Every Saturday, hot topics around the New England Patriots are explored in the form of a mailbag.
@MikeReiss Feeling on Trey Flowers for Sunday's game Mike? Does he return after a two week absence? Also, what's ailing David Harris? He was a surprise scratch for me Monday night. Need him to help with the run game (Bell).
— Kevin (@patsgronk1287) December 16, 2017
Kevin, my feeling is that Trey Flowers (team-high 6 sacks) will be back this week. There was significant improvement for him by the end of the week. If he does return, it would be a big boost for a defense that could use a few reinforcements in the front seven. As for David Harris, he has been on the injury report (ankle) as a limited participant in practice this week. As I was projecting the inactives for this week, he was right on the edge. It wouldn't be a surprise to me if he's inactive again.
Any Van Noy news?
— Ryan Currie (@ryecurrie) December 15, 2017
Ryan, the one thing to pass along on linebacker Kyle Van Noy -- who missed last week's loss with a calf injury -- was that he didn't do much work in the limited time reporters were present at practice. As players jogged and loosened up, he mostly remained stationary along the sideline, and my takeaway was that it didn't look like he was ready to exert himself. So when projecting the inactives for Sunday's game, I put him on the list.
Has there been an explanation of why he's been inactive? He was fairly productive at the beginning of the season.
— Skipper North (@skipnorth1) December 15, 2017
Skip, running backs coach Ivan Fears had noted earlier this year that it was going to be hard for the team to keep having all of its running backs active on game day because of needs in other areas (e.g. special teams). He said at the time: "We're not going to always be able to do this. The numbers, the inactive [list], it's impossible. But we're very fortunate to be able to do it now with all the other injuries we've got [in other areas]. So we're going to utilize those guys the best we can, as long as we can, and keep them fresh, keep them hammering it and see what happens." With that numbers crunch, it just comes down to which players the coaching staff feels have performed the best, and Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead get the nod over Mike Gillislee.
Mike, Britt's height would help in situations where WRs lost possessions by not going up for the ball (Cooks vs. Miami, etc.), but will he have enough time to assimilate and gain trust to be in more than a few, cursory plays?
— Earl Mangovich (@EarlofMangwich) December 15, 2017
Earl, it will start with a few plays, and they'll build from there. It would obviously be unrealistic to expect Kenny Britt to be part of a no-huddle offense, for example, after just three days of practice. As for the chances he plays Sunday, which was a popular question over the last few days, it would likely be either him or Phillip Dorsett for a fourth spot. They have been cramming to try to get Britt ready. Either way it unfolds, I wouldn't expect a major role for him at this point.
@MikeReiss insight on Achilles? Is it a real concern? Thnx!
— TonyD (@southwestsox) December 16, 2017
Tony, this is what Tom Brady said about his health this week: "I take it week to week, and I feel really good this week, so I'm very happy about that." In past weeks, he had missed practice time for extra treatment, so I take his words at face value and don't believe the Achilles is a cause for significant concern.
@MikeReiss Hi Mike, I was curious about Marty Bennett's status next season. Did his contract carry over into the 2018 season or will he be a free agent after this season provided he doesn't retire ?
— kristi 🔆 (@keccard210) December 16, 2017
Kristi, Martellus Bennett's contract extends through the 2019 season, but there is a $2 million bonus payment due on the third day of the 2018 league year, and my expectation is that the Patriots won't pay that. If that's the way it unfolds, Bennett would become a free agent, assuming he hasn't already announced his intentions to retire.
Hey @MikeReiss - who do you think would be the Pats emergency QB in the event Hoyer and Brady were both dinged up?
— Timothy Griffin (@TGriff85) December 15, 2017
Timothy, without Julian Edelman as an option, perhaps they would look to Chris Hogan in that scenario. That would be our first look at a left-handed throwing quarterback in New England in a long time, assuming they would have him attempt any passes.