7. I think there's a good reason why the Saints fell in love with Ohio State cornerback Malcolm Jenkins and drafted him 14th overall in April. He's obviously got a good football IQ. But his love of the game is something Sean Payton, GM Mickey Loomis and the football staff considered a major factor. And this past week, he showed his eagerness. He finished all his Ohio State coursework a week early (Ohio State has three terms, not two, and thus school in Columbus runs into June), pulling an all-nighter before his last final exam Friday, and flew to New Orleans late Friday so he could report for the last two days of Saints' minicamp this weekend.
8. I think if I were a boss in the media -- TV, Web site, radio -- I'd look long and hard at giving Bill Kuharich a job for the fall. First off, I should say I've been a longtime fan of Kuharich's work scouting pro players; he's relentlessly honest (when he is allowed to speak by his superiors) when judging players and appraising teams. The other day, Bob Papa and I had Kuharich on our Sirius show, and he said two interesting things. Regarding the Chargers, he said, "I think they're going to continue to go backwards.'' Regarding JaMarcus Russell, he said: "You can't live up to the billing of being the No. 1-pick in the draft. But I see him growing. Very physical, very strong arm, and his accuracy is improving. I see him learning to manage the game better. I don't know if he'll ever be in the Dan Marino category, but he'll be a good, functioning NFL quarterback.''
9. I think Brian Westbrook, coming off an ankle cleanout that will take him out of harm's way for much of training camp, will be very much what he was last year. He played 14 regular-season games last year, with 287 touches (rushing-receiving). That averages out to 20.5 touches per game. And I'd put the over/under for Westbrook touches in the Philly opener at Carolina on Sept. 13 at 21. In fact, I'd probably take the over in that game.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. If there's a better song playing on the planet right now than Breathe by U2, I'd like to hear it.
b. Jimmy Johnson has been and always will be an open book. But Dan Le Batard wrote such an insightful piece about him in the Miami Herald on Sunday that I'm now thinking, "Do I really know the man?" A great, great piece. Le Batard quotes Johnson saying, "Pro coaching is ...'' and then Le Batard writes that Johnson makes a sound like he is vomiting. He also quotes Johnson as saying, "I've blocked out the past. Every dream or nightmare I had for 20 years was dealing with a football game. Stupid stuff. A nightmare that our uniforms weren't ready or something like that. I haven't had a football dream for six or seven years. You know the last dream I had? That I couldn't get through airport security because I was carrying a monkey.'' You've got to read it.
c. Congratulations, North By Northwest, one of my three favorite movies of all time. You're 50 this summer.
d. A few of you, through e-mail and by tweet, have asked me to move up my Father's Day book review column from next Monday to sometime this week. Sorry. Been busy with various work projects, and I've read only two of the books I'll be writing about next week. The column will run a week from today, with five books of various genres. And there will be enough time to shop for dads you love, or dads you tolerate. Here's the deal: If you go online a week from today on one of the various book sites, or if you walk into a bookstore next Monday or Tuesday, you'll be able to buy the book and either hand it to the dad or ship it to the dad in plenty of time for Father's Day.
e. Coffeenerdness: Had the closest-to-espresso coffee ice cream I've ever tasted the other night at Picco on Tremont Street in Boston's South End. I'll be back early and often for that one.
f. I'm thinking about a Monday Morning Quarterback/Twitter-follower gathering somewhere on the road in America during training camp this summer. The question is where. Albany? Bethlehem? Latrobe? Berea/Canton? Bourbonnais? Green Bay? River Falls? Terre Haute ? Mankato? Denver?
g. Herschel Walker said the other day on our radio gig that he's making his MMA fighting debut in November. "I told them I don't want to fight a bum. I want to fight a contender,'' he said.
h. Friday night, Fenway Park, fog and mist rolling over the right-field stands, top of the Prudential Center cut off, 56 degrees according to the Weather Channel, and I can see my breath. June 5 in New England. You've got to love it, I guess.
i. Great to hear from Mike McGuire, our Army First Sergeant fresh back in Germany after a dangerous tour clearing roads through Iraq of Improvised Explosive Devices, about his plans for leave. I wish he could have two years of it, quite frankly, but he's got 32 days. Here's the latest from McGuire:
"For some reason, I have been on a 'Prague' kick and interested in it very much. So I think we are going to travel there for a few days. It's really cool being stationed here in Europe because everything is within driving distance ... I had not told you much about what we did in on this last trip. We built the famous 'GOLD WALL' in Sadr City. It's the tall wall that literally walled in the residents of Sadr City, which is where we were receiving all the IEDs and attacks. The problem was they would attack us and then return into the city, so we walled in the whole city so that whoever wanted to attack us could not hit-and-run into the city and blend in so quickly.
Naturally our main mission was route clearance and insuring the road was clear for everyone else to move along the battlefield. No one goes anywhere on the battlefield until the engineers cleared the way. We were the 'tip of the spear,' it was a rush at times. Sadr City has to be the biggest slum in the world. I could not believe how it looked. One funny thing though was that no matter how bad a place was or what it was made of, they all had satellite dishes on them.''
j. Of course, Mike. They all need to watch the NFL.
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