Quick-hit thoughts around the NFL and with the Patriots:
1. Bill Belichick’s track record with first-round draft choices is rock solid. Running back Laurence Maroney goes down as his biggest first-round misfire and it still wasn’t that bad of a miss.
2. The Patriots’ signing of former Jets running back/receiver Danny Woodhead on Saturday looks like it was strategically timed by Bill Belichick for a surprise effect on the Jets. Woodhead, a fan favorite in New York, was waived on Tuesday, so the Patriots had all week to bring him in but waited until the last possible moment.
3. This isn’t the first time that Belichick has pulled a Woodhead-type move before an early-season game. Thanks to @JamieMac_RAE, I was reminded about the team claiming receiver Jonathan Smith on waivers from the Bills prior to the 2006 season-opener.
4. The 0-1 Broncos host the Seahawks today and it’s a big game for second-year coach Josh McDaniels in terms of which direction the 2010 season could head for his team. After this week, the Broncos host the Colts, visit the Titans and Ravens, then host the Jets. A loss today and the Broncos could be this year’s version of the ’09 Titans, a team which digs itself too big a hole to make a playoff push.
5. Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Dispatch wrote this week that the Rams had trade discussions with the Patriots about running backs since August, but Laurence Maroney wasn’t the target. Perhaps it was BenJarvus Green-Ellis? That the Patriots had interest from other teams in multiple backs, and ultimately dealt Maroney to Denver, was an interesting twist to their wheeling and dealing.
6. A Monday night win over the Chargers in a raucous Arrowhead Stadium had to be the top highlight for former Patriots Vice President of Player Personnel Scott Pioli since he was hired as Kansas City Chiefs general manager in 2009. One aspect stood out from watching the Chiefs: They added dynamic playmakers in the draft in the form of running back Dexter McCluster and punt returner Javier Arenas.
7. Much like last week, I won’t be surprised if safety Brandon Meriweather isn’t part of the initial base 3-4 defense. It seems like the Patriots coaching staff views him on an even level with James Sanders and will have him rotating into the game. I'm also keeping an eye on left defensive end, where it looks like Ron Brace is pushing veteran Gerard Warren for playing time.
8. Looks like I was well off the mark with the thought that the Cleveland Browns could be a surprise team this year. An opening loss at Tampa Bay showed they are still the same old Browns.
9. Indianapolis Colts first-round draft choice Jerry Hughes, a defensive end from Texas Christian, was inactive for the team’s season-opening loss to the Houston Texans. Hughes was a player some draftniks thought would be a good fit for the Patriots to upgrade the pass rush.
10. One statistic that stands out from rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski: He hasn’t missed a practice since joining the team. For a player who entered the NFL with questions about the health of his injured back, it has helped him get off to his strong start.