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Interview: Karen Guregian, Patriots beat writer for the Boston Herald

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One of my favorite things about this gig is the chance to chat with folks who cover our favorite team, the New England Patriots.  Aside from being an excellent writer, Karen Guregian is a really nice person.  I asked Karen if she'd be interested in doing an interview for Pats Pulpit and she said, "Sure.  Fire away."  Very cool.  Without further delay, Karen Guregian:


PP: Sports writing is traditionally a male dominated environment. Tell us how
you got into it?

KG: I got into sports writing because I grew up sharing the sports page every
morning with my dad. I was also a three-sport athlete through high school
(field hockey, basketball, softball) and into college. I guess once I gave
up on my fantasy of playing shortstop for the Red Sox, I decided to keep my
passion and love for sports close at hand by writing about them.

PP: Many of us fans were sure the Patriots would draft an OLB who's a strong
pass rusher. Did their "pass" on this also seem odd to you? Are there any
pass rushers they may have their eye on?

KG: Considering the need with the departure of Mike Vrabel, and also
considering experts had pegged outside linebacker as one of the strengths of the draft class, I was surprised the Pats didn't grab someone. They
certainly had chips to manuever. They could have moved up if there was
someone they really liked, but apparently, there wasn't enough value to suit
them. I still think they'll do something, given Nick Caserio's recent
remarks about them being happy with what they had, but there was still
plenty of time to do something. With the best free agent possibility now
gone in Jason Taylor, that leaves trade as the next viable option. Reports
are now they may be interested in dealing with Oakland for disgruntled
defensive end Derrick Burgess. He has a year left on his deal, and wants a
new one. He's been hurt recently, leading to lower sack numbers, but he
would certainly help fill the void.

PP: Ever since Brady went down last year, folks are continuously asking
me, "Can Kevin O'Connell step in?'' The party line is Belichick wouldn't let
Cassel go if he thought Brady wasn't ready. Do you think O'Connell has the
talent and maturity to keep the ship afloat if need be? Any word on Brady?

KG: I think O'Connell has all the talent and the tools to keep the ship
afloat, but it's really too soon to tell what he's going to be like if he
has to take over for Brady for any length of time. I think we'll learn more
down the road in training camp and in the exhibition games. I do know the
coaches think highly of him, and that opinion didn't change after a season
spent on the sidelines. It's also important to remember Matt Cassel looked
miserable during the pre-season last year, but blossomed into a pretty good
quarterback once he got into a regular role. As for Brady, we may get our
first look at him in a football setting on Wednesday (May 20) during passing
camp. It'll be interesting to see just how well he's moving on that knee,
or, if he's participating at all. By most indications, he's doing fine. But,
the real tests won't come until the knee is put under the stresses of camp.
Then we'll get a better idea of how the knee will ultimately hold up.

PP: One of the things I appreciate about your writing is a "beat writer"
feel. That is, give us the facts with thoughtful analysis and let the reader
develop their own conclusions. Is this "style," if you will, a conscious
choice? How hard is it to keep your own opinion out of the story?

KG: That's an interesting question, given I've sort of flip-flopped between
being a general columnist and beat writer during the past few years at the
Herald. Currently, I've settled in as the Patriots beat writer. Initially,
it was hard to turn off the "opinion" switch of my brain. But in general,
whether I'm writing a column, or a news story or feature, I do try to
provide enough analysis or insights that will help the reader develop their
own views or opinions about the subject. Game stories and news stories are also different now because of the Internet element. All the game information (who had the big game, who scored the touchdowns, etc) for the newspaper editions tends to be dated and old, so game stories are a bit more analytical and slightly more opinionated. But again, I do like to create a
picture and let you draw the conclusions.

PP: The defensive backfield was a serious weakness in 2008. Do you think the
Patriots made all the right moves to shore it up? Darius Butler and Patrick
Chung look super strong, but could they be the Jerod Mayos of the backfield?

KG: I'm not sure I'd go as far as saying they made all the right moves. I do
think, however, they have made improvements particularly with the
acquisitions of Shawn Springs and Leigh Bodden, and the drafting of both
Darius Butler and Patrick Chung. Given the new depth, and upgrades, if Ellis
Hobbs had not been traded, he would have had to fight to keep his starting
job. As for Butler and Chung being the Mayos of the backfield, it's way too
early to put them in that league. Mayo turned out to be a special player at
No. 10. I think both have a chance of contributing this season, but I don't
see them being every-down players like Mayo just yet. I'm also anxious to
see how both Terrence Wheatley and Jonathan Wilhite fare in their second

A big THANK YOU to Karen Guregian for taking the time to chat with us.  You can find her most excellent writings at the Boston Herald where she covers all things Patriots.