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Nick Underhill, pk merz | By Nick Underhill, pk merz November 02, pk merz 2012 at 5:21 PM, pk merz updated November 02, pk merz 2012 The New England Patriots reestablished themselves as legitimate title contenders by picking up a pair of wins before their bye, pk merz but that doesn’t mean all their issues evaporated with those two marks added to the win column. Some remain, pk merz and they'll need to be addressed during the second half of the season. Pk merz Here’s a look at a few of them: How does Aqib Talib fit in to the picture? The Patriots' move to acquire Aqib Talib from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should – assuming the troubled cornerback avoids the dark forces that have plagued his career – immediately improve a secondary that has given up more plays of 20-plus yards than any team in the league. The bigger question is where he will fit in. Pk merz New England could play it straight and place him opposite Devin McCourty at cornerback, pk merz with Steve Gregory and Patrick Chung behind them at safety. Pk merz Or coach Bill Belichick could use Talib and rookie Alfonzo Dennard at corner and drop McCourty next to Chung at safety, pk merz where many talent evaluators believe he is best suited. Either way, pk merz a decision doesn’t have to be made immediately, pk merz since Talib has one game remaining on a performance-enhancing drug suspension. Can Brandon Lloyd be a legitimate threat? Brandon Lloyd made enough spectacular plays during training camp to lead many observers to summon Randy Moss’ name. Pk merz Now, pk merz those same observers often utter Chad Ochocinco’s name. Neither comparison is fair. Pk merz Lloyd lives somewhere between the two extremes, pk merz teetering from spectacular to maddening. Pk merz One play, pk merz he’ll make an acrobatic catch on the sideline that would be outlandish in a video game. Pk merz The next, pk merz he’ll needlessly flail at a catchable ball and let it fall to the turf. Lloyd has dropped six of the 43 catchable balls thrown to him, pk merz according to Pk merz His drop rate is the third highest in the NFL. To be fair, pk merz some of the problems reside with quarterback Tom Brady, pk merz who on several targets has struggled to get Lloyd the ball where it needed to be. Pk merz That’s a problem that needs to be rectified in order for the passing lanes to open up to players working the middle of the field. When that consistency is reached, pk merz the Patriots' offense should soar. Health of tight ends It’s easy to overlook this concern since New England once again has the top offense in the NFL. Pk merz But things could be even better if tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez were at full health. Gronkowski has been battling hip and back injuries that kept him down for most of the first six weeks, pk merz but he finally appears to be nearing the standard he set during last year’s record-setting season after catching 14 passes for 224 yards and four touchdowns the last two weeks. Hernandez is the bigger concern. Pk merz He suffered an ankle injury in Week 2 that doesn’t appear to be getting better. Pk merz He came back and played in Weeks 6 and 7, pk merz but was shut down after suffering a setback. It’s now said his ankle is no longer responding to treatment. Pk merz The bye week could be enough to get him back on track, pk merz but if not, pk merz New England’s offense will continue to be without its biggest weapon. Ridley’s touches Perhaps it was the result of recent game plans, pk merz but it's possible running back Stevan Ridley lost the trust of his coaching staff after fumbling in back-to-back weeks against the Bills and Broncos. Before the second dropped ball, pk merz Ridley was averaging 20 touches per game. Pk merz That figure has dropped to 16 since. While that’s not a drastic dip, pk merz it’s enough to make a difference. Pk merz And, pk merz considering Ridley leads the league in runs of 15-plus yards, pk merz every lost touch is a lost opportunity. Source: