Quick-hit thoughts around the NFL and with the Patriots:
1. On a day in which the Patriots will attempt to answer the question “Who will replace Kevin Faulk?” it is Faulk who is pictured on today’s game ticket. A coincidence, no doubt, as the tickets are printed well in advance.
2. My sense is that Bill Belichick is ready to send a message to some players today that “bad” football won’t be tolerated, which Tedy Bruschi touched on in this week’s podcast. I’m expecting at least one significant personnel change, if not more.
3. With Knowshon Moreno (hamstring) out for the Broncos' game against the Colts today, former Patriots running back Laurence Maroney is expected to be active and part of a rotation with Correll Buckhalter. Maroney, who donned No. 39 in New England, is wearing No. 26 in Denver.
4. Bills first-round draft choice C.J. Spiller had just one carry last week against the Packers. Head coach Chan Gailey explained that Spiller had a great preseason, but when the intensity rose in the regular season, Spiller was playing too fast. The idea has been to settle him down and hope it leads to more explosive long-term results.
5. When two 2-0 teams meet and the game is blacked out in the local TV market, the NFL has to be concerned. Such is the case today when the Steelers visit the Buccaneers.
6. As for the Steelers, their 2-0 start gets a tip of the helmet from this address. Playing without Ben Roethlisberger, and beating the Falcons at home and Titans on the road, shows how tough they are.
7. I think today will mark running back Danny Woodhead’s debut with the Patriots. At first, his signing looked like it might have had something to do with sending a psychological message to the Jets prior to last week’s game, but it now looks like it was strictly football-related. Woodhead wasn't even with the team in the Meadowlands last week.
8. With rookie inside linebacker Brandon Spikes added to the injury report Saturday (probable, calf), one wonders if it could affect some of Bill Belichick’s decisions on the 45-man roster. If Spikes’ calf is a concern, it could mean rookie free-agent Dane Fletcher is active for the first time this season.
9. One reason the Miami Dolphins have opened the year 2-0, with both wins coming on the road, is that they haven’t beaten themselves. They’ve been flagged for a league-low five accepted penalties. They'll need that discipline tonight against the visiting Jets (20 accepted penalties).
10. Left tackle Marcus McNeill signed his tender Saturday to return to the Chargers, and I still think Logan Mankins will do the same with the Patriots.