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Sunday, November 13, 2011
Quick-hit thoughts around NFL & Pats

By Mike Reiss

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

1. Talks have been ongoing between the Patriots and receiver Wes Welker on a contract extension, but unless there is a significant shift, the expectation of some involved in the process is that a long-term deal remains farther away. Welker is in the final year of his deal. He's a prime candidate for the franchise tag if no long-term deal is struck.

2. We often hear about home-field advantage. Last week, though, 10 of the 14 road teams won games, which doesn't happen often.

3. Bill Belichick had Patriots players practice in a hard-driving rainstorm on Thursday, and the conditions tested players in multiple areas. “It’s a mental thing, more than anything,” veteran offensive lineman Brian Waters said, pointing out benefits of focusing on footwork when the ground isn’t dry. Practicing in bad weather has been a Belichick trademark over the years, his feeling that players will probably have to play in it at some point and it’s good experience.

4. When it comes to mentally tough teams, the Chargers are near the bottom of the list. They can be frustrating to watch.

5. Second-year Patriots receiver Taylor Price has been putting in extra time after practice working with quarterback Tom Brady. The two haven’t had much opportunity during games to build a rapport, but they continue to work at it behind the scenes. That’s important for Price, because there is nothing more important for a pass-catcher in the team’s offense than earning Brady’s trust.

6, There are no byes this week on the schedule, although next week, the Steelers, Texans, Colts and Saints will be off. That’s unusual, and it all traces back to the lockout, with the NFL’s schedule-making creating flexibility to move things around if games had been postponed.

7. Anyone else get the feeling that the Bills, who visit the Cowboys today, look like they will be sliding back to the back?

8. If the Jets beat the Patriots tonight, they will improve to 5-0 at home for only the second time in franchise history. Their final three home games this year – Bills, Chiefs and Giants.

9. Former Patriots safety James Sanders steps into the starting lineup today for the Falcons in their home game against the Saints. Sanders replaces the injured William Moore, and while he doesn’t run as well as top NFL safeties, his work ethic and professionalism has been welcomed by teammates.

10. Albert Haynesworth’s remarks to reporters in Tampa, in which he said he had wanted to play more in New England, highlighted how he had trouble putting the Patriots' success ahead of his own desires. That’s usually the quickest way to earn your ticket out of town.