Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

May 19, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with Mike Reiss

Mike Reiss
  (12:00 PM)

Good afternoon and welcome to today's Patriots chat.

Mike Reiss
  (12:01 PM)

Quiet times across the NFL and with the Patriots but we keep the flame lit here. Thanks for joining in. Today's lead-off question: If you could attend any game on the Patriots schedule -- home or away -- what would it be?

Mike Reiss
  (12:01 PM)

I'm going to scroll through and list some of your answers before we get going.

Lisa (Somerville, MA)

Hi Mike-- For me, it's between the October Jets and Cowboys games and the November Eagles and Colts games. Let's say the Jets game, though: home game, football weather, and hopefully a little retribution for the last game I went to.

Nate C (Burlington)

Hi Mike, In response to the blog post about which game to go to, I will not be attending any of them, for two reasons. 1) I am exceptionally disappointed with the way Kraft (and the other owners) are handling the lockout. They continue to try and blame the situation on the players, when the owners are the ones who opted out of the previous agreement. I will not be giving Kraft any more money any time soon. 2) The last two Pats games I went to were the playoff losses against the Jets and the Ravens. Enough said.

Jan (Auburn, NH)

Leadoff question:None, I'd stay at home with my 60" HD TV, all the free beer and food I could eat, no weather issues, and best of all, NO ROUTE 1!

Damas (Boston)

Can anyone choose a game besides the home one against the Colts? A perennially good match, that game will be the must-see event of the undetermined 2011 season. Oh, and it's at 8:20. Oh, and it might snow. Oh, and it features the MVP's from the last four years. A distant second would be that Giants game. How about a little revenge for 2007? That's the first regular season game between the two teams since the SB loss.

Casey (Plymouth, MA)

Is it bad that the game I'd be most interested in seeing is a preseason game? That 3rd game at the Lions looks interesting to me given the strength of the Lions D-Line and skill positions on the offense...if preseason football happens and if the 3rd game holds true to longer playing time by starters, I think we could learn a lot about how the O-Line will be able to handle a pass rush and how the defense can handle talented players coming from all over the field

Elvis (Big Sky)

Mike, enjoy you work you old hound dog. If I could be in the building for any game on the Patriots' 2011 schedule -- home or away a?? Ia??d want to attend the Buffalo game. Party all night a?? tailgate in the morning and see Pats go undefeated again!

Matt (Bristol, CT)

If I could go to any Pats game in '11, I'd go to the Christmas Eve Miami game because that's the only one I'd actually have any chance of going to (I'm in college most of the year). But if I had the ability to actually go to any game, I'd go to the Oct. 9 home game against the Jets, just so I could experience the fullness of this beyond-football rivalry on our home turf. I saw a Pats-Colts game in Gillette a few years ago, and I'd suspect this game would be much wilder, not only on the field but in the stands.

Steve Belliveau (Clearwater Fl.)

I live in Fl. so I'd go to miami if the labor deal was done. no way I plan to go as I expect that game to be postponed or cancelled.

Elliot (Narragansett, RI)

I was actually talking about this with one of my friends last night. We agreed that the Colts game was our absolute first choice if we go to a game. Still haven't got to see Manning vs. Brady in person yet and there aren't going to be too many more opportunities.

kevin (NYC)

Presently, the most anticpated game of the season is the second Jet game that probably will decide the division on November 3rd. Although, expectations change during the season. What if it's the second Miami game on Christmas Eve that would decide the division? I had a conversation with my friend after the game 'we choose not to speak about'. My friend said, well you have to be happy because they weren't supposed to be as successful as they were. Although, a lot of us can agree and this is what I said for the rebuttal, 'we were 14-2 and were hands down favorites to go the Super Bowl, I'm absolutely disappointed'. So I ask you Mike, is it fair to change your expectations based on performance?

Adam (Denver)

J-E-T-S , with Giants a close second. I want blood

Mike Reiss
  (12:06 PM)

Good stuff. I was thinking about this myself and each game has a little different dynamic to it. I tend to lean toward the earlier-season games, particularly because of weather. I also lean toward the 1 p.m. games. Not a lot of choices there (Buffalo in Week 3?). I boiled it down to the home opener against the Chargers or the Oct. 9 game against the Jets. Always love the home openers, but in th end, I went with that Jets game.

Mike Reiss
  (12:06 PM)

Let's chat until 1 today.

munchkin (glenwood springs, co)

Snowing outside my office here in Colorado; go figure.What happened to Darius Butler that caused him to fall so far down the depth chart last year? Did you see something different about his play from the tail end of the 09 season that didn't carry over into 2010? Were we fooled by a couple of "right place right time" big plays in 09 that overshadowed deficiencies in his technique or general position ability?

Mike Reiss
  (12:08 PM)

This is a topical one, munchkin, as I had a chance to catch up with Butler about his appearance as a graduation speaker at University of Fort Lauderdale last week. I think Bill Belichick was as forthcoming as you'll find when discussing Butler last November. Here is what Belichick said...

Mike Reiss
  (12:09 PM)

"The key for him is to keep working hard, stay focused, and pay attention to the little details and techniques, and executing the defense. He has a lot of talent. He's a smart kid. It's being able to apply it on th efield and taking those coaching points in practice and the meetings and make those part of the execution."

MarkJ (Japan)

Do you have a plan to climb Kilimanjaro, Mike? By the way, Tedy has been an awesome travel blogger.

Mike Reiss
  (12:09 PM)

MarkJ, you crack me up. Appreciate your weekly participation in the chats. The NFL and ESPNBoston has not asked me to climb Kilimanjaro at this time :)

Chris (Bryant)

With the patriots drafting two running backs this year and a couple tight ends last year, I think BB is planning for a more run heavy offense. Brady is getting old(er), and I'm sure he doesn't want to have him throwing 40+ passes a game. While the rest of the league is trying to replicate the pats offensive success in the past couple years, the patriots are moving on to something new. Classic Belichick playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers?

Mike Reiss
  (12:11 PM)

Perhaps, Chris, although I'm of the thinking that I'll believe it when I see it. Just last year, the thinking of many was "Why would we want to take the ball out of the hands of the best player by keep handing off?" To me, it's about developing a bit more consistency on offense, specifically with the running game. I don't think we'll see any type of dramatic shift toward a ground-and-pound approach, but maybe some more confidence in specific games to turn in that direction (based on the matchup).

John F (Walpole, Ma)

Do you view this season (if we have a season) as the last year of the Darius Butler/Ron Brace era if both play down to last years level? It seems they are sliding down the depth chart.

Mike Reiss
  (12:12 PM)

I think Brace will be here, John. I also think Butler will be, too, but the depth chart is a bit more stacked at his position.

Lisa (Somerville, MA)

I hate speculating about the draft and free agency right now, so let's talk training camp. What rookie, sophmore, and vet are you most looking forward to seeing on the field in training camp, and why?

Mike Reiss
  (12:13 PM)

I'm looking forward to seeing RB Shane Vereen in that rookie class. In the sophomore class, I appreciate the cornerback skills of Devin McCourty so I'm looking forward to watching him and his development. On the veteran side, there is no greater appreciation I have from a player perspective than watching the way Tom Brady approaches his craft.

Chris (Annapolis MD)

The Patriots are pretty stale right now, have any good nfl reads for a fan looking for something new?

Mike Reiss
  (12:14 PM)

Chris, we're trying to spice it up a bit Patriots wise. But if you're going the NFL route ... would you consider the Rex Ryan book? I didn't think so.

Pat Murphy (Cranston, RI)

Hey Mike, obviously tough to tell at this point, but whom do you see becoming the better pro, (especially in the Pats system), Brandon Tate or Taylor Price? I know there's a lot of faith in both of these guys, and it would be nice if one of them stepped up this season.

Mike Reiss
  (12:15 PM)

That's a tough one, Pat, just based on the limited amount we've seen Price. I think it's a flip-the-coin guess at this point. I'll guess Price.

hobomock (south shore)

At saftey, there's two or three open roster spots for Sanders McGowan,Brown,Page,Lockett, Barrett and White. Who gets them?

Mike Reiss
  (12:17 PM)

Let's break it down, hobomock. I figure Meriweather/Chung/Sanders are locks at safety if they are playing at the level they were last season. I'd put Page and Brown on the roster at this point. That's a stacked spot. Josh Barrett is on the bubble in this scenario.

Nate C (Burlington)

Hi Mike, since you are the 5th Kraft son, do you have any contact information for Mr. Kraft? A mailing address or something? I am extremely displeased with his actions during the lockout and intend to make him aware of it (politely and professionally, of course). Training camp is my favorite part of the season and if it doesn't happen this year I will never forgive him.

Mike Reiss
  (12:17 PM)

Just send it to me Nate and I'll give it to him at dinner tonight.

patsfan83 (los angeles)

Hey mike, love the show, so I'm convinced that if boddens injury checks out, the patriots should have one of the better secondarys in the league, meriweather, sanders and chung, along with mccourty, bodden , dowling and arrington. I understand that there are some question marks at the front seven but we should be fine knowing what we have in the backfield?...am I right or am I over thinking this

Mike Reiss
  (12:18 PM)

I think that's fair, patsfan83. The Patriots have certainly invested a lot of resources in the position. I think if you go back to 2007, no team has picked more safeties/cornerbacks in the first two rounds than the Patriots (6).

Casey (Plymouth, MA)

Mike, I completely agree with you when you say that the Dowling pick in the 2nd round as opposed to a pass rusher will define this year's draft for the Pats. I see it as a vote of confidence in Ty Warren and Mike Wright coming back and providing a rotation of consistency along the D-Line, and as a vote of confidence that Leigh Bodden can return to something close to his pre-injury form. Am I crazy to think that BB is gearing his defense up for a more exotic blitzing scheme? With the secondary getting shored up, can we expect to see Patrick Chung get sent in for more blitzes or play up in the box? I think that was when he was at his strongest, and I wouldn't be surprised to see more blitzes coming from different spots in the secondary as opposed to JUST from a pass rusher we didn't take in the draft...your thoughts?

Mike Reiss
  (12:20 PM)

Casey, this thought brought me back to a conversation with Jerod Mayo from last month. One of the main things Mayo said was that the defense is young and even himself -- entering his fourth season -- is trying to master the challenge of having everyone in the right spot. So I think as you get another year in the system with a bunch of players, it opens up more possibilities for you. It's sort of like the Tom Brady-led offense in 2001 vs. the Tom Brady-led offense in 2004. The Patriots were doing more. So I do think this is possible, depending on how much that extra year helps a lot of the young defenders.

Corky Decker (Destin)

Hi Mike: As this lock out drags on, and on, do you see any change in the media. Are people loosing faith, and interest in the whole mess? What are your thoughts on where this lock out is leading, will there be football in Sept. or even in 2011???

Corky Decker (Destin)

Bruins doing great- taking the edge off...

Mike Reiss
  (12:24 PM)

Doubled you up there, Corky. Agree on Bruins. I am really enjoying watching them as a fan. Growing up in Framingham, Mass. in the 1980s, I used to play street hockey in the driveway and pretend I was the Bruins (Rick Middleton and Co.). So it's neat for me to see this team back in the spotlight. I'm pulling for them and it's nice to be a fan like that. As for the lockout, I definitely think people are losing interest in the whole mess -- media and fans included. I think Robert Kraft nailed it last weekend when he said they're hitting a key point in this whole thing where fans are getting alienated. I do think there will be football in September. I'm an optimist.

Kyle (Cranston, RI)

Mike do you think the Patriots would carry four TE's assuming Lee Smith makes the team? Also, what is the word on Myron Pryor's health. I can't seem to forget about him because of that monster hit that knocked Favre out of the Vikings game last year.

Mike Reiss
  (12:25 PM)

I do think they'd carry four, Kyle. As some of the astute commenters on the Patriots blog on ESPNBoston.com have noted, Aaron Hernandez is almost WR-like. So when you look at it that way, it makes sense that all four -- Crumpler, Gronkowski, Hernandez and Smith -- can stick.

JB (Brighton)

Mike, at which positions will the Pats have to carry more players than usual to reduce the risk of them being snatched off the practice squad? I can't see a guy like TE Lee being safe there. So will they carry 4 TEs, and if so, only 4 RBs? Does that put a guy like Faulk at risk of being cut?

Mike Reiss
  (12:26 PM)

This is a good point, JB. If you keep four at TE, you have to scrape somewhere else and I wouldn't be surprised if it's at RB (4 instead of 5). If that's the case, it would likely put Faulk on the outside looking in from my perspective.

Pete (Vermont)

Do you think the Pats should go after the Jets Shawn Ellis (age 33) or David Harris (age 26) in free agency. If the Pats sign the 2 they would strengthen the Pats while weakening the Jets. Both are high quality players.

Mike Reiss
  (12:27 PM)

Pete, it was Ellis who was a one-man wrecking crew against the Patriots in one game last season. I think he would be the choice of the two because Harris has been assigned the franchise tag, basically putting him off limits.

Barbert Mus (Stockholm)

Ryan Mallet. People are calling him trade bait for 2012. Well if thats the case, what happens to Hoyer? Would he stand for being 3rd choice? Does he disappear for a third and a fifth?

Mike Reiss
  (12:29 PM)

I have confidence in Brian Hoyer based on what I've seen. I wouldn't dismiss him at all. The Patriots will control Hoyer's rights through next season if free-agent rules revert to what they were pre-uncapped year. So he's really the key here. I don't think the Patriots trade Mallett -- assuming he develops as hoped -- unless they know they have Hoyer sticking around. If I'm an NFL team looking for a quarterback, I'd seriously consider Hoyer depending on the price.

Matt (Duxbury)

I personally think the Pats should try and aquire Chad Ochocinco if the price were right. (Mid round pick and he figures to re-work his contract) If BB could get him to keep his mouth closed i think he would become a fan favorite here in no time given his personality. MY thoughts are that both Welker & Branch are in the last years of their contract. Branch has a history of injuries even last year was slowed for a few games bc of them and last year was a year when he was relaitvely healthy. Tate, Edelman

Mike Reiss
  (12:31 PM)

Matt, I haven't seen much of Ochocinco over the last year, so I don't have a good feel of what he might still have to offer. I like what the Patriots have at WR now and would be inclined to stick with that unless an injury alters the picture.

Bob (New Hampshire)

Mike,What do you belive the drop dead date would be to get a full season in. Last year training camp started July 29th. Why couldn't they do this again. Maybe the first preseason camp will be spotty but regulars uasually do not play much anyway. Every one seems to be panicing when it seem we raelly have more than two months to figure this out.

Mike Reiss
  (12:31 PM)

Hadn't really thought of a drop-dead date, Bob. Maybe the last day of August? If it extends that far, they could push the season back a bit, perhaps.

Matt (Duxbury)

Already moving ahead ahead to the 2012 draft. As time moves on in the lockout i can see more and more the reasoning for not addressing the passrush with our top picks given the steep learning curve and loss of OTA's/Minicamps. I still think the Pats should have taken fliers on both Herlzich or Romeus in the later rounds but thats neither here nor there. Given that the Pats wont be picking till the end of the 1st round both with the saints pick and their own. Do you think that this is is the year the Pats should be trading up to take the impact defensive players at OLB. (Donte Paige-Moss, Devin Taylor, Vinny Curry, Andre Branch, Courtney Upshaw) All of them have the physical requirements 6'4+ 250lb. run in the 4.6-4.7range. I would even go as far as to say the Pats should double dip and try to get 2 blue chip players to play on the outside given Tully Banta-Cain's lack of production and high sal. and the uncertainty of wether cunningham or nincovich can become that impact player...Thought??

Mike Reiss
  (12:33 PM)

Matt, part of it will depend on the exact placement of those first-round picks (their own & Saints). At this point, though, I'd say they are probably less inclined to move up based on their recent history. You always have to keep it in consideration, but it's sort of hard to project that right now.

Evan (Warwick, RI)

Who is the best free agent pass rusher would you think would be on the Patriots radar once FA starts?

Mike Reiss
  (12:34 PM)

Not many out there, Evan. Ray Edwards of the Vikings would be a good one, but he won't come cheap.

Evan (Warwick, RI)

Did you see the sweatshirt Bill Belichick was wearing at the past Bruins game? Good thing he knows how to coach because he surely doesn't know how to dress!

Mike Reiss
  (12:34 PM)

One thing about Belichick that I personally appreciate: He is who he is. Nothing phony there.

Branden (Nashua)

Does Markell Carter, being such a late round pick, have the potential to become the OLB we have been looking for? (With the lack of offseason I would have to say by year 2.) What are your thoughts on Carter, what can he do for us, and when you think he will be able to make a significant impact (if at all)?

Mike Reiss
  (12:35 PM)

My first thought, Branden, is that's a big jump from Central Arkansas to the NFL. It's probably not realistic to expect too much right off the bat. I'm personally not expecting much in 2011.

Stephen S (Florida)

What have you heard about the new rookies teaming up with other players to start learning plays etc do you know or aware of any of them going to the workouts the players have been conducting

Mike Reiss
  (12:36 PM)

That's a good one, Stephen. All the rookies, as I understand it, have been in communication with teammates. I'm not sure if they've actually gotten together.

Jeff M (CA)

Mike, I wanted to see if I'm the only one who's puzzled by people's reaction to the drafting of Shane Vereen. Usually Pats fans are pretty educated, but they're way off on this one. They keep comparing him to Kevin Faulk as a 3rd down back. The guy is 5'10", 200+ lbs and can run through people. He can run between the tackles, kick to the outside, catch out of the backfield and is by far the best pass protecting back in the draft...not to mention his record on the bench press at the combine. Can you please tell people to go watch the tape of him ripping people at Cal before declaring him a 3rd down specialist? The guy is the whole package and will end up being the best back in the draft.

Mike Reiss
  (12:37 PM)

Jeff, this reminds me a bit of the Devin McCourty mess from last year, when McCourty was initially labeled as a special teamer in part because Bill Belichick referred to him as a four-down player. To call Vereen a third-down back, in my view, is off the mark. A complete back is more like it.

Brian (CT)

Hi MikeI still like the though of the PATS signing Ricky Williams as a FA RB, is this still an option after BB & the PATS drafted the two young RBs?

Mike Reiss
  (12:38 PM)

I think so, Brian, but based on the numbers currently on the roster, it might be a situation where the Patriots won't extend themselves too far if they get in a bidding war.

Rick (Providence RI)

What are your thoughts on Matt Roth? He could be that Mike Vrabel type free agent pick-up. He played in a 3-4 and has good size.

Mike Reiss
  (12:38 PM)

When you look at the 3-4 OLB candidates on the market, Roth is one of the few who could fit. I've had him on the radar for the Patriots if they're looking to fill out that position.

David (North Attleboro,Ma)

Hi Mike. Ok, so the Patriots didn't draft any of the top rated OLB's in the draft. So one would hope they add one in free agency like Matt Roth, Mathias Kiwanuka, Kamerion Wimbley or even a DE's like Jason Babin , Cullen Jenkins and Ray Edwards. Would the free agent restrictions that might be placed on the Patriots for being to top eight team prohibit them from signing these types of players.

Mike Reiss
  (12:39 PM)

David, the Patriots could be restricted by "Final Eight" rules. This will be something to watch if those rules are adopted. That's why I've leaned toward the idea that no sure-fire answers will be found in free agency and that the draft was the team's best chance to address this area.

Chris (Orlando)

Mike, I know the blog archives have a list of all the OLBs that are potential free agent targets for the Pats, but are there any younger guys we might be able to get as an inexpensive trade pick up that could boost the Pats OLB depth? I was thinking Ricky Sapp maybe from the Eagles, he was mentioned as a first round target for the Pats in several (early) mock drafts last year, wasn't drafted till the 5th round and the Eagles almost cut him. Anyone else out there that might be available but under the radar? Like Vrabel was when we signed him?

Mike Reiss
  (12:40 PM)

You stumped me, Chris. I'll have to look a bit closer to come up with the answer. I remember seeing Sapp last year at the Combine and thought he was a bit small for the Patriots. Along those lines, reminded me of Akeem Ayers from that perspective.

Chris (Annapolis MD)

Hey Mike, which NE running back will have the most touchdowns? Will Ras I Dowling have more interceptions than Jabaal Sheard will have sacks?

Mike Reiss
  (12:41 PM)

I'm sticking with the Law Firm on the TDs -- solid goal-line runner. I'll give Sheard more sacks than Dowling has INTs, in part because he might have more of a chance to make a mark.

Steve Belliveau (Clearwater Fl.)

Are there any franchised players the Pats might pry from thier teams? I understand the price is high but look what Atlanta paid for an unproven reciever.

Mike Reiss
  (12:42 PM)

I don't see the Patriots focusing on any franchise players, Steve, other than their own (Logan Mankins).

Dan (Leominster)

If we don't have NFL football next year, could you please suggest to the big guy that he buy or start a Lingerie Football Team. We need some form of football.Thanks

Mike Reiss
  (12:42 PM)

I'll also mention that over dinner :)

JB (Brighton)

Mike, we keep hearing that guys like Chad Johnson and Steve Smith could be cut. Are either worth the risk? I'd rather see Brady have as many experienced targets as possible and risk that guys like Tate and Price may have less opportunity. As much as the Pats have been rebuilding and stockpiling picks, they also need to take advantage of Brady's window, and I feel better with veteran talent over developing young guys. What do you think?

Mike Reiss
  (12:43 PM)

JB, I like Smith as a 2007-type Randy Moss option. I've seen a bit more of him than Ochocinco of late and believe his lack of production wasn't necessarily because of declining skills but more who was throwing him the ball.

Brady K (Beaver Falls, PA)

I believe that the best way to project how many players at a certain position that will make the final roster out of training camp is to look at recent years. That being said how many cornerbacks do you see making the team out of the gate in an injury free world? How many has made it in past years? I am not ready to give up on Butler. I am a believer that he should be given one more year and see what happens.

Mike Reiss
  (12:44 PM)

Brady, probably looking at 4-5 there, as it ties into the safety spot and some of the flexibility the safeties have.

DJ (Ann Arbor)

Mike, I was surprised about something concerning the Pats draft strategy this year. It seems like they did not think the draft was deep at all -- let alone deep all the way through 70 picks, like some analysts said. We traded out of the first and second rounds, and then tried to trade out of the third before picking Mallet. You've noted that some of what the team did wouldn't make sense unless they thought that nobody was worth the money, especially in the second round. Even the Dowling pick at the top seems to show this, since we've all seen the footage of BB turning down SF's offer of a third rounder (and another next year) to move down to 45. That makes sense given that they knew they could get Vereen at the bottom of the second, trade out of #60, were willing to reach for Ridley in the third, and then tried to get out of the third before rolling the dice on Mallet (which was a good gamble, IMO). In retrospect it looks like even thought the Pats "controlled" the draft to an unprecedented degree, with three picks in each of the first three rounds, they really didn't see much value there. Maybe they tried to move up to get Alton Smith, but according the conventional wisdom, they reached on Dowling, Vereen, and Ridley. (I'm discounting Solder even though he wasn't the second ranked OT, because it sounds like other teams were also downplaying him publicly while hoping he'd drop to them.) Do you think it's reasonable to conclude that BB didn't like the value in this draft much, at least after the top half of the first round? With so many early picks we could have traded up any number of times, but -- except for a rumor about moving into the top 10, presumably for Smith -- there doesn't seem to be any buzz that BB and co. seriously considered it.

Mike Reiss
  (12:45 PM)

Whoa DJ. That is a long submission. Appreciate the thought here. I think there is some validity to what you wrote in terms of Belichick's view of value in this draft based on the opportunities available to them.

Sean (Boston)

Mike would you agree that the Pats have to find ways to get Edelman on the field more next season? I kept wondering where he was in the playoff loss and then he almost returned the punt for a TD.

Mike Reiss
  (12:47 PM)

I don't feel overly strong about it, Sean, based on the player in front of him (Welker). I like Edelman in the punt return game and as a developing Welker-type option, but if it means taking Welker off the field, I'm a bit reluctant to go there. If you put them both on the field, the question then becomes 'Do you have too much of the same thing?'

Eric (MA)

I thought Brace made some good contributions last year - I expect him to get better next season as long as he's healthy. I would give him a long leash for 2 reasons, he's been injured which has slowed his progression and you can't teach size. He's big and bad so I'd give the extra time to progress

Mike Reiss
  (12:47 PM)

Seconded, Eric.

mike noonan (mass)

is matt light on the way out if so where does he end up

Mike Reiss
  (12:47 PM)

I've been targeting Kansas City for Light. Makes sense on a number of levels.

rich germano (lynn mass)

would tommy harris be a good fit for the pats

Mike Reiss
  (12:48 PM)

That would be a major system change for Harris. I don't see his skills, and where he is at this point of his career, as a natural fit for what the Patriots traditionally do.

Branden (Nashua)

You have mentioned you do not expect the Pats to be a run heavy team even with the recent addittions. I agree to a point but I believe within the next couple years we could be leaning towards a philosophy similar to the Broncos when they had TD and Elway. This allowed Elway a few more years in the league and a couple of rings. Thoughts?

Mike Reiss
  (12:49 PM)

I could see that, Branden, once we see tangible signs of Brady slowing down. I don't see those yet, though.

Dan (Maryland)

Mike how do you keep yourself busy (like normal times) when there is virtually nothing go on?

Mike Reiss
  (12:52 PM)

Work-wise, there always seems like there's something to do Dan. My preference is to write Patriots/football, but I've also pinch-hit on some other stuff (Red Sox). But over the next few days, for example, I'll be at Wes Welker's football camp Saturday and Joe Andruzzi's charity golf tournament on Monday. So there is some stuff to cover football-wise. One thing I told a family member this morning is my thought that none of us in this profession are bigger than the product. Without the NFL, I don't think too many people are coming here, or to places where other football writers produce work. We need that product and that's what makes this time sort of depressing from this perspective.

Clark (Muncie,IN)

Mike how come I never see the Thursday chat lead in question on the website? And I go to the "Drew Bledoe Night" game (SD?) To see Tom and Drew on the same trip would be outstanding!

Mike Reiss
  (12:52 PM)

I thought it should have been there on the blog, Clark. Good choice on the home opener.

Eric (MA)

My hope is that the Patriots cut the fat on the line, release undersized lineman like Orhnberger and Wendell. In my opinion, lineman should be 300 lbs +, not under - especially with DTs that are coming in 330 lb ... That's why I love the Cannon and Solder picks. Get big.

Mike Reiss
  (12:55 PM)

Big can be better, Eric, but not always. One story that comes to mind along these lines was when the Patriots were visiting Arizona at the start of the 2004 season. Bill Belichick kept talking about how big the Cardinals line was in the week leading up to the game, and you would have thought that no one was going to have any success against such a big front. But the Patriots did. I don't disagree with you, but at the same time, I don't want to give up on Ohrnberger and Wendell just yet.

P(aul) the Patriot (St. Catharines)

Hey Mike,If this season ever gets off...whats the deal with all these later games? Its hard enough to get a bunch of guys together for a 1 o'clock game...

Mike Reiss
  (12:55 PM)

Tough one on the lack of 1 p.m. games. Considering it flattering to the team you follow, though, as part of the reason there are so many 4:15s and 8s is because of the appeal the Patriots have.

Eric (MA)

The development of Spikes and Cunningham are the key to next year - if they progress then this defense will be fine. I'm intrigued by Carter... but I don't think he'll be a factor this year. Too much of a learning curve.

coz (lynn)

seeing that there isnt a agreement yet. how will the rookies get judged into who makes the " big"squad and who goes to the pratice squad?

Mike Reiss
  (12:56 PM)

It's going to be tight, coz. But they'll have to make a strong first impression. There won't be as much of a window to impress. More than anyone, perhaps, it probably hurts the rookie free agents.

Chewbacca (At Work)

We need to see some revenge on the Jets. How isn't that the most obvious answer?

Brian (Silicon Valley, CA)

I see three games that stand out. The Monday night in Miami as summer in Miami seems fun and Monday night games are also special.For the best actual game though, it would be between the game in Pittsburgh and Indianapolis. Both are going to be tough, tough games. I would lean towards being with the home crowd and seeing Peyton Manning over seeing the AFC Champions.

Louis (NYC)

Gillette is my least favorite stadium to go to - so prob at the Jets. Rivalry is awesome, trip isn't that far, and Rex might bring me some freakin snacks...

Mike Reiss
  (12:57 PM)

Had a few more answers on the "What game would you most like to attend this year?" and wanted to get those in...

wally (canada)

Mike, i wonder y nfl analysts always question bellicheck's decissions? hasnt his track record proved eeryone wrong, for one thing i think the focus on offensive players in this year's draft was the right decision by the team our offense needs to get younger so we can still have a sucessful team for years to come

Mike Reiss
  (12:57 PM)

Wally, I think Belichick's track record is solid. It warrants respect. At the same time, even he admits he's not right all the time.

Sam (NC)

Do you think the Patriots could go after Mathias Kiwanuka? A guy with the versatility to play SLB or DE in a 4-3 would seem to have a 3-4 OLB skill set, and Belichick loves that kind of versatility.

Mike Reiss
  (12:58 PM)

Sam, it makes sense, but there is one major hurdle that I think will eliminate Kiwanuka. If he's a restricted free agent, I don't see the Patriots giving up draft-pick compensation and a contract to try to sign him away from the Giants.

MarkP (Jersey)

Everyone seems to be thinking that we are going to be moving towards a run heavy offense. I dont see it that way, I see us moving towards a more efficient run game, which will set up play action passes, both down the field and in the screen game. Maybe people do not like the names of the backs we got, but how can you not like fresh young legs over the pairs of 30+ legs weve been relying on the last couple of seasons. A successfull efficient run game will make a world of difference for the passing game, protection of brady and clock movement. Agree or disagree?

Mike Reiss
  (12:58 PM)

I like that thought, MarkP.

Mike Reiss
  (12:59 PM)

Let's go for another 5...

David (North Attleboro,Ma)

Belichick is already saying that the play book might have to be reduced if the lockout continues.When do you think the lockout will hurt the quality of play on the field?

Mike Reiss
  (12:59 PM)

David, I think we could see quality if play affected. One clarification on this Belichick thought is that the Patriots playbook will remain thick, I would imagine, but what they work on will probably be condensed.

KTP (Henderson, NV)

Mike - What do think the reaction will be if football is not being played on 9/11. PR nightmare right?

Mike Reiss
  (1:00 PM)

Absolutely.

John F (Walpole, Ma)

Interestig point on the number of D Backs the Pats have drafted. is that becasue DB's can play special teams and therefore have more value if they grade out equal with other positions?

Mike Reiss
  (1:00 PM)

John, I think it's probably most reflective of the best players the Patriots had on their board at that time.

Scott (Maine)

Mike, I was crushed when Moss left, and crushed when the Titans snagged him off waivers. What are the chances that im crushed the Pats dont resign him, or worse... crushed if the... GULP.... Jets sign him?

Mike Reiss
  (1:01 PM)

I could Moss landing with the Jets. That would be a Jets-type move in my view.

Jack (Denton, TX)

What's your take on Justin Houston as a pass rusher, and do you think the Patriots considered him when they picked Vareen in round 2?

Mike Reiss
  (1:02 PM)

Jack, I wasn't a big Houston believer, primarily based on information I heard from scouts. They said some games he looked like a first-rounder. Then the next few games he's look like a seventh-rounder. Too on and off for the Patriots' taste that early.

Paul (DC)

Mike, with both Meriweather and Sanders in their contract year do you think BB would listen for trade offers and be willing to give up one of the two? Like you just said in a preview question, our safety spot is pretty deep and we now have the corners to play nickel (with 3CBs) instead of big nickel (with 3 safeties). I also remember McGowan shutting down opposing TEs in 2009 and would welcome him back.

Mike Reiss
  (1:02 PM)

I could see it, Paul, but am not expecting it.

Grasso (At Work)

Hi Mike, this is a 2 parter:How many kickoff returns will Dan Connolly bring back for a TD?And do you see Dan getting any time as a punt returner?

Mike Reiss
  (1:03 PM)

Awesome. Let's end on this laugh. I'll go through the rest of the submissions and see if there are any more on the "Which game would you like to attend?" question. ...

Mike Reiss
  (1:03 PM)

... On Connolly, I understand that Bill Belichick and Scott O'Brien are hoping to capitalize on Connolly's big return against the Packers and have some new schemes drawn up to tap into that unique combination of size, power and speed of Connolly in the return game.

JC (Chatham)

Mike, Just to help you out so that you don't feel left out, all of your fans here are starting a petition to have ESPN send you to climb Kilimanjaro. After all, with the lockout, there's probably not that much for you to do. Be safe. BTW Is there any way that you can convince Bob Kraft to meet with some player reps and settle this thing once an for all?

Mike Reiss
  (1:04 PM)

Love it!

James (DC)

Mike, great work here and need some advice. I need to put a deposit down on a suite for the Pats/Skins game here this fall. It's a non-refundable $5000...is it worth the risk?

Mike Reiss
  (1:06 PM)

Tough one, James, as I'd hate to cost you $5,000. I can only speak for myself, and I'm a bit more conservative on that stuff. Even though I believe we'll have a season, I would hold on to my 5k just until I had more of a sure answer.

Scott (NH)

Mike, im really from maine but everytime i post you ignore. Yes we are far north, pick potatoes, and lack teeth, but we are pats fans too. Anyways... Randy Moss. Back to the Pats? Sign with the Jets? (please say no way) Should the pats even look into re-signing him?

Mike Reiss
  (1:08 PM)

Hi Scott. There are a lot of posts and it's near impossible to get to them all. Headed to NH and Maine this summer for vacation. We love it up there. ... Don't see Moss back to Pats.

Mike Reiss
  (1:09 PM)

Great stuff by all. Appreciate everyone's participation. I'm going to dip back into the chat and answer some questions in the blog the next few days.