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Sunday, September 18, 2011
Quick-hit thoughts around NFL & Pats

By Mike Reiss

Quick-hit thoughts around the NFL and with the Patriots:

1. Powerful moment captured on camera in the Patriots’ locker room after the season-opening win in Miami when Tom Brady greets Robert Kraft and points to the “MHK” patch on his jersey. Also, left tackle Matt Light told Robert and Jonathan Kraft in the locker room, “She’s smiling.” Players seem to be rallying around the idea that this season is dedicated to the memory of Myra Kraft.

2. Several followers asked about the illegal formation penalty on Chad Ochocinco in the season-opener, and if that was on Ochocinco or more on tight end Rob Gronkowski, who was lined up next to the left tackle. I asked Ochocinco and he said he was responsible. He shouldn’t have been that close to the line of scrimmage.

3. Quarterbacks drafted by the Colts since Peyton Manning was selected first overall in 1998: Jim Sorgi (sixth round, 2004) and Curtis Painter (sixth round, 2009). That's right, just two. Given the present situation they find themselves, with Peyton Manning out for extended time, the team’s lack of attention to the position in the draft is rightfully coming under fire.

4. As bad as the Colts looked last week in a blowout loss at Houston, I think they bounce back today at home against the Browns, in part because they are such a different team at home. If they don’t, then we’ll know they’re really in trouble.

5. Patriots defensive lineman Mike Wright had a tough time last season after suffering a concussion, which sidelined him for the final seven games of the year. Now he has another one. This goes beyond the idea of whether he’ll be ready to play in a week or so, and makes one ask the question, “Could Wright’s career be in jeopardy?”

6. Didn’t want to read too much into the Lions’ impressive preseason win over the Patriots in terms of them turning the corner, but I thought their season-opening win at Tampa Bay is a sign they are for real. An early win on the road like that shows that optimism for Jim Schwartz’s club is warranted.  

7. Most surprising result of the season-opening week had to be the Chiefs getting blown out at home by the Bills, 41-7. The Chiefs won the AFC West last year, but with safety Eric Berry and tight end Tony Moeaki already out for the season because of injury, and quarterback Matt Cassel not inspiring much confidence, they could be in trouble. The Chiefs are at Detroit today.

8. Panthers rookie quarterback Cam Newton was impressive in the season opener at Arizona, throwing for 422 yards. Expecting ups and downs over the course of the season with Newton, and wouldn’t be surprised to see him crash back to earth today with the defending champion Green Bay Packers coming to town with extra time to prepare. Will be interesting to see what Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers comes up with against him.

9. Former Boston College defensive lineman Antonio Garay has had an interesting career path in the NFL, with a few gaps on his resume in time with Cleveland (2003-2004), Chicago (2006-2007) and San Diego (2009-2011). But he's settled in as the Chargers' starting nose tackle, a spot long occupied by Jamal Williams (2000-2008), and the Chargers have been happy with him. He'll be an important player to watch today, lining up across from Patriots backup-turned-starting center Dan Connolly.

10. Drew Bledsoe and Jon Morris, this year’s Patriots Hall of Fame inductees, were introduced to 2011 Patriots players at Saturday’s walkthrough. Great video here. And also a great scene last night at the induction ceremony. Of all the alumni on hand, the one that surprised me the most was offensive tackle Pat Harlow (1991-95), all the way from the West Coast.