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September 22, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with Mike Reiss

Mike Reiss
  (11:59 AM)

Good afternoon and welcome to today's chat. Just back from the locker room. Going to get a few things together and then we start...

Mike Reiss
  (12:02 PM)

Players drawing big media crowds today in locker room included DL Shaun Ellis and CB Devin McCourty. Also had a news conference with DL Vince Wilfork...

Mike Reiss
  (12:04 PM)

All right, let's get ready to roll here. Banged-up Patriots team heads to Buffalo on Sunday. Going to test their mental toughness. Thought it was notable to hear Tom Brady say he felt the team had a good day of practice Wednesday. They need to battle through this to beat a Buffalo team that has some of its own injury concerns. This is why you build depth...

Mike Reiss
  (12:04 PM)

We'll chat until 1 p.m....

Steve (Spencer, MA)

Hey Mike, as a unit, I have definitely been disappointed with the defense. Is it safe to say each area of the D (DL, LB, DBs) has underperformed to this point? Or is there a clear cut position that has failed the team the most so far?

Mike Reiss
  (12:05 PM)

Steve, I think that's a little harsh in my view. Would start with the secondary needing to play better in any analysis. Front seven been OK in my view.

Marcus (Ellington,CT)

Hi Mike, Thanks for being so dismissive last week to my question about Solder sliding into the 3rd TE spot ! Just kidding ! Anyways, what do you see happening with guys like Faulk and Brace once they are eligible to come off the PUP list ? I don't see a spot for either of them on this team.

Mike Reiss
  (12:05 PM)

Marcus, way to hold me accountable. When it comes to Solder as a third TE, I took it to mean as a pass-catcher. I don't see him going out to catch passes.

Andrew (Madison, Wi)

Hey Mike, have you noticed that offensive players are lowering their helmets quite a bit on the defense? It was definitely the case with Arrington's concussion. All the focus in the league seems to be on defensive players using the helmet, but is there any rule for the offense?

Mike Reiss
  (12:06 PM)

Andrew, I did notice that specifically on the Arrington-is-injured play (concussion). I don't think the league will do anything about it, but one could make a strong case the league should.

Mike Reiss
  (12:06 PM)

As for the chances of a Buffalo Bills upset...

Matt (Elon NC)

30% chance. Not that I think they'll actually do it, but a 30% chance. Both teams have been extraordinarily on fire, but I'm hoping it isn't another shootout.

Mike Reiss
  (12:07 PM)

I like that percentage of a possible upset, Matt. I could see it. But my stance is that until the Bills show they can beat the Patriots, it's hard to pick them. But I do like this spot for them. Patriots really banged up, especially in the secondary, and the way the Bills throw it this could be a bad matchup.

Justin (Chicgo)

As we all have grown to love Kevin Faulk not only on the field but just great leadership in the locker room, what are the chances that Bill says "You know we love you but their is no room"? Could it be possible he could come back as a coach in the future?

Mike Reiss
  (12:08 PM)

Absolutely, Justin. Kevin Faulk will have a place in this organization, if he so desires, whether it's as a coach or something else.

MarkJ (Japan)

Much Ado About Fake Injury! I am still curious whether or not Willie McGinest was actually injured in 2003 @IND game.

Mike Reiss
  (12:08 PM)

MarkJ, if you have a chance, listen to this week's podcast with Tedy Bruschi on ESPNBoston.com. We had a bit of a laugh on that one.

Harry (Hingham, MA)

With Hernandez out this week, is this the opportunity Ocho has been waiting for to step up? Do you see the offense changing a bit this week, in order to match the talent they have on the field, without Hernandez out there?

Mike Reiss
  (12:09 PM)

Harry, I think it's fair to say they need more from Ochocinco this week. I expect to see more three-receiver sets and that would put him on the field more.

Rob (Acton, MA)

Not Patriots related, but is there any hope for the Red Sox??

Mike Reiss
  (12:11 PM)

Rob, it doesn't look good, but I think they could benefit from taking the Bill Belichick approach. One year, when the Patriots entered the playoffs, Belichick put up a sign that read 0-0 for players to see when they walked into the facility. The message is that the playoffs are a new season and anything is possible; nothing that happened in the regular season matters. I'm an optimist by nature and could Beckett and Lester deliver big-time performances in the playoffs? Why not. I know it's a longshot, but I believe.

Mike Reiss
  (12:11 PM)

Wow. Did I just talk Red Sox?

captain bruschi (Foxboro)

Hey Mike, I get that the referees are human too, but what's with the no-calls on some key penalties? Last week it was Garay on the low-hit, the week before it was the Miami defender on Ocho (no call for PI) which, by the way, would have been a sweet catch for Chad to help shut up the critics! What gives?

Mike Reiss
  (12:13 PM)

Really bad miss by referee Walt Anderson on the low Garay hit. I heard Bill Belichick was furious in requesting an explanation from the NFL. I understand why. With all the focus on protecting QBs, how do you miss that one? That being said, I think these officials generally do a good job. They're going to have their misses, so the idea is to keep them in the 2-3 range per game.

Chris (Lincoln,RI)

Mike, i live right down the street from moss an he still has not left the area, do you think there is a 50% chance he comes back to the pats?

Mike Reiss
  (12:13 PM)

I'd put a decimal point in there and say it's a .005 chance. Really don't see it happening, Chris, unless there is a run of injuries and emergency situation.

matt (seattle)

Are the pats going to wear throwbacks at any point this year?

Mike Reiss
  (12:14 PM)

Yes, in two games, but the team has not announced them yet.

Mike (Los Angeles, CA)

Mike, can you please update whether Taylor Price's gameday inactives are a result of working to heal the hamstring or because of him slipping on the depth chart due to time missed in the preseason.

Mike Reiss
  (12:14 PM)

Mike, Price is still limited by the hamstring, so it starts with health. Even if healthy, though, I'm not sure he'd be active because he doesn't have as much special teams value as other backup WRs Matthew Slater and Julian Edelman.

John (Boston)

have you seen hernandez walking around and how long do you think he will be out?

Mike Reiss
  (12:15 PM)

John, always dangerous to make judgment calls based on a player walking through the locker room, but I thought Hernandez was moving better than I saw Zoltan Mesko moving the other day. So if I had to guess -- and it's just a guess -- I like a lower estimate for Hernandez (1-2 weeks).

John F (Boston)

Do you see Ridley getting more playing time? BJE runs hard and doesn't fumble but Ridley has his power with more speed and cutting ability. He looks like more of an instinctual runner.

Mike Reiss
  (12:16 PM)

John, I do see Ridley getting integrated more into the mix, and wouldn't be surprised if it starts this week. He had just the two snaps last week vs. San Diego after not playing vs. Miami. More to come here...

pat (tacohhhhhma)

are we sure hernandez is out this week?

Mike Reiss
  (12:16 PM)

I'm not sure, but there have been numerous reports he is out.

DJ (Ann Arbor)

Mike, I'm not sure what I think about the D-line situation (aside from Wilfork). Losing Pryor seems like a big blow, and it's hard not to be worried about whether Wright will play again, when he's gotten concussions in his last two consecutive games. Haynesworth looked strong in Miami, absent vs SD. Anderson has one move, speed rush, but it will work occasionally against the single-teams he gets. Ellis has looked invisible, Cunningham doesn't play, and Carter committed a penalty on his best play. Do you think it's just taking time for them to gel, or is this again a major weakness of the defense, like last year?

Mike Reiss
  (12:19 PM)

DJ, I think they will be OK. Been a bit up and down through two games, but I like the group better than last year. Think you are slightly tough on Ellis. Seeing some pass-rush rush explosion there (thought his rush really set up the Sergio Brown INT). And as for Anderson being a one-trick pony, I agree, and I think it's great. Too many times, I think the Patriots have shied away from a one-dimensional pass rusher because they were looking for the complete three-down option. I think it's OK to be a one-trick pony, if the one thing you do is what the team really needs.

Mike Reiss
  (12:19 PM)

So while Anderson hasn't been great (2 garbage time sacks), I still see a player who has skills that this team needs.

Kyle (Cranston, RI)

Mike, do you think cutting Sanders and Merriweather looks like a good move thus far?

Mike Reiss
  (12:21 PM)

Kyle, this is one of those "if we knew then what we know now" situations with Patrick Chung undergoing thumb surgery. But I do think it's fair to put the Patriots' decision-making process under the spotlight because you always have to prepare for injuries and build quality depth. I liked Sanders. Would have kept him, even at 2.8m.

munchkin (glenwood springs, co)

The Bills are a tough play at home but the Patriots should clearly come away with the win. Buffalo has played a horrible KC and a an inconsistent and penalty prone Jason Campbell led Raiders. One of the nice NFL's surprising 2011 stories featuring the Bill's Ryan Fitzpatrick ends this weekend with a Pats 30-17 victory in Ralph Wilson stadium.

Mike Reiss
  (12:21 PM)

Thanks Munchkin. I feel the same way. Went 34-24.

Professor Frink (Springfield)

Brady came close to breaking the record for most passing yards over a spa of two games, any idea what the record is for three games?

Mike Reiss
  (12:22 PM)

Professor, thank you for bringing the knowledge to the chat. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the three-game record is held by Drew Brees. In 2006, Brees went for 1,257 in a three-game stretch. So Brady needs 317 to tie. Does he get it? I say yes.

Robert (Altus, OK)

Hey Mike! The season is starting out great huh? I think, though, that we have a pretty good chance of getting upset by the Bills. You can only beat an opponent so many times in a row before they finally get you back. We almost saw it in the 2009 opener, and with this Bills team looking decent for once I think this is the year we lose one to the Bills. I hope that one is in week 17, though, due to us already having cliched home-field through the playoffs!

Mike Reiss
  (12:23 PM)

Thanks for sharing the thoughts, Robert. Wouldn't surprise me. I do think the Patriots lose one of these next two.

Larry (Acton, MA)

With the recent inuries and/or lack of a solid defense, I am really hoping the Pats can survive and improve the next couple of weeks before they play the Jets. Will they try and hold on and play it safe with some of their players, so they are completely healthy for the Jets?

Mike Reiss
  (12:24 PM)

Larry, I don't think the decision-making will be affected by the presence of the Jets on the schedule. There is always that balance of short- vs. long-term thinking with players' health. They'll be careful.

Corky (Destin)

Hi Mike: Do you have any updates on Mike Wright? After last year I worry about his long term health, really like what Mike brings to the line, but...

Mike Reiss
  (12:25 PM)

Corky, I think we're in the range where you have to start thinking about his career, not whether he'll be back this year. This is scary stuff for him.

Josh (NYC)

You would think that since the BB was probably going to cut Merriweather all along (combination of play on the field and salary), then keeping Sanders even at 2.8M should have been a much easier call. Still don't get this one. Why cut both?!?!

Mike Reiss
  (12:26 PM)

Think it's pure economics. He looks at Sanders and says "I have the same player in Barrett at 1/6 of the cost." If I was on the personnel staff, I would have challenged him on it and said "Sometimes you can't put a price on a steady professional who is a good locker room guy."

David (North Attleboro,Ma)

How long before Albert Haynesworth gets in shape and plays more than the 22 plays he did against San Diego? Was it the game plan that dictated that or was it his conditioning?

Mike Reiss
  (12:27 PM)

Good question, David. I don't think Haynesworth is at top condition right now. He's playing a bit high when I look with my amateur scouting eye. I think he bounces back with a big game this week. See a matchup edge for the Patriots on the interior DL.

Steve (Quincy)

Mike, what do you make of Fitzpatrick's success? It seems unheard of for a Harvard U grad. Does this mean other QBs from Ivy League schools could "make it" in the NFL"

Mike Reiss
  (12:29 PM)

Absolutely, Steve. Credit to Fitzpatrick. Still think he needs to prove he can do it consistently. One of the favorite things that I've taken from Bill Belichick's coaching approach, that I think can be applied to anyone, is the importance of consistency. Anyone can flash and be a "9" one day, but then taper off and be a "5" the next day. Such volatility makes it hard for you to count on that player. But if a player is a consistent "7", sometimes that's better than the occassional flash player. To me, that's Fitzpatrick's challenge. Can he find that consistency over the course of a 16-game season.

Brian (Florida)

Mike you just said that New England will lose 1 of the next 2? I know you have been covering the Patriots since the 1990's but really, have you seen this offense??? It's gotta be there most complete offense ever!!! No way they lose!!!

Mike Reiss
  (12:31 PM)

Brian, you're going to hold me accountable and I like that. I know a lot of people didn't think they'd lose to the Browns last year. Each week is its own entity. My concern for the Patriots is that I see a banged-up team right now, and the secondary concerns are real when going up against a team that has scored an NFL-high 79 points, and then making a cross-country trip to play in a tough Oakland environment.

Daniel (Gilroy, CA)

Which loss do you see having more of an impact on the team... Myron Pryor or Aaron Hernandez?

Mike Reiss
  (12:32 PM)

Hernandez. I liked what Pryor was doing, but think he's more replaceable.

Troy Diggety (Woonsocket)

Hi Mike, what are your thoughts on how well the Bills are going to match up to the Patriots on Sunday? This will be the 3rd week in a row that they face a 6'5" WR (D. Nelson) which has caused some problems thus far. How do the Pats win this game?

Mike Reiss
  (12:33 PM)

Troy, I like the Patriots' offense against the Bills' defense. I think they can do what they want -- run it, throw it, whatever. The key will be to play complementary and not get into a fast-paced shootout. I don't like that approach for New England this week. Going to have to protect this defense a bit with some slower, methodical drives.

Vinnny (West Palm Beach)

Transplant from R.I., huge Pats fan,love your insight..I think your going to see Ocho really used more this week due to Hernandez injury since he lines up as WR on many plays and we need a taller option to go up and get the ball as Brady loves to do besides Gronk,who"ll get lots of attention from Buffalo secondary,see him w/maybe 80yrds and a td, your thoughts??

Mike Reiss
  (12:34 PM)

Vinny, thanks for the compliment. Ochocinco is ready. Spoke with him Wednesday and he's locked in. Not sure he'll get more opportunities, but it makes sense. I think he's responded very well to the media firestorm of last week.

Tom (Boston)

The Bills 2 wins are against a bad Chiefs team and they squeaked by Oakland, so I wont put to much on the Bills. In the past it seems the Bills have had success against the Pats with Fred Jackson. Is he the biggest threat for Sunday?

Mike Reiss
  (12:34 PM)

Great insight, Tom. Fred Jackson leads the NFL with 229 yards rushing and is a dual threat. I expect the Patriots to start there when game-planning against this Bills offense.

Mike (RI)

Hey, I think the Bills have a much better chance at winning this game than people realize. People can say what they want about the Bills O not being as good as Rivers and company, but the numbers disprove that so far. If the Bills D tighten up a little, you never know, thanks to the horrible Pats pass D. I' m just hoping goalline stands and takeaways save us again, though I know that's nothing to bank on.

Mike Reiss
  (12:35 PM)

Thanks Mike.

Ken B (LaGrange NY)

Better chance of an upset than most people think in my opinion. With Pryor IRed, Chung's operation, and Dowling banged up it is looking like an Offensive shoot-out is on the horizon.

Mike Reiss
  (12:35 PM)

And Ken, too.

Slappy (Orlando)

Mike, its probably too early to have a definitive judgment, but it still looks to me like the pass rush disappears at times. Especially with how the offense is rolling, I would like the think the D-line could get to the quarterback knowing the opposition is going to pass...

Mike Reiss
  (12:35 PM)

Think it's fair, Slappy. Maybe I'm being too easy when comparing it to last year, but I think it's better than 2010 and I see room for improvement.

Alvin (Pelham, MA)

Although the Bills are at 2-0, both wins came against the AFC West. With that being said, I'm somewhat skeptical that Sunday will be any different for New England than the past 15 contests.

Mike Reiss
  (12:36 PM)

Thanks Alvin. Used to drive through Pelham on the way to UMass.

Ravi (Cambridge, MA)

Is Brandon Spikes in the doghouse? We've barely seen him through two games.

Mike Reiss
  (12:37 PM)

Ravi, I think the coaches gave him a little wake-up call. Doghouse is too strong for me, but what I would say is that Spikes is clearly a niche player. He's the new Ted Johnson. I don't see him getting huge playing time at this point, only against standard base personnel and who runs that any more?

Gerry Withagee (Chicopee)

Mike, does Pryor's inury open a spot for my boy Ron Brace to contribute after the 6th game?

Mike Reiss
  (12:37 PM)

I think so, Gerry. Those two PUP players (Brace, Deaderick) look like important pieces right now.

Don Johnson (Colorado)

I was wondering if you saw the same thing as me on the McCourty penalty on Wilfork's interception. It seemed like a really smart play on McCourty's part because he basically tackled the guy right before he tried to strip Wilfork. If he had stripped Wilfork it would have taken away everything Wilfork had just done. So while most people probably saw a dumb penalty I saw a smart football play.

Mike Reiss
  (12:38 PM)

Agree Don. Was thinking about it this morning. That ball could have been coming out if McCourty didn't take the player out.

Pete (Orono, me)

Remember when they lost to Bills in 2003? Enough said. Plus wouldn't Bill love an excuse to stop the players from drinking the media kool-aid?

Mike Reiss
  (12:39 PM)

Don't think Belichick ever likes a loss, especially in the division. Anything is possible. We know that. If we don't, we haven't been watching the NFL very closely. How many had Tennessee over Baltimore last week? Not me. All I heard was how the Ravens might be the best team in the AFC all week.

Dr. Harris (MA)

I hate to say this but I?m surprised that Wright wasn?t placed on the IR instead of Koppen. This is the era of the concussion, and since doctors are really just starting to understand the long-term effects of concussions, we have no idea what Wright?s recovery time table would be (it could be a week or it could be 7). Adding that this is his 2nd concussion in as many games as he?s playing in, I found the move surprising. It?s obvious that the Patriots are felt that Wright will eventually come back and aid the pass-rush more than Koppen aiding the offensive line. The move surprised me.

Mike Reiss
  (12:39 PM)

I'm not convinced that's the case, Dr. Harris. I still think Wright has a good chance of landing on IR. They might just be waiting a bit longer.

Eric (MA)

I think we?re going to see more ground and pound the next couple of weeks with Hernandez out of the line-up. More Gronks and Solder lining up a TE and blasting over the Bills. When the Bills stack the box, play action slants or screens. One thing the Patriots have shown over the years is that they can adapt and play well even with injuries. I expect to see a steady diet of Green-Ellis and Ridley (surprisingly) in this week?s game plan ? you heard it here first.

Mike Reiss
  (12:41 PM)

Love it, Eric. I want to see if they can pull it off, because I think that's what they need to win in the playoffs. Can they become a power running team? If they do that, I'd say it would be the start of getting really excited about what this team could accomplish. Remember, they put up 200-plus rushing yards last year vs. Buffalo late in the season with Ryan Wendell the starting right guard. It's possible.

pats fan (attleboro)

you think they let the safeties go because they expected to mix dowling or bodden in at safety.. but because they can't seem to stay healthy that threw a wrench in their plans

Mike Reiss
  (12:41 PM)

With Sanders, I think it was strictly money. With Meriweather, Belichick had enough. He wasn't fitting in.

Tim (Newton, MA)

Fitzy had mixed results last year vs. NE, played well early in the year at Gillette, really struggled in Buffalo late in the year, what was done differently? Is Buffalo's O-line that solid?

Mike Reiss
  (12:42 PM)

It's better than it's been, Tim, but they'll be without starting RG Kraig Urbik. I think the Patriots can have success against the Bills' front. This is a case where I think the front seven needs to help the back end, and if they don't, it could be trouble.

Neil (South Boston)

Mike, Vince's INT got me wondering why we haven't seen a Wilfork vs. Brady 40 dash? Surely they could work a charity element into it and turn it into a big success...

Mike Reiss
  (12:42 PM)

Sign me up, Neil. That would be great.

brian (ct)

Hi Mike, let me throw you a curve ball in response to your follow up question; I do not think its an upset if Buffalo beats the PATS this weekend. They are both 2-0 teams and buffalo has the home field advantage. I'm still not a true believer in the PATS Defense.

Mike Reiss
  (12:43 PM)

I see the logic, Brian, but I still think the Patriots are the better team.

Sam Bradford (Missouri)

Speaking of penalties, why doesn't the nfl make it a rule that if an "injury" causes a delay in the game that player has to miss 2 min or 5 plays instead of just one? Might make them, think twice before delaying the game.

Mike Reiss
  (12:43 PM)

Great suggestion. I think it would help.

George (Mass)

Hi Mike.... totally bummed out about Myron Pryor.... I thought he was a playmaker when he was on the field and made the most of his opportunities. I guess we are fortunate to have options with Deaderick and Brace after week 8 to backfill the depth chart. Question - Do you think Dane Fletcher has done enough to overtake Gary Guyton's roster spot on the 46 to be the cover LB? I really like Fletcher's ability to track the RBs out of the backfield and I always seemed to be disapponted by Guyton..... his speed is the only thing keeping him in the NFL..... he is absolutely terrible getting off blocks and helping in the running game. Dane seems to be more rounded in that role and allows us to have Spikes active for the first 2 downs.

Mike Reiss
  (12:44 PM)

George, I think at times the answer is "yes" but at times it's "no." For example, I thought Fletcher was excellent in the second quarter against the Chargers, then he tailed off in the third and was replaced by A.J. Edds.

Mike Reiss
  (12:44 PM)

A little more consistency and Fletcher could get there.

Billy (CA)

Hi Mikd, I?ve noticed that Rob Ninkovich is playing opposite Mark Anderson on 3rd downs. Why is Cunningham not in this spot? Do you guys believe Ninkovich is a better pass rush option than Cunningham? Also, when Guyton is healthy, does Spikes go back to being inactive?

Mike Reiss
  (12:46 PM)

Terrific observation, Billy. Ninkovich is getting more opportunity to rush the passer this year, and I never stopped to consider that he's doing it over Cunningham. This does not reflect well on Cunningham. I like Ninkovich as a rusher, but think Cunningham has more upside if he can get himself going. Obviously, he hasn't. As for Spikes being inactive, I could see it against the Bills, who like to spread things out. In a game like that, I wouldn't put Spikes on the field. Plus, he doesn't help on special teams.

James (Derry, NH)

Hey Mike, When the interior of the Patriots offensive line struggles, it usually means trouble for Brady and an L for the Pats. How much of a problem do you see Dareus and Williams giving the interior linemen and what is the best way around that talented defensive front. Thanks and as always keep up the great work.

Mike Reiss
  (12:47 PM)

Good one, James. Williams vs. Connolly a good matchup to watch. Think Brian Waters (RG) and Logan (LG) have been strong inside and will help. They are talented enough to block 'em, now it's a matter of just going out and doing it.

Alvin (Pelham, MA)

Quick suggestion to fans who are criticizing the pass defense, don't fret over two weeks of football especially in September. Look @ some of the bottom 10 for that category like Green Bay, Miami, Baltimore NY Giants & Minnesota. All finished top 10 in defense in 2010 in total yards/game.

Mike Reiss
  (12:48 PM)

Thanks Alvin. No defense in the NFL has it all figured out right now.

Rick (Providence RI)

I know this may sound off but I loved the defense from last week. It reminded me of the championship year defenses. They would give up yards but always make a play when it counted whtether it was a goal line stand or and int or fumble. I believe Gary Guyton should stay on special teams. Fletcher and Spikes need to be in there with Mayo on Nincovich. I will be interested to see what happens when week 6 comes and the players on PUP are ready. Do you see Vareen sticking around or going to the practice squad to make room for Faulk. Brace and Deaderick could provide some fresh legs to add to the rotation.

Mike Reiss
  (12:49 PM)

Rick, don't see Vereen clearing waivers to get to the practice squad. He'll stay on the 53 or land on IR in some form.

EP (La Mirada)

I think its very likely the pats can get upset on sunday. If the Pats dont put alot of points on the board we are in trouble. Our D is horrible. Fitzpatrick will find the open reciever. I have no faith right now in our DB's or our pass rush.

Mike Reiss
  (12:49 PM)

Thanks EP.

Tim (Newton, MA)

Hey Mike,It's Thursday...workouts, but no punter actually signed...your prediction on who we go into Buffalo with?

Mike Reiss
  (12:49 PM)

I'm not anticipating Mesko punting. Think it will be either Matt Dodge or Jeremy Kapinos.

Tim (Newton, MA)

Hey Mike, I'm typically a non-homer, and look rationally at games, but even with the Bills great start, I can't see a huge possibility for an upset Sunday. The Patriots have too many playmakers (even without Hernandez) and I think we've yet to see the defense play close to it's potential. 31-16 Patriots.

Mike Reiss
  (12:50 PM)

Thanks Tim.

Mike Reiss
  (12:50 PM)

Let's go for another 10...

charles (RI)

mike, where have the two rookie running backs been? i thought we might get 7-12 plays a game out of the vereen/ridley combo - i am disappointed they have not been on the field more. thoughts?

Mike Reiss
  (12:50 PM)

I think the biggest thing, Charles, is that they have some work to do in pass protection and until they earn the confidence of the coaching staff that they can protect No. 12, their time will be limited a bit.

farn (Nova Scotia)

Really thought Koppen would return in late Fall to be ready come playoff time (assuming NE is still in the mix). Does his IRed season make drafting a new center in next year's draft even more important ?

Mike Reiss
  (12:51 PM)

I think so, Farn. I actually think they've tried the last few years (Wood, Pouncey, Pouncey) but the good ones go quickly.

Jeff W (Cambridge, MA)

Hey Mike,I know that as a journalist, you're not supposed to root for a team, and never supposed to cheer in the press box. But are there any times when this is really difficult? When the Pats had the 4th down goal line stand against the Chargers this weekend, I imagine it must have been tough not to jump up and yell, even just for the excitement of the play.

Mike Reiss
  (12:52 PM)

Jeff, I was scrambling to write down the personnel on the field for the Patriots and am pretty locked in on that charting during games.

Tyler (Boston, MA)

Hey Mike...with Brad Smith on the Bills now, and his past performances against the Patriots, do you think we'll see the Wildcat make an appearance? Any idea if the Bills have used that formation this year? I can see it happening.

Mike Reiss
  (12:53 PM)

Yes, Tyler, saw a bit of it last week against the Raiders -- Smith on a direct snap. I'm expecting it.

Bob (NH)

Mike,My question is about Haynesworth and Wilfork. I was very excited thinking I would see these two together collapsing the pocket, but it seems they are hardly in together. How many times other than goal line have they been in together, and if its as few as I think why isn't BB using this dynamic duo more ?

Mike Reiss
  (12:53 PM)

Bob, Wilfork is playing a lot, Haynesworth about half of Wilfork's time. I think it will grow as Haynesworth gets into better condition. I'm predicting a big game from Haynesworth this week.

Dan (Leominster, ma)

Mike, Look out! I see another Cleveland coming.

Eric (Indianapolis, IN)

Why Landen Cohen over Gerard Warren?

Mike Reiss
  (12:55 PM)

http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/new-england-patriots/post/_/id/4703726/answering-why-cohen-over-warren

Andy (Lowell)

Chris had responded to this, but wanted to pose it to you too: Any chance we get Rodak in on the chats sometime? I think he's earned his spot!

Mike Reiss
  (12:55 PM)

Just turned to Rodak and asked him. His response: "Not sure. Good question." He's so Belichickian.

John (DC)

Deion Branch or Vincent Jackson, who would you rather have on your fantasy team?

Mike Reiss
  (12:56 PM)

I'm not a big fantasy guy, but Jackson would be the choice.

Tom (NB)

Mike, do you think Taylor Price gets on the field and contributes this season? Seems tough now that he's been contending with the hamstring and with Ocho, Edelman and maybe even Slater in front of him, never mind that Edelman and Slater bring lots of special teams value. I really want to see what this kid can do as he seems to have a lot upside.

Mike Reiss
  (12:57 PM)

I do, Tom, but am not expecting it this week.

Ferris (TN)

What do you know about this new guy Adams? Can he save our depleted secondary? Thanks!

Mike Reiss
  (12:58 PM)

More special teams, Ferris. Have to replace Patrick Chung on kickoff coverage and punt team if he doesn't play. If you're relying on him to play in the secondary, probably not good.

Nissim Jabiles (Caracas, Venezuela)

Do you believe a few of good draft picks in recent drafts are getting lost due to a change in scheme? I am thinking guys like Cunningham and Spikes who were productive in the 3-4 but now look lost in the 4-3 base

Mike Reiss
  (12:59 PM)

Good point, Nissim, but don't think it's about scheme as much as the players themselves. They have talent. Have to put it to use.

fattypatty (Penascola)

Whats the odds of another wilfork int? :)

Mike Reiss
  (12:59 PM)

Let's go with 7.5 percent.

Daniel (Gilroy, CA)

Mike with the recent injury to Patrick Chung (imagine that), do you think Belichick would like to have either the Brandon Meriweather or James Sanders release back for a do over?

Mike Reiss
  (1:00 PM)

Daniel, I don't think Belichick is the type to look back. You make the decision based on the information you have at the time, and you charge forward. I would have challenged him on Sanders if I was on the personnel staff, but that's part of scouting/analysis. There is differences of opinion.

Steve (Quincy)

Mike, how big has the Brian Waters pickup been!? Without him, we have needs at both RG or C and only one Dan Connolly. We haven't heard Brian Waters named much during the games - which is a good thing for an OL.

Mike Reiss
  (1:01 PM)

Great pickup. Professional-plus.

Mike Reiss
  (1:01 PM)

Anyone have anything funny to end with? Maybe a short joke or something?

Sean (Boston)

Mike if the Pats go with another punter Sunday what is the corresponding roster move? Wright to IR?

Mike Reiss
  (1:02 PM)

That makes sense to me, Sean. Can't keep holding these spots. Maybe Ryan Mallett comes down with a sore arm (wink, wink).

Veeru (Boston)

Hayensworth will have an INT this week .....and score....

Mike Reiss
  (1:02 PM)

If that happens, Veeru, you will host next week's chat if available.

Neil (South Boston)

Hey Mike, what's your sense on the injury to Dowling? Will he play this weekend?

Mike Reiss
  (1:03 PM)

Neil, I think he has a better chance of playing than I thought on Monday/Tuesday of this week. They need him. Regardless, I think CB Antwaun Molden is a player to watch this week, and someone who needs to step up.

John (Temple)

This year's Cleveland game will happen in Oakland, just wait and see!

Mike Reiss
  (1:03 PM)

Wouldn't be surprised, John. Think they're dropping one of these next two.

Johnny (Boston)

What is the deal with our 3rd down defense? It was atrocious last week!

Mike Reiss
  (1:04 PM)

Plays there to be made, Johnny, just have to make them (specifically in the secondary). One example: Josh Barrett's would-be interception on the Chargers' second drive. Can't let those opportunities pass.

Seth (New Jersey)

Mike, you really think that if you were on belichik's staff you'd have the guts to challenge him on the sanders cut (or anything else)? nothing personal, but I'm not sure many do.

Mike Reiss
  (1:05 PM)

Absolutely Seth. To me, if you don't have anyone to challenge you, it's not a healthy dynamic. Scouting is about difference of opinion. I think you want scouts who stand on the table and beat the drum for a guy, as long as they have good reason. It's absolutely nothing personal. It's more about passion and belief.

Mike Reiss
  (1:05 PM)

And then you're held accountable like everyone else.

Zack (Somerville)

Here's a joke to end on Mike: Eli Manning is on the same level as Tom Brady...

Mike Reiss
  (1:06 PM)

Thanks Zack. And with that, we sign off.

Mike Reiss
  (1:06 PM)

Thanks to everyone for chatting. Colleague Chris Forsberg will chat tomorrow at 1 p.m. Chris is doing a great job covering the team, so join him then.