A few "extra points" from Thursday's weekly Patriots chat:
Matt (Boston): How has Dane Fletcher looked so far; health-wise, is he moving and turning at full speed?
Matt, I don't see any restrictions for Fletcher in terms of how he's moving. He had a notable pass breakup in Wednesday's practice, as he's been the top option at middle linebacker with starter Brandon Spikes choosing to work out on his own.
Eric (Enfield CT): Mike, I think too much is being made of Brandon Spikes' absence at OTAs. As you keep saying, his attendance is not required. Spikes has provided an infusion of intensity and emotion that is often absent from, what can be, an emotionally dry defense. Spikes brings it every time he is on the field, and the man requires a little extra personal time to reset before diving back into the grind of the season.
Eric, Spikes is one of the Patriots' best contact players (if not the best) and he does bring an emotional fire that can be infectious. The bottom line to me is that it's within a player's rights to stay away, so Spikes hasn't broken any rules or anything like that. He's planning to be present at mandatory minicamp June 11-13. At the same time, when 89 of 90 players show up for OTAs, it does shine a little bit of a brighter spotlight on the one player who doesn't. It does make me wonder if the Patriots might hesitate to strike a contract extension with him -- the thinking being that it's difficult to commit long-term to a player who could be perceived to not be fully committed to the team -- but I think that's a story for another day/year.
Drew (Riverview, NB): Mike, if you could target one position where a trade would be considered, would it be DT? We seem a little light on the depth chart.
Drew, the Patriots had veteran defensive tackle Spencer Johnson in for a tryout this week, which could be an indication they see things the same way you do. I don't think there would be a trade as much as a free-agent signing. The DT depth chart was thinned by the team's own doing, letting go co-starters Kyle Love and Brandon Deaderick. Right now, it's a Vince Wilfork/Tommy Kelly tandem, and we'd probably see Armond Armstead and Marcus Forston as the next options.
Luke J (CMAFS): I know it might be a strange question but can you explain how added height would be more beneficial to the secondary. I ask because I notice you mention Adrian Wilson bringing size and length to the secondary a lot. Isn't it normal for the average height to be around 5-foot-10/6-foot-0? How does more translate to success?
Luke, I think linebacker Jerod Mayo said it best in his interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio on Thursday. It's an intimidating presence back there that can make receivers think twice about coming across the middle. It's not just the height, but also the weight (230 pounds) and hard-hitting edge of the player with that size.
Shamarko (Boston, MA): Hi Mike, do you see Markus Zusevics making the final roster? Practice squad?
In Wednesday's organized team activity, Zusevics was lined up opposite Nate Solder at the right tackle position. This was due to the Patriots not having starter Sebastian Vollmer (recovering from knee surgery) and top backup Will Svitek. I think a lot is going to depend on what type of development Zusevics shows in training camp and preseason games. He was considered a later-round prospect in 2012 before a pectoral injury sustained at the combine led to his going undrafted. Now healthy, he's probably in that 50-60 range on the roster, which puts him closer to the bubble at this time.