Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think these are my quick-hit thoughts of preseason Week 2:
a. Just a hunch, but when Sean Payton saw the highlight on TV Thursday night of Leodis McKelvin of the Bills returning a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown against Pittsburgh, I bet he had second thoughts about passing on McKelvin (the Saints loved him) and taking Sedrick Ellis in the first round last April.
b. If I'm Mike Tomlin, I'm asking myself: Why can't Dennis Dixon be my No. 2 quarterback? At least until Charlie Batch comes back. That's no fifth-round-looking player. Dixon is poised and throws a zinger of a fastball.
c. You can't tell me the Titans are looking at Vince Young's game against Oakland -- he completed one of his last 10 throws -- without getting a little nervous.
d. John Harbaugh says Troy Smith and Kyle Boller "have separated themselves'' from Joe Flacco. Looks like Smith over Boller for the starting job in the Baltimore opener from what I'm hearing. And why not? Boller continues to be frenetic. Smith's more of a calming presence, and he's got the respect of his defense.
e. I know the state of Minnesota inhaled deeply when Tarvaris Jackson went down with a wrenched knee Saturday night in Baltimore, but if you bleed purple, ask yourself this question: Are you positive Jackson gives your team a better chance to win at Lambeau Field on opening night than Gus Frerotte? That's not a knock on Jackson, who I like and I believe deserves a very long chance at being the Vikes' quarterback of the future. Just a statement that Green Bay, all jacked-up, might not be the best environment for a 25-year-old kid with 14 career starts.
f. Michael Turner played 10 minutes Saturday night against Indy and ran the ball four times for Atlanta. The carries: 52, 0, minus-2, 63. I still think you should not ignore my fantasy warning about Turner, who will be playing behind a porous offensive line.
g. Jay Cutler completed his first 12 throws against Dallas. Matt Schaub hit on 12 of his first 14. The thing about preseason football is those could mean everything and those could mean nothing. For instance, Favre was given diverse and daunting formations in the 20 plays he had to know for Saturday night, but no throw he made was a challenging deep ball. "I should be able to complete those,'' he said. And you never know whether the defense is showing very much in the preseason either. So I wouldn't be feeling like you've got to think of changing your preseason opinion of Cutler or Schaub just yet.
h. Chad Pennington did look good in a limited appearance against the Jags, compiling a nearly identical night to Favre (5-of-6 in three series to Favre's two), but the two most impressive Miamians on offense were Ricky Williams (10-for-43), who is working his way up Tony Sporano's hit chart, and backup QB Chad Henne, a workmanlike 17-of-26 with no turnovers in three quarters.
i. Remember this name: Brandon London. He'll be on an NFL team this year. He's a free-agent Giant wideout from UMass, and when I watched him the other day, all I saw was a fearless, tall guy who caught everything in his zip code.
j. And remember this, too: David Tyree is the only remaining Giant on the PUP list this morning, and the team has a glut of good wideouts. I think it's likely Tyree spends the first six weeks of the season on physically-unable-to-perform, but I also think Tom Coughlin loves his moxie and playmaking ability so much he'll find a way to wedge him back onto the roster.
k. If I were a longshot player in a training camp, I'd want to go to four teams -- Giants, Bills, Jags, Lions. Because you can go to a camp run by Coughlin, Dick Jauron, Jack Del Rio or Rod Marinelli, and if you're clearly better than the draftee or a bubble veteran, you've got a good shot to make the team.
l. The Colts really like Pierre Garcon, who is not the waiter at the French place in downtown Indy. He's their Mount Union-draftee and speedy receiver/returner.
m. Is there a good reason why the Seattle Seahawks should keep Charlie Frye? I can't think of one.
2. I think John Lynch is a natural for the Patriots. I also think there's a good back-story to this one-year, $1.5 million deal. I like how Lynch, unlike a lot of veterans, eschewed more money and more playing opportunity to go to New England. (The Jets cleared mucho cap room to make room for Lynch, then got jilted at the final hour by a guy who views his time in the game as short and wanted to go where he had the best chance to win.)
With the Patriots, I expect the 37-year-old Lynch to fill the kind of role Tank Williams was going to fill for New England before he went down for the year in training camp with a right knee injury. Lynch will be a kind of hybrid safety-linebacker who can play tight ends and slower receivers physically and cover well. How many plays a game? Fifteen, 20. The Patriots would probably sign for that right now, Lynch playing quality football for 15 snaps a game and staying healthy for 16 weeks. Or 19.
The back-story, to me, is what an honorable and well-respected player Lynch is ... and how interesting it is that of the three teams that pursued him most seriously when he left Denver, the Patriots had the worst offer in terms of money and playing opportunity. Lynch saw two things: the best chance to win a Super Bowl (his primary motivation in signing in New England, by far) and the chance to play for Bill Belichick, the kind of defensive innovator Lynch wanted to play for before he retired.
3. I think when I see Michael Phelps give his quasi-goofy thrill-of-victory smile and aw-shucks look, I see a lot of the Eli Manning aw-shucks look. Giants fans, you know what I'm talking about.