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Five questions with Patriots correspondent Ian Rapoport

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Posted Sept. 30, 2010 @ 4:16 p.m. ET
By Kevin Fishbain

Each week throughout the season we'll ask our Patriots correspondent and Boston Herald writer Ian Rapoport five questions about the Pats. This week, Ian discussed how the Patriots can improve their pass rush and if rookie P Zoltan Mesko's starting job is in jeopardy.

1. What do the Patriots need to do to improve the pass rush?

Rapoport: They were not getting enough pressure on (Bills QB Ryan) Fitzpatrick, and any quarterback looks good with no pass rush. They got one sack when Jerod Mayo blitzed, and that could be a solution, set your linebackers free a little bit to artificially create pressure. The long-term-solution guys like Jermaine Cunningham, Myron Pryor and Mike Wright — guys in the sub-package on the defensive line on passing downs — they need to win individual battles.

2. What are your thoughts on the running backs so far?

Rapoport: Fred Taylor is theoretically the starter, but, it's crazy to say, I'm not sure it really matters who it is. BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran for 98 yards on 16 carries last week and looked completely fine. If I were the Patriots, I'd be cautious with Taylor's (toe) injury and get Green-Ellis and Sammy Morris to move the ball.

3. From what you've seen through three games, what's the Patriots' best offensive formation?

Rapoport: When it's 3rd-and-1, you put three tight ends on the field. If it's 3rd-and-10, they can be just fine running two tight ends with (Rob) Gronkowski and (Aaron) Hernandez. They can split Hernandez wide and get a linebacker or safety on him. They've had their most success with two tight ends on the field with (Randy) Moss and (Wes) Welker and a running back. Plus they can put Hernandez wherever they want.

4. With rookie P Zoltan Mesko struggling and head coach Bill Belichick working out punters last week, is Mesko's job in jeopardy?

Rapoport: They're going to let Zoltan go on the fly. The workouts were a not-so-subtle reminder for him to pick it up. Belichick defended him strongly. He was the best punter in the draft, and last year their punting was terrible, so he's still a big improvement.

5. What is your prediction for Monday night's game against the Dolphins?

Rapoport: Miami is such an odd team. Their defense didn't look that good against the Jets' offense, but they're at home and it's going to be fairly hot. The Patriots' secondary problems won't go away in a week. Dolphins 28, Patriots 24.

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