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Friday, September 16, 2011
Following up on Patriots chat

By Mike Reiss

Thursday's weekly Patriots chat was cut shorter than normal, and at the end, the thought was to go back in to some of the questions and answer on the blog.

1. Eric (MA): Looks like I was right about Connolly (gloating) playing G. He is a supersub at G (or C) but not dependable as an every-down, full season G. Waters was a great pick-up. With that said, Connolly played great at C and really proved his value to the team. Thoughts?

Eric, I think Connolly will be fine at center. He reminds me of interior-do-it-all-lineman Russ Hochstein from a few years ago. One thing I am interested in watching is how he handles the shotgun snap. He had some struggles with it in the 2008 preseason (vs. Tampa) but has really improved in that area.

2. Justin: Do we really need Ochocinco? I don't think we do. Slater to me looks like a way better receiver then he is given credit for.

Justin, I think Ochocinco is a nice option to have as one of the top three receivers. He adds depth should there be an injury, and we know that Deion Branch has been banged up at times in recent seasons. Entering the season, I thought Ochocinco's presence would block the development of young receivers like Brandon Tate and Taylor Price, but once the team went in that direction, I don't see any sense in turning back now. Ochocinco is more of a complete receiver than Slater in my view.

3. Pete: Mike, do you think Dan Koppen will play again this year?

I think there are two layers to this, Pete. The injury and recovery is such that Koppen could return in the second half of the season. But I think part of his return will depend on other roster needs over the next two months and if the team can hold his roster spot. This is similar to running back Fred Taylor's situation in 2010.

4. Dan: My favorite Bledsoe memory was back in the 96 playoff run, that first game against Pittsburgh in the fog at Foxboro Stadium. You could barely see the game on TV, and on the first play Bledsoe went deep and connected with Terry Glenn. Great play call, which set the stage for an entertaining Pats blowout.

Dan, the Bledsoe memories were my favorite part of the Thursday chat. I enjoyed hearing everyone's perspective on what stood out most to them with Bledsoe.

5.  Sean: Hey Mike, with Manning gone I'm a little worried about the Pats entering the playoffs. Not that they're in danger of missing the playoffs; rather, they don't appear to have any real tests after their Week 12 visit to Philly. Does not playing a single good team in the last 5 weeks concern you at all about the Pats entering the postseason?

Sean, I hear what you are saying, but so much changes over the course of the NFL season that perhaps our view on a few of those games might be different at that time. Buffalo, for example, looked strong in this year's season opener and maybe they are a surprise team. Washington, too. Maybe Denver turns the corner under first-year coach John Fox. Also, it's possible that Manning could be back at that point. So I don't read too much into late-season tests leading into the playoffs at this point.