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Snap Judgments (cont.)

Posted: Friday August 24, 2007 12:47PM; Updated: Friday August 24, 2007 1:55PM
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• Who exactly is Pierre Thomas and what's the Saints rookie running back doing rushing for 90 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 11 carries against the Chiefs?

It must feel good for New Orleans to know that if anything happens this season to Deuce McAllister, Reggie Bush, Aaron Stecker and Antonio Pittman, it will still be able to run the ball.

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• Remember all the hand-ringing in Saints camp after New Orleans laid that egg offensively against the Steelers in the Hall of Fame game? The Saints fixed that problem. In their most recent three games, quarterback Drew Brees is a staggering 35 of 39 in passing, which includes a 17-of-19 showing for 182 yards and a touchdown at Kansas City.

New Orleans hung up 479 yards of offense against the Chiefs, committed just two penalties and hogged the ball for more than 37 minutes of possession time.

The over-under for the Saints at Colts opener on Sept. 6 might be in the high 70s.

• In New York's latest silly war of words -- the kind that seems to break out on the Giants about every other week -- I give the nod to Eli Manning for how he handled the criticism leveled at him by former teammate Tiki Barber.

Manning had just the right amount of sarcasm and gumption in his rebuttal to Barber's questioning of his leadership skills, and I think he would have been tacitly re-enforcing the perception of him as too quiet for his own good if he had let Barber's comments go without a return salvo.

Kelly Holcomb to Atlanta in the next week still makes the most sense to me. With D.J. Shockley out for the season after blowing out his knee against Buffalo last week, the Falcons are by far the team that's most desperate for a veteran quarterback. This is exactly the situation the Eagles were hoping for in anticipation of a late-August market being created for Holcomb.

Washington's Mark Brunell and Oakland's Josh McCown might also be possibilities for Bobby Petrino in Atlanta, but McCown likely isn't going anywhere until JaMarcus Russell signs, and there's no telling when that might be.

• I really don't blame Browns fans a bit for catching a big-time case of Brady Quinn Fever after the rookie quarterback's boffo fourth-quarter showing last week against Detroit. After enduring what they've endured since Cleveland re-entered the league in 1999, they've got a little excitement/overreaction coming.

Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson haven't given Browns fans much reason to want to wait for the dawn of the Quinn era. I say give into the buzz, Cleveland, and ride it as far as you can.

• Faithful readers of this column know that I wasn't exactly a Rex Grossman guy last season. And after watching his Monday-night meltdown against the Colts in the RCA Dome, it's clear there's still some cause for concern in Chicago. A turnover problem in August isn't going to cost Grossman his job, but it should at least make the leash a bit shorter come regular season.

• Different city, different quarterback, same basic story. In Jacksonville, Byron Leftwich's lackluster night against Green Bay (6 of 16 for 67 yards, with no points produced despite playing into the third quarter) is again going to spark a new round of questions regarding his grasp on the starting job. Especially since Jaguars backup David Garrard was sharp in his second-half relief stint.

• There's no surprise to Asante Samuel reportedly being ready to resume his Patriots career. As we've maintained all along, Samuel wasn't about to turn his nose up at the weekly paychecks of $458,235 that will start getting cut in the regular season.

You can bluster all you want about never playing for a team again (see Briggs, Lance) or holding out for the first 10 weeks of the season (as Samuel did), but in the end, a franchise-tagged player has next to no leverage in such situations. Unless you're willing to pass up the big bucks, you're going to report just before the regular season commences and start getting paid.

Think about how much was written all offseason and preseason about Briggs' and Samuel's holdouts, and what eventually they will amount to. And next year, there will be a new set of names spouting the same breathless rhetoric, and generating the same amount of breathless coverage. Count on it.

• Speaking of much ado about nothing, Godspeed, Pete Kendall. The disgruntled ex-Jet guard is now being hailed as a savior in Washington, where the Redskins' shaky left side of their offensive line nearly got quarterback Jason Campbell shelved for the season with a knee injury last week.

I like Kendall, who's a great quote, a stand-up guy, and he's been a solid pro throughout his long NFL career. But his contract drama got old after about 15 minutes. If it hadn't unfolded in New York, it would have barely made a blip on the league's radar screen.

• This is where the preseason must drive a head coach nuts in terms of how much to play your starters, without risking too much in terms of injuries: Thursday night against Jacksonville, Packers coach Mike McCarthy had to explain/defend his decision to leave the team's best receiver, Donald Driver, on the field for two plays after quarterback Brett Favre had been removed from the game.

Two lousy plays.

Driver suffered a sprained foot on the second play after Favre's exit, and if he's gone for any significant amount of time, it would be a devastating setback to Green Bay's offense.

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