1. I think Seattle has to be nervous, or worse, about losing left tackle Russell Okung to an ankle sprain Saturday night. Not only was left tackle the Seahawks' position of biggest need entering this season, but also Seattle is frightfully thin there --the immortal Mansfield Wrotto took Okung's spot when he went down against Green Bay. Seattle now may face the prospect of moving Sean Locklear back to the left side.
The Seahawks said it was a two-to-four-week injury on Sunday, which means there's a good chance he'll be ready for the opener. Not to overplay a first game of a season, but Seahawks host San Francisco in Week 1. To have much of a chance to win your division, that's the kind of game you have to win, which makes the recovery of the centerpiece of your rebuilding efforts to protect Matt Hasselbeck pretty important.
2. I think I've got a few preseason Week 2 thoughts:
a. Fred Taylor has exceedingly fresh legs for a 34-year-old.
b. More and more, Kroy Biermann, who beat the left side of the New England line for a sack Thursday, looks like the bookend pass-rusher to John Abraham the Falcons have needed.
c. Wes Welker's amazing. I could write that every week.
d. Chad Hall. Reno Mahe.
e. Dimitri Patterson, the free-agent corner from Tuskegee, and Brandon Graham, the first-round pick from Michigan, impressed Friday for Philadelphia in Cincinnati. How about Graham busting through the middle for a tackle-for-loss from a tackle slot in the Eagle nickel?
f. Except when he ran, Mike Vick looked very rusty against the Bengal backups? I know he got pressure, but a couple of his throws were floated, and poor decisions.
g. Look at the Bengals' fourth-rounder this year, defensive tackle Geno Atkins. He's a load, and he's fortifying an already potent position.
h. Bad night for Giants rookie defensive tackle Linval Joseph. Poor job shedding blocks against the Steelers.
i. Great throw by Byron Leftwich for a 65-yard score to Mike Wallace, who I don't believe you can overthrow. I can't see Dennis Dixon, who also played well at the Meadowlands, beating out Leftwich for the Sept. 12 opener against Atlanta ... but that doesn't mean Leftwich will play all four or six games Ben Roethlisberger misses.
j. Saw Donovan McNabb's first three drives against the Ravens. Inaccurate. Finished 11 of 26.
k. Jake Delhomme in two games: 18 of 23, 193 yards, one touchdown, no picks, 116.1 rating.
l. Kept hearing on my trip to Miami that the Dolphins were pretty happy with the Jason Ferguson (retired)-for-Randy Starks swap at nose tackle. Starks' sack in Jacksonville showed what a powerful athlete he is.
m. Dallas got its first touchdown with the first offensive unit in seven preseason possessions Saturday, but let's not get too excited. Came on an eight-yard drive after a Chargers' turnover.
n. Nine straight preseason wins for Miami under Tony Sparano. I don't know what that means.
o. Sometimes, with his little flips out of the backfield, Aaron Rodgers reminds me -- in anticipation and confidence -- of Brett Favre.
p. Rodgers: 20 of 24 in basically a half of preseason football this month.
q. Kamerion Wimbley's four sacks in the first half at Chicago on Saturday night mean one of two things: The Bears are in huge trouble on the offensive line, or the Raiders got a steal when they dealt a third-round pick to Cleveland for Wimbley. Or maybe both.
3. I think the Giants' addition of guard Shawn Andrews is smart, and a good investment. As Mike Garafolo of the Newark Star-Ledger reported, Andrews will make $650,000 if he spends the 2010 season on injured-reserve, and $1.5 million if he's on the Giants' active roster. The real money comes in if Andrews become the kind of mainstay on the line the Giants hope. He will make $7 million in 2011 if the Giants hang onto him, and zip if they choose to release him after this season. The reason I like it: I recall Andy Reid once telling me Andrews could be the best guard in the league, and one of the best tackles, depending where the Eagles chose to play him. A back injury, and subsequent depression, ruined his Philly career
4. I think there's a good chance it will be one of the most disturbing things any of us has seen in a long time, but the documentary about the death of Pat Tillman should be a must-see movie. The Tillman Story, by Amir Bar-Lev, uncovers more of the government cover-up surrounding Tillman's death, including the fact that the military burned Tillman's uniform, body armor and diary after he died. You know what we would have learned in the diary, in Tillman's own words? That he hated the war, he had soured on the military, and, according to the documentary, had turned down the chance to get the final years of hitch washed away so he could return to the NFL.
I wrote about this earlier this year. The former GM of the Seahawks, Bob Ferguson, told me Tillman was doing football drills and was interested in returning to the league, and Ferguson thought surely that after his second tour of duty, he'd return to play special-teams -- at least -- for Seattle, in all likelihood. But soon after he deployed to Afghanistan, he was killed by friendly fire in April 2004. Can't wait to see this. It opened in New York and L.A. over the weekend.
5. I think the Redskins' band, which plays the team fight song after every Washington score, is not in midseason form. It struck up "Hail to the Redskins'' after the Ravens scored a touchdown Saturday night.
6. I think anyone who laughs at Antonio Cromartie struggling to remember the names and ages of his eight children (by six women, allegedly) on Hard Knocks on HBO the other night ought to be ashamed. There's a crisis in this country of men who don't take care of their kids. And the flippant way Cromartie appeared to forget a child or two is tremendously sad, not a comedic moment.
7. I think as discouraging as the Haynesworth story is for the Redskins, they have to be encouraged by the progress of tackle Jammal Brown. Brown had two surgeries last year in the preseason -- for a hernia and for a torn hip muscle.
Interesting story: last year, after his surgeries, he did his rehab at a facility in New York City where his doctor was headquartered, and so while the Saints galloped toward the Super Bowl, Brown -- who was born in Texas, went to college in Oklahoma, was drafted by the Saints and lived in New Orleans -- lived most weeks in the Marriott Marquis in New York and concentrated on his rehab. Now he thinks he'll be healthy enough to play opening day. "I felt the best today I've felt since I got the hip operated on,'' he told me Tuesday. "I'm confident I'll be ready.''
Think of the Redskins' desperation at tackle entering the offseason, with a hole from Chris Samuels' retirement at left tackle and the leaky Stephon Heyer at right tackle, and here's what they've added: first-round pick Trent Williams, former Saints Pro Bowler Brown and an adequate guard-tackle in Artis Hicks. That's an upgrade, and it had better be, because McNabb will get clobbered if they don't work out.
8. I think if Alex Smith plays 16 games the way he played two quarters last night (looking smart and confident without Frank Gore, Brian Westbrook and Vernon Davis), the 49ers are going to win the NFC West. Lock.
9. I think the one thing the change of the umpire from behind the defensive line to 14 yards (14 yards!) behind the line of scrimmage will do that's getting lost in the shuffle is this: If an offense goes to the no-huddle, the umpire is going to be a major impediment to the hurry-up offense. It hasn't been a problem in the preseason because most teams aren't going to show many offensive wrinkles in August. But when the season starts, one member of the Competition Committee tells me he's worried the ump won't be able to place the ball down, spot it, and then run back to his spot without delaying the game. Watch for that in Week 1 or 2.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Now that my intern/driver Willie Cornblatt is back at Indiana after helping me on the last week of my camp tour, I do believe I may have led him slightly astray. The poor kid wants to be me. "In one week, I learned more from you than I learned in 19 years from my father,'' he said. Of course you did, kid.
b. Memo to Bruce Cornblatt: You've got a good boy. And don't worry -- my influence will wear off in, say, 16 or 18 years.
c. Read much about the bedbug problem in New York City? Yikes. Hotels, condos, apartments ... they're dealing with the microscopic, fiendish things. The New York Times called the bedbug "a reviled pest in a city where rats are no big deal.''
d. The 1-2-4 batters in the Red Sox order -- Ellsbury, Pedroia, Youkilis -- will end up missing 291 of 486 games, collectively, unless Pedroia comes back for the last couple of weeks of what has become a lost season. Six DL stints among the three. Just not their year. Not saying it would have been anyway; with Josh Beckett and John Lackey both pitching like Mud Hens, the Sox aren't good enough to beat the Yanks or Rays.
e. Did you notice Armando Galarraga's start against the Indians the other night? Retired the first 14 Tribesmen. If Jim Joyce hadn't blown the call in that "perfect'' game June 2, that would have been 41 straight Indians retired by Galarraga. Has any pitcher ever been perfect for 13 and two-thirds straight innings?
f. Coffeenerdness: After 22 days on the road, I can say this about the Starbucksization of America: I applaud the increase of Starbucks drive-thrus, particularly in city areas where it's hard to park the car. Thank you, thank you, Seattle.
g. Had a classic Tweetup the other night at Amicci's, in Baltimore's Little Italy section. Had a great group of 30 or 40 pepper me with smart questions for two and a half hours. Terrific Ravens fans, and smart about the NFL. Thanks to Nestor Aparicio for setting the whole thing up, and to Roland, Scott, Penny and the Peroni-providing staff at an excellent restaurant for allowing us to pull it off.
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