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October 21, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with Mike Reiss

Mike Reiss
  (12:00 PM)

Good afternoon and thanks for joining today's Patriots chat.

Mike Reiss
  (12:01 PM)

I am here at Gillette Stadium, where the Patriots will be in full pads for today's practice. Bill Belichick had the team out of pads yesterday, as they were coming off a physical game against the Ravens, and have the long trip ahead. But players knew they probably wouldn't get through the week without a full-pads practice. They need the work.

Mike Reiss
  (12:02 PM)

Two themes stand out to me this week from a player perspective: 1. Confidence seems to be rising among them; 2. They are respecting the Chargers and how they play at home, where they are 2-0.

Kevin (Plymouth, MA)

Mike, I've been really impressed with how Bill Belichick has cleared his locker room of most of the egos that would disrupt a strong team attitude. Guys like Moss, Laurence Maroney, Adalius Thomas and Derrick Burgess seemed like they were causing issue. Guys like Alge Crumpler and Deion Branch are great additions for locker presence. Would you agree Belichick has recognized a strong team attitude in the locker room is going to lead to positive intangibles for this team and probably more wins?

Mike Reiss
  (12:04 PM)

Kevin, I made the point to someone I work with this week that the locker room seems to be stronger this year. Talking to a player this week on this point, he said something along the lines of, "There is less talking this year and more doing." I do think a stronger room was a priority for Belichick. I'm not sure it's the driving force behind his decision-making, but I do think it's a factor.

Mike Reiss
  (12:04 PM)

Kevin, I made the point to someone I work with this week that the locker room seems to be stronger this year. Talking to a player this week on this point, he said something along the lines of, "There is less talking this year and more doing." I do think a stronger room was a priority for Belichick. I'm not sure it's the driving force behind his decision-making, but I do think it's a factor.

Ben (Needham)

Hey Mike. Long time reader first time writer. Love the blog. Anyways, I'm a huge fan of Dane Fletcher. His open field tackle on Ray Rice last week in the 4th quarter was overlooked by many but it really stuck out in my mind as one of the better individual defensive efforts of the game. With Fletch obviously becoming a locker room/practice presence with his team leading 3 practice player of the week awards, do you see him picking up more playing time next to Mayo, or has Spikes locked down the weak side spot?

Mike Reiss
  (12:06 PM)

Ben, thanks for reading through the years. Fletcher was part of a 3-3-5 package in sub situations last week -- three rushers, three off-the-line linebackers, and five defensive backs. He was one of the off-the-line linebackers. What he's accomplished already is impressive, emerging from rookie free agent to game-day contributor. I still see Mayo (weakside) and Spikes (strongside) as locked in, with Guyton the top sub. But Fletcher has clearly carved out a nice niche for him and I think the coaching staff would feel comfortable putting him in should injuries hit.

Maddy (Kingston, RI)

Hi Mike,I haven't heard much about Vollmer this season. Last year, people were talking about how smart we were to draft a player from Houston who wasn't even invited to the combine. What do you think of him this year? I know player like Chung has made a great leap in his sophomore year and Butler has regressed. Where do you hold Seabass in this regard?

Mike Reiss
  (12:08 PM)

Maddy, we've seen Vollmer have some struggles at times, but overall I'd describe him as "solid." I wrote on the overall pass protection today on ESPNBoston.com and the Patriots rank 10th in the NFL for fewest sacks allowed per pass play. That's obviously not the only measure to gauge how effective protection has been, but it often does provide a general ballpark. I believe Vollmer has played every snap this season.

RJPats (Franklin)

Hi Mike - I know we're in the meat of the season (and it's shaping up to be a great one), but if you had to throw out a couple positions that you'd like the Pats to address early in next year's draft, which would they be and why?

Mike Reiss
  (12:09 PM)

Running back doesn't have to be first round, but I'd put it in the top-four-round category. Defensive line is an area that you can seldom go wrong with. Same with pass rusher.

Seth (Bergenfield NJ)

Can you please answer a historical pats question for me --what happened to Eugene Wilson? I don't mean where is he now, I mean how did a player who was a rising star in his first couple years turn into a stinker almost overnight? Was he not really a good player? If you can't answer this now, can you look into it and let your reading public know? Thanks

Mike Reiss
  (12:11 PM)

That's an interesting one, Seth. I don't think Wilson is a stinker, as he has had a longer-than-average career at this point. As for where things went off course in New England, it might have had something to do with the complete package and the willingness to go that extra mile. The Patriots are a demanding program and I seem to remember some veterans looking in Wilson's direction at times and wondering if he was fully committed to what it takes to thrive here.

Har Journalist (Vancouver, Canada)

Hi Mike The San Diego Chargers have had a terrible time with special teams, and getting punts off this season. Do you think the Patriots special teams will be able to capitalize on the Chargers awful Special Teams like they did in Miami? Or has San Diego made the correct adjustments to prevent this for happening again? Thanks Mike

Mike Reiss
  (12:12 PM)

Good one, Har. I asked Chargers coach Norv Turner this exact question on his conference call Monday. He said the Patriots are the best special teams unit his team has faced and it will be a good gauge to see where they are. One thing the Chargers have done is put some starters on those units to tighten things up.

MarkJ (Japan)

Mike, when Kevin Faulk was IRed, some thought that Sammy Morris would become the pass-catching back.He has some experience there in the last few years, and has been dependable. So far his role is limited to short-yardage FB and special teams, and he's nearly disappeared.How do you see his role in this team, along with Woodhead and BJGE?

Mike Reiss
  (12:13 PM)

Great point. I've been surprised at how Morris has become more of a role player. Part of it is tied to him slowing down a bit in his 11th season. I've had him on the field for 37 snaps all season. Danny Woodhead had 51 in the last game alone. I think this is the role Morris will play going forward.

Matt G. (Boston)

Hi Mike - nice article on the Mankins/OL situation going into the Chargers game. Does Mankins start at all this year after he reports, if there are no injuries?

Mike Reiss
  (12:14 PM)

Thanks Matt. Interesting question. If the team is winning and the health is the same, I think I'd stick with that got me there.

TB12 (Boston)

Hi Mike - what's the latest on Gates for Sunday. Would be nice to have him miss this one...thanks!

Mike Reiss
  (12:15 PM)

Norv Turner said he's hopeful Gates will play. Gates did not practice Wednesday and they are hoping he'll get some work in today. If he does, expect him out there Sunday.

JORDANG (Los Angeles, CA)

On some of their drives, the offense looked like the early 2000's Patriots offense- short passing, creative play calling. Where does Bill O'Brien call the plays from? The field or the coaches box? Similarly, does Matt Patricia signal from the field? Can you give some insight here..

Mike Reiss
  (12:15 PM)

Both O'Brien and Patricia are on the sidelines. If you're watching the game and there is a cut-away shot to the sideline, Patricia is usually in red.

Frazier (Philly)

Mike, Im wondering when they move Arrington out of the starting lineup? I realize they have won with him, but hasnt he reached his ceiling? Id like to see Butler and Wheatley get some snaps at RCB

Mike Reiss
  (12:17 PM)

Frazier, I don't think Arrington has reached his ceiling, but I hear what you are saying. Butler's ceiling is higher. I talked with Butler today in the locker room because I sensed he was down after Sunday's game in which he didn't play a snap. I was impressed with what I heard from him. He told me he'll be ready for when that call will come. I believe it will happen.

Nathan (Lexington, MA)

Were you ever able to figure out if the 4th round pick we traded for Branch was our pick or Denver's pick? Doesn't that information have to be made public?

Mike Reiss
  (12:18 PM)

Some reports indicated what the pick was, Nathan, but I could not independently confirm it. The information does not have to be made public, which is sort of an "inside journalism" pet peeve of mine. The teams report the trade as "undisclosed draft pick" to the league and if the teams want to give out the information, they can. I've asked the league about it, and have been told they don't release that info.

Grant (Columbus, OH)

Hey Mike, I think the next five games are going to tell us how good this team really is. It starts this week at San Diego and will end on 11/21 at home with the Colts, with Minn and at Pitt in between. I think this is the make or break part of the schedule that will define the season. How much importance would you place on the next 5 games?

Mike Reiss
  (12:19 PM)

Very important, Grant. I think that Cleveland game, with the Browns coming off a bye, is going to be tough as well. So I'd include that in there as well.

Pamela (Florida)

Mike, are you surprised that the Patriots made no moves before the trade deadline? Do you see them picking up any free agents to help and if so who?

Mike Reiss
  (12:20 PM)

Pamela, I was not surprised there were no trades, as the Patriots had already swung two earlier in the year. That is probably a record for in-season trades in Bill Belichick's 11-year tenure with the club.

Gareth (London)

Hi Mike - in your opinion, what was the bigger 'statement' win for the Patriots? Going to Miami and overcoming long-standing problems on the road against a tough Divisional opponent, or coming back in the fourth quarter against a Ravens team that bounced them out of the playoffs last year having smacked them in the mouth? I mean, both are great obviously, but did you get any sense from the team?

Mike Reiss
  (12:20 PM)

I'd go Miami, simply because of the road aspect of it, and heading into the bye.

Craig (Sarasota Florida)

Mike, Why don't we use Tate more in the offense I feel like he is explosive but doesn't get the ball enough. Also only 1 shot down field last game, is this how it is going to be?

Mike Reiss
  (12:22 PM)

Craig, Tate has been on for 53 percent of the snaps, and has been targeted 18 times, with 11 catches. If I had to guess why he doesn't have more balls thrown in his direction, I think it's a case of developing more chemistry/trust with Tom Brady. As we saw with Brady and Deion Branch, when you have that connection it can be special. But it takes time to develop.

Prasad (Boston)

What's the prognosis on Fred Taylor? Is he close, or is this a Nick Kaczur case where the team is waiting and hoping?

Mike Reiss
  (12:23 PM)

I think Taylor is different than Kaczur. I think we'll see Taylor back after this game. Just a hunch.

Matt G. (Boston)

Afternoon, Mike - after a big preseason and Week 1, Gronkowski has come back to earth slightly, in terms of the passing game. Any chance we see an uptick on his involvement in the second half of the season?

Mike Reiss
  (12:24 PM)

Good one, Matt. He's only been targeted eight times all season, and he has the seven catches. I'd have to study it more closely but it seems like he's staying in to block a bit more. I could certainly see an increase going forward as this offense continues to evolve.

Leon (Atlanta, Ga)

Mike - Gerard Warren looks like he has been a solid pickup this year and gives the Patriots alot of versatility in the defensive looks they can go with - how do you assess his play so far this year ?

Mike Reiss
  (12:26 PM)

Very good pickup, Leon. He's really a first- and- second-down player and I think he deserves credit for being willing to adapt his game to the Patriots' system. I always viewed Warren as more of a penetartor, 3-technique type, but that's not what he's doing here. His snaps have looked like this: 21, 43, 28, 24, 56. So that really shows me a veteran player who has bought in and is fully invested in what the team is doing. Sometimes when you get players at that point in their career, they might be a bit more set in their ways. Credit to Warren on this one.

Andrew (Connecticut ( Woodbury ))

Hey Mike...i personally like to see spikes and cunnigham both play as full time starters...think they have alot oif potential together...how soon could this happen??

Mike Reiss
  (12:27 PM)

Andrew, I'd say the time has come. Both are locked in as starters in the base 3-4 alignment. I don't see Spikes staying on the field on third down/passing situations, so his role as a two-down player will probably be what it is. As for Cunningham, he is really coming on. He had his best game last week in that starting role, and he sometimes does stay on in sub.

Phil (Boston)

What are the chances the Pats take Mark Ingram with their higher first round pick? We haven't had a true bruiser since Dillon :(

Mike Reiss
  (12:29 PM)

It would make a lot of sense. At the least, you consider the ties between Bill Belichick and Alabama coach Nick Saban and know that Belichick will have all the accurate information he needs to make a sound decision one way or the other, assuming Ingram is available when picking (Raiders' pick?).

Matt (durham, nh)

Hey Mike love the non stop Pats updates. What are your thoughts on how Brandon Tate might be utilized differently now that Branch looks so comfortable (so quickly) in system?

Mike Reiss
  (12:30 PM)

Matt, it looks to me like Branch/Welker would be the top pairing in two-receiver sets, with Tate/Edelman the backup options in that two-receiver set. Then, when the Patriots go to three receivers, you see Tate come onto the field. That's sort of what it was with Moss here, so I don't see much of a change.

Paul C. (San Antonio, TX)

Mike - again, thanks for the updates. This question is related to the CBA situation and the possibility of the 18 game season. Do you foresee, given the rash of injuries throughout the league this year, the NFL allowing a greater amount of players on the active roster? 53 to 56 perhaps? Expanding salary caps? Despite how I would enjoy 2 more "real" games, with the injuries teams are facing, 2 additional games could seriously impact playoffs.

Mike Reiss
  (12:31 PM)

Right on, Paul. The number would probably go to 54 on the roster, and then maybe add two practice squad players. We also could see a return of a baseball-like injured resreve system, where a team could put 1-2 players on a six-week reserve type of list.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

What do you think of the new rule that players in the NFL will be susupended for helmet to helmet hits flagrantly?

Mike Reiss
  (12:32 PM)

It seems everyone has an opinion on this one, Chris. I'd say it's a good rule. My only question is what took the NFL so long. I still go back to Wes Welker getting blasted in the head in Week 2 by Jets safety Eric Smith, and Smith was fined $7,500. So the league is telling me that type of hit was a $7,500 fine in Week 2 and a $50,000 fine in Week 6. I don't get that inconsistency. If I was a player, I'd be frustrated at the league's wishy-washy enforcement/fines with this issue.

Kyle (Cranston, RI)

Mike,With San Diego having a depleted receiving corps, an injured TE, and not much of a running game I can see the Pats defense coming out with a much more aggressive game plan; Anticipating the pass more on early downs, and really trying to get after Rivers. Your thoughts?

Mike Reiss
  (12:34 PM)

I thought about the possibility, Kyle, especially given the success the Rams had rushing the passer. At the end of the day, though, I come back to the Patriots' No. 1 goal of stopping the run so I'm anticipating a game in which the team plays a lot of nickel but with some heavy personnel up front to stay true to the run threat.

Glasgow (Scotland)

Does the production, or lack of, of Maroney at Denver make the deal look a little better for Patriots now?

Mike Reiss
  (12:34 PM)

It does, Glasgow. I thought it was a risky move to trade Maroney. I think I'm about ready to acknowledge that I was wrong on that one. Also, to get a fourth-rounder is a good chip.

John (Bangor, ME)

Hello Mike - do you think that Brandon Deaderick has passed Ron Brace on the DL depth chart and are you impressed with him ?

Mike Reiss
  (12:36 PM)

I'd lean toward yes, John. Deaderick played 52 snaps against the Ravens. Brace played 50 all of last season. That tells me that Deaderick is further ahead now than where Brace was at this point last year. Brace's playing time totals have gone down: 18, 46, 25, 1, 6. Meanwhile, Deaderick's have gone up: 0, 0, 0, 20, 42. It looks like a case, on the surface, of two players headed in different directions.

Noah (Jacksonville)

Do you see any compensation pick for Ben Watson, he is on track for 75+ catches? Or do you think that will be offset with the signing of Crumpler/Warren?

Mike Reiss
  (12:37 PM)

Good one, Noah. I am not sure on this one off the top of my head, but I am impressed with Watson's production with the Browns in his first season.

Mike Reiss
  (12:37 PM)

Just going to snap off a 2-minute timeout to post a blog update from our man, Mike Rodak, from the locker room today.

Tom (Macon, GA)

Hi Mike - do you see Danny Woodhead's role in the offense continuing to grow and will he continue to be more than just a 3rd down specialist ?

Mike Reiss
  (12:39 PM)

Tom, I'd say he's already more than a third-down specialist. He was playing on early downs last week, with Tom Brady under center and taking handoffs.

Dave (Tampa)

Hi Mike - big Florida Gators fan here and love seeing the Fla rookies contributing big time for the Pats this year - how would you rate Spikes, Cunningham and Hernandez so far this year and what do you see their potential as being ?

Mike Reiss
  (12:40 PM)

It's been huge, Dave. Those guys have really stepped in and acted like they've been here before. Speaking with Cunningham in the locker room today, he had a Florida Gators shirt under his practice jersey. He joked about it, "Once a Gator, always a Gator," or something like that.

Ethan (Maine)

Mike,What players are going into the defensive backfield in sub packages? Has Butler fallen so far that he can?t even make it on the field when the team is in a dime? How do you see the defensive backfield personal evolving as the year goes on?Thanks

Mike Reiss
  (12:41 PM)

Ethan, it depends on the game, but last week was a three-safety sub package, with Jarrad Page coming on and joining Brandon Meriweather, Patrick Chung, Devin McCourty and Kyle Arrington. When Page was injured, they put cornerback Jonathan Wilhite into the game. So based on that one game, we can say "yes", Butler has fallen that far down. I don't see it lasting long. The Patriots didn't run a dime package that I recall last week.

John (Boston)

Hi Mike - with Julian Edelman probably out this week with concussion - do you see Taylor Price being on the active roster for this week's game ?

Mike Reiss
  (12:42 PM)

John, that would seem to make some sense if Edelman can't go. But I wouldn't rule Edelman out just yet. The other option in this scenario would be Matthew Slater as a No. 4 receiver. I'd rather see Price.

Pete (Massachusetts)

What is the latest on Edelman? It seemed like the concussion happened on a play over the middle, which leads to my question- doesnt this new rule seem very subjective? A high profile player like Todd Heap gets hit and there is a $50k fine, Edelman gets hit, and nothing happens.

Mike Reiss
  (12:45 PM)

Pete, there is certainly some subjective nature to the calls. Edelman walked through the locker room today and I wouldn't be surprised to see him at practice today.

yo-yo (ma)

ventrone was re-signed - just need another body at safety?

Mike Reiss
  (12:46 PM)

I think that's right. With James Sanders coming back from a hamstring injury that sidelined him last week, and Jarrad Page (calf) looking like he won't be ready, more practice help was needed.

Pat (Boston)

Mike, I am worried about this week for a few reasons. 1. this is a must win for SD & they are much better at home 2. San Diego has a great passing attack 3. I see SD being able to run the ball against the Pats sub packages (i was surprised Baltimore didn't make the Pats play more nickle)... any thoughts?

Mike Reiss
  (12:47 PM)

All fair concerns, Pat. I think you nailed three of the key reasons this game could sway toward San Diego's side. But I'd counter it by saying that I do see the Patriots as a more complete team. Thus, I could see this one heading in either direction. If I made a prediction today, it would be Patriots 27, Chargers 21.

Snook (Tallahassee)

Mike, Aaron Hernandez had two big drops in overtime, and he clearly looked upset with himself, they were overshadowed by the win, have you had a chance to talk with him and do you think this lingers with him or he will shake it off and still get all of his reps and not lose playing time?

Mike Reiss
  (12:47 PM)

Just saw him in the locker room, Snook, and it looks to me like he's put the drpos behind him. The true measure will be on the field, of course, but the early indications are positive.

Wowzers (wisconsin)

Mike, Why doesn't BJGE get more carries I believe he can carry the rock but there is too much running back by committee all the time in New England have they completely dispelled the notion of one stud RB?

Mike Reiss
  (12:49 PM)

I think a lot of it is matchup-based. The Patriots probably felt the Ravens weren't a run defense that could be run over. The better approach was for a more shifty back and that's why it was more of a Danny Woodhead game. I could see that changing this week against the Chargers. The Patriots like to go week to week with their plans and I think that's why we see the up and down nature of running back playing time.

Larry (Dallas TX)

Hi Mike - how much of an impact do you see Shawn Crable making for the remainder of the season ? Seems like he is improving and could be active much more often the rest of the way.

Mike Reiss
  (12:50 PM)

Larry, I see his role as game-plan specific. He doesn't offer much help on early downs right now, so a lot depends on injuries in other areas of the roster. Crable was active against the Bills, inactive against the Dolphins, and active against the Ravens. I could see that pattern continuing. I don't think he's necessarily a lock for the 45-man game-day roster each week.

Joseph (Andover)

Hi Mike,What has happened to Mike Wright? He seems to have disappeared the past couple of weeks. I thought he played quite well at the beginning of the season. Is he nicked up?

Mike Reiss
  (12:51 PM)

Here is Wright's playing time progression, Joseph: 51, 16, 22, 49, 12. Some weeks he's been used on all downs. Other weeks he's been more of a pass-rushing specialist. I think it's a good way to keep him fresh over the long haul of the season.

Nel (Boston)

What happened to Tully Banta-Cain? Is he now coming off the bench?

Mike Reiss
  (12:53 PM)

Nel, Banta-Cain has become more of a sub player the last few weeks, replaced by the combination of Rob Ninkovich and Jermaine Cunningham. His playing time progression looks like this: 77, 60, 37, 52, 21.

Joe (New York)

Mike - just a general question - to start the game - I always like kicking off to start the game then getting the ball to start the second half. Any thoughts on this ?

Mike Reiss
  (12:55 PM)

Bill Belichick agrees, as it sets up some situational football at the end of the half, knowing that you're getting the ball back. But given how young the defense is, and how the Patriots have struggled on some early drives, I would vote for the opposite approach. Take the ball.

Pete (IL)

Mike if Edelman can't go on Sunday who are the other options at punt returner? I don't mind seeing Welker back there as the 'hands' guy but I hate seeing him actually running them back and getting leveled, he is too valuable to risk.

Mike Reiss
  (12:55 PM)

Welker and Tate. With Branch now in the fold, Tate could be used on punts as well as kickoffs.

Mike (Toronto, Canada)

Has Sammy Morris started taking magic lessons? 'Cause he's been invisible since the season started.

Mike Reiss
  (12:57 PM)

Can I throw a penalty flag on this one, Mike? While Morris has been invisible as a running back, his block on Brandon Tate's kickoff return for a TD in Miami was one of the key plays of the game ... and season in my view.

Hoogie (Lexington)

Is Brandon Deadrick another late round steal made by the Pats, or is it simply a case of lack of DL depth on the Pats roster? I heard that he had a lot of off the field issues at Alabama which made him fall in the draft? Is that accurate?

Mike Reiss
  (12:58 PM)

I'm not sure about the details of the off-field issues, Hoogie, but there were some "concerns" there among scouts. Deaderick looks like he has a chance to be part of the mix going forward, probably more as a sub at this point, so that's solid for a late seventh-rounder.

Ben (Germany)

McCourty is a crazy athlete, no doubt. But will he go on playing 100 % of the defensive snaps plus some special teams work? Even he has to be exhausted some time!

Mike Reiss
  (12:59 PM)

I think he will, Ben. He's been a solid first-round pick for this team. Very professional for someone at this stage of his career.

Neil (Cambridge)

Mike, not only don't the Pats seem to miss Mankins in their pass protection, but I feel like their short yardage, situational rushing has been very good this year, and was a real weakness last year. Do you agree? If so, what do you attribute this to?

Mike Reiss
  (1:00 PM)

Neil, the Patriots have been a very good "situational" running team this year. I attribute it more to play-calling and a mindset/attitude developed in training camp. If I recall, the first time the Patriots took the field in training camp, Bill Belichick put the ball near the goal-line and had three tight ends on the field, and it was a run. The TEs have helped this area a lot.

Nelson (Springfield)

Mike, do you think we will see more emphasis on the running game this week from the Pats?

Mike Reiss
  (1:01 PM)

Nelson, this was a point that Tedy Bruschi makes in this week's "Bruschi's Breakdown". The Chargers had some struggles against the run last week and there could be opportunities in this area for the Patriots.

Tommy C. (Baltimore)

Hey Mike. Who's going to match up with Gates this week?

Mike Reiss
  (1:01 PM)

The first thing I had was Patrick Chung.

Scott (Biddeford, Maine)

Why do you think the trade dealine was so quiet around the league?

Mike Reiss
  (1:02 PM)

Scott, most teams are reluctant to trade away depth. As we see with the Patriots' safeties, depth can be thinned very fast by injuries.

Mike Reiss
  (1:02 PM)

Also, getting a player up to speed in a new system takes time.

Fred (Boston)

Mike, when you and Mike Rodak review the game tape for analysis, do you just have the CBS telecast? Or do you have access to NFL Films or Coach's tape? Btw, please give props to Mike Rodak on his analysis, especally the "Picked Up Pieces from XX Quarter Review" articles. Good stuff.

Mike Reiss
  (1:03 PM)

Fred, that is just the TV copy. Mike Rodak, who does a thorough job and has a real future in whatever he wants to do in football, makes that point each week because there are only so many things you can pick up from the TV tape.

David (Puerto Rico)

Mike, please play opposing coach for a minute, how would you beat the Patriots. What weakness would you focus on, and what strength would you take away?

Mike Reiss
  (1:04 PM)

I'd throw it until they prove they can stop it consistently. They've proven to be tough against the run. I'd also put in extra time on special teams.

Andrew (Leominster, MA)

Mike, given the emergence of Danny Woodhead, and the injured status of Kevin Faulk, is it possible Faulk won't be brought back next season? He's not under contract.

Mike Reiss
  (1:05 PM)

Andrew, Faulk underwent his surgery today. This could be it for him. That would be my guess.

Mike C (Boston MA)

Mike, before the season you said you were more worried about the run defense than the pass defense. Now that we are a few weeks into the season and a few better than expected performances how would you rate the defense in all areas vs your expectations of them?

Mike Reiss
  (1:06 PM)

Looks like another thing in which I was wrong, Mike. Run defense hasn't been an issue. The pass defense has been more shaky.

Phil (lewes, delaware)

Mike - any update today on who is missing from practice ?

Mike Reiss
  (1:06 PM)

Should be coming shortly on our blog, Phil. Mike Rodak is out at practice now.

Mike Reiss
  (1:06 PM)

Let's go for another 5...

Paul (Norwich, CT)

Mike are we still a unproven team in the NFL? I would really like to know when the Pats will get some respect as being a solid football team?

Mike Reiss
  (1:07 PM)

I think the Patriots are respected as a solid football team, Paul. Any objective observer would look around the league and realize there are not any 2007-like Patriots teams who are just so clearly ahead of the pack. The Patriots are in the top tier when looking at it from a complete NFL perspective.

stewart (wellesley)

Mike - Based on what you have seen os Shawn Crable so far - do you think he can make a real difference to the Patriots defense this year? (Assuming he can stay on the field )

Mike Reiss
  (1:08 PM)

It's just been 25 snaps over two games, Stewart, with his role pretty straight-forward: Rush the passer in the sub defense. I think he can help, but "real difference" seems like a big jump to me.

Sean (Boston)

Is Mayo just a tackling machine or are we going to see more big plays from him? If he is just a tackling machine is that ok for a Top Ten pick?

Mike Reiss
  (1:09 PM)

Terrific question, Sean, and one I was debating this morning. Still waiting on those big plays. I think he's more than OK, but until the big plays come, he probably won't get that Pro Bowl/elite status.

Mikey (Idaho Springs)

Mike, what are you thoughts on Meriweather? I have no problem with a guy who does this once, apologizes, and changes his game. Will he be able to put this behind him and move on and continuing to develop? He wasn't know for this kind of thing before so I don't see why he'll have problems.

Mike Reiss
  (1:11 PM)

Mikey, I thought the contrast in Meriweather's remarks from Monday to Wednesday were as opposite as they can be. On Monday, he said he wouldn't change the way he played and used the word "point blank" to drive home his point. On Wednesday, he was saying he would change. So I guess my thoughts are that words aren't going to get it done. It will have to be his actions. I'm not sure if he can pull it off.

Matt (Portland, OR)

Glad to see that Bill was able to release his death-grip on that fourth round pick to get Branch. I was beginning to think that his dream is to one day hold every pick in an NFL draft...

Mike Reiss
  (1:12 PM)

Ha. And I thought he paid a hefty price for Branch. One game in, and it's already proven worth it.

Prince of Plymouth (Charlotte Unfortunately)

Edelman has been pretty quiet so far...what kind of role do you envision he can carve out for himself? Seems like he does a lot of the same things that Welker, Tate, Branch do...

Mike Reiss
  (1:13 PM)

I'd say top punt returner and No. 4 receiver. His snap progression has been: 0, 10, 22, 5 and 8. I would have thought we'd see more of him.

Craig Cusson (Florida)

Mike, why hasn't Gronkowski gotten targeted more in the redzone he is 6'7" throw the ball up and let him get it?

Mike Reiss
  (1:14 PM)

I think part of it is that opponents have caught on to it a little.

Mike Reiss
  (1:15 PM)

Mike Rodak reports that WR Julian Edelman (concussion) has returned to practice today.

supwithyou (MA)

Mike, here is a suggestion in how to improve the podcast: I suggest a segment called "Play of the day". In this segment, you talk about the formation and the personnel used in the biggest impact play of the last Sunday's game. For example, the Ravens game's play of the day could be the 3rd-1 stop by the Pats defense or the Gronk's completion in overtime. Basically, you & Tedy describe this play, how it was executed (or how it could have been avoided from Pats' perspective), and in the conversation piece (posted on Wed/Thurs), you can post the jpeg of the paper napkin used by Tedy to explain the Xs

Mike Reiss
  (1:15 PM)

Great idea. Thanks for taking the time to share it.

Justin (Brookings, SD)

How does Zoltan Mesko rank up to other punters throughout the league right now?

Mike Reiss
  (1:16 PM)

He's third in net punting, I believe.

Matt (Tallahassee)

Mike, I think the ceiling is high enough for Mayo to become on of the elite linebackers in the NFL. I know he hasn't made to many big plays but he has an amazing combination of size and speed. Also when Mike Rodak reviewed the game he noted Mayo was helping Spikes out when he would bite on the play action.

Eric (MA)

I call tackling - play making. Most of the time, forcing a fumble is just plain luck!

Mike Reiss
  (1:16 PM)

Good Mayo talk. Thanks.

Eric (Florida)

Which of the Patriots injuries has hurt the team the most Warren, Bodden, Faulk, etc? My vote woud be Bodden due to the struggles defending the pass.

Mike Reiss
  (1:17 PM)

First thought I had was Bodden.

Borg (SFla)

Hey Mike, I spent $2.99 for the ESPN radio ap for my I phone, just to listen to your podcast with Bruschi. But your podcast was not on the list anywhere....Help

Mike Reiss
  (1:18 PM)

Borg, send your contact info into the chat and I will reach out to you and get it squared away. Thanks for the interest.

Lexi (Ottawa)

Why can't the D play every game like they played the last 25 minutes of the Ravens game? Was it just me, or did they look pretty fantastic?

Mike Reiss
  (1:19 PM)

Lexi, there were a lot of forces that probably contributed to that performance. It's the same way I felt about the first 21 snaps of the Bengals game -- the defense looks great then too. This is a young defense and it's growing before our eyes. Sometimes it takes time to develop.

trader99 (ct)

i highly enjoy when you say "lets take 5 more" and half an hour later you're still chatting

Mike Reiss
  (1:21 PM)

Ha. All right, trader99. This will end it. I get a little fired up and I see some people who have invested time to ask questions and there is a part of me that would like to just keep chatting. My apologies to those I couldn't get to. Should be a great trip to San Diego. One chatter last week had asked about the possibility of a Tweet-up. I wasn't able to get it together for this time, but hopefully we can try something like that in the future.