Quick-hit thoughts around the NFL and with the Patriots:
1. Bill Belichick isn't a "timetable" guy. Ask him about a player's injury status and his stock answer is that the player is "day to day". So I thought his comments regarding receiver Wes Welker on "Patriots All-Access" were notable. "He's on schedule," Belichick told fill-in host Scott Zolak. "Hopefully with no setbacks, he'll have an opportunity to get out there and compete at some point this year."
2. Even though Welker's presence on the practice field for individual drills has been impressive, I think it's an optimistic timeline to think that he could be ready for the season opener Sept. 12 against the Cincinnati Bengals. If I had to make an educated guess, Welker will open training camp on the physically unable to perform list, and will remain there through at least the first six weeks of the regular season.
3. Four teams have lost organized team activities for not following the guidelines of what is allowed (Ravens, Raiders, Lions, Jaguars), and the best explanation that I've heard is that the looming labor negotiations between players and owners is the main reason why. Veteran players are more inclined to blow the whistle in an environment in which players and management aren't seeing eye to eye.
4. Former Patriots defensive lineman Richard Seymour signed his one-year, $12.4 million franchise tag Saturday to remain with the Raiders. While Seymour's representatives had talks with the Raiders on a long-term extension, which could have provided Seymour more long-term security, this move seems smarter for him. It gives him the chance to leave Oakland after the 2010 season if the organization doesn't show signs of a revival.
5. One aspect that stands out from watching a Patriots organized team activity is how vocal receiver Randy Moss can be. Moss' voice would often boom across the practice fields as the offense prepared to go against the defense, and he seemed to especially push backup quarterback Brian Hoyer hard, basically telling him to keep the performance of the unit at Tom Brady-like levels.
6. One of the things that Bill Belichick often says on the first day of training camp is that the Patriots have two objectives: To prepare for the 16-game regular-season schedule and the season opener. Along those lines, plenty of time will be devoted to the Cincinnati Bengals, and one of the first things that should stand out is their infusion of talent at the offensive skill positions. Receiver Antonio Bryant (free agent), tight end Jermaine Gresham (first-round pick) and receiver Jordan Shipley (third-round pick) add a new dynamic of explosiveness.
7. Quarterback Kevin O'Connell, a 2008 third-round draft choice of the Patriots who did not emerge, is entering his second season with the Jets. Reading Rich Cimini's report on ESPNNewYork.com, it sounds like O'Connell is not distinguishing himself in New York either, and the Jets might ultimately turn to veteran Mark Brunell as insurance at the position.
8. It looks to me like Bill Belichick has given his coaching assistants, who usually have entry-level type duties, more responsibilities this year. Brian Ferentz appears to be a position coach (tight ends) without the title, while Brian Flores (special teams/offense) and Patrick Graham (defense) sometimes lead drills as well.
9. The NFL holds its fourth-annual "Broadcast Bootcamp" for active and retired players starting tomorrow at NFL Films in Mount Laurel, N.J. The program has helped several players launch careers in broadcasting. Patriots left tackle Matt Light went through the bootcamp last year, but no New England players are signed up this year (former Patriot Larry Izzo is scheduled to attend).
10. Given that they have Brandon Meriweather locked in at free safety, and James Sanders is more of a free safety himself, I wonder if the Patriots would now reconsider their decision to re-sign Sanders last offseason to a three-year, $9 million deal. Sanders is scheduled to earn $2.3 million this season, which is a lot for a non-starter.