Notable developments with a Patriots-based twist that took place during our two-week vacation:
Aaron Dobson hosts football camp, cites progress with foot. The second-year Patriots receiver held a football camp for youngsters in North Andover, Massachusetts, the week of July 7 and said his left foot continues to get better after undergoing surgery in early March for a stress fracture. Dobson was non-committal when asked if he would be ready for the start of training camp July 24, not wanting to put a timeline on his return. But it would be a disappointment if he’s not on the field close to that date.
Dion Jordan suspended for the first four games. The Dolphins’ 2013 first-round pick (No. 3 overall) has been ruled out of the season-opener against New England after the NFL handed him a four-game suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing substances policy. Jordan hasn’t met expectations entering his second season, and is projected as a sub rusher behind Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon. But nonetheless, it’s one less worry for the Patriots in the Sept. 7 season-opener in South Florida.
Kiko Alonso out for the year with torn ACL. The second-year linebacker, who is to the Buffalo Bills what Jerod Mayo is to the Patriots in terms of being a three-down player who keeps everything together, tore his ACL while working out and won’t play this season after being placed on injured-reserve. That’s a big blow to one of the Patriots’ divisional rivals.
For those dreaming of Andre Johnson. While the veteran receiver would reportedly like a trade, and New England would be an attractive destination, John McClain of the Houston Chronicle writes that the Texans don’t plan on trading him.
Other suspensions for early-season foes. Offensive lineman Rokevious Watkins, who was competing for a reserve role on the Chiefs’ offensive line after playing in three games (1 start at left guard) for Kansas City last season, was suspended four games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. The Patriots visit the Chiefs in Week 4. ... Vikings defensive end Spencer Nealy, who was competing for a reserve role in Minnesota (Week 2 foe for Patriots), was suspended four games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.
Brady finishes third in NFL Network “Top 100” player poll. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady landed in the third spot in NFL Network’s annual “Top 100” player poll. Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning was No. 1. Brady fared better in ESPN.com Insider's rankings.
Extra points. Congrats to Patriots beat reporter Nick Underhill of MassLive.com, who is moving on to cover the New Orleans Saints for The Advocate. … Thoughts on the connection between Wes Welker, Jon Lester and a flip-flopping talk-show host -- come on, man! … The weekly Patriots mailbag returns Tuesday, July 15 and our next Patriots chat is scheduled for Thursday, July 17. Looking forward to catching up then.