about the Porterhouse steak, done medium-well.
Here's the mailbag. Continued...