Quick-hit thoughts around the NFL and with the Patriots:
1. One thing we’ll be watching for Wednesday is if veteran tight end Visanthe Shiancoe (injured reserve/designated to return) and/or defensive lineman Myron Pryor (physically unable to perform/shoulder) return to practice. They are eligible to do so for the first time but Shiancoe, per the NFL's new rules, couldn't be added to the active roster until after Week 8. Once that happens, would the Patriots really keep five tight ends? We know Belichick likes the position, but five seems a bit rich and it could put Michael Hoomanawanui's roster spot in jeopardy at that time.
2. Myron Pryor, the 2009 sixth-round draft choice who has been limited to 11 games over the last two seasons, entered the year with his roster spot looking tenuous. But the combination of his health and the failed free-agent signing of Jonathan Fanene, now has him in position to be a contributor as an interior presence behind Vince Wilfork and Kyle Love. The Patriots don’t have a lot of depth there.
3. Happy for veteran defensive end Andre Carter, knowing how hard he worked to recover from a serious quad injury last December, as he is expected to make his debut today for the Raiders in their road game against the Falcons. The Raiders have just three sacks in four games (they already had their bye) and they signed Carter with the hope he’d add a pass-rushing spark. He did for the Patriots last season.
4. Spending a day around the Seahawks, head coach Pete Carroll seems bullish on sticking with rookie Russell Wilson at quarterback despite some of his early struggles. But Matt Flynn, the backup, put up the following stat line against the Patriots two years ago when he was with the Packers: 24 of 37 for 251 yards, with 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. It was one of his best days as a pro. That experience facing a Bill Belichick-coached Patriots team is valuable, and it makes me wonder if it would be smart for Carroll to somehow mix Flynn into the plan today.
5. Similar to the Patriots in 2008 when they had back to back games out west, the Buffalo Bills decided to make a full week of it there – they didn’t return home following last Sunday’s blowout loss to the 49ers. So the Bills, who visit the Cardinals today, have spent this week training in Arizona and it’s probably the best thing for them. The heat is being turned up on a defense that was supposed to be great, but has been shredded for 52 and 45 points the last two weeks. And now they’ll be without defensive end Mark Anderson, the former Patriot who sustained a knee injury that required surgery and will knock him out for at least a few weeks.
6. When a player sends a tweet, it’s like hitting “reply all” on an email to the world. We were reminded of this over the last few days with linebacker Brandon Spikes, who created a distraction for the Patriots with a tweet that drew the attention of the mainstream media and turned the focus away from where Bill Belichick wants it – the game itself. Players like Spikes, who said the tweet was a joke, need to be smarter than that.
7. Here’s a stat that stands out from the Chiefs’ early-season struggles: They have a minus-15 turnover differential, which is by far the worst mark in the NFL. They aren’t creating turnovers (4) and they are careless with the football (19 giveaways – 9 interceptions from quarterback Matt Cassel and 10 lost fumbles).
8. One leftover thought from Kevin Faulk’s retirement ceremony on Tuesday: Kudos to the Patriots and owner Robert Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick for orchestrating such a first-class send-off. As I watched it unfold, I asked myself the question of how many other teams do things like that, with such a nice personal touch in such a tradition-rich setting.
9. It was nice to catch up with former Patriots safety Lawyer Milloy, who was visiting the Seahawks locker room on Friday. Milloy had an opportunity to play for the Titans last year, but declined because he wanted his final season to be with his hometown Seahawks, in part because it strengthens his positioning for post-career work. Now he’s officially retired and he takes pride in helping bring young safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas along as Seahawks rookies.
10. Bill Belichick has said that sometimes replacing a core special teams player is harder than anything, because it affects four different units, and there often isn’t one player who can simply fill that void. That’s part of the trickle-down effect of the Patriots being without veteran linebacker Tracy White (foot) today. It forces a top player like linebacker Jerod Mayo to play extra snaps, like he did on the punt team last week when White went out.
EXTRA POINT: Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington is hosting a “Monday Night Football” Karaoke Night tomorrow at Kowloon in Saugus, Mass. (6:30 p.m.) Tickets are $30 and part of the proceeds will benefit Dance Etc. of Salem, which is in need of anew floor. Several Patriots players are expected to join Arrington for the event.