Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

September 2, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with Mike Reiss

Mike Reiss
  (11:59 AM)

Good afternoon and thanks for joining today's chat. The plan today is to chat until 12:50. The point I'd like to lead off with today is Tom Brady-based. I think this is a "hot zone" in the sense that if a contract extension is to be reached, the next 4-5 days represent a big target. On deals like these, usually player and team don't like to let it linger into the season. I think the Patriots and Brady have made significant progress on a deal and I'm interested to see if they can push it over the finish line. There is always a chance it could fall apart, but I am of the thinking that it's less about "if" and more about "when" at this point. That is my opinion.

dan (home of the pats)

what is the biggest question for the new england Patriots this season? are they playoff contenders?

Mike Reiss
  (12:00 PM)

Dan, thanks for leading us off today. I think the biggest question is defensively. Can they provide enough resistance to be a contender? I do think the Patriots are playoff contenders.

Har Journalist (Vancouver, Canada)

Hi Mr. Reiss, When during the Rams game did Leigh Bodden tare his rotator cuff? He didn?t look banged up on my TV. Also when is Julian Edelman expected to return? Does he have a dreaded high ankle sprain? Thanks Mike

Mike Reiss
  (12:02 PM)

Hi Har. I don't know exactly when Bodden tore his rotator cuff. It was a weird situation in a sense. He came in the next day and said he was feeling pain, as I understand it. It wasn't something that required attention during the action. As for Edelman, I saw him at the team's Kickoff Gala and he said he was OK. That can mean a lot of different things. I couldn't estimate a return at this point, because I don't have enough information.

Alex (Holbrook, MA)

Hey Mike, do you think the way the IR system works is the reason why Leigh Bodden is out for the season, when he could possibly return towards the last 4th of the season otherwise?

Mike Reiss
  (12:04 PM)

Alex, the NFL does it this way to avoid teams stashing players. Their feeling is that with a 53-man roster and a 45-man game-day active roster, teams can keep an injured player projected to return late in the year if they so desire. One of the big questions with the Patriots in that regard is with Nick Kaczur. Do you place him on IR? Or hold a spot for him? Tough call.

Steve (Canton)

Mike, It seems like the Patriots have suffered more injuries (key injuries, as well) than other teams. Is this any kind of reflection on the work the team has done to keep players in shape during the offseason? Thanks.

Mike Reiss
  (12:05 PM)

Interesting question, Steve. I think we have to look closer at each injury to see if there is any connection. I don't know the answer, but I think it's a worthy topic to inspect closer in the coming weeks.

AdamM (Edinburgh, Scotland)

Hi Mike,I think the leigh bodden news is a big blow for the team, the idea of being able to field 3 high quality CBs against Manning and other elite QBs had me dreaming of good things this season. I think without Bodden our lack of pass russ is going to be exposed even more. Do you think Bodden on IR finally leads to Belichick upgrading the OLB position through a big trade?

Mike Reiss
  (12:06 PM)

AdamM, I don't see any big OLBs available to them in a trade at this point. I think they'll go with what they have at that spot. Also, it's time for players like Jonathan Wilhite, Terrence Wheatley, Kyle Arrington to possibly step up at cornerback. The other factor is that the safeties can help limit the blog. Maybe some more James Sanders on the field in sub packages.

MarkJ (Japan)

Mike, Tyrone McKenzie's expaneded role tonight would be a backup plan in case Spikes get suspended for the opener, wouldn't it?

Mike Reiss
  (12:07 PM)

MarkJ, I'm not sure we can go there just yet. I think they'd probably start Guyton over McKenzie, based on what we've seen from the preseason rotation at ILB to this point.

juggernaut (ohio)

Mike,what was Torry Holt's injury? I know he got an injury settlement from the Pats, but any word on whether he needs surgery?

Mike Reiss
  (12:07 PM)

It was a knee injury. He did require surgery.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

Which of The New England Patriots players are out for the season?

Mike Reiss
  (12:08 PM)

Chris, the following players have been placed on season-ending injured reserve: Ty Warren (hip), Leigh Bodden (shoulder), Josh Barrett (shoulder), Bret Lockett (chest), Kade Weston (knee, I think), and Darryl Richard (foot).

Hoogie (Lexington)

Hey Mike, what can we realistically expect from Cunnigham early in the season?

Mike Reiss
  (12:09 PM)

I think third-down pass rusher and possibly special teamer. Tough to count on him on early downs. He missed a lot of time -- since Aug. 11 -- and still isn't back at practice.

Rick (CT)

Mike,Who would the Pats consider trading to fill holes and what could you expect in return?

Mike Reiss
  (12:10 PM)

Absolutely, Rick, the Patriots like to wheel and deal and if they think there is something that will upgrade the talent level, I don't think they would hesitate. I'm not sure what players around the league are available, but CB is one area I'd monitor.

Mike (Needham)

Mike- The Bodden injury is huge in both loss of talent and depth. But do you think some people (fans & media) are overreacting here? It's not like 2008 when we were trotting out Ellis Hobbs and Deltha O'Neal. Granted our corners are young and unproven, but I see way more upside than previous years. Am I being too optimistic?

Mike Reiss
  (12:13 PM)

I think the context is important here, Mike. As you mentioned, the Bodden injury is huge. He was their best corner last year -- team-high 17 passes defensed, tied for the team-high with 5 INTs, and he is a solid run-support player. At the same time, they have some pretty good depth at CB. I can think of a lot of teams that would want to be able to play fall back on a first-round pick and high second-round pick in the event of injury. This, to me, is an example of why you never turn down a good player on draft day. I remember how many were disappointed at the McCourty pick because it didn't look like a top need. Now we see why -- you can never predict injuries. I guess this Belichick guy sort of knows what he's doing.

GlasgowPat (Scotland)

Are you expecting a trade to land a veteran corner? I just dont think Pats can win with Butler/McCourty as 1/2 in a long, gruelling season. Revis for Mankins??

Mike Reiss
  (12:14 PM)

I'm not really expecting a veteran CB, at least initially. I think they'll see how McCourty and Butler fare in the early going, and lean a bit more on their safety depth in sub packages. I don't see a Revis-for-Mankins deal as a realistic possibility.

Donald Norman (Marietta, GA)

With cut down day approaching and the injury list growing, who do you see that may be available on the waver wire, esp. corner, guard or outside LB?

Mike Reiss
  (12:16 PM)

A lot of questions like this one, Donald. To be honest, I'm not 100 percent up on players from other teams on the bubble. I've been completely immersed in Patriots business. I could see some minor additions, but I'd be mildly surprised if there is a front-line type addition.

Disheveled (Phoenix)

Mike make me believe this can still be a magical year for our Patriots. Losing Warren was bad enough, now with Bodden done I don't see how we're legitimately gonna stop anyone. I like McCourty and Butler a lot, but they're really young and inexperienced. Couple that with a less than average push on the QB and this spells trouble. Make me believe, Mike, please!!!

Mike Reiss
  (12:17 PM)

Good one, Disheveled. The first thought that came to mind was 2008. What was your first thought when Tom Brady was injured on the 15th offensive play? Probably not good. Then they put together an 11-5 season. You just never know. They still have some quality talent on this roster.

Ray (New York)

Mike could you share with us which Patriots players have twitter accounts and actively use it.Also has Coach Belichick used any interesting player groupings in practice especially in the secondary? I am thinking back to Troy Bron being used as a nickle back.

Mike Reiss
  (12:18 PM)

Some of the Twitter guys are Leigh Bodden, Devin McCourty, Darius Butler, Matt Light, Vince Wilfork, Bret Lockett, Gary Guyton and Sergio Brown. As for interesting groupings in the secondary, there have been no players from non-CB and non-S positions playing there. We saw one three-safety package last week against the Rams.

Rick (Portland, ME)

Mike,Is Kyle Arrington viewed as strictly a special teams player or will he get an opportunity at CB? With Bodden on IR he might be a sleeper pick to contribute. It seems that he got plenty of reps in training camp and performed well.

Mike Reiss
  (12:19 PM)

Rick, he is a physical player and I think he is a depth option on the left side in the event of injury. I wouldn't sleep on him. I like Arrington's toughness and physical style.

Sean (Boston)

Mike you mentioned during training camp that you noticed the Pats had changed their defensive scheme this year. Have they shown those new changes yet this pre-season or are they waiting till the regular season?

Mike Reiss
  (12:21 PM)

Sean, for the most part, what we've seen is more of the same. They've shifted their linemen a bit, having them play different techniques, and that it one wrinkle that I have taken note of.

Brooklyn (Toronto)

I had a lot of reservations about our O-Line going into the preseason but think they have actually done pretty admirably. Do you think this is a strong enough group to protect Brady all year, barring injuries?

Mike Reiss
  (12:22 PM)

I don't think the line has been an issue this preseason, despite the concerns without Mankins. Can they do it all year? Tough call. The depth looks thin there. But forced to pick, I'll say yes, they can.

Pete (New Jersey)

Mike, how much do you think the 1st teams off. and def. will be playing tonight??

Mike Reiss
  (12:23 PM)

Pete, I'm not expecting to see much of Brady, if at all. He didn't play in the preseason finale last year. I'd say very little playing time for some of the top players.

Ken (Long Island)

The Bodden injury is brutal when coupled with the lack of outside pass rushand the very young secondary. I actually think this puts MORE pressure on the offense and their time of possession. Your thoughts?...And what about Mankins?

Mike Reiss
  (12:24 PM)

I'd go along with that Ken. Offense will need to complement the defense and protect it at times. On Mankins, no movement that I am aware of. Something to keep on the radar as sometimes this can be the time that holdouts have second thoughts.

Space Bandito (Bangor, Maine)

Who are you going to be watching tonight? Slater? McCourty? Mckenzie?

Mike Reiss
  (12:25 PM)

All of them, but if I had to pick one, I'll go McKenzie. I think he's on the roster bubble. I put him on the roster in the latest projection.

Brian (Mansfield)

Do you feel keeping 5 average-at-best RBs has a big trickle down effect on the rest of the 53 man roster? Particularily with very little special teams contributions with those 5? The only one who has special value in my opinion is Faulk, a 3rd down conversion machine.

Mike Reiss
  (12:26 PM)

Good point, Brian. I think the answer is tied to the long-range forecast for the team. If they think Green-Ellis has a future, I think they need to keep him. But I see the combo of Taylor/Morris/Maroney/Faulk as the best for the 2010 season. If you keep a fifth, it's probably at the expense of a special teams only guy like Marques Murrell/Eric Alexander/Matthew Slater etc...

Nathan (Lexington, MA)

Any predictions on whether Maroney plays tonight? Also, any sense of how he is handling this situation? Does he seem frustrated?

Mike Reiss
  (12:27 PM)

I believe Belichick said he expects him to play. I think Maroney is handling it professionally, but deep down inside, I'm sure there are questions as to what is going on.

andrew (FL)

Hi Mike-with the thinness on the D-line and the lack of a consistent pass rush as well as Mankins looking like a total loss, I,m having ahard time understanding why there seems to be no effort to deal him to a team in need that has some value to offer in return, is ther something there that we just dont see? What are your thoughts?

Mike Reiss
  (12:30 PM)

Andrew, a player can't be traded without a contract. So it's not just trading him for a player. There is a huge contract element in play. I'm not sure another team would give him the big dough and cough up a high draft pick/impact player. It just seems unlikely to me. But as for the effort, I'm not aware of the level at which the team has tried to work towards something like this.

Pete (Santa Fe)

Hi Mike - who gets Leigh Bodden roster spot?

Mike Reiss
  (12:31 PM)

I'd say Terrence Wheatley.

GC in DC (Washington DC)

How do you think the Pats will compensate for the young secondary? Will we see some more creative use of current players (a la Troy Brown)? New schemes? Or maybe more of a reliance on punishing the receiver the way Rodney Harrison would?

Mike Reiss
  (12:32 PM)

Opening week against the Bengals, I'd say a lot of cover-2, with the safeties protecting them. That will force the front-seven to be strong against Cedric Benson and the run without an extra man in the box. The plan will vary from week to week based on the opponent.

b (bos)

if maroney isn't starting, what's his value since he doesn't play special teams? insurance?

Mike Reiss
  (12:33 PM)

I think his value is a combination of insurance/playmaking ability as part of a committee. Tough to count on Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris making it through the season based on recent history.

Clark (Muncie,IN)

Good morning Mike. While our secondary is young they aren't just guys off the street. Merriweather and McCourty are both first round picks while Chung and Butler both 2nd round picks. To me this is reason for optimism. Who is now the first off the bench? Sanders or Whilhite? And might Merriweather play some CB this season. Against run heavy teams like the Jets, Bills, Dolphins having Merriweather and McCourty near the line of scrimmage would seem on the surface to be a good idea in protecting the edges.

Mike Reiss
  (12:35 PM)

I think that's great insight on the personnel/game-plan approach, Clark. Could certainly see Meriweather coming down to play some corner in the slot, with Sanders keeping things together and getting people lined up from the safety spot. Not sure I'd call Meriweather a top-end run support guy, but he has some corner-like skills that can be tapped in sub packages.

Mike (Stoneham)

With the injury of Bodden are you ready to change your prediction of 11-5? I had them winning between 10-12 games this year before the injury. I feel that this is much worse than the Warren injury so now I'm going to lean more towards the 10-6 record. Their offense is just going to be too good for them to go 9-7. Can the play of Chung, Cunningham, Spikes, Brace, etc. be enough to make up for the loss of Bodden?

Mike Reiss
  (12:37 PM)

Mike, I had a family member call me after news of the Bodden injury and they said "Think you better revise that 11-5 prediction." My response was that I wouldn't make the decision based on a knee-jerk reaction. I don't think it's good to make predictions when one is too excited, and likewise, not good to make predictions when one is down on the state of things. I try to find the middle ground on that stuff. So, for now, I'm going to stick with the 11-5 and will revise before the start of the season. I'm leaning in your direction (10-6), but am not fully there yet.

John (Manchester, NH)

Mike, who are your top candidates for offensive and defensive breakout players this year?

Mike Reiss
  (12:37 PM)

I'll say Gronkowski/Hernandez on offense and Brandon Spikes on defense.

b (bos)

didn't cinci go 6-0 against the afc north last year? i get the sense that pats fans are looking past this game to week 2 against the jets. cinci is not the cupcake they used to be....

Mike Reiss
  (12:39 PM)

I think it would be a mistake to overlook this opener. Bengals are tough. Addition of TE Jermaine Gresham has added a new element to the offense. Defense gets after it. I see a close game.

Ben (UNH)

Rob Gronkowski has had a strong pre-season, do you foresee him being the number 1 TE on the Pats depth chart and making an immediate impact his rookie year?

Mike Reiss
  (12:40 PM)

Ben, I see Alge Crumpler as the top tight end on the depth chart, but I see Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez being used a lot. I see all three making a big impact -- Crumpler more in the run game, Gronkowski in both run/passing games, and Hernandez in the passing game.

Dorian (Silver Spring (Yes discovery building) MD)

Mike, how worried should us fans be about Cunningham and Edelman and when they return where does each fit?

Mike Reiss
  (12:42 PM)

I think Cunningham is closer to a return. Edelman is a bit of a mystery to me. Once healthy, I wouldn't be worried about where they fit. They are two young players with good upside.

Digger (Joe City)

Edelman or Tate (when healthy)...who gets your nod as #3?

Mike Reiss
  (12:43 PM)

Looks like Tate, with Edelman an option in specific packages as a change-up.

Kyle (North End, Boston)

Will Aaron Hernandez play tonight?

Mike Reiss
  (12:43 PM)

Not expecting it, Kyle.

supwithyou (MA)

Mike, Bodden IR came as a surprise... Do you see any other injured player landing there?

Mike Reiss
  (12:44 PM)

Kaczur and McGowan are the two I'm keeping an eye on.

Mike Reiss
  (12:44 PM)

Not saying it will happen on those two. Still trying to ascertain more information on where things stand with them.

Mike Reiss
  (12:45 PM)

Let's go for another 5 here...

Prasad (Boston)

Will this miracle second chance be just what Terrence Wheatley needs to get his career kick-started, or do you see him regressing to his old ways once the season begins?

Mike Reiss
  (12:46 PM)

He's had his best camp, and it wouldn't be the first time that a player emerges in Year 3. I still think he's a reserve/bubble guy.

Paul C. (San Antonio, TX)

Hey Mike - first off, thanks for keeping the displaced Pats fans up to date for all these years down here in SATX - we live by your blog. Should we be concerned with key injuries (Kazcur, Warren, Bodden) and the Pats ability to sufficiently replace such great talent? It seems as though the injuries keep adding up. Thanks!

Mike Reiss
  (12:46 PM)

I do think it's a concern, Paul. That's a big part of the team's core/depth that has been sidelined. It's not ideal.

Aaron (FL)

Does the weak Pats DEF make Tom Brady a better fantasy QB (he'll have to throw more...) or worse (he won't be on the field as much)?

Mike Reiss
  (12:47 PM)

I'd say better.

Rick (Providence RI)

Do you think it makes more sense to start Brace at LDE and Warren at RDE and have Wright come in off the bench. Like Jarvis Green when Wright comes in for different situations he excells. I fear he may have a season like Green did last year if he is the full time starter. Green was awesome coming in on passing downs and he was not as effective as an every down lineman.

Mike Reiss
  (12:48 PM)

Yes, if Brace can play like he has the last two weeks, I like that combo. Wright has looked real good as an interior rusher this preseason. I like the idea of keeping him fresh, or at least rotating him in and out.

vr1000 (Philly)

Hi Mike,Thanks for all the great work. Do you think it is imperative that the Pats blitz more this season with their safeties because of the young corners or will they default to the safeties aiding the corners in coverage? Obviously, blitzing is dependent on match ups and game situations but Chung would seem to be the perfect combination of size, speed and nastiness to be an effective blitzer.

Mike Reiss
  (12:48 PM)

They blitzed a lot last year -- more than 40 percent of the time -- and I didn't think it helped them too much. Ideally, they won't have to, and will be able to generate pressure with four rushers. It's debatable whether they will be able to do so.

Todd Light (Foxboro, MA)

Mike, it's been fun! After tonight's game I will disappear and become Matt Light again. What are the chances that I will be back next year so Randy Cross can say my name wrong some more?

Mike Reiss
  (12:49 PM)

:)

Logan (Catheys Valley, California)

When we are going to start talking again?

Mike Reiss
  (12:50 PM)

I had no ideas that players are so interested in participating in the chat. Wish I had the answer for you.

Ben (New York)

Hey Mike, who sees the end zone more this year, Hernandez or Gronkowski?

Mike Reiss
  (12:50 PM)

I'll go Gronkowski, influenced in part by those 2 impressive TDs last week.

Mike D (S. Boston)

Mike - Are the players being held out of practice as really banged up as they may seem, or is this just a situation where the coaching/medical staff is taking a precautionary approach because it's the preaseason? Would guys like Cunningham and Endelman etc. be playing right now if this was the regular season?

Mike Reiss
  (12:51 PM)

Some banged-up, some maintenance type situations. Not sure where to classify Cunningham and Edelman.

Dan (Manchester, NH)

Interesting that both you and student assistant Mike Rodak left Marques Murrell off your 53-man roster projections. Judging from the games (specifically the first two), his pass rush seems to be as good as anyone outside of Banta-Cain at outside linebacker. Is Pierre Woods' special teams work the main reason you see Murrell getting squeezed out?

Mike Reiss
  (12:52 PM)

Both Woods and Ninkovich are big special teams guys. To me, Murrell duplicates that, and Woods is better against the run, while Ninkovich is quicker with the rush.

steve (freetown)

doesn't it make sense for tyrone mckensie to make the team instead of woods or another "special teams ace" considering he's in his first year of playing? at least he may have future potential.

Mike Reiss
  (12:53 PM)

I thought there was a chance he might be edged out, but I'd keep him on Steve. I agree -- he deserves a bit more time to prove himself.

Nick (Boston, Ma.)

Mike - Are you at the new stadium yet? If so, what are your thoughts? I can't imagine New York wouldn't do it up big-time!

Mike Reiss
  (12:54 PM)

Let's end on this one, Nick. I'll be headed over there shortly. Thanks to everyone for the great participation in the chat. Questions almost totaled 400. I appreciate the passion and knowledge here. Catch up from the game.