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September 16, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Chris Forsberg

Chris Forsberg
  (1:01 PM)

Thanks to everyone for dropping by. As Tom Brady suggested, let's get lubed up for Sunday's home-opener against the Chargers by tackling your Patriots questions for a bit.

Anthony (Cleveland)

Nate Soldier looked great in his NFL debut, so who will we see at tackle this weekend? Could Bill Belichick rotate Vollmer and Soldier this year?

Chris Forsberg
  (1:02 PM)

Belichick sounded more sure that Vollmer would play than Vollmer himself. My guess is that all three tackles do play and we see Solder and Vollmer rotate at right tackle to ease him back in (and get more game reps for the first-round pick)

Matt G. (not Gutierrez) (Boston)

Hi Chris - do you expect the Pats to rush less/stay in coverage more against SD, given how well Rivers picks up the 4-man rush? This would put more emphasis on Bodden and the Safety rotation, I'd think - how do you see the coverage breaking down? Thanks.

Chris Forsberg
  (1:04 PM)

Rivers TD-to-INT differential against four-man rushes is pretty insane (read more <a href="http://espn.go.com/boston/nfl/story/_/id/6976464/patriots-defense-eager-prove-sunday" target="new'>HERE</a>). I think the Patriots will bring extra pressure early and see the results. The secondary certainly has a big challenge not only in the San Diego WRs, but probably having less bodies in coverage at times.

Kyle (Cranston, RI)

Chris, do you think a functioning Ochocinco can even provide an upgrade to any of our formations? I feel like having the 2 TEs in four wide formations is more valuable because it gives you the option to audible into running formations. Unless Branch is coming out, I don't think Ocho is going in.

Chris Forsberg
  (1:06 PM)

It's unrealistic to expect those two tight ends -- even if you rotate in Gronk82 -- to play 80 snaps per game (and same with having Branch/Welker on the field that much). I think we'll see more Ocho, even in two WR sets as the chemistry develops.

Kyle (Cranston, RI)

Chris, can you explain why the ESPN scouting department picked the chargers over the pats on the road, early in the year? What part about picking against Brady at home in the regular season makes any sense given he hasn't lost such a game since 2006?

Chris Forsberg
  (1:07 PM)

I think they actually updated the score later in the week to reflect Pats winning. Maybe the incredulousness of Patriots fans forced them to audible (but more likely someone just made a mistake typing in the final score originally).

munchkin (glenwood springs, co)

I don't necessarily see McCourtey's performance against Brandon Marshall in a negative light. Marshall is an elite player and Henne threw some great passes. I was encouraged by the goal line plays that Dowling and McCourtey made on Marshall as well. To my eyes, there were encouraging signs with this new defensive line-up. The team will need to play better this week against a much better overall offense in the Chargers. Bush is a weapon out of the backfield but Matthews and Tolbert will provide a much stiffer test for the Patriots front seven. Couple this with a proven receiver corp and a great QB the Pats defense will have to show greater field awareness and play a more alert and cohesive game.

Chris Forsberg
  (1:08 PM)

::Nods::

KWAPT (Brighton, Ma.)

It was great to watch Tom Terrific become only the 11th QB to throw for 500 yards in a game on Monday night. But myself and alot of other fans want to know what Belichick is gonna do about this porous defense that gave-up almost 500 yds in total offense to the Fins.

Chris Forsberg
  (1:09 PM)

Look at Mr. Celtics showing some versatility -- glad to see you in the Pats chats, KWAPT.<br><br> The defense had it struggles, but the positives outweighed the negatives for me: The improved pass rush and big plays in crucial situations. Forcing three red zone failures by Miami was huge for this defense.

Corky (Destin fl.)

Hi Chris: Mike Wright having another head injury, who's call is it when/if he will be able to keep playing? I think back to Ted Johnson and the issues he is having years after playing...

Chris Forsberg
  (1:10 PM)

Belichick said today he'd leave it up to the medical staff. I think we'll get a pretty good indication pretty quickly of whether Wright will be able to get back on the field. You hope it's not a season- or career-ending type of injury, but multiple concussions are very worrisome.

Tron (waltham)

Hey Chris, does Gerard Warrens locker still have personal items in it? With Wrights concussion seems like Warren could return

Chris Forsberg
  (1:13 PM)

Warren's locker still has the same items it had in it since earlier this month. I would still not rule out a return, it might just not happen until the team is a little bit more sure of its injury situation (offensive line is banged up; will Wright be back?)

Abe (DC)

Chris, where are you at on the defense's performance against Miami? Cause for concern or was context of the game itself a big factor? Sunday against Chargers will give them a stouter test for sure though.

Chris Forsberg
  (1:14 PM)

Just in general, tough to make too much out of a one-week performance. We won't know this team's early identity until Week 4 or so. Just like we can't expect Brady to pass for 517 each week, I think the secondary -- and remember how much overhaul it underwent -- will improve.

Matt (Bangor ME)

Hey Chris, Do you see Spikes having a larger role this week as a linebacker or do you think that he will be out again or limited in play? It seems that it has been very quiet on the news front with him and also appears that he may be in BB's doghouse. What are your thoughts?

Chris Forsberg
  (1:16 PM)

It's hard to tell without being able to see Spikes in practice (media only gets a glimpse each day). The Patriots are doing a really nice job rotating their personnel all over the defense early in the season, so I'm sure when he's healthy, Spikes will get a chance to work his way back.

todd (virginia)

How do you see the running game evolve as the season goes on with the two rookies on the bench and potentailly Faulk come back later in the year?

Chris Forsberg
  (1:18 PM)

I think Week 1 played out as we expected: Green-Ellis and Woodhead shoulder the light load with the focus on the passing game. With the rookies dinged up in training camp (and limited in recent practice sessions), I still think they get brought along slowly. The rookies will get their chances when available and the injury situation will likely dictate when we see Faulk again.

Gurari (Boston, MA)

Do you think the Pats answer to teams that blitz often and use exotic packages is to go to the no huddle? Miami seemed to get burned by it by becoming fatigued, and penalized (e.g. too many men on the field). Thoughts?

Chris Forsberg
  (1:21 PM)

But here's the thing: It only works when the offensive team completes passes and doesn't allow dead-ball situations where the defense can sub. It's not just having the game plan, it's executing it, which the Patriots did to perfection in Week 1. No scoring drive over like 4:07. That's insane.

Randy M (RI)

Been on the golf course...when am I getting the call?Straight cash homey

Chris Forsberg
  (1:21 PM)

No need to start cancelling those tee times just yet, Randy.

Terry (Northport, Nova Scotia)

Hey Chris; Do you think we're going to get a look at our new RB's this week ... I read that both have been practicing so health shouldn't be an issue, do the Pats have a little Pound and Ground in store this week-end?

Chris Forsberg
  (1:23 PM)

Just don't see it happening yet. As Celtics coach Doc Rivers is fond of noting, "Everyone loves a backup quarterback." The Patriots have two capable backs at the top of the depth chart in Green-Ellis and Woodhead. The rookies will get reps when able, but I don't expect them to just get tossed into the fire, especially while still working back from injuries.

Matt (Boston)

What are the odds we see Taylor Price active for this game?

Chris Forsberg
  (1:24 PM)

He's in a tough spot because Edelman and Slater offer more with their special teams roles and with injuries, carrying that extra wide receiver is a luxury that Pats don't have right now.

Gurari (Boston, MA)

So how do you deal with teams like the Jets and Ravens who blitz often and can get you off your passing game? Is ground and pound required to neutralize that?

Chris Forsberg
  (1:26 PM)

Of course, at some point the Patriots have to establish the run and keep teams honest. That said, they did a nice job mixing the inside draw against Miami. The one thing that shocked me in hindsight: No screen passes in Week 1 for the Patriots. Wonder when the last time that happened.

Corey (Washington, DC)

You posted a question about Spikes but didn't answer it.What role do you expect from Spikes this week? I like his potential as a starter in the 4-3, but am concerned my talk that he's in BB's doghouse.

Chris Forsberg
  (1:28 PM)

Like most guys coming back from injuries, I'd guess he'd be slowly reintegrated. Again, without the opportunity to see where he's at in practice, I think a reserve role is the most likely scenario. But who gets bumped? If Guyton's injury is enough to keep him off the field, that could open doors.

charles (ri)

chris - are you as sick of the chad ocho tweet as i am? can people please just let this go?

Chris Forsberg
  (1:29 PM)

I'm stunned really by how big of a story it's become. I thought the Tweet was rather innocuous. Again, if Ocho goes out there and catches 4 passes for 75 yards this week, all of a sudden it's a non-issue; Kinda like all that hoopla about Branch not having a catch in the preseason.

the hooded genius (CT, New England)

Which TE [on either team] has the best game on Sunday?

Chris Forsberg
  (1:32 PM)

Just ran to look at Gates stats in recent seasons; He's been kinda quiet in recent years. Seems the Pats have found a way to neutralize him a bit. Let's go with Hernandez. Patriots have the ability to move him around a bit more and I think he has the biggest potential for a game-changing play (and to make it rain again).

Chuck Finley (Miami, FL)

Chris, the pats threw one screen the entire game. It was a pick 6.

Chris Forsberg
  (1:33 PM)

And Brady's last interception of 2010 was behind the line of scrimmage, too, if I remember right. I don't think that'll detour the Patriots from bringing it back in healthy doses.

Gurari (Boston, MA)

Do you think Ocho was only in there for 18 plays because he isn't familiar enough with the offense to keep up with the tempo?

Chris Forsberg
  (1:34 PM)

Sure. If a guy's head is spinning a little bit trying to digest everything, probably not the best idea to throw him into that situation. Again, I wish I had a time machine to go ahead to Week 8 and see how quickly this whole thing blew over. I'm still convinced this isn't a Joey Galloway situation.

Base (Atl)

Whats Rivers' stat line look like Sunday night? Can the Pats maintain third down success? Thanks for the chat.

Chris Forsberg
  (1:35 PM)

He'll get his numbers, something like 300 yards, 2 TDs. The Chargers had 31 first downs last week, so I don't see the Pats enjoying the same third-down success. The key is how many mistakes he makes. Patriots need to win the takeaway battle.

PScottman (ATL, GA)

Fantasy wise been telling folks stay away from Pats players on offense (except Hernandez)...too much "star of the week" to this team vs consistent production. Agree?

Chris Forsberg
  (1:36 PM)

Sure, but I think I saw a stat about how Green-Ellis is among the top players in the league in touchdowns since the start of last season. Obviously he cleans up a lot of drives inside the 5, so even if his yardage doesn't get you much, his TDs will. But I agree, hard to predict others on a week-to-week basis.

grandjordanian (San Diego, CA)

Big week for us NE transplants living in Chargers country, we're not very popular right now! How do you see this week's matchup - with Gates and Tolbert in particular - affecting our MLB rotation? Guyton has looked slower than in the past and with his smaller size I wonder if he is the right guy to have trying to defend those guys.

Chris Forsberg
  (1:39 PM)

The fact that he's been limited by a hamstring injury is reason for concern with Guyton, but again, the Patriots did a nice job rotating their personnel, getting snaps for guys like Fletcher and rotating their defensive ends. That flexibility will aid them in matching up.

Chuck Finley (Miami, FL)

Who's more productive, Woodhead on a draw, or the law firm on Sunday?

Chris Forsberg
  (1:41 PM)

Common sense says Woodhead given what the Patriots showed in Week 1; as does the fact that the Chargers gave up just 26 yards rushing last week. But always expect the unexpected. Maybe BJGE has the big day.

Ravi (Cambridge, MA)

Can we start calling Ras-I Dowling Ra's al Ghul after the Batman villain?

Chris Forsberg
  (1:42 PM)

NERD! Just kidding. But I did have to go to Wikipedia just to make sure that was a real comic book person. I'll allow it only if Dowling can carry a sword on the sideline.

the hooded genius (CT, New England)

This isn't a question but I agree with you on Ocho. It's not like we need him to produce right away. We all need to relax and realize that he's an investment for later in the season and the playoffs.

Chris Forsberg
  (1:43 PM)

See, I don't subscribe to the "they don't need him until later in the season" mentality. I just don't think it's a huge deal if he has a quiet game. If it becomes a pattern, then everyone can freak out.

nate (roswell,nm)

Price has looked good when given the opportunity, and he seems to have the physical skills to be a big time contributor. when do you think that bb ditches ocho in favor of price

Chris Forsberg
  (1:44 PM)

Only if it became obvious Ocho wasn't picking up the offense. Again, just can't see it happening. Ocho has been too good too long to just not work here.

grandjordanian (San Diego, CA)

With Rivers' numbers against 4 man rushes, I'm predicting 3 combined sacks for Mayo/Spikes/Fletcher. Think they'll bring heat up the middle?

Chris Forsberg
  (1:46 PM)

Mayo had his pass-rushing moments in the preseason. I think he's primed for a potential big day.

Chuck Finley (Miami, FL)

Is it a concern that on 4th and short instead of having a big back that can most likely get the yard, we instead have our franchise QB on the keeper, where our C gets rolled up on? Can we have a heavy package with both Gronk's and maybe Ridley for short yardage? Perhaps that gives you the ability to show heavy and Gronk 87 can release if we want to go in the air based on what the d shows?

Chris Forsberg
  (1:48 PM)

Let's remember the sneak was in the two-minute drill. We've seen Brady do that on a longer situation like 2nd-and-5 when the defense gives him the space to run. Just a freak situation where the lineman got hurt.

Ravi (Cambridge, MA)

What is the current status of Jermaine Cunningham and Brandon Spikes? Last year they played a significant role in the defense and this year they have been no where to be seen.

Chris Forsberg
  (1:49 PM)

Neither is on the injury report this week, so you assume they are capable of playing. Let's see if they get incorporated against San Diego.

MarkJ (Japan)

What is the biggest difference you think between covering C's and Pats?

Chris Forsberg
  (1:51 PM)

I really enjoy the intricacies of football. Maybe it's just because you have as many as 46 people involved instead of just leaning on 8-10 on a hoops team. There's also seemingly more story lines and more hype with one game per week. I miss hoops, but I'm very much enjoying the Patriots experience. And having guys like Mike Reiss and Mike Rodak as teammates makes it a breeze.

Chris Forsberg
  (1:52 PM)

And with that, we'll call it a wrap. Thanks for dropping by. Enjoy the game on Sunday and let's do this again next week.