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October 13, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with Mike Reiss

Mike Reiss
  (12:00 PM)

Good afternoon from Gillette Stadium. Just going to get settled after coming back from the locker room.

Mike Reiss
  (12:00 PM)

Give me a few minutes and we'll get started.

Mike Reiss
  (12:02 PM)

Big game this week, as the Patriots look to improve to 5-1 with a win over the Cowboys. Tough spot. Cowboys healthy and coming off the bye, and the Patriots coming off a rivalry-game win over the Jets.

Mike Reiss
  (12:03 PM)

We should have a roster move to report, as CB Phillip Adams was back in the locker room today. We asked the question in the blog about a "23rd player" winner at this point, which would be the player who has contributed more than you expected. I picked Kyle Arrington. Tedy Bruschi went with Dan Connolly. Happy to pass along any of your thoughts as I comb through the chat.

Mike Reiss
  (12:04 PM)

Here we go...

Matt (Elon NC)

Any updates on the status of Mike Wright? If he ends up going on IR, is there any chance Eric Moore could take his place? Have we heard anything from Moore after he was cut?

Mike Reiss
  (12:04 PM)

Matt, it doesn't look good for Wright. He returned to practice late last week and then was not there yesterday. I think he's really having a tough time with these two concussions. I said before I believed it could be more in the career-ending category than the season-ending category, and I wouldn't be surprised if it heads in that direction. Very sad.

DJ (Ann Arbor)

Hi Mike. I'm confused about what's going on with the LBs. BB didn't exactly give Spikes a resounding endorsement yesterday, but Fletcher didn't play a snap on defense against the Jets. Also lots of mixed opinion on how well Spikes is playing. Any idea what's going on there? Even if there's behind the scenes stuff we fans don't know about, can't figure out what that would be, as Fletcher by all accounts is a hard worker out to prove himself. What gives?

Mike Reiss
  (12:07 PM)

DJ, those Lions are impressive. We saw it coming in the preseason, didn't we? As for the LBs, here is what I think is going on with Spikes: I think Belichick was not happy with the way his preseason went, and the condition that Spikes was in post-recovery. That is my sense. As for why he played over Fletcher in sub packages, it's a bit of a mystery to me, but I could rationalize it by saying the Patriots wanted to stay stout against the run in sub and Spikes is a better option for that.

Har Journalist (Vancouver, Canada - Let's go Pats!!)

Hi Mike I was reading a ton of tweets today that indicated the Patriots would be playing away next year in Seattle against the Seahawks. Is this 100% set in stone or is this dependant on the results of this seasons standings? I will be first in line to buy tickets if the Pats do indeed play in Seattle next season. Is this confirmed or will they actually meet in Foxboro instead? Thanks Mike

Mike Reiss
  (12:08 PM)

Book it, Har. That is set in stone. I'm excited for another trip to Seattle. Had a great time there in 2008. The NFL locked that in Wednesday, as teams' home and away opponents (outside of two) were finalized.

Damian Moran (Birr, Ireland)

Hi Mike. The trade deadline is looming. Are there any teams out there who could be looking to trade a safety for a draft pick? Also reading some of the comments on ESPN Chicago, it seems as if Brandon Merriweather is wearing out his welcome with the Bears very quickly.

Mike Reiss
  (12:08 PM)

Damian, the honeymoon period is over for Meriweather in Chicago. Thought he struggled Monday night. Not a good game for him, or that defense. As for a team willing to trade a safety, I don't have it off the top of my head. Apologies.

Eliott (behind enemy lines (NY))

Hey Mike, I'd have to go with Rob Gronkowski for my 23rd player. I know everyone expected him to be a stud in the passing game, but I think his ability as a run blocker has exceeded expectations--at least from a fan perspective. Watching Belichick's Xs and Os really helped me appreciate his versatility.

Mike Reiss
  (12:09 PM)

Thanks Elliott. Careful behind those enemy lines.

richard e (sanford me.)

Has Ras-I-Dowling shown enough in what little you've seen of him to form an opinion and will he be back sooner rather later?

Mike Reiss
  (12:09 PM)

Saw him walk through the locker room today, Richard. The fact he dressed Sunday (but didn't play) is also indication to me that he's close.

Marcus (Ellington,CT)

Hey Mike, I am torn between Connolly and Solder for the 23rd player award. On one hand, Connolly is replacing a player whose skillset has certainly diminished in the past few seasons. On the otherhand, Solder has performed admirably filling in for a borderline All-Pro LT. With that in mind I lean towards Solder.

Mike Reiss
  (12:09 PM)

Like the Solder pick, Marcus. Didn't think he'd play this much this early.

Geg (Charlottesville)

What does Price have to do to make the field? Is it a case of too much talent in front of him, or is his development just not what it should be?

Mike Reiss
  (12:10 PM)

The biggest thing is earn the trust of Tom Brady by being in the right place at the right time. That remains a work in progress. My only quibble with the Patriots is that by putting Chad Ochocinco in front of Price, it's limited Price's chances to show he can earn that trust. Ochocinco, it turns out, is having some of the same issues.

Andrew (Madison, WI)

Special delivery from Ian's pizza (which is pretty lousy, by the way): what's the word on Welker's contract? He deserves to get a contract with everything on it!

Mike Reiss
  (12:11 PM)

You think Ian's is more hype than substance? I thought it was pretty good, Andrew. I'll still take my UMass/Antonio's over Wisconsin/Ian's, but that's a good matchup there. ... As for Welker, I'd be surprised if he's not here in 2012 and beyond. But nothing happening right now.

Hoogie (Lexington)

You've said before that if BB could have one defender in the league on his team it would be D. Ware...What has BB said about Ware this week, and how do they plan on keeping him off #12?

Mike Reiss
  (12:12 PM)

He mentioned him in the same sentence as Lawrence Taylor, Hoogie. Seriously. As for keeping him off Brady, don't be surprised if they employ a similar plan as they did against the Chargers -- extend that line of scrimmage with a third tackle (Solder/Vollmer).

rick (ct)

Mike, my 23rd man would be Nate Solder. He has performed well above expectations at both LT and RT; and 3rd TE. We were told he was a project even though he was 1st round draft pick.As for Arrington and Connelly, they have performed very well, however, they were known entities.

Mike Reiss
  (12:14 PM)

Like the call, Rick. Real solid. My only thought on Arrington is that with Bodden coming back, and Dowling a borderline first-round pick, did you expect him to be tied for the NFL lead in INTs and playing as much as he has at this point? I didn't.

Sorin (Montreal)

Hello, do you think that the press is too hard on 85 ?The dropped pass didn't help him but he's always running his routes and catching what is thrown at him?

Mike Reiss
  (12:16 PM)

Sorin, I think Ochocinco mostly brings the attention on himself. As for the media, and this is me included, my constructive criticism would be "Why are we spending so much time on the fifth offensive option?" Put me at the top of that list. Too much Ochocinco for my liking. I need to scale it back. In the words of BB, he is what he is -- a niche player in this offense right now.

es_3000 (enemy jets-land)

Rob Ryan scares me. Do you think he knows TB12 too well and that gives the Cowboys defense an edge?

Mike Reiss
  (12:16 PM)

I think it helps, but in the end, it's the players -- not Rob Ryan -- who bring the plan to life. I think it's a worthy concern, though. Players have talked about it this week.

Kyle (Cranston, RI)

Mike, how do you think Ihedigbo did in the starting lineup and do you think he should continue to start/get reps with a healthy Josh Barrett?

Mike Reiss
  (12:18 PM)

Kyle, Barrett remains down so I expect to see more Ihedigbo. I thought he did a solid job in there. Some breakdowns, but overall, it looked like he did the right thing more often than not. Bigger challenge this week, though. If the Jets are a "4" when it comes to passing offense, the Cowboys are an "8".

Patrick (Keene, NH)

More BJGE PLEASE! Loved that we closed out the jets with the most solid runner but how about more carries?

Mike Reiss
  (12:18 PM)

Patrick, he played a whopping 61 snaps in that game. Not sure you want to put much more on Green-Ellis's plate at this point. He also had 27 carries in that game. Don't think you want to get much higher than that.

George (Warwick)

Mike - your thoughts on this statement - within five years, NFL will be on TV THREE days a week, with a Thursday night game being included, right from week 1.

Mike Reiss
  (12:19 PM)

I believe it, George. The question: Is that a good thing?

John F (Boston)

Two quick ones:Marcus Cannon health update?With the success of rookie QB's this year and the woes of some veterans has Ryan Mallet's value gone up?

Mike Reiss
  (12:20 PM)

John, I got the brush off from Cannon today. He pulled the old "I have to go to the bathroom" trick on me and never came back :) Seriously. As for Mallett, too early to tell. Need more game tape from 2012 preseason to really have a feel for his value.

Dan (Leominster)

Brain Waters!! I agree Connolly has done a great job of filling in (when you don't notice him or the absence of Koppen that's a good thing), but Waters has helped with the additional attitude/toughness up front. He's been spectacular so far! Great jon Brian Waters!!!!!

Mike Reiss
  (12:20 PM)

Good pick, Dan. Hope you had a chance to see the "football journey" on Waters on our Patriots blog last Saturday. Interesting guy.

Mark (Dublin, Ireland)

Mike - re:23rd player, I would go with Fletcher or Love. Connolly showed flashes last season that we knew he was top back-up. The un-drafted boys are providing real depth and flashes of quality.Also quick query to you - when exactly is the inability of the Pats to put games away, leading to starters being there from start to finish in games, going to really hurt us - is it in Week 12 when Vince falls off a cliff in performance as having been out for 95% of snaps, or Week 10 when one of our key offensive starters - Gronk, Wes, Brady, Mankins - gets a severe injury in what should be garbage time?!? Or Week 8 when finally my heart gives out from keeping our opponents in with a sniff in the game every time!!!

Mike Reiss
  (12:22 PM)

Thanks Mark. Love is a good choice. To me, Fletcher hasn't done enough on defense to make the cut. ... As for closing out games, I hear what you're saying, but I file it in the "high-class" problem category. You'd like a blowout/strong close every week, but that's not realistic. I take the 4-1 and move it on.

Matt (Bangor)

Mike, on a bit of a different note this week Ocho tweeted yesterday that he was finally ALLOWED to tweet again after two weeks. Do you suppose that BB grounded him for two weeks? Perhaps after hearing Ocho's former coaches speak of him, putting reigns like that on him are what may be affecting his play? What are your thoughts?

Mike Reiss
  (12:24 PM)

Matt, I don't follow this stuff too closely but he apparently lost a Twitter bet with a friend. As for Ochocinco falling into the Patriots' Way and that affecting his performance, I don't really buy it. Just don't think he's the player he was. Still think he can contribute in niche role at this point, but to expect more, I think we're kidding ourselves at this point.

jdrob (EL, MA)

Match up nightmare this weekend with the cowboys bringing a great passing offense and an outstanding pass defense. I will be in attendance and I hope the Romo-Coaster is pointing downhill this week. I'll give McCourty his first INT this week, what do you think?

Mike Reiss
  (12:25 PM)

Good call. To me, the analysis is pretty clear cut here. The Cowboys have a lot of talent, but they're a team that seems to crumble in key situations (minus-4 turnover differential; 5 of 15 scoring TDs in red zone). If the Patriots can keep that trending in that direction, they will be fine. If they don't, could be an L. Tough spot here.

Mike (springfield, ma)

Hey mike , what been going on with dane fletcher?? i dont think i saw him one field at all for jets game besides special teams... after a strong pre-season i thought he be playing more??

Mike Reiss
  (12:26 PM)

Fletcher himself doesn't know the deal. I'm not sure either. If I had to guess, might be a case of the Patriots wanting a stronger run presence in sub.

Zack (Somerville)

Mike - when I read recently that Vollmer was back at practice for the first time in weeks, I realized that I had forgotten that the Pats' starting right tackle had been missing. I also hadn't really realized any particular impact from Koppen's absence, either. This speaks volumes for Vollmer and Connolly in my mind. When Mangold went down, the Jets looked like a high school JV team against the Ravens. Despite several missteps in the draft, Belichick still builds good depth throughout the roster in most cases.

Mike Reiss
  (12:27 PM)

I'll second this one, Zack. Well said.

Jack (Maine)

I think people should lay off Ochocinco. I know expectations were high for him but it seems to me he has been a good teammate and stayed out of trouble. I still have faith that he will make some big plays for the Pats this year. But more importantly do you think the coaching staff does?

Mike Reiss
  (12:28 PM)

Jack, I believe the coaching staff thinks he can help them in specific situations. I think the fear, at this point, would be if Branch went down and they had to expand Ochocinco's role. He just hasn't shown the consistency to line up in the right spot consistently and have the we're-on-the-same-page rapport with Brady consistently. So, to me, he's a No. 3/4 receiver at this point who could finish in the 30-50 catch range. Nothing wrong with that.

rick (ct)

Mike, I'd like to hear you assessment of draft picks - specifically - Dowling, Mallett, Vereen, and Carter.

Mike Reiss
  (12:30 PM)

Some quick hits, Rick: On Dowling, disappointing on the injury front. A concern because that was the knock on him coming out of Virginia. When on the field, shows promise. Mallett -- as good as could be hoped, potential No. 2 option in 2013; Vereen -- thought he'd do more at this point, injury in preseason hurt him; Carter -- strictly developmental at this point.

munchkin (glenwood springs, co)

Mike, this is going to be a very tough match-up for the Patriots. The Cowboys can spread the field with the best of them. Austin, Bryant, Witten and healthy Laurent Robinson are nothing to sneeze at. The Cowboys O-Line is a weak link but Romo, when on, can beat the Pats D with his arm. If the Pats D'backs don't do a good job of playing the ball it could be a very long day. Felix is explosive as well. If he can get into space he can be as dangerous as McFadden. If Romo plays well this could be a real shoot out. Thankfully the 'boys d'backs aren't so hot either. Cowboys 41 Pats 38.......

Mike Reiss
  (12:31 PM)

Fair analysis. I view it as a tough spot for the Patriots. I'm leaning toward picking them, though. Cowboys haven't proven they are a clutch team, so banking on them to come on the road and beat the Patriots is asking a lot in my book. Possible? Absolutely. Just not ready to make the leap yet.

pj (richmond)

good morning Mike, I have the enviable task to choose between Finley and Hernandez as my TE - Do you see Hernandez still being a little dinged (appeared a half-step to one step slow on a few of Tom's downfield attempts to him? thoughts

Mike Reiss
  (12:32 PM)

PJ, Hernandez spoke in the locker room today and said he's feeling better. He's not sure if he'll wear the brace. I'm not a big fantasy guy, but if you're making the pick based on Hernandez' health, expect him to be full go. I also think the Patriots will be throwing it a lot in this game.

Ben (Des Moines, IA)

Being that Dallas is 14th against the pass per game and 1st against the run, do you believe we will be closer to a 60/40 pass/run spread this week? Or do you think that since we have had success running the ball that it will be closer to 50/50 that we have been the last few weeks?

Mike Reiss
  (12:33 PM)

Ben, I do think we'll see a higher percentage of passes this week, and that will include shorter passing plays that are glorified runs.

Rob (York, Me)

When/If the Patriots re-sign Welker what current player in the league would you compare his next contract with? More of like a Santonio Holmes contract or higher?

Mike Reiss
  (12:34 PM)

Holmes is a good comparable, Rob. They are obviously different WRs -- there really is no comparable to Welker -- but that seems fair.

sam (kennebunk)

mike - the defensive front rotation, do you have a break down of number of snaps and percentage of plays that the DTs have been on the field? Vince has been a 3 down presence, how do Albert and the others share the playtime?

Mike Reiss
  (12:35 PM)

Sam, here is a link to the first five games of playing time/defensive stats. http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/new-england-patriots/category/_/name/defensive-snaps-2

Randy Hocking (Rockport Maine)

I was just reading about BenJarvus Green-Ellis and him making the team due to his skills on Special Teams, I hope they are not risking him getting hurt on kick offs. He is the best Running Back we have had since Curtis Martin. Is he up for a new contract?

Mike Reiss
  (12:36 PM)

Randy, this is the final year of Green-Ellis' contract. He only plays on the punt coverage team now. He used to play on more units, but his special teams role has been reduced as he's seen an increased load at RB.

Aki (CT)

For the 23rd man, I would choose Waters. In every running play, he seems to be always involved with good block. His addition was huge.

Mike Reiss
  (12:36 PM)

Thanks Aki. Good choice.

Ben (UMass Amherst)

Hey Mike,Writing in to you between classes out here in Amherst. Had a couple thoughts... I'm not too worried about Ochocinco or Haynesworth. It takes time to get 100% comfortable with a system. They'll get the hang of it. Also, I was curious about what you have to say about coaching, and what kinds of attributes - other than football knowledge - are important when looking to hire a coach.

Mike Reiss
  (12:38 PM)

Ben, hope you have the umbrella today. A wet one. Fair points on Ochocinco and Haynesworth. I like Tedy Bruschi's point that if it doesn't happen for Ochocinco post-bye week, then you can basically know what you have. At that point, it's been a lot of time. To me, Haynesworth is a little different because of the injury. On coaching, you have to love it because of the commitment. These guys work 18 hour days at the NFL level. Brutal. Takes a toll on the family. If it's not a passion, tough to survive in my view.

Jesse (Cape Cod)

Mike, the defense to me looked great, but my intuition tells me that it was because it was the Jets. With the Cowboys bringing in a very good Passing attack do you think the Patriots can duplicate last weeks performance?

Mike Reiss
  (12:38 PM)

Good point, Jesse. I think this is a greater challenge for the defense. Can they duplicate it? I don't think so. Let's see if they can prove this doubter wrong.

Sans M (Danvers, MA)

Hi Mike,I have always felt the pats and Welker would part ways once Welker's contract was up and his big pay day due. It seemed they were grooming Edelman to take his place. I love Welker but agreed this would be a good plan, plugging in Edelman and staying away from the big contract welker will demand. However, this yr has changed my mind. Do you think the pats plan was possibly to plug in Edelman next yr if Welker is due a big pay day? And, do you think his perormance to date has changed that strategy? Any chance the pats still take the plug in Edelman next yr approach? Seems like much more of a risk then it did a few months ago.

Mike Reiss
  (12:39 PM)

I think you always try to have an insurance option in place (e.g. drafting Ron Brace in 2009 with the idea he could replace Wilfork) and then see how it goes. I think we've learned there is no replacement for Welker. I really believe the sides will work it out.

Dan (Manchester, NH)

In his press conference yesterday, Bill Belichick mentioned the importance of special teams and how he can only afford to activate a few offensive or defensive players who don't contribute there. While I continue to root for the guy to succeed, I couldn't help but think of Ochocinco, who does a few things for you on offense, but doesn't contribute in the kicking game. Does this put more pressure on him to increase his value on offense, before losing a gameday roster spot to someone like Taylor Price?

Mike Reiss
  (12:40 PM)

Dan, because Price also doesn't contribute on special teams, I view it as a wash. But the point on Ochocinco is a good one -- if you're contributions are limited to one thing, you better be really good at that one thing.

Dave (Lowell)

Hi Mike...prediction time. Will Wes Welker break Jerry Rice's record for receiving yards in a season (1,848)? Will Tom Brady break Dan Marino's record for passing yards in a season (5,084)?

Mike Reiss
  (12:41 PM)

Dave, as I look into my crystal football, I'll say "no" on Welker and "yes" on Brady.

Jeff (Cincinnati, OH)

Hi Mike! Question - Mel Kiper was all over the Patriots about passing on Mark Ingram in the draft and ultimately ending up with Nate Solder. He compared it to the Pats passing on Clay Matthews a few years back. Though its early, would you agree looking at both players that the Pats made the right move?

Mike Reiss
  (12:42 PM)

Yes, I believe the Patriots made the right move. And I'm not surprised. My criticism would be at the top of the second round. I really liked Jabaal Sheard/Brooks Reed as options for the defense who could bring that pass-rushing element that I feel has been missing. They went Dowling. They obviously scouted it much more closely than I did, so you defer to the process, but I thought that was a missed opportunity there. You don't get many of them with the top pass rushers.

Will (Pittsburgh, PA)

Why wouldn't the Patriots trade for a solid veteran in the secondary like Champ Bailey or some other player on a dissapointing team? You would think that there wouldn't be a huge price tag and we would get some help for the D.

Mike Reiss
  (12:44 PM)

Will, I think they would, but to be honest, I'm not sure what realistic options are out there. Always tough to analyze these type of questions because it's not like baseball where you know some of the players being shopped. Different dynamics in football.

Dan (Manchester, NH)

My "23rd player" award would go to Brian Waters. Comes in a week before the season starts and plays like he's been here all along, giving the OL stability that lower-tier players wouldn't have provided. The run blocking has steadily improved so far this season, and Waters has been solid in that area too.

Mike Reiss
  (12:45 PM)

Waters the leader in the clubhouse, with Nate Solder right behind...

grandjordanian (San Diego, CA)

Cowboys come in to town with a lot to prove and nothing to lose, which is a scary combination. Fast defense, great passing game, dangerous running game after the pass game opens it up. What is your Belichick "X Factor" for this game...the plan that makes the difference? Blitzing a lot, draw plays to negate aggressive pass rush, trick plays/screens? Interested to hear your opinion.

Mike Reiss
  (12:45 PM)

Crush Jason Witten as much as possible, and make Tony Romo go to his second option and hope he implodes when faced with that situation. Similar game-plan to Chargers.

Tim (Newton, MA)

Hey Mike,My winner for 23rd player has to be Dan Connolly. Koppen goes down week 1, and a guy who played tackle in college, and guard in the NFL, fills in, for the most part, seamlessly at center. His versatility to be able to fill in for Neal, Mankins, and now Koppen makes him much more valuable. From backup to starting a position he's never really played, that's 23rd man to me.

Mike Reiss
  (12:46 PM)

Thanks Tim.

Lenny (Dover DE)

Mike I think the Pats are in big trouble this week against Dallas. Coming off a bye week to for Ryan to prepare for Brady and with an offense to really take advantage of the Pats weak pass D, I think we are in for a loss week - what is your take on the game ??

Mike Reiss
  (12:46 PM)

Lenny, we've dissected this one, but just wanted to get you on the record predicting the loss. I like the Patriots in a close one. Until the Cowboys prove it, I am reluctant to put my chips on their end of the table.

Jerry (Plymouth NH)

Mike looks like Jermaine Cunningham has really taken a step back this year - is he the next Darius Butler (2nd round bust) for the Pats ?

Mike Reiss
  (12:47 PM)

Jerry, it's trending in that direction, but I do think the scheme change is a part of that. Too early to give up on him, but it doesn't look good. Here is a link from Cunningham in the locker room today: http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/new-england-patriots/post/_/id/4706250/cunningham-im-trying-to-get-better

David (New York )

Mike when any of our current PUP players are eligible to come back, who on the current roster, barring injury, is vulnerable to be let go to make room ?

Mike Reiss
  (12:48 PM)

David, I think you look at Mike Wright/Ross Ventrone/Phillip Adams/Gerard Warren as the type of players who are on the bubble.

Josh Beckett (Texas)

Mike, I'm coming us with my boys Jon, Clay, Lack for Cowboy game. How good is the fried chicken at Gillette?

Mike Reiss
  (12:49 PM)

Josh, I'm disappointed by what has come out in recent days, and the smear campaign on Terry Francona, that I'm glad I cover football. Will be looking forward to your explanation as to how this could have all unfolded this year.

Tom (Denver CO)

Mike why have we not seen any of Shane Vereen or Taylor Price this year ?

Mike Reiss
  (12:51 PM)

Vereen had the injury in preseason and just isn't there yet in terms of winning over the confidence of the coaching staff. You put him back there with Tom Brady and there could be situations where he's the final layer of protection. Big job and needs more time before being thrown in there. Price, same thing. Hamstring injury, and still doesn't have the trust of Brady that he'll be in the right spot at the right time.

Jerry (AZ)

Here's a question for you...You think think the 2000's Patriots were better than the 90's Cowboys, "WHAT ARE YOU SMOKING???". The Cowboys had THE TRIPLETS!!! Who did the Pats have, Tom Brady? Wasn't it a QB that hadn't played since HIGH SCH...OOL that led the Pats to an 11-5 season when Brady was out....And I'm supposed to believe Brady is an all time great QB...sorry, not buying it!! The Cowboys were not only winning 3 out of 4 Super Bowls, they did it when you had teams like the 49ers, Bills, Packers, Giants, Eagles, Redskins, and on and on and on who were ALL loaded with Hall of Famers and who could compete amongst the elite teams today and not only did the Cowboys beat them...they DOMINATED them. The Pats won their Super Bowls when you only had 2, maybe 3 great teams and even then, won by 3! Sorry dude, but the 90's Cowboys would kick the 2000 Pats butt! Brady would be on his back more than he was against the Giants. That Dallas secondary would catch more Brady passes than the Pats WR's. That Dallas Offense with that Hall of Fame offensive line, Aikman, Irvin, Novacek, and the NFL's ALL TIME leading Rusher Emmitt Smith would have SHRED the Pats D. A Venateri FG would be useless as the game would be no where close enough for a Pats FG to matter.

Mike Reiss
  (12:55 PM)

Love the passion, Jerry. Let's be honest here, they asked me to debate a side, so you make a case for the team in the region you work. Do I feel real strongly about it? No. I just didn't have much passion for that debate. I'm being honest. Now, I will quibble with one thing you said. You don't think Brady is one of the greatest of all-time? Really? Not sure what you've been watching the last 10 years, but that doesn't seem too objective to me on your part. Those Cowboys teams were awesome. Loved 'em. What I appreciated about the Patriots is what they represented. True team. No one gave them a chance against the Rams. If we're going to match them up, and play the 90s Cowboys vs. 00s Patriots game, why wouldn't the Patriots do the same thing in terms of the upset? Also, the Patriots' sustained excellence gives them a nod for overall dynasty in my book. Tougher to do it in salary cap era as long as they have.

Mike Reiss
  (12:55 PM)

P.S. -- I would have done the same thing Tim McMahon did when arguing the Cowboys' case, trying to narrow the argument to just the three Super Bowl wins. He was smart, because he knew that when it comes to sustained excellence, the Patriots smoked the Cowboys.

Dave (Lowell)

Hi Mike...with Shane Vareen not sniffing the field, do you think we'll see Kevin Faulk on the roster at any point this season? How do you see that playing out since Ridley seems to have performed well.

Mike Reiss
  (12:56 PM)

My biggest thing with Faulk is that you have to see how he looks on the field. I actually thought he was a little slower before his injury last year. So here is how I envision that unfolding -- you put him on the field, see how it looks, then decide. No definitive answers right now.

Robert (Altus, OK)

My 23rd player award would go to the Law Firm. Mainly because I felt with two rookies and Woodhead on the roster that BJGE wouldn't have as much of an impact. Plus our offense always seem to not know how to utilize the run. But with an awesome offensive line blockign for him, the Law Firm has been to me the biggest surprise and has helped us win games, as well, especially last week.

Mike Reiss
  (12:57 PM)

Thanks Robert.

matt (seattle)

Mike, do you think the Pats D-line will get a significant boost from the players coming off the pup in the next few weeks?

Mike Reiss
  (12:57 PM)

I do, Matt. Brilliant roster management by Bill Belichick. He does it every year and I'm not sure he gets enough credit.

Mike Reiss
  (12:58 PM)

No team had more reserve/PUP/NFI players than the Patriots at the start of the year (4). Just smart.

Vikram (Boston)

23rd player - My pick is Waters

Mike Reiss
  (12:58 PM)

Thanks Vikram. Waters taking charge here.

Vikram (Boston)

As Patriots often try to take out biggest opposing threat, who do you think that they will game plan against? Witten or Miles/Bryant?

Mike Reiss
  (12:58 PM)

Witten.

Todd (Boston)

Are the Patriots really making the Cowboys wear their dark uniforms because some think they are bad luck? That doesn't strike me as good sportsmanship by the Pats.

Mike Reiss
  (12:59 PM)

Todd, I'm not sure that's the reason, but if it is, I'd say it's "gamemanship" more than "sportsmanship."

Al (Mission Hill)

Hi Mike, Did DeMarcus Ware play in the '07 game versus the Pats? If so how did Matt Light hold up against him?

Mike Reiss
  (1:00 PM)

Digging that up for you now, Al. One sack for Ware.

Tron (Boston, MA)

Hey Mike, What's your opinion on my fellow BC alum Ron Brace? You think he'll help this team and if he makes the roster whose spot does he take?

Mike Reiss
  (1:01 PM)

Tron, looking forward to see how he looks in the four-man line. That's what he played at BC. Maybe it revitalizes his career. If he's activated, think it's Gerard Warren who goes.

Jack (Foxboror)

I don't understand why everyone is so up in arms about Chad Ochocinco and Albert Hanesworth. Sure, Chad isn't out leaping four defenders for touchdown passes three times a game like Randy Moss used to, but we all knew he wasn't going to be doing that. And no, Albert hasn't been dominating offensive linemen like Suh or Seymour, but none of us should have expected that either. Chad is in a whole new system and he has been productive making several key, sometimes difficult third down catches over the past couple games and Hanesworth is clearly being limited by a back injury and even so he is still contributing when on the field. The more they become comfortable the more we will see from them. However, they haven't been busts like everyone would like to think. Thoughts?

Mike Reiss
  (1:01 PM)

Jack, I agree. Bust too harsh of a word. Niche players at this point. I had higher expectations for both.

Mike Reiss
  (1:02 PM)

I'm going to go through the rest of the submissions and see if I can find any more 23rd player responses, then we'll wrap it up.

Mike O'Brien (Cowboys Are Doomed)

I say Brian Waters has contributed... I knew he was good and expected him too but to pick up what he did in like 8 days and switch to a different side on the OLine than he has ever played; I think he has really Beasted this season and a heck of a pick up by the Pats. Imagine had we not grabbed him.....

Brian (Boston, MA)

How about Dane Fletcher as the 23rd man?

Marc (Malden, MA)

Thursday games are a bad idea. First of all, the games suck because teams are always on a short week. Second, the beauty of the NFL is that it's one day a week.

Mike Reiss
  (1:03 PM)

Thanks Marc. I tucked that response in there because I asked the question "Are Thursday games a good thing?"

Vai Sic Ahema (Fiji)

I'm amazed at the number of snaps Wilfork can play every game....and stay healthy=remarkable. Same goes for our O line. For the Dallas game, I'm thinking BB will go to Woodhead to combat an aggressive pass rush. So...Is Woodhead gonna be ready to go?

Mike Reiss
  (1:04 PM)

Saw Woodhead today in locker room. Looking like it's trending in the direction that he would play.

Mark (Dublin, Ireland)

Good calls on Waters as 23rd man - had actually overlooked him when thinking on it?Law Firm and Welker - key cogs - are in last year of contract, what is the story with Waters - 1 year or 2 year deal?

Mike Reiss
  (1:05 PM)

Two-year deal for Waters. Numbers increase in 2012, similar to Crumpler last year, so could be viewed as more of a 1-year deal.

Mike Reiss Long Lost Brother (Hometown)

Mike- 1st round pick to the Vikes for Jared Allen.....tell Bill to get it done!!

Mike Reiss
  (1:05 PM)

I have another brother? Going to have to ring up the parents to have them explain.

Mike Reiss
  (1:06 PM)

Saw the Gil Brandt article on NFL.com, suggesting the Patriots go after Allen. Fun scenario to consider. Don't see the Vikings giving him up, even for a 1.

Matt G. (not Gutierrez) (Boston)

Lots of candidates for the 23rd player: Solder, Connolly (why not Dante, for coaching 'em up?!?), but I like Big Vince for his exceptional INT skills, above and beyond his Pro Bowl D-Line play. Question: Any chance we're seeing the Gronk Bros lining up as 2 TEs to keep away the pass rush of the Cowboys, while Hernandez splits out wide/in the slot? Thanks!

Mike Reiss
  (1:06 PM)

Like it. We saw some of that early, the 3 TE package with spread. So many options in this offense, with this personnel. Great Xs and Os thought here.

Mike Reiss
  (1:07 PM)

Some breaking news here: Patriots place DL Mike Wright on season-ending IR.

Greg (Salem, NH)

Which is a better trade-- Aaron Curry to Oakland or Derrick Mason to Houston?

Mike Reiss
  (1:08 PM)

I like Curry to Oakland.

Todd (Boston)

Brain Waters for 23rd player.

Jeff (NH)

my 23rd player would have to be Waters as well to come in like he did and perform the way he has is a credit to his ability and proffesionalism

Matt (Elon NC)

Sad to hear about Wright, but expected. Any thoughts on who'll replace him? I suggested Eric Moore earlier, but you didn't answer that part of the question.

Mike Reiss
  (1:09 PM)

Don't see Moore coming back. They re-signed CB Phillip Adams to fill that spot. With Deaderick/Brace ready to come back next week, maybe one of them.

Haku (Tonga)

Are you really tweeting while you chat, or do you have an "assistant" doing your tweeting for you?

Mike Reiss
  (1:10 PM)

Multi-tasking, Haku!

Jeff (NH)

I wish Mike Wright the best of luck in his post football life and hope he gets well and reamins healthy fo rthe rest of it

Mike Reiss
  (1:10 PM)

I think we all feel that way, Jeff. Scary stuff.

Detroit Lions and NY Jets Players (USA)

Romo will throw the game away.... We promise....

Mike Reiss
  (1:10 PM)

I'm sure that's what the Patriots are hoping.

Matt (Quarterbacking from the couch)

Make it an easy one to go out on.......Give me the score of Sunday's game Mikey. I'm holding you to it.

Mike Reiss
  (1:11 PM)

Matt, let's go 34-28 Patriots.

Dan (Leominster)

I concur with Jeff and you about Wright

Mike Reiss
  (1:12 PM)

Thanks Dan. Usually like to end the chat on a light note, not on a downer. Anyone have anything?

grandjordanian (San Diego, CA)

I'm telling you Mike, Megatron (the only WR with a TD so far for the Lions) and Stafford need veteran WR help and have DLs in spades. Week 7 trade - Ocho for a pass rush DL, mark it down.

Mike Reiss
  (1:13 PM)

Just don't see the trade value of Ocho right now.

Mangini (ESPN)

Did this entire chat go without a single mention of the Jets spygate?? wow.

Mike Reiss
  (1:14 PM)

Eric, think it was a non-story in the sense that every team has in-house TV cameras on the field.

Adil (London, England)

On a light note the 2012 schedule looks pretty good - 16-0?

Mike Reiss
  (1:14 PM)

That will be our winner. Thanks Adil. Fun to look ahead at those opponents. Don't think we'll see another 16-0, but as a Patriots follower, have to appreciate that they're always competitive. Tough to do that in today's NFL.

Mike Reiss
  (1:15 PM)

Thanks to everyone for chatting today. Had some fun, and a good discussion on 23rd player. Brian Waters a good choice. He's our winner.

Mike Reiss
  (1:15 PM)

Colleague Chris Forsberg will be chatting tomorrow, most likely at noon ET. Pepper him with questions.

Mike Reiss
  (1:15 PM)

Have a great day.