Dependent on Dillon?
Page 2 of 3 -- A: This is a legitimate second-guess, or first-guess if that's what you did back in training camp. Cloud was a veteran making the higher end of the veteran minimum. They had a bit of salary cap problem at the time. They had drafted Cedric Cobbs and felt they would wait for him to come off the PUP list and use him as their extra back. As Belichick said recently you just can't have an answer to every injury. What happened is Kevin Faulk didn't have a very good game against Pittsburgh. In fairness to Faulk, he missed all of that time in training camp and early in the season after his mother died, so he's been a little behind as far as conditioning and getting into game shape. I think Faulk will be a decent option in the future, just give him a little time. They seem to be high on Cobbs as well, but he's a rookie and he needs to get his feet wet.
Great having you back to cover the Pats for us out-of-staters! Just finished watching the loss to the Steelers and have a question about why Kevin Faulk is held is such high esteem by the Pats' brain trust. Faulk is good for a fumble a game and cannot seem to get it through his head that he should run toward the end zone rather than the sideline. This guy dances toward the line better than Britney Spears! Isn't there anyone better available as a backup to Dillon?
Steven, Reston, Va.
A: Steven, it's true that Faulk had some fumble issues earlier in his career, but I feel he solved them last season. His fumble last Sunday was bad, but he got popped pretty good. I'm not making excuses for the guy because I think he's valuable on a team. He's a very dedicated player and he knows he needs to step up.
Hey Nick, this Steelers loss really has me nervous about the Pats. I didn't understand the play calling on offense, especially in the first half. It appeared that Weis panicked and abandoned the run totally, while the Steelers D just teed off on Brady. I understand the absence of Dillon certainly factored into this, but they became one-dimensional very early. Would you agree? Additionally, was there any word as to why the field at Heinz was in such poor condition? It looked as if the New England players were having more difficulty with their footing than the Steelers. Thanks for your weekly insights in the mailbag!
Chad, Charlotte, NC
A: Chad, Heinz Field is notorious for a poor playing surface. As is Gillette Stadium. I think the media tried to make a big deal out of the poor conditions, but at least two Patriots players I heard, one of them Bethel Johnson, and the other Richard Seymour, shot back that Gillette's surface is just as bad or worse. That's one reason why the Patriots have a big homefield advantage. What bothered the Patriots is the inconsistency of the league when it comes to surfaces. Gillette was all chewed up last season prior to the AFC championship game and the league made them re-sod. As for Weis, I agree that they should have stuck with the run. Problem is, they were down 21-3 before the end of the first quarter. I think we just have to admit that Pittsburgh played a tremendous football game. Continued...