- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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Quick-hit thoughts around the NFL and with the Patriots:
2. It looks like the Patriots will have Matt Patricia as safeties coach and Josh Boyer as cornerbacks coach in 2011, which might seem like a lot, especially since Bill Belichick hasn't traditionally had two coaches for the secondary. But it's a common practice around the NFL to have multiple coaches on the back end of the defense. For example, 10 of the 16 AFC teams have two coaches in the secondary.
3. With the Patriots' staff shuffling on Friday, it's hard to imagine Belichick will leave first-year position coach Patrick Graham alone with the team's linebackers. That's a big assignment for a young coach. Belichick himself would be a top candidate to chip in at that spot.
4. When it comes to the defending Super Bowl champion Packers, they are well positioned for 2011 and beyond. Their biggest free-agent is defensive end Cullen Jenkins, and if he gets away, 2010 second-round draft choice Mike Neal could potentially fill the void. That's the sign of a strong program, when a strong candidate is already in-house.
5. To repeat as AFC champions, the Steelers must strengthen their cornerback position. One benefit for the Steelers, and all AFC North teams next season, is that they will be matched up against the NFC West.
6. Linebacker David Bowens, who was released by the Browns this week, would be worth a depth-based look for the Patriots. At 33 years old, he's closer to the end of his career after 12 seasons, but he showed in 2010 that he can still be a playmaker.
7. Powerful column by ESPN.com senior national columnist Gene Wojciechowski on commissioner Roger Goodell and the owners' push for an 18-game season. Patriots fans made their voice heard here; 16 games is the preference.
8. Reminder to self when projecting draft choices later this spring: One of the things that stood out from listening to Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff at the Super Bowl is his desire for more explosive plays on offense.
9. As a UMass alum who appreciated the work that Mark Whipple did when he was head coach there, it's nice to see him back in the NFL as Browns quarterbacks coach. Whipple had a strong rapport with Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh, and now he has another young signal-caller to work with in Colt McCoy.
10. Patriots safety Patrick Chung is a stand-up football guy. I thought he might have a tough offseason -- with the botched fake punt in the playoff loss to the Jets possibly lingering -- but not any more. After speaking with him last week, I buy that he's put it behind him and is ready to elevate his performance in 2011.
Quick-hit thoughts around the NFL and with the Patriots:1. Bill Belichick is kicking it back a bit this week, as he participated in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.