Dillon helping Brady take more risks
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Hi Nick, great column. Assuming the Eagles sail through the NFC like a hot knife through butter, which AFC teams (other than the Pats) do you think can handle them at "the Big Dance"? Do you think the Pats, if healthy, can beat the Steelers on the road in the AFC championship game?
Bradley, Birdsboro, Pa.
A: I like the Eagles, but I don't love them. There's always been something missing and I can't put my finger on it. I know Terrell Owens has made a big difference and they have a decent defense, but I just think the Patriots, Steelers or Colts could beat them in a Super Bowl. As far as the Patriots beating the Steelers on the road, yes, I think that could happen. I know the Steelers dominated the game on Halloween, but I just think the second time around the Patriots would have corrected their mistakes and I think they'd be better prepared to handle the physical nature of the Steelers, which in my opinion, is what has made them the best team in the AFC so far.
What are guys like Rodney Bailey, Ben Watson, Gus Scott, Cedric Cobbs and P.K. Sam doing now and who supervises their progress?
Reginald, Woonsocket, RI
A: I see them around the locker room. They're all working on their individual rehab programs for their respective injuries. Cobbs is on the active roster, so he's OK. It looks as if Bailey, Watson, Sam are all coming along fine. They walk around like they're OK. In some cases they were placed on the injured reserve because the team just didn't think they would recuperate quickly enough to be a factor and they had to fill the roster spot. It's too bad because I think Bailey and Watson in particular could have helped them. I thought Watson looked terrific in preseason. They are under the watchful eye of the trainers and they probably go off for other types of ultrasound and laser treatments at other facilities.
I am a lifelong Patriots fan, and have really basked in their Super Bowl success the past couple of seasons. I think they have a great shot again this year, but am a little concerned about their defensive back situation right now. Troy Brown has been admirable and the Tys (Law and Poole) will return for the playoff push, but has there been any thought of our old friend Otis Smith returning as a stop gap? He knows the coaches and system. Any thoughts?
Peter, Hudson, NY
A: We threw Otis Smith's name into the mix a while back, but no bites. I think as time has passed and they've been able to win with these younger guys, they'd rather have that speed and athleticism than bring in an older vet who they thought had seen his better days. What's really helped them is Rodney Harrison's leadership and Eugene Wilson's versatility. They also scheme well and their front seven -- particularly their linebackers -- have done a great job making plays, which has taken the heat off the young guys. The schemes have been great in that they're very simple. They haven't asked too many of these guys to cover man-to-man, though they did more of it against the Ravens last week. Continued...