Quick-hit thoughts around NFL & Pats

October, 23, 2011
10/23/11
6:00
AM ET
Quick-hit thoughts around the NFL and with the Patriots:

1. There was a lot of talk in training camp and final roster cutdowns about all the Patriots players landing with other teams. But six weeks into the regular season, few of those players are making a big impact, and several are fading fast. The latest example came this week when offensive lineman Mark LeVoir was released by the Ravens.

2. Is it me, or will quarterback Andrew Luck be entering the NFL with some of the highest expectations of any draft pick in recent years? I can’t remember this much talk, so early, about any top prospect.

3. After missing two previous appearances, it caught the eye that Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo (MCL injury) returned to his weekly interview on Tom Curran’s “Quick Slants” show on Comcast SportsNet (link here). I view that as a positive sign that Mayo will have a good chance of playing Oct. 30 in Pittsburgh.

4. Kevin Youkilis was right. When I was pinch-hitting on some Red Sox coverage earlier in the year, he guaranteed that the Bengals, his favorite NFL team, could get a first-round pick for Carson Palmer. I thought it was rich, but now they might get two ones. From this view, it’s a steal for the Bengals.

5. Patriots players usually talk up the opposition before the game. When they’re still doing it after the game, as several offensive players were with the Cowboys’ defense, that’s when you know how they really feel. I got the sense that there was a lot of respect for the Cowboys defense.

6. It also caught the eye that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady seemed to go out of his way to find Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan on the field after the game. Looked like Brady wanted to tell Ryan how much respect he has for how his defenses play.

7. Among the predictions I’d already like to have back is that the Colts still had a chance to win eight games without Peyton Manning. What was I thinking? At the time, I was comparing it to the 2008 Patriots, sans Tom Brady, and gave the Colts (0-6) too much credit for being more than just a Manning-led machine.

8. It hasn’t worked out like the Patriots or Chad Ochocinco envisioned at this point, and that's one prediction I got right. But I still think it’s notable that Ochocinco hasn’t created any of the same issues he did in Cincinnati; he said all he wanted to do was play with a winner, and his falling-in-line approach reflects that.

9. The Steelers placed veteran defensive end Aaron Smith, an unsung part of the team’s 3-4 defense over the last decade-plus, on injured reserve Saturday (foot). It will be a challenge to replace Smith, but the Steelers’ knack for drafting and developing has them in position to do so with 2009 first-round pick Ziggy Hood. The team also drafted Ohio State defensive end Cameron Heyward in the first round this year. I think they'll be OK.

10. Wasn’t expecting to see former UConn running back Jordan Todman, a sixth-round pick of the Chargers this year, land on waivers. That’s what happened Saturday, with San Diego Union-Tribune beat man Kevin Acee writing that the Chargers just don’t think he’s ready for action, which is why they promoted a running back from the practice squad instead. Todman could return to the team’s practice squad if he’s not claimed.

11. Local comedian Paul Nardizzi has authored a new book, “Things that might annoy a Jets fan”, and something tells me followers here might be interested in the contents within. A good laugh never hurts.

12. Enjoyed seeing the three longest-tenured Patriots (Kevin Faulk, Tom Brady and Matt Light) on Patriots All-Access (part 1 link here and part 2 link here), reminiscing about their time with the franchise. I liked Light's story about a mouse crawling at his feet while in a team meeting at the old Foxboro Stadium, with Faulk adding that he couldn't believe Foxboro Stadium was an NFL facility compared to where he was coming from at LSU. It's hard to believe this is already the 10th season of football at Gillette Stadium.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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