September 25, 2017

Hump Day Grab Bag

by Scott Benson
[email protected]

I’ve got to work on my headlines. That one sounds kind of nasty.

Rodney Harrison returned to Gillette Stadium yesterday for the first time since he was suspended by the NFL in August for purchasing and using a performance enhancing drug.

The former defensive captain was enthusiastically welcomed back by teammates. It remains to be seen whether this welcome will spread to the stands and the press box, or whether Harrison’s return will touch off another tedious debate about PED’s, or cheating, or whatever else might get traction in the tedious debate department. 

Those aren’t the big issues for the Patriots, as Christopher Gasper of the Globe points out in our Feature of the Day. The pressing question for New England is how to integrate Harrison back into a defense that has been the NFL’s best during his absence.

The team of James Sanders and Eugene Wilson has been an effective backline during the season’s first month, as evidenced by the lack of big plays against them. Harrison’s role in past successes is unquestioned; what remains to be seen is how smoothly he can make his mark on the current team.

The Patriots have until next Monday to make a roster decision on the veteran.

Damn, Vince Wilfork is pissed. He’s not comfortable with any of us thinking he took a cheap shot at Buffalo’s JP Losman a couple of weeks ago, and he sure isn’t at peace with thefine he received for his trouble. So yesterday he revealed his intention to appeal the NFL’s decision. Far be it from me to tell an angry 300 lb. guy to “let it go.” But he would assuredly be best served by keeping in mind the biggest challenges lie before, and not behind, him.

Did you have any idea that David Thomas (leg) was hurt on Monday night? Me neither, until Mike Reiss mentioned it in his notebook this morning. How the hell did that happen?  I don’t even remember seeing him on the field. Don’t sign with the Dolphins, Marcellus Rivers. You may still have a chance at a ring.

Reiss also reminded us that Donte Stallworth had his best game as a Patriot on Monday night. No less of an expert than Tom Brady says so. If I had the GDRV to do over, I would have pointed out his impressive 23 yard gain off a screen pass from Brady, which converted a 2nd and 19 with some nifty run after the catch action. I don’t know what kind of new world I’m living in when Donte Stallworth can play receiver for the Patriots and barely get noticed.

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  1. I would have gone with “Wednesday Reach Around”. When you’re on my Internet, you clean it up, mister.

  2. jamesgarnerisgod says:

    A few things, vis-a-vis your column:

    I’d hate to see Marcellus get away, too.

    I’m glad Wilfork’s fighting the fine, and I’m sure Belichick and Pees will keep him focused on the challenges ahead. I’ve viewed the film several times, now, and (accuse me of being a homer if you will), I don’t see him diving at the knee at all. His body’s even twisted away from the play — it’s not like he’s launching head-first at Losman, with his chest facing the ground — he’s been diverted by the O-line (probably the center) and he looks to me like he’s throwing his arm out there to make a play, but not trying to aim for the knee. The Patriots’ reputation as badasses is more likely what’s prompted the fine than the merits of this play.

    I’m definitely looking forward to Rodney’s return (despite my pimping of Gutierrez, No. 37 is my favorite Patriot), but I doubt he starts against the Browns, though I’m sure he sees a lot of action. First off, he probably isn’t in game shape yet. Second, I don’t think you reward the solid play Sanders and Wilson by benching one of them on the first defensive series in Week 5.

  3. Charlie Casserly told me that the Harrison return may distract the team.

  4. Headlines from the future: “Indian summer clambag with a touch of Cleveland Browns links”

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