Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think these are my quick-hit thoughts of the preseason weekend:
a. The Patriots, in the final two minutes of the first half against Philadelphia, allowed 177 return yards and touchdowns on a kickoff return and a punt return.
b. Hard to imagine a Patriots team in the grasping mode as much as this one is. Can you remember a Patriots team in the Bill Belichick era getting booed off the field at halftime? I can't.
c. Alex Smith will make $10.3 million to back up J.T. O'Sullivan, who will make $645,000. Is there no end to the indignity of Smith's NFL career?
d. I told you not to worry about Steven Jackson.
e. The Osi Umenyiora knee injury. A sin. Just a sin. To lose a player like him in the preseason ... it's just more motivation for coaches to not play their players 'til the first game of the season. For the Giants to play without Michael Strahan and Umenyiora, you have to wonder if Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka, buttressed by Dave Tollefson, can get near the pressure the Giants were getting last winter in the playoffs.
f. Seriously, if I'm Belichick or Tony Dungy or any coach for that matter, I'd rather have my star players rusty in Week 1 than take a chance on them being lost for the year to some fluke August injury.
g. Brady Quinn: six series, six points. Not a good first NFL start.
h. The Browns, all 75 of them left in camp, need to Google "sense of urgency.''
i. Except maybe Shaun Rogers. He stuffed Detroit's running game throughout the first quarter. Not that he was out for any kind of revenge or anything like that.
j. Calvin Johnson is playing like Yao among fourth-graders.
k. Matt Ryan is one quick learner. Without question, he looks like the most competent quarterback in Falcons camp, and no one can be surprised he won the opening-day QB job Sunday.
l. Nobody wants the Baltimore job. I still say it'll go to Troy Smith.
m. Leave it to Chad Pennington to roll out of bed, skim the Miami playbook and complete 70 percent in his first three quarters with the first unit.
n. Great nugget by NFL Networker Adam Schefter last night on the Colts-Bills game: Last year, Marvin Harrison had the same bursa-sac surgery that Peyton Manning is recovering from now -- and Manning never talked to him about it or asked him about his experience with it.
o. If you think Terrell Owens and Tony Romo aren't drooling at the thought of playing that Cleveland secondary Sept. 7, you're nuts.
p. At some point -- not yet, but in the next few weeks -- we might actually be justified in worrying about Carson Palmer and the Cincinnati offense.
2. I think for years we've all assumed the most indispensable player in football was Peyton Manning, because he played every snap for the Colts and they never had a backup quarterback. But have you seen Matt Cassel try to run the Patriots' offense in the last two weeks? That is some ugly football. I think the Colts stand a better chance of winning with Jim Sorgi than the Patriots do with Cassel. (Editor's Note: Senior writer Don Banks will be ranking all 32 backup QBs on Tuesday on SI.com)
3. I think, regarding the best two players in football, this is my gut feeling: Tom Brady certainly plays the New England opener against Kansas City. Manning is 60-40 to play Indy's against Chicago. There's a reason why I wrote the Manning story atop MMQB last week, and much of it has to do with what transpired this week -- the reports (which I heard and could not confirm) of Manning having a second surgery on the left knee.