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November 27, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with ESPNBoston's Mike Reiss

Mike Reiss
  (12:00 PM)

Just back from the Patriots locker room. Saw Fred Taylor walk through, a sign that he is getting closer to a return. Going to get a few things together and will be back in a few.

Jerry (Nc)

What do you think the patriots chances of making it to the super bowl are this year. They seem to be getting a little betteron both sides of the ball each week.

Mike Reiss
  (12:07 PM)

I see the Patriots as one of six teams who could be there in the end right now. As we saw with the Cardinals last year, a lot can change between now and then, but I wouldn't sleep on the Patriots at this point.

Andrew C (Storrs)

Hey Tedy, If you had to come up witb a defensive gameplan going against Drew Brees and the Saints, what would it be? Thanks.

Mike Reiss
  (12:08 PM)

Tedy isn't here today, Andrew, but I did have an extensive chat with him in which he breaks down some of his game-plan thoughts. That "Bruschi's Breakdown" will be posted later today on the site.

Joe P. (North Providence)

Good morning Mr. Riess,How long do you think General Belichick will remain as head coach? Will he sign another contract when the time comes?How do you see as a possible ( ouch! )replacement?

Mike Reiss
  (12:09 PM)

Joe, Belichick is 57 and I could see him going another 5-10 years, riding off into the NFL sunset with Tom Brady when that time comes.

Richard (Bedford NH)

Have their been any Fred Taylor sightings in the locker room? If so how is we moving around- I assume without a limp by now. Any guesses on his return date?

Mike Reiss
  (12:10 PM)

Seeing him today, you wouldn't have guessed he was injured. I thought this week would be a key point for him in determining if he has a chance to return. I'd say that chance still exists and I'd target Dec. 6 or 13 as the dates on the radar.

Rick (Hartford)

Hi Mike -- if you had to pick one key matchup for Monday's game what would it be?

Mike Reiss
  (12:11 PM)

Rick, I'd go Saints injury-filled cornerback crop against the Patriots' spread-it-out attack. If we were talking about a one-on-one matchup, I'd say DE Will Smith and his 8.5 sacks rushing off the edge. He could be disruptive and protect that banged-up cornerback crop.

JoeT (Westfield)

Mike, i'm expecting a huge game from Brady on Monday night. What do you think?

Mike Reiss
  (12:14 PM)

Joe, I hope the scoreboard operator gets a good night's sleep. Should be a busy day up there. I'm thinking 41 points, and big numbers for Brady.

Nick (Montreal)

Hi Mike, will the Pats have any luck rushing Brees this week? If they cannot at least move him off his spot, it will be hard to cover all the weapons the saints have.Nick

Mike Reiss
  (12:15 PM)

I don't think it will be a huge rush game, Nick. The Saints have been blitzed less than any team in the NFL and part of that is because Brees gets the ball out so quick a lot of coordinators don't see the benefit of blitzing. Brees is pretty good when moved off the spot, which they do some by design because of his size.

Tiger Qu (Ann Arbor, MI)

Hey Mike, do you think Brady taking a shot downfield to Moss at the end of the Jets game was something called by themselves or the coaches?

Mike Reiss
  (12:16 PM)

I'd say the coaches, although we know Brady has the authority to check in and out of plays at the line.

sam f (westford, ma)

Is Maroney going to be the starting running back when Taylor comes back.

Mike Reiss
  (12:16 PM)

I think starting could go either way, but we figure to see more of a rotation than we do now.

Dave (NC)

Mike, it seems like the 2009 draft class turned out to be a winfall for the Pats. I was wondering what your thoughts were on this topic. Also, if the information is handy, I was wondering if you might be able to list the pats 2010 draft picks. With all of the preseason trades, I've lost track. Thanks.

Mike Reiss
  (12:18 PM)

Looks like a very strong draft, Dave. No question about that right now. As for the picks next year, off the top of my head it's a first-rounder, three second-rounders, a fourth-rounder, sixth-rounder and two seventh-rounders. The 3rd and 5th went to Oakland for Derrick Burgess.

TruePat (Worcester)

It seems that whenever the Pats lose a game it is because, essentially, that we have gone into the old "prevent defense, i.e., a soft dime with no pass rush at all. Why doesn't a serious Monday morning game review reveal to the coaches what ten million fans new on game day?

Mike Reiss
  (12:19 PM)

I thought that was the case in the Colts game -- and that was duly noted in the midst of all the fourth-and-2 talk -- but it didn't seem to me that the prevent was a big part of the losses against the Jets and Broncos.

Brian (Alexandria)

Mike, we've heard nothing on Brandon Tate's injury that sent him to IR. Do you think the injury was relatively minor, and that he'll be ready to go for a full offseason? Have you seen him around the facilities? And do you think the coaches saw enough to know if he can be a viable receiver in this offense next year?

Mike Reiss
  (12:20 PM)

I don't think it's minor, Brian, as it's my belief that is a ligament tear. When I say it's my belief, I think it's important to point out that I have not reported that because I don't have it from a close enough source to go with it. I haven't seen him around the facilities. My feeling is that he'll be in the WR mix next year.

Mike (Somerville, MA)

Happy Thanksgiving (one day late!), Mike! I'm hoping that we're able to have Morris, Taylor (or both?) back on Monday, as I feel an effective running game will be vital to the Pats' success in the Superdome. I don't think we have to feature the run, but we do need to get some positive yards to control the clock, especially early in the game...would you agree? Thank you for all your diligent work, I know I sure do appreciate it!

Mike Reiss
  (12:21 PM)

Morris and Taylor would help, no doubt, but I think this is going go be a shootout, track-meet type of game. I think the Patriots are going to like the matchup of their receivers against a banged-up secondary, assuming the protection holds up.

Bryan (Memphis)

What are the travel plans for the team? Are they getting an extra day of rest due to the holiday or is the fact that we are playing Monday offset that break (as far as normal amount of practices for a game)? Also, does anyone else have an injury report that even comes close to the Patriots Mock-Practice Report from yesterday? That was like a third of the team, although we have been pretty lucky (knock on wood) as far as season-ending injuries go. Any Fred Taylor sightings or good news?Thanks a ton,B

Mike Reiss
  (12:23 PM)

The team is leaving Sunday and will return after the game Monday night. They had the extra day off for Thanksgiving. As for the injury report, it's one of the longest in the league right now. Managing the roster has been a challenge.

Jimmy (Boston)

Hey Mike -- with the Saints banged up secondary can we expect another big game from Wes Welker?

Mike Reiss
  (12:24 PM)

A lot will depend on how the Saints defend him, because if they devote two or even three players to him, I wouldn't say it will be a big day. Given Welker's production, that defensive approach wouldn't surprise me.

Keith (Rogers, MN)

hey, mike how can the pats beat the saints or even dream of a playoff run when they can't put toghter a good second half? on reflecting there second half blues, it seems protecting brady in the pocket has been the issue (granted earlier in the season when he did get good protection he end up making a bad throw). think about it. week 2: havent seen brady get chased like that since SB 42... week 4: beggining of half suggs strip sack, TD... week 5: mostly brady's fault a lil dumervil pressure and holliday sack at key moment... week 6: YAAAY!!... week 10: Damn it mathis... week 11: jets got good pressure in the second half had Sanchez not been around game could have been WAY closer. i believe the second half problems can contributed to combination of brady early season mistakes, galloway (heh) O' line play and an inconstant running game! oh how we miss you freddy n' sam :'( maybe play calling? seems they go spread-empty too much when they have the lead... would you agree? or is it something else im not picking up on? are the playoffs even a question? or is the team to young? i think silencing that Superdome monday night would be a step forward!

Mike Reiss
  (12:26 PM)

The numbers don't lie Keith. 0 second-half points vs. Jets. 0 second-half points vs. Broncos. 10 second-half points vs. Colts. I thought Tedy Bruschi had a great line in his "Bruschi's Breakdown" which will be posted later today -- at this point, that is part of their identity. This game is their last chance to erase all that, because it's such a big game. I think that is well said.

David (North Attleboro,Ma)

Bill Belichick praised the the Saints so much in his last press conference that he almost convinced me that we can't beat them. But, seriously what do you think will be the one thing he will try to take away for the Saints offense?

Mike Reiss
  (12:27 PM)

Great question, David. My personal feeling is that it will be the running game. It sounds crazy, but I think he can live with the ball in Drew Brees' hands if they can make the Saints one-dimensional.

Erik G (Los Angeles)

How much do you think the run game will factor in against the Saints? Their secondary is a weakness so I expect 75% passes. Fair assessment?

Mike Reiss
  (12:27 PM)

I would agree with that Erik.

G-Palm (Somers, Ct.)

How do you think the Saints will try to slow down or stop the combination of Moss and Welker?

Mike Reiss
  (12:28 PM)

My initial instinct is that they will blitz a fair percentage of the time in hopes of disrupting the timing of the passing game that way. Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is a pressure-based coach. With that, however, comes some risk.

Volker (Wiesbaden, Germany)

Hi Mike, usually you counter critical fan comments towards the OC and DC for vanilla defenses, uncreative or cautious play calling that those guys (like Pees, and Mangini and McDaniels in the past) are doing solid jobs and actually it's BB's defense/offense. For what do you think is an OC/DC accountable and what has a OC/DC in your opinion to do that would justify a demotion/dismissal ? Finally, would you say 'solid' OC/DC is good enough for a SB contender ?

Mike Reiss
  (12:30 PM)

One example is the personnel groupings on the field. So that timeout the Patriots blew at the start of their final drive against the Colts is something I'd put on the coordinator. I think you can win a Super Bowl with these coordinators, for sure.

Steve Belliveau (Clearwater Fl.)

Does playing in a dome help or hurt us?

Mike Reiss
  (12:31 PM)

In this case, I'd say hurts because of the noise factor.

Ashley (Toronto)

How nervous should pats fan be about the dolphins? How serious of a threat are they to fight for the division considering their injuries?

Mike Reiss
  (12:31 PM)

I would respect them greatly. A Patriots loss to the Saints, and a Dolphins win over the Bills this weekend, and the Patriots-Dolphins game next week is for the division lead. That Dolphins team is tough and they don't beat themselves.

Josh (Deerfield)

What is going on with Banta-Cain? Is it me, or has he been the fist of this defense so far? I heard they cut him and re-signed him so that they could rework a contract extension. Any word on when/if that's happening?

Mike Reiss
  (12:33 PM)

Unbelievable story to me, Josh. Banta-Cain has been one of the best players on defense, and is clearly the team's best pass rusher. It looks like a case where the system is perfect for him and he is in better condition than he was with the 49ers. Banta-Cain has agreed to a deal through 2011 but the paperwork hasn't been filed yet.

Sean S. (Portland, ME)

Clearly I'm biased, but with the way the Patriots are continually improving every week, I have a hard time not picking them to go to the superbowl. Can I get you to go on record for a superbowl matchup prediction at this time?

Mike Reiss
  (12:34 PM)

I wouldn't go that far, Sean, because they are 0-3 when going into enemy territory. No Super Bowl picks from me yet. Entering the year, I had Baltimore and the Giants. I don't think that one has a chance.

Joe (Windham, ME)

A lot of the espn guys are hating on the Pats running game. Do you think they can come out and run the ball effectively vs. the Saints.

Mike Reiss
  (12:35 PM)

Yes, I do, as opponents are averaging 4.6 yards per carry against them. But my feeling is that the Patriots are going to like the passing game more.

Mike Reiss
  (12:35 PM)

Going to take a few more here.

Rob Fox (South Boston, MA)

Mike - a lot is being made of the Patriots record on the road (really 0-3). Do you think these is something bigger to that story, or is it simply that the Patriots weren't clicking against Denver and the Jets and then they couldn't close against Indy? I think it's being blown out of proportion...

Mike Reiss
  (12:36 PM)

My feeling is that championship teams have to show they can go into enemy territory and win. I think the Patriots can, but they've yet to prove it.

Pete (Boston)

How's the O-line situation? injuries?

Mike Reiss
  (12:36 PM)

Will know more in about an hour after practice Pete. Will post to the Patriots blog.

Joe Glynn (Dorchester)

Do we see Sammy Morris back in the lineup this week? Seems like he was close a week ago and we could certainly use him.

Mike Reiss
  (12:36 PM)

My hunch is a yes on Morris.

Karthik (Boston)

Sounds like there is no way to beat this Saints team.

Mike Reiss
  (12:38 PM)

The 1-9 Rams had the ball at the end of the game with a chance to do so two weeks ago. They ended up losing 28-23. So I don't think this Saints team is anywhere close to unbeatable.

Jack (Newbury)

Edelman missed practice Wednesday; is he injured or just home for holiday? Thanks!

Mike Reiss
  (12:38 PM)

He's still dealing with the forearm issue.

Erik G (Los Angeles)

Do you see any possibility of Vollmer giving up the starting LT spot? I respect Matt Light but he'd better brush up on his RT game.

Mike Reiss
  (12:39 PM)

I don't see the Patriots moving Light to RT. I think they'll initially ease him back into the mix, and then make a decision in the next week or so. A lot can change between now and then. At this point, I'd say Vollmer will keep the job.

Tim (5darlings@comcast.net)

Mike,3-part question Mike:1.This is a game where the Pats will need as much fire power as possible offensively to move the ball. Any indications that Sammy Morris will play/contribute?2. D-line is still razor thin and one injury away from disaster...Does Jarvis Green play full speed ahead ? 3.At what point does Boston College rookie DL start contributing and has he earned a black practice jersey for practice player of the week yet?

Mike Reiss
  (12:40 PM)

Like the three-parter Tim. We covered Morris and I think he has a good chance of being active. I also think Jarvis Green plays. On Brace, I'd have to check my notes. At this point, he's the fifth of five linemen. I'm not expecting much until next season.

Chris (Hampton Falls Nh)

Mike do you think the patriots are going to target a running back in the first couple rounds of the draft? Maroney has been doing better but everyone else except ben jg ellis is close to retirement

Mike Reiss
  (12:41 PM)

I do think they'll add a back in the draft, Chris. In terms of how early, that's tough to project at this point.

Dave (Worcester)

Very conflicted this week. Rooting for the Pats but New Orleans just has so many weapons . Can the Pats D last 4 quarters against this monster?

Mike Reiss
  (12:41 PM)

Yes, I believe the defense can. Now they just have to go prove it.

Mike (Framingham, MA)

Mike the way the Wilfork has been playing an playing different spots on D here shows just how important to lock this guy up long term. Any word on contract talks?

Mike Reiss
  (12:42 PM)

My sense is that they are on hold until after the season. That is usually the way these things go, with both sides agreeing that the best business to focus on is the business on the field. I don't know that for sure though.

Mike Staropoli (North Andover)

Mike, I noticed that a week or so back you said that you thought Wes Welker was the Pats MVP thus far this season. What are your thoughts for his chances of league MVP? If it weren't for his injury he would be on pace to shatter the catch record this year.

Mike Reiss
  (12:44 PM)

I don't Welker will draw serious consideration for NFL MVP, as that will probably go to a quarterback like Peyton Manning, Drew Brees or even Tom Brady depending on how the rest of the year unfolds. The stereotype of Welker as a slot receiver also hurts him, but he's obviously more than that.

Keith (his house)

Pats are going to blow it right? i dont see how they can stop grant and smith off the edge or stop brees AND the run game. Pats will have to have 2 turnover ratio... thats the only way i think we can win. 21-13 pats, at half 27-34 saints final... sound about right? whats your prediction?

Mike Reiss
  (12:44 PM)

41-38 Patriots. A game to remember regardless of who wins. Hope they're checking all the lightbulbs in the scoreboard.

Tommer (Southie)

Mike, whats the reason for the Patriots lack of scoring in the 2nd half of the Games? Is it a lack of adjustments by Belicheck? Or excuetion by the Offense?

Mike Reiss
  (12:45 PM)

I personally think a big part of it is mental, and they get too comfortable too fast. They need to find their killer instinct and urgency, the same one they had in the early parts of 2007.

Pete (MA)

Will Sammy M or Fred Taylor help significantly with run game. Without it the Pat"s can't control the clock and can't beat teams with good offenses so Supoerbowl will be just a dream.

Mike Reiss
  (12:47 PM)

It's interesting, Pete, because even though the Patriots aren't considered a grind-it-out team, they own a 34:26/25:34 time of possession edge on opponents this year. No other team is better if I'm not mistaken. So they still control it, but just in a different way.

Joe B (Rockland, Ma)

Who's your MVP as it stands now?

Mike Reiss
  (12:47 PM)

I'd probably go Peyton Manning, Brett Favre or Drew Brees at this point, but would want more time to really dissect it.

Mike Reiss
  (12:49 PM)

Thanks to everyone who joined the chat and I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. I tried to get to as many questions as possible. Had a long talk with Tedy Bruschi for this week's "Bruschi's Breakdown" and that will be posted today on ESPNBoston. Hope you have a chance to check it out. Enjoy the weekend.