FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Quick-hit thoughts and notes around the New England Patriots and NFL:
1. Gostkowski can look to Folk for roadmap in comeback: Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski recently had successful surgery for a torn labrum in his left hip. Ironically, he can look to the kicker who has replaced him, Nick Folk, as an example of how best to come back from the injury.
Folk, who is a right-footed kicker like Gostkowski, had torn the labrum in his right hip in 2009.
"The hardest thing for me was the timing," Folk said. "I had started feeling off around Thanksgiving of '08, finished the season, and the docs said it was acting like a hip flexor. I did all the rehab, but it only got better to a point. After a second opinion revealed the torn labrum, I had surgery in May, which was 12 weeks to the day we reported to training camp [in Dallas].
"They had drafted a rookie and I thought I could get back and kick well [to keep the job]. I get back to training camp, about a week in I'm kicking pretty well, and I'm attempting a 40-yard field goal -- it felt like I had to kick it a mile. I struggled. That was the hardest part of it -- the timing. If I had done [the surgery] right after the season, I would have been fine, with a longer recovery, and gotten the strength built up. I had no strength at that point."
Gostkowski, who at 35 is older than Folk was when he had his surgery (24), has been advised by doctors that he should expect about a five-month recovery period.
Folk has little doubt that Gostkowski can return to his old form.
"I had pushed it because I felt I needed to. In hindsight, I should have given it more time to build up more strength," Folk said. "You live and you learn. But I've had zero problem ever since."
2. Extra DL led to Harry being inactive: Patriots first-round draft choice N'Keal Harry was a healthy scratch last Sunday upon his promotion to the 53-man roster from injured reserve, and word is that it was primarily a numbers crunch that led to the decision, with the club carrying an extra defensive lineman against the run-based Baltimore Ravens offense. The offense choosing to play up-tempo throughout the game with the same three receivers (Julian Edelman, Phillip Dorsett and Mohamed Sanu) was also part of the consideration, as it would have been a lot to ask a rookie coming off IR to seamlessly transition into that approach. Such an explanation makes sense to me. So assuming Harry has a good week of practice next week, he should be on the 46-man game-day roster next Sunday in Philadelphia. If he isn't, that would start to signal that Harry isn't meeting first-round expectations.
3. Belichick reminds players of Veterans Day: Players said that before they left on the bye week, Bill Belichick reminded them about the significance of Veterans Day. "Obviously, Bill is always big on the military," defensive tackle Danny Shelton said, while referencing Belichick's connection to the Navy. "It wasn't a history lesson, like he usually does by testing the rookies and asking them questions. But he just made sure that everyone knew the importance of showing our appreciation to veterans -- not only representing the organization, but your family. Being able to say a simple 'thank you' to a vet goes a long way."
4. Dorsett had question on Judon hit: On Saturday, it was learned that Ravens outside linebacker Matthew Judon would not be fined for a powerful hit he delivered on Dorsett during New England's first offensive drive last week. On the Patriots' second play, Dorsett ran a shallow crossing route, and while he was within 1 yard of the line of scrimmage (which makes defensive contact legal), he never saw Judon from the side and thus believed it could have qualified as a hit on a defenseless player and/or unnecessary roughness. Dorsett missed the next play after having the wind knocked out of him, before returning on the next series. With the league's focus on player safety, Dorsett -- who was still hurting a bit from the hit on Wednesday -- was curious whether the NFL would levy a fine.
5. Gunner bonds with Harris at Alabama-LSU game: Patriots undrafted rookie receiver/punt returner Gunner Olszewski was making plans with third-round draft pick Damien Harris (Alabama) to join him on the bye week by attending Saturday's Alabama-LSU game. Olszewski attended Division II Bemidji State while Harris, who was wearing a Crimson Tide shirt under his jersey on Wednesday, is a proud Alabama alum. One fun part of the story: Olszewski told Harris he had never been to a Division I college football game before, so he was getting started with a big one.
6. Bennett's role expands in Dallas; Patriots can expect sixth-rounder: Defensive end Michael Bennett played 43 of 72 defensive snaps in his Cowboys debut on Monday night. Considering he had played a total of 133 snaps over six games in New England -- with his season-high 39 in the opener against the Steelers -- he has to be happy with how things unfolded. Meanwhile, the Patriots have a good chance of seeing the 2021 draft pick they acquired from Dallas improve from a seventh-rounder to a sixth-rounder. Colleague Todd Archer reported that Bennett just has to be on the Cowboys' 53-man roster for four games for the pick to become a sixth-rounder.
7. Former Patriots tight end set for 25-hour broadcast for meaningful cause: Two-time Patriots Super Bowl-winning tight end Christian Fauria is using his platform as a Boston-based sports-talk radio host to raise funds and awareness for diabetes. Starting at 2 p.m. ET Wednesday, he is scheduled to be on the air for 25 straight hours. The idea came after his son, Caleb, was diagnosed with diabetes in the spring, and the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins have rallied around him to donate tickets to help him reach his goal of $25,000. Larry Bird and Tom Brady are among the guests scheduled to join Fauria as a show of support. Fauria has joked to those close to him to expect calls from him in the early-morning hours to help him stay awake. "I wanted to do something that was unique, that maybe had never been done before. I remember as a kid watching the Jerry Lewis Telethons on TV, and I was like, 'Wow, what if we did this on radio? I could do the same thing, minus the tuxedo.' So I'm going to rely on friends and coffee," Fauria said with a laugh.
8a. Did You Know, Part I: Since 2003, the Patriots are 44-8 in regular-season games following a loss. As a starter in his career, Brady is 46-12 in games following a loss.
8b. Did You Know, Part II: With one more win, the Patriots will clinch their 19th straight winning season, which would be the longest streak since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.
9. Folk had connections in the Patriots' locker room: When the Patriots signed Folk as their new kicker on Oct. 30, he needed no introduction to Gostkowski, and offensive linemen Joe Thuney and Ted Karras, as they had all been in the same class while working toward their master’s degree in past offseasons. Folk earned his MBA in August, and although he always hoped to return to the NFL and continued to keep himself ready, he had recently taken a job in commercial real estate in Dallas until an opportunity presented itself.
10. Patriots still playing catch-up on offensive line: A combination of the unexpected retirements of swing offensive tackle Jared Veldheer and interior backup Brian Schwenke in the offseason, coupled with starting center David Andrews (end of preseason) and starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn (after Week 2) going on injured reserve, has had the Patriots playing catch-up on the offensive line all season. The team's three trades for linemen at the end of the preseason -- center Russell Bodine, guard/tackle Jermaine Eluemunor and tackle Korey Cunningham -- haven't produced the desired results. The running game, in particular, has struggled because of it. So for all the media-based talk about the addition of Sanu as the possible missing piece to help in the stretch run, to me, it all starts and ends on the line. Wynn's return from IR, and him staying healthy, is the key. He is eligible to play for the first time Nov. 24 vs. Dallas.