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June 17, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Mike Reiss

Mike Reiss
  (1:59 PM)

Good afternoon. Thanks for joining the chat.

Mike Reiss
  (2:00 PM)

I am on a different computer today, as my laptop is in the repair shop. So the pace will probably be a bit slower. Let's plan on going for about 50 minutes.

Mike Reiss
  (2:01 PM)

Patriots minicamp concluded today and I was there for every practice that was open to media members over the last four weeks. Bill Belichick liked the competitiveness players showed, while also noting that things were at a good teaching pace. I know this is more of a teaching camp than an evaluation camp, but I do think some things can be evaluated. One player I thought really looked ready to take the next step is CB Darius Butler.

Johnny (Billerica, MA)

Mankins for Haynesworth, who says no?

Mike Reiss
  (2:02 PM)

Johnny, I would have been on board with this before some of the recent events that have unfolded with Haynesworth. But now it's hard to endorse any move for Haynesworth, unless there is something more to the story of how he took the $21 million and then decided not to show up.

Joe (Waltham)

Mike,I understand that Crumpler is a veteran and should provide experience for this team, but if Gronkowski is the future of this team at TE, shouldnt he be getting more reps than he is? I'd have to think that a young athletic TE would be better than a slower aging veteran right now, especially if theyre looking toward the future.

Mike Reiss
  (2:04 PM)

Joe, I think the biggest thing is that it takes some time for a player at that position. That "Y" tight end spot is a challenge because it involves the run and pass games -- both from a blocking and pass-catching perspective. Hernandez to me is almost more receiver-like, playing the "F" tight end role (which is the TE more likely to be on the move). Making the jump from college to the NFL is tough enough. Doing it as the "Y" tight end in this offense only adds to the challenge. I'd give it some more time.

Craig (Silver Spring, MD)

Saw your post on Thomas Williams this morning, and it sounds like he has potential. But the team is already stacked at ILB with Mayo, Guyton, McKenzie, and Spikes. Presumably they wouldn't want to carry five ILBs on the roster, so what would give if Williams were to make it?

Mike Reiss
  (2:05 PM)

Thanks for reading the blog, Craig. If the Patriots were to keep a fifth ILB, I think you might be looking at only four RBs, with the idea that Williams could play some FB for you. That's assuming everyone is healthy, of course.

GoUMass (Chatham)

Hi Mike, Most notice the animosity towards all things Patriot in the national media (e.g. Brady's contract situation is a problem while Peyton's is no concern; teams lose OTA days for violations with barely a notice). Do you think it's solely based on jealousy of the team's success, Spygate fallout, or some other issue? As a Pats fan, it does get irritating after a while. Thanks.

Mike Reiss
  (2:07 PM)

Not sure on this one, GoUMass. I think the best reporting is objective reporting. But the lines between reporting and opinion are so often blurred these days, and it happens to me as well.

MarkJ (Japan)

Any World Cup talk in Foxboro? Gostkowski? Mesko?

Mike Reiss
  (2:08 PM)

Gostkowski is a big fan, MarkJ, but I haven't seen any flag waving of anything like that from the players.

Anthony (North Andover, MA)

If Mankins and the Pats cannot come to a mutual agreement, and a trade is in order, what is the market value for a guy like this? Do you think the Patriots would be more inclined to look to grab a draft pick or a player?Which teams could be potential suitors for Mankins?

Mike Reiss
  (2:09 PM)

I think it has to be a first-round pick at minimum, Anthony. As for suitors, I'd only be guessing at this point. I think he'd be a great fit for the Colts -- given their offseason goal of getting tougher up front -- but that wouldn't be their m.o. and I can't imagine the Patriots trading with them.

Arjuna (Derry, NH)

The last few things I've read about these OTAs, the more I've noticed a shift from Holt, to Tate/Price, regarding who pops out on WR. Could you envision Holt being one of the surprising cuts when the final cuts are all said and done?

Mike Reiss
  (2:10 PM)

Probably the biggest thing with Holt is his presence as a teacher. You watch him at these practices and it seems like he's always pulling a young guy aside to talk to him about the finer points of route-running. He looks like a real pro. If Tate and Price have big camps, and Welker opens the year on the roster, it's possible that Holt could be in jeopardy.

John (Manchester, NH)

Mike, while it's easy to look at several people as losers in the Mankins situation, isn't the big winner here Thomas Welch? If Kaczur kicks to guard, doesn't that open up another tackle slot?

Mike Reiss
  (2:12 PM)

I agree, John, although it's not necessarily black and white because of all the interchangeable parts. Regardless, I think Welch is going to find his way on this club. Just a hunch.

Mike (London)

Hi Mike, If the Patriots could get a second rounder for Mankins would this not be good business? I am sure that they can find a way to win without him on the roster and having 5 Selections in the top 2 rounds next year would give them ample opportunity to address key positions such as DL, OL, RB, WR and OLB at a time when a rookie wage cap could be in place.

Mike Reiss
  (2:13 PM)

Mike, ideally I think it should be a first-rounder, but as we learned from the Matt Cassel/Mike Vrabel trade, the market ultimately dictates. So if a 2 is the best you can get, I'd take it and move on if I was making decisions for the Patriots.

Mike Reiss
  (2:14 PM)

As for the team finding a way to win without Mankins, I wouldn't undersell the fact that he's one of -- if not their best -- lineman. It's a blow. I think they can still win without him, but I do think it's a significant hit.

Ken (CT)

If the Pats do trade Mankins, I don't want it to be for another draft pick it will take them a couple of years to finally utilize (after the way they trade draft picks for future picks) , does a Mankins for Elvis Dumervil trade make sense for both teams since both players are looking for new contracts or maybe Mankins for Vincent Jackson and a mid-round pick? What do you think?

Mike Reiss
  (2:15 PM)

Ken, I just don't see how the Patriots would want to do that, and then have the headache of having to sign the player they acquired to a big deal. With the Tom Brady contract looming, that's another consideration in play with all the decision-making.

Avery (New Orleans/Newton)

Hey, Mike, love the Pats blog, read it every day. I was just thinking, Aaron Hernandez reminds me of a utility infielder in baseball and I was wondering about the possibility of his playing full back in the shotgun. I think I remember you saying that Hernandez had adequate blocking ability, so why not put him on Brady's blind side as a pass blocker? He could also run stretch plays from this position or slip in the flat much like Kevin Faulk. And with both of them in the backfield at the same time, it might cause confusion for the defense in their pre-snap reads as to which one blocks and which one goes out for a pass. I see this as a way to keep the offense fresh and the defense guessing, what do you think?

Mike Reiss
  (2:16 PM)

Could happen, Avery. I have been impressed with Hernandez in the practices I've seen. I think he can help this team, in a few different ways.

Jason G. (North Carolina)

Mike, if Logan Mankins is traded, do you see the Patriots doing something similar to the Seymour trade and look for a pick in 2012 rather than 2011? The Pats already have 10 draft choices next year (possibly 11 with a compensatory pick for Jarvis Green), and with 24 players drafted the past two years it seems like the roster couldn't handle another big rookie class. It's easier to try to pry a first round pick from a team when they won't have to give it up for two years, and the Patriots won't have to settle for a lower pick in '11.

Mike Reiss
  (2:16 PM)

I like the thought, Jason G.

Brian (CT)

Hi Mike, any chance you can put together a 'Wish' list of NFL players (maybe another disgruntled FA or two) or maybe a few draft picks the PATS would be happy to get in return for Logan Mankins?

Mike Reiss
  (2:17 PM)

That's a good idea Brian. The head is swimming a bit after watching three straight practices so it might take a day or two to get caught up on that.

Vince (Miami)

Mike, would you see the Pats going after Lynch when we could spare a couple of draft picks with the plethera we have next year for a proven young hard nose, straight ahead runner Bill wants? Fred is older ,Faulk and Morris situational, and Maroney's, well, Maroney..thanks, keep it up!!

Mike Reiss
  (2:18 PM)

I don't see the Patriots going after Marshawn Lynch, Vince. Similar to LenDale White, I don't see Lynch as their type of "complete package" -- meaning on and off the field.

Courtney Jackson (Lindenwold, NJ)

Hi mike, do you think celtics have a chance since one of there big men is down for game 7? I dont think that they have a chance. It's going to be like game 6 and you going to see kobe jumping up and down like jordan did. lol

Mike Reiss
  (2:18 PM)

Celtics talk?!?

Mike Reiss
  (2:18 PM)

I'm a one-trick pony, Courtney. It's all football, all-the-time.

Sean (Hudson)

Mike, would either team be interested in a Jared Gaither / Logan Mankins swap?

Mike Reiss
  (2:19 PM)

I'm not a big Gaither fan, Sean, especially for what the Patriots do up front. I think the team is OK at tackle. It's the interior positions that would concern me more.

Clark (Muncie, IN)

Hi Mike. It seems we have three positions we are deep with "unknowns" or youth. O-Line, LB and WR/TE. Of those three positions, which do you feel are the strongest and which is the weakest? Feel free to use your gut as you have said before it can be hard to tell a players abilaty with out contact.

Mike Reiss
  (2:21 PM)

From strongest to weakest (with the * that it's difficult to tell without contact): WR, ILB, TE, OL, OLB.

Marc R (Raymond NH)

Are players like Tyrone McKenzie who miss their entire year eligible for any "rookie" awards?

Mike Reiss
  (2:21 PM)

I don't believe so, Marc R, but I'll double check it and hopefully have the answer next week.

Nick (Worcester, MA)

Hey Mike - How has Leigh Bodden looked? Same consistent player he was last year?

Mike Reiss
  (2:22 PM)

Just solid over there on the right side, Nick. Consistent. Made a nice play on the ball today on a long ball intended for speedster Matthew Slater (from Tom Brady), which shows that he's running well.

Ramin (San Marcos, TX)

Hey Mike, out of all the rookies, who would you say will make the quickest impact?

Mike Reiss
  (2:22 PM)

I think Aaron Hernandez shot to the top of my list after watching these practices (not including punter Zoltan Mesko).

john (RI)

I know its early, but based on all the practices that you have watched. Who would you pencil in as the third receiver. Im really hoping aiken is buried behind tate, price, holt, etc.

Mike Reiss
  (2:23 PM)

I saw Brandon Tate getting a lot of reps there, John. I think they'd like him there, but they'll see how it looks in training camp.

Alan (Palm Springs)

Any chance the Pats and Brady do not reach an agreement

Mike Reiss
  (2:24 PM)

Sure, there's a chance, Alan. I have previously said that I'd be shocked if it didn't happen. I still believe that. But now I'm wondering -- from a timing perspective -- if it might not happen until next year. I expected it to be done before this season.

Mike Reiss
  (2:24 PM)

Sure, there's a chance, Alan. I have previously said that I'd be shocked if it didn't happen. I still believe that. But now I'm wondering -- from a timing perspective -- if it might not happen until next year. I expected it to be done before this season.

Mike Reiss
  (2:24 PM)

Sure, there's a chance, Alan. I have previously said that I'd be shocked if it didn't happen. I still believe that. But now I'm wondering -- from a timing perspective -- if it might not happen until next year. I expected it to be done before this season.

Mike Reiss
  (2:24 PM)

Sure, there's a chance, Alan. I have previously said that I'd be shocked if it didn't happen. I still believe that. But now I'm wondering -- from a timing perspective -- if it might not happen until next year. I expected it to be done before this season.

Patrick (Saugus)

How do the linebackers look? Mainly Mayo, Spike, Guyton, and Cunningham?

Mike Reiss
  (2:25 PM)

On the Brady question, Alan, sure, there's a chance it does not get done. I have previously said that I'd be shocked if it didn't happen. I still believe that. But now I'm wondering -- from a timing perspective -- if it might not happen until next year. I expected it to be done before this season.

Mike Reiss
  (2:26 PM)

Patrick, on the LBs, it's almost impossible to tell much without contact. I'm hesitant to read too much into the repetitions either. I did think Gary Guyton, in pass coverage, did some nice things that made me take notice.

Scrapster (Noho)

Hi Mike.Thanks, as always, for being our eyes and ears at Gillette. Two questions: 1. Do you think either Paschall or D. Fletcher have a chance at making the practice squad? (Would be great to have an RB and possible OLB in the pipeline.) And 2. Any thoughts on the Mankins for Schoebel trade speculation? I know the Pats usually like acquiring players who have victimized us in the past.

Mike Reiss
  (2:26 PM)

Absolutely on Paschall and Fletcher on the practice squad possibility. On Mankins for Schobel, I'd be surprised if that happens.

Sully (CO)

Hasn't Brady said multiple times that money is not an issue to him, and he wants to be in a great organization? Has this stance changed? Is he angry about some moves they have made? Or, could he be holding tight helping the Patriots out to see what/if the new CBA will be?

Mike Reiss
  (2:28 PM)

I'm not sure what Brady is thinking, Sully. He has not spoken to reporters at the Patriots' facility. I wouldn't be surprised if he's a bit frustrated that a deal hasn't been struck, but that is purely me speculating.

Pete (Vermont)

Mike , Is it possible Dean Pees was part of the problem of everyone not being on the same page last year? With guys like Warren saying there is a whole new feel out there you have to wonder

Mike Reiss
  (2:29 PM)

I don't think so, Pete. I think Pees is a good coach. They're trying some new things on defense this year and it looks like they have some better players (which is most important).

Riley (VA)

Hey Mike, great stuff on the blog...I know it seems most people have the Pats written off as being in decline or the 'dynast' crumbling or whatever, but you've said you still think the AFC East runs through New England. Would you consider winning the division the goal for a year like this, or do you think they still believe that a Superbowl is the only successful end to the season. (I lean towards the superbowl knowing the competitive drive of both Brady and BB)

Mike Reiss
  (2:30 PM)

Super Bowl remains the ultimate goal, Riley. It's a building process and I think you hope the team comes together, grows over the course of the year, and then hits it at the right time coming down the stretch. I'd caution anyone from counting this team out.

BossMagglio (NY)

Do you think the Patriots defensive struggles in 09 were due to a lack of talent in the personnel, Belichick's defensive scheme, or a combination of both? Personally, I think the Patriots have some good young talent on that defense, I just think Belichick's 2-gap defense may be a little outdated with the way teams are throwing the ball these days. I think a more penetrating defense that tries to blow plays up in the backfield and stop offensive plays from even developing is far more effective than Belichick's read and react, 2-gapping, bend but don't break defense.

Mike Reiss
  (2:32 PM)

I'd say players first, BossMagglio. As for the scheme, they are trying some different things this year. This isn't the same old two-gap stuff. The Patriots' practice policy prohibits reporters from detailing offensive or defensive strategy, so that's about as far as it can go right now.

Damas (Bristol, VT)

More hypothetical trade fun: Mankins to Pittsburgh for either Woodley or Harrison?

Mike Reiss
  (2:33 PM)

Would the Steelers really do something like that?

MarkZ (Syracuse)

How are you not high on Gaither after the Pats had no one that could prevent him from blowing up the line in the playoff game?

Mike Reiss
  (2:33 PM)

It's more than one game, MarkZ. It's about the day to say work ethic etc.

ric (NJ)

Mike, I am a Steelers fan and thought I ask you a fun question.If you could have on One Steeler player and don't have to give up anything to get him, who would YOU choose to put in starting lineup for Patriots?

Mike Reiss
  (2:34 PM)

Since the Mankins to Steelers trade was proposed, thought this one would be fun. Given the needs of the Patriots' roster, I think I'd go with Woodley.

Neil (Brown City, MI)

Hi MikeRobert Kraft has always seemed to be a very proud owner and I think you have to say one who has run the Patriots with a high level of integrity. With that in mind I would appreciate your insight into the Logan Mankins situation. It's obviously hard for fans (and reporters) to make an accurate accessment of the situation given the lack of knowledge but I find Mankins words disturbing even moreso given that he is a man of few words and to hear him asking to be traded seems beyond a negiotating tactic . Is there something else in play here?

Mike Reiss
  (2:38 PM)

I really don't think there is anything else in play, Neil. I think Mankins had an expectation that the Patriots would be offering him a contract that reflected his standing as a top player at his position. I think he feels the team's offer fell short of that, and wasn't an offer that was made with the intent of striking a deal. That didn't sit well with him.

Noah (New Orleans)

How would you compare the performance so far of Torry Holt and David Patten? Which is faster? Is one more of a leader (e.g. to help the younger players develop)? Does Brady seem more comfortable with one of them?

Mike Reiss
  (2:39 PM)

Brady seems to like having Patten around. I see Patten as maybe a little faster. Both real solid leader types.

Patrick (Murfreesboro, TN)

Have any of the young OLB's emerged or should we expect to see Banta-Cain and Burgess as 3 down players? Thanks for keeping us up to date on the Pats!

Mike Reiss
  (2:39 PM)

Was tough to gauge this position, Patrick. I think we'll see a variety of combinations, with Burgess and Banta-Cain likely leading it off.

eric (trumbull)

mike, in the end, what is the result of the mankins situation

Mike Reiss
  (2:40 PM)

My crystal ball is cloudy, Eric, but I'd guess a trade.

Travis (Somerville)

Hey Mike, I am curious as to your thoughts on Derrick Burgess. I've heard he's playing a much more active role as an actual OLB, but do you think he is athletic enough for coverage. Also, wasn't he a pretty huge liability in the running game last year? Would that be much different with him as an OLB as opposed to more of a DE?

Mike Reiss
  (2:42 PM)

If Burgess is playing the traditional OLB role we've seen in recent years, I'd say that's trouble, Travis. Not just against the run, but also if he has to drop consistently in coverage. But if they can scheme around it a bit, I think it could work. There are different things the team can do out of that 3-4 alignment.

Chaucer (North Haven)

Mike, Thanks for all the inside dope. has anyone been able to verify the exact terms or nature of the contract offered to Mankins? Do we know if it was, in fact, $7 million?

Mike Reiss
  (2:44 PM)

There are different ways to look at the deal, Chaucer. My understanding is that if you look at it as an extension that would kick in after this season, the extension part was $7m per year. But if you include this year, the number goes down to $6.5m per year.

Jeff (the Rock)

do you see our defence being better then last years version? Will Mayo & Wilfork step up and be the leaders we need them to be

Mike Reiss
  (2:44 PM)

I'd say it's going to be better, Jeff. I like some of the personnel additions and scheme tweaks.

Dave (Ft. Campbell, KY)

Mike- any read on who is making the contract calls? Caserio? What is Floyd Reese doing?

Mike Reiss
  (2:45 PM)

I think it all runs through Belichick and the Krafts. Other people work on the deals in terms of being the point person for negotiations, or actually writing up the contracts, but they are the top decision-makers in my view.

Mike Reiss
  (2:45 PM)

Let's go for another 5...

eric (phoenix)

Love your info Mike. On the DL, who is looking good to fill the 3rd slot after Wilfork and Warren? Is Gerard Warren, Brace or the other free agent we got looking decent. Does Brace look at least a little better?

Mike Reiss
  (2:46 PM)

I'd say Gerard Warren, Mike Wright and Damione Lewis will team up at that RDE spot. Brace looks like he's locked in at LDE, behind Ty Warren.

Scott (Beantown)

Last year it seemed to me that Meriweather and McGowan were the two best playmakers in at safety with Butler and Bodden as the best playmakers at corner. Are they looking like the starting 4 in the backfield or is are guys like Chung, Sanders, McCourty looking like they'll be bigger contributors?

Mike Reiss
  (2:47 PM)

The only alteration I could envision is Chung wrestling that spot away from McGowan.

tom (boston)

mike how much do you think taylor price is going to contribute this year. will he be hot out the gates as a possible number 1 or held back and slowed into the game

Mike Reiss
  (2:47 PM)

I think it will start slower, Tom. He could be an early-season inactive and gradually be worked into the mix.

Jim Bob (Oregon)

Mike, the situation with Mankins, as well as with many of the other restricted free agents in the league, seems to show how un-aware they are about the rules of the CBA and how the agents are perhaps leading them down the wrong path. I fear that all this talk about a lock out may come true because the players are not informed and the agents are negatively influencing them. Your thoughts?

Mike Reiss
  (2:49 PM)

The looming labor situation is probably the story of the year. I sense the players are not happy, and this is probably league-wide. It creates a bit of an awkward situation.

Jason (Louisville)

Hey Mike - what do you think of the Pats trading Mankins for one of the Giant's rushers?

Mike Reiss
  (2:50 PM)

I see it more likely as being a draft pick, Jason.

Josh (NC)

I'm a big fan of Brandon Tate from watching him at UNC, he made a lot of big plays for us and was a really dynamic receiver. With that being said, is he being used more as a possession receiver or a deep threat? And how have his returns looked compared to Edelman and Slater?

Mike Reiss
  (2:51 PM)

Josh, with Moss on the outside, Edelman in the slot, Tate has been on the outside.

Kyle (Boston)

Hey Mike, its not uncommon to read about how the patriots are fallen from the elite pedestial. In my mind they are a very good team but maybe not elite as they once were. In your mind what needs to happen in 2010 to regain that "eliteness"?

Mike Reiss
  (2:54 PM)

Let's end on this one, Kyle. The makeup of this team is interesting to me -- it has 24 draft picks from the last two years (25 if you include 2009 rookie free agent Brian Hoyer). So I think development is the key among that group, which is almost 40 percent of your roster. Then you need those veterans to maintain their level of performance. One college scout echoed my thoughts: "You have Brady and anything is possible." You need to put a good team around him, but he remains the most important piece. He's looked sharp to me in practices and that's the No. 1 reason I think this team has promise for 2010.

Mike Reiss
  (2:55 PM)

Thanks to everyone for chatting today. Some great questions in there, and couldn't answer them all. We'll have more time to get to them in the coming weeks. Let's chat again next Thursday.