1. I think I'd be very surprised if commissioner Goodell didn't reduce Ben Roethlisberger's suspension from six to four games when they meet in New York Friday. Whether Roethlisberger's turned his life around or not, he seems to have had no blemishes since his second sexual-assault accusation, and Goodell always left open that Roethlisberger would be able to chip two games off the suspension if he toed the line through the offseason and was serious about changing his ways.
2. I think the best note from a practice session I've seen this summer came from Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic (don't mean to put him in every MMQB, but the guy's good), monitoring the combined Cards-Titans practice on Wednesday in Nashville. Before a snap when the Cards' offense stepped to the line of scrimmage, Somers heard a Titans defender say to a teammate: "I got a buffalo nickel that says he checks down.'' In footballese, that translates to: Matt Leinart will always take the easy way out instead of trying to make a play.
3. I think the Leinart yanking shows Ken Whisenhunt didn't trust Leinart in 2007, and he doesn't trust him now. How that trust can be rebuilt is the tough question.
4. I think it's hard to figure out which rookie Jim Schwartz is more excited about -- Jahvid Best or Ndamukong Suh. Best gives the Lions a dimension they just haven't had since (dare I say it?) Barry Sanders. Suh, Schwartz said, "makes some plays in the interior line that Albert Haynesworth would make in his fifth year. He's been amazing.''
5. I think Donovan McNabb has 13 days to get his ankle healthy, and it's hard to believe he wouldn't play opening night against Dallas.
6. I think the Jets had it right the first time -- Jason Taylor's not a 45-play-a-game player anymore. They planned to have him in there maybe 20 before Calvin Pace got hurt. Just because the team has a need now doesn't mean Taylor should fill it. You have to know how to use a 36-year-old rusher, and the way to do it is not to overload him. All the more reason to sign Adalius Thomas and let Rex Ryan move him all over the defense.
7. I think those C.J. Spiller highlights make me hope, for the Bills' sake, that he can play more than the part-time role his history says he should play. At Clemson, Spiller rarely lugged it 20 times a game, and with the punishment he'll take in the NFL, it's unrealistic to expect he'll approach that workload. But he's getting a good shot with Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson out of the lineup in Buffalo. If he could have 225 injury-free touches this year, Buffalo fans should be grateful.
8. I think that was not a good night for Tim Tebow, even though it ended with a nice touchdown throw to Eric Decker. Easier said than done, but he needs to get comfortable out there. He looked tight and not so athletic against Pittsburgh on Sunday night.
9. I think the two Mike Williamses, the rookie from Syracuse in Tampa Bay, and the vet trying to make a comeback in Seattle, had interesting Saturdays. I watched the Seattle Williams at the Vikes, and Matt Hasselbeck went to him early and often; you can tell the Seahawks have him built into the game plan, and he'll take the big receiver's role there. The Tampa Williams made a couple of great catch-and-run plays. Too early to make a judgment on the Tampa Williams because of all the baggage in his past, but if Tampa Bay hits on him, imagine the value for the 101st player picked in the draft.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. "Bowden says he was pushed out'' or some such headline was in a lot of papers last week. Whoa! Really? You mean there's anyone out there who thought Bobby Bowden left Florida State voluntarily?
b. The Oakland A's can pitch. Between July 31 and Wednesday, they had a staff ERA of 1.99. I'm not sure what that's a record for, but it's one of the most amazing stats I've read in a long time. No one knows the A's even exist, yet they've had the best pitching, by miles and miles, in the major leagues for nearly a month.
c. Major-league box score line of the week, from Phils-Astros last Tuesday: RHoward 1b 7 0 0 0 0 5. No runs, hits, RBI, walks for Ryan Howard, but he did strike out five times in seven at-bats.
d. Coffeenerdness: I've got to hand it to Caribou Coffee in the Minneapolis airport on Sunday morning at 5:45. You guys make one heck an oatmeal at that hour. Good little latte too. Got me started pretty well on a jammed-up day.
e. The question is no longer whether John Lackey's worth $16 million a year. It's whether he's worth $1.6.
f. Manny. White Sox. Afterthought.
g. Red Sox. Pennant race. 2011.
h. Very good to be with you, Tim Sweeney and company, to support Youth Care, the Boston charity helping kids with Asperger's Syndrome. Good cause. Fun night. Nice striped bass. Thank you.
i. Sorry for the delay in getting the half-marathon fundraising information to you this week. We had some internal issues at SI that I will take care of this week, and I expect to have a webpage up next Monday with all the information you'll need to participate.
j. Good luck at Oberlin, Emma Goldstein. You too at Marquette, Tess Quinlan. And Tess, how long did it take you to know 64 other frosh? Fifteen minutes?
k. I wish I could give you more this morning, folks. The SI mag preview issue, out Tuesday, has kayoed me. Will try to be back longer next week.
l. Did Pete Thamel write the entire New York Times sports section Sunday or what? Bylines from three time zones! That has to be a record, Pete. Good job.
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