Chat with Mike Reiss
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN NFL Nation New England Patriots reporter Mike Reiss drops by to chat and answer all of your Patriots questions.
Reiss joined ESPNBoston.com in September 2009 and is a native New Englander. He first started covering the Patriots in 1997 with the team's official newspaper, Patriots Football Weekly, before moving on to the MetroWest Daily News in his hometown of Framingham. From 2005 to 2009, he covered the Patriots for The Boston Globe, while also writing on the NFL. He started his popular Patriots blog in 2004.
Send your questions now and join Reiss Thursday at 11 a.m. ET!
Mike (10:54 AM)
Good morning. Testing the auto update here before we get started.
Mike (10:57 AM)
We'll get started in a few. Still going through some testing here.
Mike (11:01 AM)
Some folks are working on the auto-update feature, but let's get started for now. You might have to hit refresh a few times as we go...
Mike (11:02 AM)
Patriots host the Panthers on Friday night. Expectation is that we'll see starters into the third quarter. Panthers plan to play starters 30-35 plays, per coach Ron Rivera. What's on your mind?
Glenn Castergine (New york)
Mike, after catching one of the practices last week one of the players that jumped out was Jemea Thomas, he looked good in the limited snaps I saw him in. Just wondering how he has done since.
Mike (11:04 AM)
Glenn, the first thing I look for with a player like Thomas is where he's showing up on special teams. It caught my eye that he was on the first-unit kickoff return unit Friday vs. the Eagles. That's a good thing for him, it would seem. On defense, he's mostly shown up in the slot when I've watched him. I talked to one scout who thought he was better than a sixth-round draft choice, but he slipped because of his size. The missed practice time early in camp hurt Thomas, but I think he has a chance to make up the time.
Adam (Arlington, VA)
Hey Mike, please compare how the Patriots are likely to bring along Easley with what they did with Collins last year. The situations are different, but I'm wondering how much we can expect to see from Easley early in the year, assuming he plays week 1.
Mike (11:06 AM)
Adam, I think these are two different things, both in terms of the experience/rawness of the players, and the positions themselves. With Jamie Collins, I really looked at him more as a raw athlete who was trying to become an NFL football player when he arrived. Combine that with the challenging LB position that really is complex when you factor in the passing game and running game, and it was going to take longer for him to emerge. I thought the Patriots' coaching staff did a masterful job in that area. With Easley, he's more pro ready. You watch him in pass-rush drills and there's some dynamic suddenness and explosion there. Not too much complex about that. I think we'll see Easley early and often, and your eyes will be drawn to No. 74 if he rushes like I saw Monday.
zach (orlando, fl)
Hey Mike, has the status of James White in practice changed since the game against philly? in the two games so far he doesnt seem jump out like the reports in practice state. he seems indecisive and runs almost too carefully.
Mike (11:10 AM)
Zach, I agree that White's performance wasn't anything that made one take notice and say, "That guy is going to make a major difference." Ridley, meanwhile, looked particularly quick (but, of course , there was the fumble/not fumble that is part of the discussion). But I don't think this will affect White in the big picture. No rookie has it all figured out at this point. They're still very high on him.
Mike (11:11 AM)
Auto update now on! Fixed mid-chat. Thanks for the patience.
Sean (Springfield, Mass.) [via mobile]
Mike, I recently read a piece where Tony Gonzalez has not turned in/signed his retirement papers to the league offices. If this is true, is it a fantasy to think he would come back with any team this season
Mike (11:15 AM)
Sean, it's fun to dream about the possibility of Gonzalez in a Patriots uniform. I have to brush up on his status in terms of whether he retired while under contract; if so, that would make him property of the Falcons if he ever decided to play again. I should have done that before the chat, knowing this was going to come up. As for the waiver wire for an additional TE, I wouldn't rule it out, but I think they'd be comfortable going in with Gronk/Hooman/Develin. As for LaFell, don't see him as move TE as much as seeing time in 4-WR packages instead of the Patriots using 2-TE at times.
Kyle (Rhode Island)
Hey Mike, what is your take on Easley's injury history? In my opinion, I would take somebody like him with a few major injuries over someone who always seems to have something different wrong with him and is never fully healthy. I think of somebody who has numerous nagging injuries as "injury prone", as far as I know, Easley hasn't had that.
Mike (11:16 AM)
Kyle, two ACLs in a 3-year span would concern me, and that's what Easley had. So there's some risk involved. But it's calculated risk and some now think players come back stronger than ever after torn ACLs. This is one of those things that isn't black and white -- every player's injury history is unique and I think you sort of judge each of them on their own merits.
Jody (Braintree) [via mobile]
Does Jimmy Garoppolo coming in before Ryan Mallett mean he's overtaken him on the depth chart or is it just to see him play against better competition?
Mike (11:17 AM)
More the latter, Jody. I still think they have Mallett as the No. 2 on the depth chart.
grandjordanian (San Diego, CA)
Mike, all of a sudden we have a log jam at DT. My question is why people think Worthy won't be on the roster? We gave up a low round pick for him, knowing he was recovering from injuries, to rent him for two games? I wouldn't expect a player who isn't 100% and is rusty to really impress anyone right away, and it is hard to get a feel for a player's longer term upside when they're injured (post ACL, back) so would they really give up a pick just to rent a camp body for a couple of weeks? Is this really about depth, or is it that Chris Jones had only 13 QB pressures in over 200 snaps last year?
Mike (11:18 AM)
The pick is actually conditional, grandjordanian, so the Patriots don't give it up if Worthy isn't on the roster. I think that is a factor in the consideration with Worthy, who is now practice squad eligible.
Tim (Brighton, MA)
Hey Mike,Keep noticing Browner getting late game snaps, playing with the second and even "third" teams. Is this an indication that he hasn't secured a spot? Or is it more with the idea that he'll be out for 4 weeks, so best to get him some more work now?
Mike (11:18 AM)
More the latter, Tim. Good observation. These game reps are very important to him when considering he is out the first four games of the regular season. Browner has played 45 snaps total in the preseason's first 2 games.
Riz (Birmingham) [via mobile]
Hey mike, I have been following patriots for 15 years and I am coming to Boston in September to watch my first patriots game at Gillette stadium against the raiders (I have watched the 2 patriots games at wembley and loved it) . I can't wait any advice on how I can make it a memorable experience?
Mike (11:20 AM)
Riz, you should budget out some time to visit the Patriots Hall of Fame, which is right outside Gillette Stadium. I'd also suggest a tour of Boston if you have time. Great tradition-rich city with character.
Justin Jones (East Carolina University )
As a die hard Pats fan and ECU student, I need to know, what are Justin Jones' chances of sticking on the 53 man roster? I know he was cut once already, but we have absolutely no depth at tight end, and having a 6'8 body to use in red zone situations, next to Gronk, Lafell, Dobson, etc seems like it would be devastating to opposing defenses, and create numerous mismatches. Is it his blocking thats holding him back, or has he just not shown up in camp as much as one would have hoped?
Mike (11:21 AM)
Jones won't make the 53-man roster (just hasn't progressed fast enough, as Bill Belichick noted when releasing him Aug. 9 before re-signing him Aug. 16), but the expansion of the practice squad to 10 players could help him stick in that area. FWIW: I've been impressed with Jones' maturity in media interviews.
Prince (augusta) [via mobile]
Hey mike, any chance to see Easley tomorrow night?
Mike (11:21 AM)
Prince, he started participating in full-team drills this week, and that's usually the first step. So yes, I'd say there is a chance.
Extended Kick return duties for Gallon this week or is he still not medically cleared for action?
Mike (11:22 AM)
Jeffrey, Gallon passed his physical this week. Gives him a chance to play and show what he can do as he attempts to make up for significant lost time.
Any feeling from inside the Patriots on whether the staff feels comfortable enough with Jimmy G to only keep two QB on the roster this year? 2 QB might = keeping Finch, Gallon, or Butler.
Mike (11:22 AM)
3 QBs this year is the feeling I get internally.
Mike (11:23 AM)
Just like 2011 with Brady, Hoyer, Mallett (then a rookie).
Hey Mike,Thoughts on Nate Solder? He's looked a little dissapointing to me this preseason and I know a few players from the 2011 rookie class have been getting resigned recently. He'll probably command a big contract as good left tackles are usually hard to come by. Do you think the Patriots resign him or choose to go a different route, maybe Cameron Fleming?Thanks Mike
Mike (11:24 AM)
Ricky, I agree on Solder looking a bit off this preseason, and it obviously caught my eye that he was being used as a third tight end quite a bit last Friday. Something to keep an eye on, but I've maintained that if Solder is the biggest of the team's problems, that probably means things are going to be OK. He's too talented and works too hard to just drop off the map unless he's really hurt.
Hey Mike, if Ridley starts his fumble issues again, what do you see happening? There is no experienced vet behind him who can run downhill like Blount did last year. Do you think Jonas Gray could make the roster? He looked a little like Blount running around in the last pre-season game.
Mike (11:27 AM)
Loren, this is why when going through the "checking the locks" series in June/July, I didn't put Ridley as a "sure-fire lock" to make the team. He was a "near lock" and I think you always have to keep the ball-security question in the back of the mind with him. That play last Friday might have been a fumble. It might not have been a fumble. But as Ridley said himself, it stinks to have to even have it as part of the discussion. He didn't play again after the fumble. Those are the bottom-line facts. Right now, I'd keep Ridley on the roster, but if he fumbles again Friday night, nothing would surprise me from a Patriots decision-making standpoint with Ridley.
Mike (11:28 AM)
I don't know if Jonas Gray has done enough, or if BenJarvus Green-Ellis might be a consideration if he's cut in Cincinnati, but I am ready for any and all possibilities in regards to that situation if Ridley isn't holding on to the ball.
Hi Mike, can you tell us how Dobson has looked in practice? Will we see him in game action tomorrow?
Mike (11:29 AM)
Mike, I'd say he's still rounding into form, but doesn't seem to be held back by much of anything with his foot. I'm not sure if he'll play Friday night. He has started to take some full-team reps and that's significant.
Are you willing to tattle on one of your fellow reporters? =) Who's cell phone went off during TB's press conference? If it had been Breer during BB's that would have been big trouble!!
Mike (11:30 AM)
LOL, Brian. In the spirit of Bill Belichick, we're going to keep that one in-house. But for those who might not be aware, a reporter's cell phone went off during Brady's news conference, and Brady was asked what would happen to a player if that happened in a meeting room. Brady responded by saying the phone would be taken away and a fine of $12,000 for conduct detrimental to the team would be issued. Ouch. Lots of smiles when that unfolded.
Gary (Falls Church, VA)
Ridley against the Panthers, benched or playing?
Mike (11:31 AM)
Should play, Gary.
As a fellow Maryland Terrapin, I've kept a close eye on Joe Vellano, and there seems to be a lot of mixed reviews. Do you think he ultimately makes the 53 man roster? It's interesting because I don't think he's been spectacular, but at the same time he has been healthy and Belichick seems to really like him. Thanks Mike
Mike (11:32 AM)
Colin, I think Vellano is right on the edge. I like him in the sense that he gives you everything he has. The upside might not be as high as others, but Vellano always puts in an honest day of work and scraps and claws. I haven't put him on my latest roster projections, but I think I need to find a way to do that.
So outside of Brady, who's health, on each side of the ball, is most critical to the teams success? In my opinion it is Gronk and Mayo. If Gronk goes down, the Pats lose their best Red Zone threat, biggest mismatch in the passing game and an excellent run blocker. On top of that there is no one that can step in and do that job well. For the defense I think it is Mayo because again there is no back up to him, other than Hightower who struggled at times last year in that role. Plus if Hightower fills that role there is an even bigger drop off for his position. With receivers, OL, DL, D-backs there is depth that can step up, but Gronk and Mayo seem to be key contributors that really can't be replaced. Thoughts?
Mike (11:33 AM)
Definitely agree on Gronkowski, Johnny. Would probably give Revis the edge over Mayo on defense, but probably one of those situations where you can't go wrong either way.
I'm interested in one thing in particular: Does Easley have positional versatility to play as a defensive end in particular situations, to help relieve the pass rush. I hear he has great explosions and he could increase his playing time by subbing either Ninkovich and Jones, also rotating with Wilfork and kelly... I'm really excited about that possibility, what is your take on this?
Mike (11:34 AM)
Ricardo, Easley played in a similar multiple defense at Florida, so there's some versatility with him. But I don't think you want him outside the tackles. His best fit is between the tackles, where his quickness and explosion can best maximized.
Giovanni (New York) [via mobile]
Hi Mike, I wanted to know if Justin Jones will be taking first team reps tomorrow with all the injuries at the TE position.
Mike (11:34 AM)
Should still be Steve Maneri, Giovanni.
Tron (Waltham, MA)
Hey Mike,I'm a big fan of experimenting with Kyle Arrington in the second safety role. His biggest strength in my opinion is tackling, which is something that has been lacking in that spot for some time. He's also adept at covering the middle of the field. I know BB likes his safeties to be able to play both 'positions,' and while Arrington isn't quite an enforcer I hope to see more of him at the SS spot. What's your feeling?
Mike (11:36 AM)
I think we'll see it, Tron. They really refer to that position more as the "weak" safety than the strong safety in the traditional sense. That's the role Steve Gregory mostly played the last two seasons. Lot of options there and it could vary on a week to week basis.
Emil (Rockville, MD)
Any chance we see Vereen, White, and Develin in the backfield for some plays this season? As a formation for power running and mismatches in the passing game if the opposing d matches with a base?
Mike (11:36 AM)
Emil, they've used it once in each of the first two preseason games. Probably a good indication we'll be seeing it going forward.
alan (new hartford)
hey mike, what do you think about will smith? with all these bodys on the line there, do you think he's done enough to make the cut?
Mike (11:37 AM)
Alan, I don't think the position he's playing -- 3-4 DE -- is the best fit for him to maximize his assets. He is best as an end-of-the-line player. Circumstances with other players (Siliga, Chris Jones) might have partly dictated that, but it's affected the evaluation. Not seeing the fit there.
Patterson (Collegeville, PA)
Will BB finally pull the plug on under performing high draft picks Jake Bequette and Tavon Wilson? Any other high draft picks in jeopardy of getting cut?
Mike (11:38 AM)
Interesting part about those two is that they are now practice squad eligible. So could still stick there if they are cut and clear waivers.
If Worthy is on the practice squad do the Pats give up a pick?
Mike (11:38 AM)
My understanding is that it's conditional to him being on the roster.
Ok so from what I hear it looks like Connolly is the front runner for the starting Center position. If that is the case, do they start Cannon or Kline at the RG? Or is it someone else?Seems like Cannon is too talented to not use on the field and it looks like he is gone after the season anyways.
Mike (11:39 AM)
Kline would be the choice IMO. Cannon a much better OT than G. Just seems more comfortable on the edge. Have been meaning to ask BB if he agrees with that assessment.
Mike, you hve said that you aren't against the Garappolo pick because of the importance of the QB position, but wouldn't it have made more sense to draft a TE, DL, or OL in the 2nd round then snaq a QB like Savage in the 3rd? It's early, if they wiff on a QB they have more time to draft another.
Mike (11:43 AM)
Kevin, I'm more bullish about the Garoppolo pick after what we've seen this training camp and preseason -- both specific to Garoppolo/Patriots and around the NFL. Finding a QB who fits is hard -- just look around the league -- and I think they have one in Garoppolo. If you don't have that position layered accordingly, you put the entire team at risk. So that trumps almost everything IMO, and if you like the player, you pounce. I also liked Savage a lot coming into the draft, and perhaps that could have worked too, but Garoppolo has absolutely impressed me on the field and off. Great pick.
Mike (11:44 AM)
I'll also be keeping an eye on players like Texans TE C.J. Fiedorowicz and Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry in the coming years to see if they become stars. Maybe then we can look back and say, "They would have been better off going in that direction." But I think it's easy to underestimate the importance of the entire QB depth chart as it relates to the overall team.
Regarding Ridley- he is obviously the most talented rusher on the team. I understand ball security is important, but it seems to me I'd rather have a guy who makes some yards with an occasional fumble (he only had 3 last year) than a guy that never fumbles but averages 3 yards a carry. What are your thoughts about how the coaching staff is handling Ridley?
Mike (11:47 AM)
Agree that Ridley is the most talented rusher. Also, ball security can be fleeting -- BenJarvus Green-Ellis had a run of never giving it up and then he had a mini-run of them. Good quote from rookie RB James White -- "Ball security is job security." A lot to digest there. Is the coaching staff too harsh on Ridley? I don't think so. Have to make a statement that losing the ball is unacceptable.
Mike (11:47 AM)
As BB has noted, almost nothing correlates more to winning and losing than turnovers.
How has Stork looked since his return?
Mike (11:48 AM)
Not yet in team drills, Mike.
Tom (New London)
Mike the offensive line worries me. They seem to get pushed back more times than not. Same feeling? or am I overreacting
Mike (11:49 AM)
Tom, I thought they were much better in the Eagles game. Hard to argue with 250 rushing yards and about 500 yards of total offense. That was encouraging for them.
Hector (Providence, RI)
I've been following CJ Fiedorowicz since the Texans took him a few picks (65) after Pats took Garapolo (62). I know there's all these opinions that Jimmy G. wouldn't have made it past the Texans and so far everybody here seems to be in love with Jimmy based on how quickly he's grasped the system and how well he's been performing in practice and in preseason....but am I wrong for still wanting CJ?We've been playing musical chairs at the TE position and I know you like what Develin brings to the depth at TE but wouldn't you rather have had CJ in this case? Jimmy brings long term security to the Pats, I fully acknowledge that. But is that what fans really care about? Are we so worried about what the team is going to look 3 or 4 years from now that we passed up on a possible Year One contributor at a position that's only as strong as the ligaments in Gronk's knees?
Mike (11:52 AM)
All fair points, Hector. If Fiedorowicz becomes a big-time contributor, this viewpoint might be proven to be correct. This was one of those years where there weren't a lot of tight end options -- the supply didn't meet the demand -- and you have to make some tough decisions. On Garoppolo, it's not so much about 3-4 years down the road to me -- because I think Brady could play longer than that -- as much as it is making sure your team has a viable option to take over in the event of a Peyton Manning 2011-type situation. If you don't, you put the whole team at risk. I see great, great, great value in that backup QB spot.
Riders of Rohan Davey (Work-like Environment)
Thoughts on LaGarette Blount's arrest?
Mike (11:53 AM)
Bad look, Rohan. I'm also not naive to think that isn't happening elsewhere -- just don't get caught. Be smarter than that.
Mike, am I crazy or was the Oline a concern a couple of years ago in training camp and it turned out to be one of our stronger units during the regular season? I'm hearing lots of concern from fans, and thinking we should wait and see a bit before hitting the panic button.
Mike (11:54 AM)
Well said. One of my favorite moments with Dante Scarnecchia was when he reflected on Matt Light's rookie season and said something like, "Did you think he had it all figured out in 2001? It takes time!" We have to let it breathe a little bit and see how it unfolds. A work in progress.
If Devey makes the team, which I think he will, who does he push off the team, as far as OLman?
Mike (11:56 AM)
I'd think it's Halapio who would be the odd-man out in that scenario, Bob.
Mike (11:56 AM)
Let's take a few more here...
grandjordanian (San Diego)
Again, with Ridley, I wonder if this is just "New England overscrutiny". He had 4 fumbles (or 3, if you believe ESPN). Guys with similar carries and the same or more fumbles include Reggie Bush, Jamal Charles, Blount, CJ Spiller, Alfred Morris, Bell, Mendenhall, etc.
Mike (11:57 AM)
If BB wasn't benching him, I'd agree with you. But the actions of the coach are what dictates the discussion IMO. Let's just focus on the facts -- he fumbled, didn't play again Friday. Could mean something. Could mean nothing. But can't just ignore it, right?
My thought,Mallett is third string or cut. Garrapolo just looks so far ahead of Mallett out there.
Mike (11:59 AM)
My one hesitation there, Rick, is that teams aren't really mixing up coverages, so there's still a little bit of a projection there. I thought Mallett was much better last Friday, albeit against lower competition.
Derek (Somers, CT)
Malcolm Butler, makes the 53-man roster? If so, starts day 1 opposite of Revis? My opinion says yes, hes a defensive play-maker (in the making) and we need to utilize his abilities right off the get-go and he'll only improve throughout the year; love the way he tackles, seems to always have his hands ripping for the ball!
Mike (12:00 PM)
Great story, Derek. Let's see what Butler does Friday night before elevating him to starting lineup status for the opener. I wrote in this week's mailbag that the Zach Sudfeld situation from last year is a good reminder of how volatile and fluid situations with rookies can be.
Mike, In the absence of a Dustin Keller type signing (or a Tony Gonzalez type miracle), it looks like the TE position is going to be a lot of Hooman + limited Gronk (until he gets his legs underneath him). But Develin is intruiguing to me as well. Do you think he could get some serious reps during the early regular season? Big, smart, tough guy with pretty good hands. Sounds like a fit to me.
Mike (12:01 PM)
No doubt about it, Zack. Develin has carved out a nice role for himself with the team. Lock him in on the roster and we'll see his playing time vary depending on the specific game-plan of that week.
Ganesh Swaminathan (Boston)
Hi Mike, Do you think Lafell will be moved around a bit (Z and W) or will he be used primarily as an X receiver or in the red zone? Thanks
Mike (12:04 PM)
All of the above, Ganesh. I thought we saw that bigger catch radius (6-2, 210) show up a bit on the TD catch vs. the Eagles when he sort of boxed out the defender while running across the back line of the end zone.
Mike, Brian Tyms has looked like extremely impressive in the preseason. What's is outlook after the suspension?
Mike (12:05 PM)
Dave, sort of curious to see if Tyms gets any time with Brady and Co. on Friday night. I think that's the next step for him to have a chance to stick.
Mark (Erie,Pa) [via mobile]
If Brady and our 2nd Stringer went down in a game, would Edlemen finish the game or somebody else?
Mike (12:05 PM)
Mark, I think they'd go to No. 3, which is Garoppolo right now. Then probably Edelman.
Huge fan. My question is about nate ebner. He really came in as ST's only with no real safety experience. This is his third year so like a redshirt sophomore who has shown a nose for the ball in preseason and on special teams. Any chance without major injuries he starts to see some game time in the regular season.
Mike (12:07 PM)
Let's end on this one, Brian. Ebner has shown up in some sub packages, and I think that's the most likely spot we'd see him if he plays on defense. Like you said, he's a valuable contributor on special teams. Last year, he played just 5 total defensive snaps in the regular season. If the number increases this year, it would probably be more of a minor increase than a big uptick.
Mike (12:08 PM)
Thanks to everyone for chatting. Enjoyable stuff. Let's do it again next week.