FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Quick-hit thoughts and notes around the New England Patriots and NFL:
1. Dorsett changes name on back of jersey: Receiver Phillip Dorsett, who has become one of Tom Brady's go-to options in the clutch, made a notable switch this year. The back of his jersey -- and the electronic placard above his locker -- now reads Dorsett II.
"I wouldn't be who I am today without my dad, and obviously he's the first," the 26-year-old Dorsett explained. "I just wanted to acknowledge him, because I play for him and my family. He's the reason you see Phillip Dorsett II here today. He made me who I am."
Dad first saw it while scanning Twitter in the preseason.
"It almost brought tears to my eyes," he said from South Florida, where he is in his 32nd year working for the Broward County School system as an electrician (and now a supervisor). "A very proud moment."
Phillip Dorsett and wife Vertez already had a daughter, Briana, when young Phillip was born on Jan. 5, 1993. They had previously discussed the importance of family legacy, and the possibility of naming a son after Phillip.
Father coached the son in little league football and track, and when he starred at the University of Miami from 2011-14, the spotlight shined bright and a popular question soon followed him.
Said Dad: "People would ask 'Is that Tony Dorsett's son?' And Phillip would be like, 'No, let me tell you about my dad!' For me, that's one of the reasons he did it. He said 'Dad, that's my name, I want people to know that.'"
The son, enjoying the best start to an NFL season in his five-year career with 13 receptions for 187 yards and three touchdowns, had something else in mind too.
"I wouldn't say there was a moment, it's just the fact I realized how much he meant to me in my life, and the morals and everything he's instilled in me," he said in the days leading up to Sunday's road game against the Buffalo Bills. "Never been in trouble. Always tried to be a stand-up guy. It's because of him. I think my dad knows he means everything to me."
2. Brady's drive at 42 makes impression on free agent: An agent for a player who recently worked out for the Patriots relayed how it was an early Friday morning at Gillette Stadium, and his client had to be at the facility at 5:30 a.m. to start the day with physical examinations. When the player arrived, he was struck by one thing in particular: Tom Brady was already at the facility. The player didn't get signed by the Patriots, but still left with a good story to tell -- about a 42-year-old quarterback who is still as motivated as ever.
3. More on Develin's neck injury: Patriots fullback James Develin dealt with a stinger in the preseason and the residual effects of that could have played a factor in the neck injury that landed him on injured reserve Monday. Develin told those close to him that a review of his blocking technique in Week 2 against Miami showed he was leading more with his shoulder in that game, which was a result of compensating from having experienced a stinger. As for what is ahead for Develin, a neck injury at a position known for its high-impact collisions is a scary combination, and I'd be surprised if Develin returns to action this season off the IR list.
4. IR players add up for Patriots: Develin is the 10th player the Patriots have placed on injured reserve since the start of training camp. That matched the team's total of IR players from all of last season. The big takeaway: Whereas good health was one of the things the Patriots had going for them in 2018, it's been more of a struggle in that area this year -- especially when considering that more core players have been lost this year as well.
5. Patriots have added three babies to "roster" this season: One of the unique aspects of the Patriots' 3-0 start is that they've had three players -- linebacker Kyle Van Noy, running back James White and defensive end Shilique Calhoun -- miss games due to the birth of their children. Bill Belichick's personal touch has been evident, as he noted during his weekly interview on sports radio WEEI, "There are things in life that override football." Belichick also reflected on his own experience: His daughter Amanda was born Oct. 9, 1984, shortly after the Giants -- for whom Belichick was serving as linebackers/special teams coach at the time -- lost to the 49ers on Monday Night Football.
6. Did You Know: Prior to a loss Thursday night, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had won 59 games in a row when leading by 10 points at home, which was the second-longest streak in the Super Bowl era. The longest streak was Brady, at 80, from 2001-2015. The Eagles ended both streaks (35-28 over New England, and 34-27 over Green Bay).
7. Running game not sitting well with offensive line: The Patriots have rolled to a 3-0 start, and although there are plenty of good vibes around that, I was struck by one of the first things I heard among some offensive linemen in the locker room after last Sunday's blowout win against the Jets: Near disgust with the state of the team's running game. The point was made among linemen that they have to decide if they're going to allow a run of injuries and personnel instability be a convenient excuse for subpar production (91 carries, 291 yards, 3.2 avg), or if they're actually going to do something about it. How that manifests itself Sunday on the road against the Bills is one of the top things I'll be watching.
8. Welcome back, Watson: The tight end position has long been a key chess piece for offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to help create favorable matchups, but the Patriots' playcaller has been mostly handcuffed early this season with just two on the roster (Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo), and with LaCosse missing two games because of an ankle injury. So the return of veteran Benjamin Watson from suspension on Monday should be welcome, assuming Watson clears every physical/mental hurdle after suffering a concussion in the team's third preseason game. The Patriots will have to make a roster move to create room for Watson, and it will be interesting to see if third-unit quarterback Cody Kessler has staying power.
9. Gostkowski leads NFL with 19 touchbacks: While Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski has had an inconsistent start to the season, missing three extra point attempts, his kickoffs have been noticeably better than last season (NFL-high 19 touchbacks). That was a point Belichick highlighted this past week, while repeating how his confidence hasn't wavered in the 14-year veteran. Favorable weather conditions are a factor, but not to be overlooked is how rookie punter Jake Bailey took some of the strain off Gostkowski in training camp/preseason by handling some of those duties.
10. Bailey knows about a different type of hang time: A fun note about Bailey, who was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week: His hang time isn't limited to the football field -- he's an aspiring pilot. "Flying has always been a part of my family. My great grandfather flew recreationally, my grandpa flew for the Air Force in Korea, and flew for TWA -- an old airline -- and my dad flew recreationally, too. It's something we've always done," said Bailey, who picked it up as a sophomore at Stanford and recently drove by Norwood airport to scout it out as a possibility for future flights. "I have all the minimum requirements, and it's just about taking the final exam and finishing it up."