Quick-hit thoughts around the NFL and with the Patriots:
1. More offensive weapons. While it’s dangerous to read too much into one preseason game, it was the primary thought I took way from the Patriots’ opening effort. For stretches of 2009, it seemed like the Randy Moss/Wes Welker show. The early signs are that it won’t be the case in 2010.
2. In listening to Bill Belichick on his Friday conference call with the media, I got the sense that there was something about Ty Warren being placed on season-ending injured reserve that didn't sit well with him. I wondered if it was somewhat tied to Warren not participating in the offseason program.
3. One of the things I’m most looking forward to this week -- with the Patriots traveling to Atlanta for joint practices and a Thursday preseason game -- is to experience the culture that has been created with the Atlanta Falcons by general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Mike Smith. Dimitroff was the Patriots’ director of college scouting. He’s put his own stamp on things there without raiding the Patriots’ organization.
4. Now that Derrick Burgess has been reinstated to the Patriots’ roster, it would seem to end any remote possibility of Aaron Schobel landing in New England. My understanding is that the Patriots inquired and got the feeling he didn’t want to play in New England. They weren’t going to allow themselves to be used to jack the price up on another club.
5. No. 1 overall draft choice Sam Bradford has generated some excitement in St. Louis, but his home preseason debut Saturday night didn’t exactly have the city buzzing. The paid attendance was 40,801, and ESPN.com’s Mike Sando wrote: “the dome was sparsely populated on a day when the Chicago Cubs visited Busch Stadium, always a hot ticket here, and a local MMA card attracted more sports dollars.”
6. Former Patriots tight end Garrett Mills, a 2006 fourth-round draft choice from Tulsa, had a big night for the Vikings in their preseason opening win over the Rams – 4 catches for 106 yards and a touchdown. The Patriots had tried to sneak Mills through waivers in 2007, but the Vikings snatched him up. This is considered a make-or-break year for Mills.
7. The Falcons open the season against the Steelers, who play a 3-4 defense, and also play Arizona (Week 2) and Cleveland (Week 5) in the early part of the season. So getting a good look at the Patriots’ 3-4 defense in joint practices this week is one of the main things the Falcons’ coaching staff is hoping players can benefit from.
8. Tough preseason opener for the Buffalo Bills, as running back Fred Jackson injured his hand and will miss the rest of the preseason, and running back Marshawn Lynch also left with injury. No team allowed more points in their preseason opener than the 42 the Redskins put up on the Bills. That probably has Bills fans asking, “What about this team can we get excited about?”
9. Some believe the Green Bay Packers are a good Super Bowl pick, but I’m still not sold on their defense.
10. Unlike their schedule with the Saints in which they had three joint practices, the Patriots will have just two joint practices with the Falcons -- both scheduled for Tuesday. The Patriots’ final two training camp practices open to the public at Gillette Stadium are today (2:30) and Monday (10 a.m.).