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Sunday, October 2, 2011
Quick-hit thoughts around NFL & Pats

By Mike Reiss

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

1. No need to read between the lines this week. Raiders defensive lineman Richard Seymour and Patriots coach Bill Belichick might exchange hellos today, but Seymour doesn’t have warm feelings for his former coach.

2a. Always appreciate talking with veterans who offer football perspective, and thought this comment from Patriots guard Brian Waters was interesting: “Coming in here, I had a certain perception, but I think that perception is not as glaring as I thought. There were a lot of preconceived notions as to what the atmosphere is, and different things like that, but there are some vastly different notions about the team I have today.”

2b. Asked what those are, Waters, who meant it as a compliment, laughed. “I’m not going to speak about them. Maybe as time goes on.”

3. Was curious about what led to impressive Raiders rookie receiver Denarius Moore slipping to the fifth round, and some of the things that stood out (ESPN Scouts Inc. draft profile) were that he played for three different head coaches in three years at Tennessee and his production was inconsistent, specifically in bigger games. Here is a good read from ESPN.com AFC West reporter Bill Williamson from early September on Moore, who we'll see plenty of today.

4. Who had cornerback Jonathan Wilhite in the pool of Patriots making the biggest impact with his new team? Don't think any of us did, but he’s been a solid nickelback for the Broncos and has two sacks. The Broncos’ director of pro personnel, Keith Kidd, was the Patriots' assistant director of pro scouting from 2002-2004.

5. Impressive part of the Lions’ 3-0 start: They’ve done it without first-round draft choice Nick Fairley, the defensive lineman who remains out with a foot injury.

6. Watching Colts rookie left tackle Anthony Castonzo get beaten by Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison for a strip sack and score on Sunday night made me think of Patriots left tackle Nate Solder. I didn’t think Solder would be ready right away, and I wonder if the Patriots felt the same way, which is why they re-signed Matt Light. But he’s been solid.

7. Expected more from the Dolphins this season. Don’t see how coach Tony Sparano makes it through this, as they head to San Diego today before a bye. Looks like 0-4 and a lot of questions.

8. It seems fair to scrutinize Bill Belichick’s decision-making at safety when considering that the team had Brandon Meriweather, James Sanders and Jarrad Page at the end of 2010 (Meriweather and Sanders were cut, while Page became an unrestricted free agent and signed a modest one-year deal with the Eagles). At least one of those safeties could have helped the Patriots this year. New England has surrendered 23 plays of 20 yards or more; that’s not all on the safeties, but reflects some of the early-season struggles at the position.

9. You have to wonder if Chargers safety Bob Sanders will play again after being placed on season-ending injured reserve (knee). I remember the Patriots bringing Sanders in for a pre-draft visit, and thinking he could have been an option for them at the end of the 2004 first-round.

10. When I compare the Jets and Patriots, I see one similarity: Both teams shave changed dramatically on one side of the ball and have to consider if it's worth trying to get back to what they were. The Jets are no longer “ground and pound” on offense, putting more on quarterback Mark Sanchez. Meanwhile, the Patriots’ biggest question comes on defense and if their scheme change is going to produce the desired results.