Quick-hit thoughts around the NFL and with the Patriots:
1. I think the two quarterbacks the Patriots had rated the highest in the 2011 draft were on the same field Thursday night – Blaine Gabbert (Jacksonville) and Ryan Mallett (New England).
2. Just five years after he was selected in the first round by the Patriots, running back Laurence Maroney remains a player without a team. While he contributed a bit, Maroney goes down as Bill Belichick’s least successful first-round pick as Patriots coach.
3. I understand the Bills’ thinking in trading veteran receiver Lee Evans so they can give young receivers a chance to break through. But it looks like bad business when considering the Bills just paid Evans a $1 million bonus when training camp began.
4. The Rams selected tight end Lance Kendricks (Wisconsin) in the second round of the NFL draft, and it looks like he is a big part of first-year offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’ plans. Take note, fantasy footballers.
5. Free-agent safety Dashon Goldson said the Patriots made him an offer before he decided to return to the 49ers. Makes me wonder why the Patriots didn’t bring veteran Jarrad Page back after Page had a year in the system in 2010. Maybe it was a case of the Patriots thinking they were in good shape at the position, but then realized after camp started that their projection was off.
6. It might be a case of bad luck, but if I’m the Seahawks, I’m worried about 2010 first-round pick Russell Okung. The franchise left tackle injured his ankle Thursday night. He was limited to 10 games last year with two different ankle injuries.
7. Patriots player rep Matt Light touched on HGH testing Saturday, noting it was something owners fought hard for. Light’s view: “Nobody is opposed to making sure the players are playing this game the right away and that everything’s legit.” Light said the next step is finding out what the process will be. One concern among players is that they don’t want to become pincushions, continuously getting stuck with needles, which was something late NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw used to say.
8. Based on the first preseason game, it looks like the Bears have the same old offensive line problems. The Bills totaled nine sacks. Ouch.
9. Heard in the Gillette press box Thursday night among scouts: In the competition for rookie free agents, the Patriots took the aggressive step of guaranteeing parts of base salaries for them. Linebacker Jeff Tarpinian (Iowa), defensive end/outside linebacker Aaron Lavarias (Idaho) and offensive lineman Mike Berry (Auburn) apparently fell into that category. One of the risks is when a player gets injured, as happened with Berry, who opened camp on the non-football injury list and was later waived.
10. The Patriots stepped to the plate for Logan Mankins from a financial perspective. That was a top-of-the-market contract and one that accounted for the fact Mankins played last season for a prorated $1.54 million. It certainly counters the perception in some circles that the team doesn’t pay. Wouldn’t be surprised to see the team make a run at a few other players on the roster (Jerod Mayo?) about a possible extension.