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August 25, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with Mike Reiss

Mike Reiss
  (12:00 PM)

Good afternoon. Thanks for joining today's chat. Quick test and then we begin.

Mike Reiss
  (12:03 PM)

Here at Gillette Stadium in the media workroom. We heard from Bill Belichick this morning (10 a.m.), got a quick glimpse of practice at 11:15 a.m., and the locker room should be open at 1:15.

Mike Reiss
  (12:03 PM)

Provides the perfect window to chat at our regular time at noon.

Mike Reiss
  (12:04 PM)

Let's roll...

Brandon (Andover, MA)

Whats the starting D Line going to look like Game 1? I'm thinking Haynesworth, Wilfork, Carter, Ellis...Assuming we go 4-3

Mike Reiss
  (12:05 PM)

Brandon, I think we'll see something like this: LDE Eric Moore/Shaun Ellis; DT Vince Wilfork; DT Albert Haynesworth; RDE Andre Carter. On Eric Moore, you have to appreciate his attitude. He is living out of a hotel until he makes the team. Doesn't want to jinx it even though he's taken most of the first-team reps.

MarkJ (Japan)

Mike, I am not an Indy hater, but Indy signing Kerry Collins after preseason week 2 is more than a surprise. We sort of take it granted that the Pats have a good backup QB behind Brady (ranging from Testaverde to Flutie :), but this could be a rare case in the NFL. Bill Polian should have learned from the superb season of the Pats with Cassel in 2008.

Mike Reiss
  (12:07 PM)

I agree, MarkJ. The Patriots haven't always hit on their backup QB evaluations (e.g. Kevin O'Connell), but I give them credit for their overall approach at the position. You don't have a QB, you don't have much of a chance. Imagine if this was happening in New England. I would think the media would be blowing it up. Seems like Indy, in a smaller market, gets more of a free pass in that regard.

Ephron Catlin (Bass Harbor, Maine)

What is involved when the Patriots "work out" a player? Other than a medical evaluation and an interview, I would think it would be very difficult to make an assessment without complementary players on the field as well so they can be tested against a known quantity. Obviously, they cannot do that so how do they learn more than they can just see on film?

Mike Reiss
  (12:08 PM)

Ephron, it's similar to what you might see at the NFL combine, as I understand it. Lot of agility work etc... Just trying to get as good of a feel for the player as possible given the circumstances.

DJ (Ann Arbor)

Hi Mike! I'm going to be at the Pats-Lions game Saturday, it's nationally televised, and it's the traditionally most important third preseason game. What are you going to be looking for specifically in this game? Also, what do you think the Pats will do with both MLBs out (Spikes and Fletcher)? Do we have to move Mayo there even though he's been dominant at Will?

Mike Reiss
  (12:09 PM)

DJ, you are one of the regulars here and maybe we can bump into each other and say hello. What I am looking for, outside of a clean bill of health: 1) Interior pass protection against Suh; 2) Continued pressure on defense; 3) Does Gostkowski take kickoffs for the first time; 4) Safety rotation with Meriweather. At MLB, expecting to see Guyton there with Spikes and Fletcher out.

corky decker (destin fl.)

Hi Mike:Mike Wright what is his injury, has it to do with last seasons head trama? He is very underrated and such a powerful inside force, I'd hate for the Pats and the game loose him...

Mike Reiss
  (12:10 PM)

Corky, your timing is impeccable. Belichick was asked about Wright tihs morning and said his current status is not related to what he went through last year. I thought that was significant.

Campbell (Detroit, MI)

Mike - As a Pats fan in exile here in Detroit, I'm psyched to see this weekend's pre season game. Do you have any suggestions on times I could see players before the game (pre-game stretching, etc) or even possible autograph availability? Any general tips on timelines at these games and things to see/do before/during/after? Thanks!

Mike Reiss
  (12:11 PM)

Campbell, some fans wait outside the team hotel for autographs. The team doesn't release that information, however, so you might have to put on your detective's hat. Once they get to Ford Field, I'd think all those opportunities are probably gone.

Stuart (Cape)

Can we take it as gospel that the pats "bend don't break" system on defence is now a thing of the past?

Mike Reiss
  (12:12 PM)

Stuart, I wouldn't be surprised to see a little of it this week. I still think it's in the overall package, but believe we'll see more attacking this year.

Tommy (Albany,NY)

Hey Mike. With Leigh Bodden getting a good amount of reps as a slot corner, does that give Ras-I Dowling a chance to start opposite McCourty?

Mike Reiss
  (12:12 PM)

In theory, yes, Tommy, but right now he has a ways to go to beat out Kyle Arrington in that scenario.

John (Manchester, NH)

Mike, think the Giants might be putting a call into the Pats sniffing around our CBs? Looks like they could use a few.

Mike Reiss
  (12:13 PM)

John, to me the corners who might be trade material are Butler and Wilhite, and you're probably only looking at a seventh-rounder/conditional-type pick. But with a lot of teams looking for corners, it wouldn't surprise me if there was some general interest there.

Josh (Philly)

Mike - with roster cuts coming up soon, how many RBs can the Pats legitimately keep? Are Ridley or Vereen in trouble? Or can we expect them to get some run this year?

Mike Reiss
  (12:14 PM)

Josh, lock it in -- those two will be on the club in my opinion. Never a question in my view. And I think they both get run on 46-man game-day roster.

Daniel (District Heights, MD)

Hey Mike, I'm not sure it will happen. But should Chad not click with Tom and the offense, What will happen with him in your opinion. I don't see Bill cutting him, that's for sure.

Mike Reiss
  (12:15 PM)

Daniel, I think they would cut him if they get to the point where they just don't think it would work. I don't see that happening, but should it, they are a team that generally cuts its losses and moves on (e.g. Joey Galloway, Duane Starks etc...).

Nick (MN)

Any word on where Ochocinco is staying? By the way I heard you had an extra room!

Mike Reiss
  (12:16 PM)

Nick, that idea was shot down by Mrs. Reiss. Plus, we don't have Xbox. Ochocinco said earlier this week he hasn't decided yet. Seriously.

Chizm (Gamhenge)

Mike, everyone is talking about the pass rush being improved through our free agent signings. Who do you see making the biggest impact in our 3rd down situations where we need to get to the quarterback?

Mike Reiss
  (12:16 PM)

Andre Carter and Mark Anderson, attacking from both end spots, would be good choices. But I think you also look at keeping the DTs on the field, so Haynesworth would be a factor too.

Steve (Boston)

I like what I saw from Taylor Price in the first preseason game, but I'm afraid he won't have a chance to break through on the depth chart. What do you think?

Mike Reiss
  (12:17 PM)

Steve, this is the point I made when the Patriots traded for Ochocinco. To me, it was a sign that the club didn't feel Price was ready to break through yet. It can stunt his development, but to his credit, it seems like it's only made him better. I think Price is on the club and will continue to try to earn the trust of Tom Brady.

Shane Vereen (Foxboro)

What is my injury again? Bill Billicheck won't tell me. I just watched a highlight film of me on you tube, and I look like Barry Sanders in some ways. Any update on my injury status?

Mike Reiss
  (12:18 PM)

Hamstring. You pulled up in your second practice, Shane. Nice to see you return to the field Wednesday. You look fast to me.

Peter (Nashua, NH)

Hey Mike, who is your favorite Pats player to be around? Who is the quote-on-quote "Class clown" of the group?

Mike Reiss
  (12:20 PM)

Peter, the Patriots generally have a bunch of players who are pleasant to be around in the time we are in the locker room. I don't spend time with them outside of that. It's strictly business. I like to watch the players grow in the system, and with that in mind, Rob Ninkovich is someone I've particularly enjoyed getting to know and watch evolve here. Seems like a nice guy. As for the class clown, I think most would agree that Rob Gronkowski likes to have a good time. Funny guy, it seems.

Senor Ochocinco (Practice field)

Mike,Are my funny tweets becoming a distraction to the other players?

Mike Reiss
  (12:21 PM)

I don't see it, Ochocinco. Think you are good right now. The key is what players see inside the facility and by all accounts you are working your tail off.

Paul (Northboro, MA)

Any rumblings about a possible safety signing? The combination of Meriweather and Brown isn't exactly comforting at the moment.

Mike Reiss
  (12:22 PM)

Paul, they got a little depth back there with the return of James Sanders and Josh Barrett this week, as well as the signing of James Ihedigbo. I think they'll be OK without a signing, but keep an eye on Meriweather. As Greg A. Bedard of the Boston Globe previously reported, the coaches are trying to light a fire under him. We'll see if it works.

Mike (Gloucester, MA)

Do you see Dane Fletcher taking over at any point for Guyton? I've seen a ton of progress in this kid and think he's a major impact player

Mike Reiss
  (12:22 PM)

Yes, Mike, I believe he's ahead of him on the depth chart right now.

Nick (Boston)

Belichick's new conferences are the worst. He never provides anything but the most broad and bland answers. I'd be interested to hear his thoughts about the history/evolution of the game, coaching theory generally, how to motivate, old war stories, etc. What are your thoughts on asking some of those types of general questions at the next new conference? Maybe I'm alone on this, but maybe if we ask general questions (in addition to the typical ones) we could glean greater insight into the mind of Belichick, no?

Mike Reiss
  (12:24 PM)

Nick, I think those questions get asked at times. I also think Belichick's news conferences are better than advertised. I often learn a lot listening to him. Today, for example, I learned that Mike Wright's injury this year isn't related to last year's concussion. I thought that was signficant.

Jim ("Work")

Hi Mike. I was thinking about the Albert Haynesworth situation and it got me wondering: Do you think BB intentionally waited until after the 2nd preseason game, when the media would no longer have access to full practices, to let him practice? Perhaps he was trying to disguise his intentions for the big man.

Mike Reiss
  (12:25 PM)

Jim, I don't see it. Haynesworth, as I understand it, was just going through a standard process with his knee. It's something he's done in recent years, but with the lockout, it was delayed.

DJ (Ann Arbor)

The season is around the corner; time for an early retrospective on the Pats 2011 draft. We were all disappointed that they didn't draft for pass rush, but it looks like there was a plan all along -- at least for the short term. (Which is what the biggest complainers were worried about: the Brady window closing, etc.) It's early, but Solder looks like a great addition, Mallett like a steal, Ridley not a reach, either Smith or Yeatman (RFA) will make the team, and Cannon seems like a good gamble. Plus, we traded to get an extra first and second round pick next year. So how well do Dowling and Vereen have to do this year to make you think this was a second straight excellent draft for the Pats?

Mike Reiss
  (12:25 PM)

Some early promising signs, DJ, but I say we give it more time.

Nissim (Caracas, Venezuela)

Hey Mike, are you considering changing the name of your "Reiss' PAT" video segment after BB's comments about eliminating the point-after??? Talking seriously, do you think BB has the influence to trigger such changes?

Mike Reiss
  (12:25 PM)

:)

Mike Reiss
  (12:26 PM)

I actually wanted to change the name, but was denied this year. Maybe next year.

Foster (Boston)

What's going on with Spikes? Surprise cut? Nagging injury?

Mike Reiss
  (12:26 PM)

Nagging injury. I suspect high ankle sprain, but that is just a guess. Was bringing it early in camp.

bill (portsmouth)

Hi Mike...How do you see the running back situation? I would think Vereen is pretty far behind the others at this point. Will he contribute? Is there room for either Kevin Faulk or Sammy Morris on this team?

Mike Reiss
  (12:27 PM)

Bill, I see four on the roster: 1) Green-Ellis; 2) Woodhead; 3) Vereen; 4) Ridley. Then I put Faulk on PUP and have Richard Medlin on the practice squad if he clears waivers.

mjcgpbTom (NH)

Hi Mike, could you please help resolve an ongoing discussion for my buddies and I: when a player comes in for a "workout", what exactly does that mean? Is it something different from player to player? While some of my friends are convinced that it's more of a "schmoozing" for the player to "kiss up" to the coaches based on who they are, I maintain that it doesn't necessarily matter who the player is, rather it's an opportunity for the player to catch balls, run, do some positional drills, etc to demonstrate their talents as they relate to what the team is looking for. Thanks for your input on this ongoing debate!

Mike Reiss
  (12:27 PM)

You are both right. Interview plus workout. Hope that helps.

Jacob (Sarnia, Ontario)

Mike, throughout your entire time following the Patriot's, who is the classiest player you have come across?

Mike Reiss
  (12:28 PM)

I'd like to think about this one a little more, Jacob, but Richard Seymour was one who came to mind.

Hans (Medway)

Mike, my question today is this: will Shaun Ellis and/or Andre Carter be better (and healthier) at their age (32-33) than Ty Warren would have been? I still wonder exactly why Warren was cut, and whether something went wrong between him

Mike Reiss
  (12:29 PM)

Hans, I say yes. As I understand it, Warren wasn't in great condition when he came back to camp this year.

captain bruschi (North Attleboro)

Mike, great stuff as always! I wanted to make a point as it pertains to the Colts, while also briefly reflecting on the Patriots' '08 season: The Patriots proved that when their starter went down (God forbid!) they were extremely resilient, with Cassel doing a very servicable job that year. The team's record was 11-5, missing the playoffs but being the first to have such a record and not make the playoffs since the 85 Broncos. Now that the Colts are in a similar situation, I find it to be a huge compliment to a team like the Patriots that the Colts rely on ONE man to take them to the promised land, whereas New England really does embrace and encompass a TEAM identity. If Manning had gone down at any point in his career / during a game, the Colts would have been toast! Your thoughts?

Mike Reiss
  (12:30 PM)

If Manning can't go, this will be a fascinating thing to watch, Captain Bru. I think we've all asked the question, "How much of the Colts' success was tied to Manning?" I don't think we have the answer yet. Let's file it under TBD.

bill (portsmouth)

Mike...evacuating for Hurricane Irene might be a good idea....but Detroit???

Mike Reiss
  (12:30 PM)

Hoping everyone stays safe. Hoping we make it home. Almost asked Belichick today if he had any extra room for media members on the charter home, but I think I already knew the answer :)

jack (medford)

Hey Mike, Does Bob Kraft or Jonathan Kraft watch the practices. I wish them best wishes for what they have done for us(the fans).

Mike Reiss
  (12:31 PM)

Yes, Jack, they often are at practice.

Blake (Washington DC)

Can you remember the last time the Pats had the problem of too many good players? I sit here thinking of questions and I realize that it all stems from who will make this juggernaut of a team. I know it's very un-belichikian, but 19-0, come on totally possible, right?

Mike Reiss
  (12:32 PM)

Blake, I think that's too optimistic. To me, that was once in a lifetime. Also, the ups and downs of the season, and injuries, are so hard to project.

Rob (Southern CA)

Mike, does it look like Belichick's put on a little weight to you? My theory: after losing in the post season in back to back seasons, BB has become Cpt. Ahab. I have an image of him spending unheard of hours in the film room during the lockout, eating fritos. What say you?

Mike Reiss
  (12:32 PM)

You made me laugh, Rob. I don't see a difference. He is still running sprints at the end of practice.

Tim (Newton, MA)

Mike, is Ron Brace on the edge of the cliff? He's consistantly hurt, shows very little when he's not, and with all of the DL signings, seems like it's close to the end for Brace...

Mike Reiss
  (12:33 PM)

Tim, I view Brace as an easy one -- start him on resevre/PUP and see where things stand after Week 6. Too early to give up on him in my view. I'd like to see him at DT in the 4-3, which is what he did at Boston College.

Bill B. (Foxborough)

I don't have a problem with people having to read between the lines to find the answers they are looking for at my press conferences. If you listen carefully, I am pretty open with answers to reporters' questions. Next question...

Mike Reiss
  (12:33 PM)

Thanks Bill. Have you put on weight?

Darrell ((Texas))

Hey Mike, what are your thoughts on Brandon Tate? will he be on the final roster?

Mike Reiss
  (12:33 PM)

Darrell, I'm going with a yes, but don't feel confident about it.

Matt (CA)

Hi Mike, does James Sanders' return in your view shore up that safety position, or is it still a concern? Relatedly, is Chung still running as our free safety, and if so what is the reason? He seems much more natural as the strong safety.

Mike Reiss
  (12:35 PM)

Matt, I believe it does. Sanders, to me, is exactly what this defense needs -- steady veteran to settle things down. The Patriots don't always play traditional "free" and "strong" roles, but I know what you are saying -- I like Chung closer to the mix than playing deeper.

Justin (New York via Sharon)

Hey Mike! I'm not sure if you're big on the fantasy football, but of all the weapons Brady has at his disposal, if you had to pick one receiver/TE to get the most TD's, who would it be?

Mike Reiss
  (12:35 PM)

Justin, I'm not a big fantasy guy at all. I like Ochocinco, Gronkowski and Hernandez as the top TD guys this year. Welker for top receptions.

Jon (Seattle)

Ty Warren's surprising release now looks to be another stroke of genius by BB. Just wondering if there was any sort of trade market for Ty since so many teams have switched to the 3-4. Was Oakland interested in another of NE's aging DEs? Same question for LeVoir who quickly caught on with BALT.Is there any trade buzz about Merriweather who appears to be on the outs with BB and is entering his contract year? I'd be shocked if they resign him to what he's going to command on the free market because of his 2 pro bowls. Can't they groom Bodden to be FS as he gets older and leave the starting CB rotation to McCourty, Arrington (who held his own last year), and Ras-I if he can stay healthy?Thanks Mike!

Mike Reiss
  (12:37 PM)

On Warren, I think the Chiefs and Texans were in it, too. I assume the Patriots reached out to see if they could get something, but the teams weren't willing to give anything up. Ditto on LeVoir, who had about eight teams calling him right after his release. As for Meriweather, I'm keeping my eyes open. Wouldn't shock me if he's dealt.

Nick (Boston)

Now that we have addressed the anemic pass rush, (or so it seems), I'm struggling to identify a hole on this team. I can't remember a Patriots team that was this stacked, can you?

Mike Reiss
  (12:38 PM)

Nick, let's keep an eye on the center and right guard spots Saturday and revisit this. That would be one area I might have some questions. LB a bit of a concern too with some injuries hitting. It looks like a deep team.

Jesse (Cape Cod)

Hey Mike, it is 5 days away from first cuts who is out? Do you expect any surprises? PS. Is it me or does Yeatman remind you of Rod Rutledge? (blast from the past)

Mike Reiss
  (12:39 PM)

Jesse, when you mention Rod Rutledge, it reminds me of one of the great lines that former colleague Tom E. Curran once said. "He has hands like feet." Rutledge had some trouble catching the ball. I think Yeatman looks pretty good in that area. I'm putting Yeatman on the squad in this week's projection.

Aaron (Manhattan)

Mike, I drafted BJGE in my fantasy league as my #2 RB thinking that he will continue to get touches with the first team offense and near the goal line. What are your thoughts on his production this year? I know there are rookies behind him but he is a productive runner who hardly ever fumbles (i.e. reliable or the anti-Maroney).

Mike Reiss
  (12:39 PM)

I agree with that line of thinking, Aaron.

Kyle (Cranston, RI)

Mike, based on your observations throughout preseason so far can you rank each unit on the team in terms of strongest to weakest based on performance and depth (ie. receivers, RBs, O-line, d-line, etc.)?

Mike Reiss
  (12:39 PM)

Kyle, I might try to do that in a blog entry. Good idea. Would want some time to think about it.

Ravi (Cambridge, MA)

Mike, I'm tired of all the talking heads on NFL Live saying what a great pick-up Plaxico Burress has been. From what I've seen so far, he'll be battling injuries all year. Is it not clear that Ochocinco will be a much more productive player this season?

Mike Reiss
  (12:40 PM)

Ravi, I think we can debate it. Based on what I saw, I would have to say it looks like Burress' initial entry has been a bit smoother than Ochocinco's from an on-field perspective (not including injuries). Part of that might be that the Patriots' offense is more complex.

Carl Goodrich (Maine)

Hi Mike! There is always lots of talk about who plays in the base defense, but as you often mention the team played about half its defensive snaps in sub packages last year. My question is this: its 3rd and 8 with the game on the line, the offensive package calls for a 4-2-5 nickel, who do you expect to see on the field? Are Mayo and Guyton a given at LB? Who is the 5th DB, and given the depth do you expect it to be a corner 95% of the time?

Mike Reiss
  (12:42 PM)

Awesome Carl. This really gets down to the nitty gritty and I love it. DE Anderson/DT Wilfork/DT Haynesworth/DE A. Carter; LB Mayo/LB Fletcher; CB McCourty/CB Bodden/CB Arrington; S Chung/S Sanders. I left Meriweather out for now, just because I'm not sure where that's headed. Fletcher over Guyton the only tough call.

Mike Reiss
  (12:42 PM)

On the third DB, all game-plan related. Thinking CB, though, most of the time.

Jocko (Somerville)

Mr.Mike, Do you think that D Butler has improved from last year? Is L Bodden injury a concern? With the pressure the D-line will generate,the lack of LB depth,would you say the safeties will be counted on more or less?

Mike Reiss
  (12:43 PM)

Jocko, I don't think the consistency is where it needs to be for Butler, but I think he's shown enough to stick around. Bodden injury a concern to me, although Belichick said earlier this week that "he's healthy" and I thought that was telling. Don't see much of a change from a safety perspective.

Jack (MA)

How do you feel about Ras-I Dowling? I know he recently began practicing with the team. The Patriots have not had much success picking corners in the second round notably Terrence Wheatley and Darius Butler. After seeing him practice with the team do you feel he has potential? Also what is the likelihood that we see him in tonight's game?

Mike Reiss
  (12:46 PM)

Jack, we only saw about 10 minutes of practice, when players were stretching. Tough to tell much from that. Dowling looks the part. I think there is a good chance he plays Saturday night.

Nick (Denver)

Mike, any chance of the Pats using Matt Light at RG? Seems like this way would get their 5 best OL on the field

Mike Reiss
  (12:46 PM)

I think Light is solely a LT at this point. Solder at RG a possibility.

Quotesfromthe6 (Dallas)

I see Wright being cut with Pryor filling in his role. Thoughts about Pryor's role this season and possibly being a younger and cheaper replacement?

Mike Reiss
  (12:46 PM)

Have considered it, with Wright. Have to start to wonder if coaches feel they can count on him. Right now, though, I'm keeping him on the roster.

Andy (Lowell)

Mike, where does someone like a Julian Edelman fit in right now? I saw they were getting him involved in the return game but it seems like he's a victim of a deep talent pool at WR. To a lesser extent what is Branch's role now?

Mike Reiss
  (12:47 PM)

Andy, I see Edelman as the primary backup to Welker and top punt returner. He should be active on the 46-man game-day roster.

Mark (SF, CA)

Mike, seems like BB has been keeping it pretty vanilla with the defensive front looks so far. Have you seen/heard anything to indicate they may start getting more exotic when the season gets here? Will we see the one down lineman UFO defense this year? What about 2-4-5 or 3-3-5 or 3-2-6 looks or some other crazy combinations considering the depth they have on the defensive roster?

Mike Reiss
  (12:47 PM)

I think we can expect to see a lot of different things Mark. One player was telling me yesterday this playbook/scheme is extremely diverse, which is no surprise.

John (Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia)

Mike, How long before we hear Gil Santos say " Vereen tap dances around the right side into the end zone..."

Mike Reiss
  (12:48 PM)

I'm thinking positively and I'll say, Saturday night.

Alex (Burlington)

Hey Mike, I'm very interested in how the WR depth is going to shake out. I really like Tate as a returner but his value is somewhat negated. It will be tough for Edelman and Price to get touches with the 3 WR's ahead of them but I really like their talent...especially Edelman's versatility. How much contributions do you expect from the WRs besides Ocho, Wes and Branch?

Mike Reiss
  (12:49 PM)

Alex, I think the kickoff topic is real, but also a bit overstated in the sense that we're still going to have returns. So I'm not ready to give up on Tate yet. He's also important depth for the future in my view, as Welker and Branch are in the last years of their deals. So I look at the 4,5 and 6 spots as good insurance this year but players who could emerge in 2012 and beyond.

Devan (Emmanuel College, Boston)

I struggle to understand how some people can get multiple questions answered and many of us don't get the honor of having one

Mike Reiss
  (12:50 PM)

Devan, my apologies. It's rapid fire and sometimes I don't even look at who's asking. It's not like I go through and say, "I'm going to answer 5 from DJ and none from Devan." Sometimes I don't know the answer to a question, so I don't pick it. Also, there are several hundred questions in the hopper. Impossible to get to them all. Thanks for the understanding.

Jake the Snake (Stone Mountain, Georgia)

How far into the game can we expect to see the 1st stringers go Saturday night?

Mike Reiss
  (12:51 PM)

Jake the Snake, if I'm Bill Belichick, my worry is that Brady might get a "DDT" from Ndamukong Suh. Just kidding. If the past is any indication, they will go into the third quarter.

_bb (originally Hungary)

Hi Mike! Two things. 1. I already hear voices from fellow fans that Cunningham shows signs of a bust, but I think it is way too early to say this, although his performance has not been too impressive this preseason (no offseason though, plus role change(?)). What is your assessment? 2. Come final roster cutdown, do you think there will be a short vs. longterm interest controversy regarding the D line position?

Mike Reiss
  (12:52 PM)

Too early on Cunningham, in my view. Way too early. On the d-line, some good players are going to get cut/traded. There is always that short- vs. long-term pull.

Mike Wright (Foxboro)

Why can't I be placed on PUP as a DL in waiting the way Brace and Deaderick have been?

Mike Reiss
  (12:52 PM)

Mike, that's simply because you already practiced. Once you practice, you can't be placed on that PUP list.

Doug (Brooklyn, NY)

have the pats tried to develop hernandez' blocking skills? or is he a glorified WR in our system forever?

Mike Reiss
  (12:53 PM)

Absolutely, Doug. I was impressed with his blocking work last Thursday. Lined up next to Solder and had a good block on Woodhead's 29-yard run. I've seen strides there.

Daniel (District Heights, MD)

Mike, I think it is going to take a little while for this team to click. But on the whole its the playoffs that the Patriots need to prove themselves that really matter. What are your thoughts on that?

Mike Reiss
  (12:53 PM)

Agree Daniel. They've set the bar high. Some teams would simply be happy to make the playoffs.

warren b (omaha)

You guys in NE have had/will have Blizzards, tornados, earthquakes, hurricanes and BB and Ryan exhanging compliments...cue the locusts becuase the end is near.

Joseph King (Andover)

Hi Mike,Does it speak to the team depth of the Pats that one of their roster cuts (Levoir) is taking first team reps with the Ravens? And the Ravens are a playoff caliber team!

Mike Reiss
  (12:54 PM)

At that position, I think it does speak to their depth, Joseph. But after the Ravens signed McKinnie, I wonder if LeVoir will now be bumped to second unit.

Nick (Denver)

You say Solder at RG a possibility - has he had any reps there that you've noticed?

Mike Reiss
  (12:55 PM)

Yes. Part of it could be building depth for emergency situation on game day if team dresses just 7 OL.

Mike Reiss
  (12:55 PM)

Let's go for another 5...

Kyle (Warwick, RI)

With Belichick's recent comments about how the NFL should get rid "dead plays," such as extra points, as well as his comments about the dislike of how the NFL essentially is trying to get rid of kickoff returns, can you see a shift in who makes the team this year? For example, normally we would expect maybe say a Tracy White or Matthew Slater make it solely because of their special teams expertise. I know we signed Ricky Brown recently, but do you see us even keeping any one of those three on the final roster, since Gostowski's leg is gonna result in a touchback the majority of the time? I think it makes it much more difficult for specialists to make teams now/get signed, unless they can contribute on offense or defense. Thanks in advance!

Mike Reiss
  (12:56 PM)

Loved to hear Belichick talk about "dead plays." Part of me wishes he'd do it more often because I usually find his opinion on Xs and Os/rules really interesting. Don't see it affecting Slater. Possibly White. Brown, to me, has a huge uphill climb to make the club.

James (Derry, NH)

Hey Mike, Seems like the Pats have done a lot of ?due diligence? with kicking tires on different free agents (i.e. Portis, Houshmandzadeh) this year. With injuries to Spikes and Fletcher do you think they will bring in Lofa Tatupu for a look soon, and if not do you get a sense of why not?

Mike Reiss
  (12:57 PM)

James, I think they should bring in Tatupu. Not sure if they will.

Patrick (Keene, NH)

Hello Mike. Love your work. To the point-Matthew Slater should not be on the final roster. I know he brings a lot to the special but with all the talent on this squad I think the Pats would be better served keeping an interior lineman or an extra running back.

Mike Reiss
  (12:57 PM)

Patrick, I can see that point of view. I disagree respectfully. I think he's had a really good camp, and even though kickoffs are different this year, you still need to cover some of them and punts as well. Slater solid in that area.

David (Norwalk, CT)

Mike, in your interview with Wes Welker, you looked a good half head shorter than one of the shortest Patriots. Were you conducting the interview on a ramp? Are you taller than ANY players? Coaches? Coaches teenage kids? Cheers.

Mike Reiss
  (12:59 PM)

David, as we were conducting the interview, offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien walked by and said, "Geez, Wes, must feel nice to tower over someone." I'm a short guy. What can I say? My mother used to tell me good things come in small packages. My enemies at school reminded me that rat poisining did too. I should have drank my milk growing up.

Jake (Denver)

Mike, I think one of the key strengths for the Patriots is the offensive line, particularly how tight knit the group is. Heck, they did a commercial together. What's your impression of how Solder is "fitting in" with those guys? What percentage of snaps should we expect to see him this season?

Mike Reiss
  (12:59 PM)

Jake, this was a topic that Logan Mankins touched on earlier in the week. Said Solder has fit in real nicely.

Matt (Bristol CT)

When's your next dueling roster projection going to be posted?

Mike Reiss
  (1:00 PM)

Friday. Thanks for the interest Matt.

John F (Walpole)

They had to cut ross ventrone. You had him by an inch or two.

Mike Reiss
  (1:00 PM)

Tale of the tape! My motto -- "Have stool, will interview."

Billy (Boston MA)

Is Kyle Arrington good?

Mike Reiss
  (1:01 PM)

I think so, Billy. I like the physical edge that Arrington brings to the position.

Nick (LA)

Hasn't been much talking about McCourty. How has he looked in camp so far?

Mike Reiss
  (1:01 PM)

A little up and down, Nick, but context is important. He's set the bar pretty high after that impressive year.

Chuck Finley (Miami, FL)

Does Suh get to Brady on Saturday? I have a feeling the O-line will have a nice pocket for him all night.

Mike Reiss
  (1:02 PM)

Chuck, this is one of the key areas to watch. You figure he'll be doubled regularly. I'd bet on him getting there at least once.

William Wolf (Pittsburgh PA)

If the defense is able to generate the pressure we have seen thus far in the preseason consistently, how do you believe that effects the Patriots as a whole. What does that mean for the effectiveness of our defense? How will that effect the offense? Basically what I'm asking is how this new found pass rush impacts the team as a whole?

Mike Reiss
  (1:03 PM)

I think it's huge, and will help specifically on third down, where they ranked last in the NFL last season.

Spike O Like (Marshvegas, MA)

Do you see Solder or Maneri lining up in a Vrabel type TE position on goal line packages?

Mike Reiss
  (1:03 PM)

Could see it, Spike. Makes a lot of sense.

jp (nashua)

Will Kevin Faulk make this team?

Mike Reiss
  (1:03 PM)

I have him opening the year on reserve/PUP.

Eric (Boston)

What are the chances Ocho doesn't make this team, Roster Bonus and all?

Mike Reiss
  (1:04 PM)

Eric, I put him on the club. Less than 1 percent he gets cut in my view.

Patriot Nation (Boston)

Please, no more Darius Butler tweets on ESPNBOSTON.COM!!

Mike Reiss
  (1:04 PM)

Will pass it on to the powers that be. Thanks PNation.

Jamie (ATL)

Mike, IF Tate is cut, will Price most likely be the most often-used kick returner?

Mike Reiss
  (1:04 PM)

I think we'll see Edelman first.

Brandon (Manassas, VA)

Mike, Do you think Ihedigbo will be one of the starting safeties or will he even be used as safety at all?

Mike Reiss
  (1:04 PM)

Brandon, not a starter. He's fighting for a roster spot as a fifth option/special teamer.

Nick (Denver)

Will try one last time - who starts at LT against Miami? And who plays more this year, Solder or Light?

Mike Reiss
  (1:05 PM)

I'm going with Light, Nick.

Doug (Brooklyn, NY)

would branch be out there in 2 wide sets if belichick feels that ocho and brady aren't on the same page?

Mike Reiss
  (1:05 PM)

Yes, but the first option would be Ochocinco.

Ryan (Maine)

I haven't heard much on Patrick Chung. Just wondering how he has looked so far. I think hes a big part of this defense.

Mike Reiss
  (1:05 PM)

I'd say up and down at this point, Ryan.

Tim (Newton, MA)

Mike, off football for a second. Favorite food at the stadium? And please don't say McDonalds...

Mike Reiss
  (1:06 PM)

Haven't had the concessions, Tim. At Patriot Place, can't go wrong with most of the options. Particularly like Skipjacks.

Mike Reiss (Foxborough)

I have the best job in the world, reporting for a championship-calibur football team in the New England Patriots every day!

Mike Reiss
  (1:06 PM)

Confirmed

Henry (office)

Hi, do you know if th Pats will play some games with Pat Patriot throwbacks uniforms that i love so much ? thanks a lot

Mike Reiss
  (1:07 PM)

Haven't heard anything yet, Henry, but will be on the lookout for it.

Spike O like (Marshvegas)

Any surprises as team captains this year? Even though he is new to the team it seems Andre Carter is a natural leader. What do you think?

Mike Reiss
  (1:07 PM)

Mayo, Wilfork, Brady, Faulk the top candidates in my view. Maybe a Mankins addition as the surprise.

Dan (Leominster)

Mike,I'm already tired of the Ocho tweets. Think Bill has had it yet?

Mike Reiss
  (1:08 PM)

Dan, I don't think Belichick follows that stuff. He doesn't "MyFace or Yearbook."

Doug (Brooklyn, NY)

can faulk be a captain if he opens the season on PUP? or does that not matter?

Mike Reiss
  (1:08 PM)

I don't think it matters, Doug.

Dan (Leominster)

Mike, the DDT? JTS Roberts? Didn't even know you were old enough to watch all that.

Mike Reiss
  (1:09 PM)

Dan, watch it, because I'm about to fly off the top rope and Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka you if you're not careful.

Chuck Finley (Miami, FL)

Any chance we see Vereen get some action on Saturday?

Mike Reiss
  (1:09 PM)

I think there's a good chance, Chuck. The coaching plan is to evaluate them today and then decide.

Eric (Indy, IN)

Mike, what's your quick yes or no thought on the following players seeing the field on Saturday: Haynsworth, Vereen, Dowling, Cunningham?

Mike Reiss
  (1:10 PM)

Let's end on this one -- Haynesworth (yes), Vereen (yes), Dowling (yes), Cunningham (no). All hunches.

Mike Reiss
  (1:10 PM)

Thanks to everyone for chatting. Lot of fun. Off to the locker room for player interviews. We'll chat again next week.