Chat with Mike Reiss
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPNBoston.com New England Patriots blogger Mike Reiss stops by to chat.
Reiss joined ESPNBoston.com in September 2009 and is a native New Englander. He first started covering the Patriots in 1997 with the team's official newspaper, Patriots Football Weekly, before moving on to the MetroWest Daily News in his hometown of Framingham. From 2005 to 2009, he covered the Patriots for The Boston Globe, while also writing on the NFL. He started his popular Patriots blog in 2004.
Send your questions now and join Reiss Thursday at 11 a.m. ET!
ESPNBoston.com (10:48 AM)
Hi everyone. Just a heads up that Mike's chat today will probably be a little delayed. He'll start up around 11:15.
Mike (11:17 AM)
Good morning and welcome to today's chat. A little earlier than normal, but I'm here at Rob Gronkowski's book signing at the Pru in Boston.
Mike (11:18 AM)
Had been planning to arrive early and get set up for an on-time chat, but then with the Alfonzo Dennard news, everything got pushed back. So it's a 17-minute delay-of-chat penalty for me. I accept it and will try to make it up to everyone next week. This chat will conclude closer to 11:50, making it shorter than the norm, but I'll have to make myself available for the Gronkowski signing.
Edward (Rome, Italy)
Hi Mike, appreciate your work all the way from Rome, Italy. If Dennard gets cut, who do you expect to fill in as the team's outside CB?
Mike (11:19 AM)
Edward, greetings from Boston to Rome. Kyle Arrington would be a top candidate, with Ras-I Dowling and rookie Logan Ryan (third round pick) the next players in the mix. Marquice Cole is more of a slot corner, but his chances to make the roster would increase should Dennard be released by the Patriots.
Thoughts on Gronk....PUP or will the Patriots keep him active and just wait until he can go?
Mike (11:21 AM)
I think it's too early right now, Jeff. A lot will depend on how he reacts in the coming weeks. Not a decision they'll have to make until late August so best to wait as long as possible to make it. I think both are possible. Other roster needs could also be a slight factor in the decision (e.g. are they beeten up at other positions so they can't afford to devote the roster spot?).
Marc (Malden, MA)
How stupid is Dennard? The Hernandez situation has basically told everyone the Pats have or should have a zero-tollerance policy, then this guy, who is already on probation and going to jail next year, goes out and drives drunk.
Mike (11:23 AM)
Marc, given the timing of it, and the presumed sensitivity of the Patriots' organization at this time, it wouldn't surprise me if they ultimately release Dennard. I don't know anything for certain along those lines. At the least, it seems fair to say Dennard was "guilty" of bad judgment.
Being close to Baltimore, I've always taken great pride in the way the Pats do business versus the Ravens. With the latest news, I'm afraid we're going to see a tsunami of "the Pats should have known this or that, all the Pats care about is winning, they're cheaters, etc."Add in the piling on of talking heads with axes to grind- Polian, Mike Brown, and the rest with their 'holier than thou' spiel, and it's going to be a long season of 'noise'.Ignore the noise will be tested more than ever. I don't think it will work this time around. Is there any hope?
Mike (11:25 AM)
Dave, I still think the Patriots have a good season. And with due respect to Bill Polian and Mike Brown, we can point to things/decisions in their past that don't reflect well on their decision-making. I'm not sugarcoating it; what's going on is bad for the Patriots. Robert Kraft said it himself. But when it comes solely to football, and what happens on the field, I think the Patriots are still a contender. I don't think a lack of focus/distractions will bring them down. If they don't reach their goals, I do believe it will be because of performance.
Keith (Burlington VT)
Why do athletes, who earn hundreds of thousands or millions each year, continue to go out and drive drunk when they can easily afford a cab or a limo ?
Mike (11:26 AM)
Good question, Keith. At the same time, I think back to when I was 23 and some of the decisions I made, and I wasn't perfect. Even now, in my late 30s, I make mistakes. We all do.
Mike does it make sense for the patriots to keep Dennard until his August 12th trial date? See what happens and then make a decision?
Mike (11:27 AM)
Nate, I could see them doing that, and letting the process play out. At the same time, I could see the rationale of them wanting to send a message that this won't be tolerated and letting him go now. Nothing would surprise me.
I understand the Pats offense is complicated and it is not rare for rookies to grasp it, but I am a little surprised to hear mostly negative reports on Dobson. Do you think his trajectory is on track, or is he behind?
Mike (11:29 AM)
Corey, a little bit of a rocky beginning for Dobson from this view, but nothing he can't overcome. I didn't sense it was necessarily the mental things that were the main issue. Here's what I will be looking for from Dobson at the start of camp: 1) What type of physical condition is he in?; 2) Can he string together consecutive days of strong practices early so he doesn't get "left behind"?
Alex (New York)
I think a big problem not mentioned enough in the Aaron Hernandez craziness is Urban Meyer. The guy could careless about taking character players, refuses to take a job at Notre Dame because they set SOME academic standards, then takes all the credit for Tebow and walks away from the blame with Hernandez!
Mike (11:33 AM)
Alex, I don't know enough about the Urban Meyer situation at Florida to have an informed opinion. My opinion, as it relates to Meyer, is how his presence/relationship with Bill Belichick has produced the following players: Chad Jackson, Jermaine Cunningham, Brandon Spikes and Aaron Hernandez. Between those four, you have a second-round "bust" in Jackson, a DE in Cunningham and LB in Spikes who have been suspended for violating league policy and a player who has been charged with murder. If you go back and read BB's comments from when he was on Florida's campus in 2010, he talked about these players were doing the things they needed to do on and off the field. That doesn't seem to match up with what we've seen in the NFL.
Joe (Waco, TX)
Enough about Dennard. He's stupid and that's really all that needs to be said. Is Mike Jenkins really going to be a starting WR on this team? If so, that scares me. You may be able to beat him in a 40.
Mike (11:34 AM)
Joe, I wouldn't put your chips on me in a 40-yard dash against Jenkins. Three of my strides might equal one of his. If the season starts today, I do believe he's a starter in the 3-receiver set. If Edelman is healthy, I think it's Edelman and Amendola as the top two.
In response to Alex's comments about Urban Meyer, we need to remember that Hernandez also had teachers, school counselors, friends, and family. You cannot simply blame all the problems a player has on his coach. Do we blame the school teachers for a player's poor performance on the field? Of course not. This is a group effort, and its far too easy, and lazy, to simply put all the blame on the coaches.
Mike (11:35 AM)
Fair, Corey. Like I said, I don't know enough about the Meyer situation directly to have an informed opinion. I read some stuff that there is a high number of players who came out of that program with arrests. But what I focus on is specific to the Patriots.
Antonio (Mexicto City)
Hey Mike I have been a Patriots fan since 2001 and this arrest theme that have been so on going with the team it has left me very worried. Do you see any particuar mood in the other players in practice or press conference that intrigues you about their confidence about next season for all the recent events?
Mike (11:36 AM)
I think they'll ultimately be fine, Antonio. I do believe that this type of stuff can be a wake-up call of sorts to the main people in the organization, maybe about re-evaluating some things and tightening things up. Every team operates with some blind spots on all players, but have the Patriots strayed a bit far from their core beliefs? A question that I would imagine they will ponder internally.
Mike, in response to these incidents happening, do you know of any veterans on the team who talk to the rest of the team? Obviously it has to upset them when a teammate gets in trouble, but are the veterans letting the other players know how much it bothers them? I feel like the locker room has some responsibility in these incidents as far as setting examples and being mentors. Am I off base here?
Mike (11:38 AM)
This is a team that relies heavily on its captains to set a tone -- Tom Brady, Logan Mankins, Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, Devin McCourty and Matthew Slater. They do set a tone. But one thing to consider is that you have 61 players (53 on the roster, 8 on the practice squad) and it can be a challenge to reach everyone.
Carl Greer (Concord,MA)
What do you think of Shane Vereen, and do you think he will have a much larger role this season? I thought he was excellent when we got to see him last season and in the play-offs.
Mike (11:42 AM)
Carl, Vereen played 12 percent of the offensive snaps last season and with Danny Woodhead (34 percent) now in San Diego, I am envisioning he will be the likely candidate to see an increase in snaps. Versatile running back with good pass-catching skills.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who will Replace Aaron Hernandez at either TE or WR for the Patriots?
Mike (11:45 AM)
Chris, the TE position has Rob Gronkowski, Michael Hoomanawanui, Daniel Fells, Jake Ballard, Zach Sudfeld and Brandon Ford. Sudfeld and Ford are rookie free agents, and Sudfeld flashed some potential in spring camp. We have to wait to see what he does when he puts on the pads. They don't have another TE who does what Hernandez did, but Fells is probably the closest and he was in the "doghouse" at times last season. They could lean more toward a bigger WR, which will be something we'll watch closely, if anyone can emerge from that group with a lot of question marks right now. As we know, part of what made Hernandez so tough to defend was his hybrid skills -- part TE/part WR.
I've been away most of the late spring and early summer, did I miss anything?
Mike (11:46 AM)
LOL, John. Only the roughest offseason of any team in the NFL.
Tron (Beverly, MA)
Although he is innocent until proven guilty, is it safe to say that your fan boy nature blinded you on the Hernandez situation? You all but guaranteed this was a scare tactic by the police, and it sure doesn't seem like that is the case anymore. Objectivity is vital in reporting.
Mike (11:48 AM)
I wouldn't say fan-boy nature, Tron. That's not really who I am. I would say that I tend to want to see the good in people, maybe more so than others. So while some lean cynical, I might be more on the opposite end of the spectrum. Maybe I've picked the wrong line of work. Specific to your comment about a scare tactic by police, I don't recall ever saying that. Felt like that story was played pretty much right down the middle until he was arrested. Always objective, Tron, you're right about that.
Why does everyone on ESPN avoid questions about Kraft? Are they afraid of him?
Mike (11:51 AM)
I don't avoid anything, Fred. Happy to answer everything.
I dont think Tron has been following you for very long. Ive read everything you wrote since the AH story began, and at no point where you some blind and bias fan(boy). In fact, I commend you on the approporiate reporting of the entire situaiton. Thanks.
Mike (11:52 AM)
Thanks Mike. Everyone has different opinions and we all understand that. I have nothing to hide and feel confident in the way I go about things. I'm not perfect. No one is.
Michael (Cologne, Germany)
Mike, I certainly don't approve of drunk driving, but come on, it's not in the same ballpark as first degree murder. Cutting Dennard would be an overreaction. Also, with all these character issue problems, I'm putting the o/u on Rutgers players drafted next year at 6.5.
Mike (11:53 AM)
Michael, the Patriots just released a statement that they are "extremely disappointed to learn of Alfonzo Dennard's arrest. We take this matter very seriously and are working to get more information on the incident." Nothing would surprise me here.
GRpatriot (Goffstown NH)
Mike, OTAs don't always translate to success in pads and camp? Sudfelds odds of sticking? Making the roster?
Mike (11:54 AM)
Especially at that position, I think we have to see him in pads. If he does what he did in the spring camps, he'll be on the roster IMO.
Mike (11:54 AM)
Going to take a few more here...
It appears that ESPN glorifies Kraft...yet hasn't been a fraud with his proclamations that he would quit before bringing in "thugs and hoodlums"....
Mike (11:55 AM)
I can only speak for myself, Fred. The Hernandez murder charge puts a mark on the Patriots' brand, which Kraft cares deeply about IMO. He has held himself accountable in my view. I think he has genuine remorse. Let's see what results from it.
Adam (Irvine, CA)
Yes or No.... Do you expect Dennard to be released? I am leaning towards "No" simply because Hernandez was released not only because of his arrest, but because of the nature of the crime (as explained by the Patriots). If you had to go on one side of the fence which would it be?
Mike (11:56 AM)
If I had to guess, I think he will be released, the thinking being that the team will want to make a statement that it is drawing a definitive line in the sand, per se.
Alex (New Jersey)
Mike, I am a huge fan of Josh Boyce. How much of an impact will he have this year? And what is his injury status?
Mike (11:57 AM)
Let's end on this one, Alex. Boyce didn't practice in spring camps because of his toe injury. I am unaware if he will be ready for the start of training camp, but my guess is yes.
Mike (11:57 AM)
Thanks to everyone for chatting. Have to run to be on the toes for this Gronkowski book signing. Will make up the time next week.