by Scott Benson
Deep breaths, Pats fans.
The Patriots are in Tampa tonight for their second pre-season game (8:00 PM, NFL Network), but Tom Brady won’t be. Word broke late yesterday that Brady had been left behind due to a sore foot, though it’s not known yet if it’s the same foot that that troubled him in the Pats ill-fated appearance in Super Bowl XLII.
This is sure to set off rioting and looting in some quarters of the fanbase, folks who have somehow come to believe that August is for Angst, even when your team has won 82% of its games over the last five years.
No question that the thought of the Pats without Brady is a grim one, but let’s try to remember that the quarterback has been front and center through most of a training camp that has seen New England in full pads for 20 of the 24 practices to date. Given that, how important is it that he be on the field tonight, especially behind a patchwork offensive line that’s looking kind of shaky at the moment?
There was no reported practice incident that led to Brady’s night off, so can we just relax and go on the theory that when the bell sounds, Brady will be under center, as he has been for 110 straight regular-season games?
Deep breaths, Pats fans. How about some coffee and a leisurely stroll through the Sunday Links?
The Globe’s Mike Reiss broke the news on Brady’s absence, as he details in a tag team Notebook effort with Chris Gasper. Gasper also catches up with Eugene Wilson, who will face his old teammates as a slot corner after winning two Super Bowls as a New England safety. Gasper, in Tampa for the game, follows with the story of Barrett and Bo Ruud, the linebacking brothers who will find themselves on opposite sides tonight.
Reiss has his weekly league notes, with a couple of items that caught my attention. First, the league continues to discuss the possibility of expanding the regular schedule to 17 or 18 games in the future by paring back the number of pre-season games. You should know this is the brainchild of Roger Goodell, which should tell you that this will be an unequivocal disaster if implemented. Because he’s the worst commissioner in the history of professional sports. Typically, public opinion is what’s driving Goodell, a camera-loving, headline-seeking nitwit if there ever was one. He makes me retch.
Reiss goes on to report on a private ceremony held by the Pats recently to commemorate their undefeated season in 07. That’s fine – it was pretty fantastic, and as Bill Belichick opines, the players should be proud of the accomplishment. But are the Krafts seriously going to place a banner for a Super Bowl loss right next to the three winners? Sort of cheapens the whole deal if you ask me. Might as well hang a “Five Straight Division Championships” placard too.
In the Herald, John Tomase has the Brady story, and visits with Logan Mankins, who says the Pats didn’t bollix that pick like amateurs after all. Hey, Kevin! How’s retirement going? Tomase also has a look at the main pre-season themes to date, and five things to look for tonight.
Down at the ProJo, Shalise Manza Young passes along the news on Brady, and the battling brother Ruuds. SMY also has Belichick looking forward to the test of facing Monte Kiffen’s quick Tampa D, a close approximation of the challenge posed by a certain AFC rival.
Mark Farinella of the Sun Chronicle looks at rookie QB Kevin O’Connell, who out-performed both Matt Cassel and Matt Gutierrez last week. Farinella also offers thumbs up, down or sideways for each position group at the halfway point of the pre-season.
Douglas Flynn of the MetroWest Daily News ponders the impact of secondary coach Dom Capers before turning his attention to five areas of focus tonight. One is Tampa quarterback Chris Simms, who more than a few Pats fans think would make a nice backup in New England, since he and Jon Gruden apparently can’t get along.
Glen Farley of the Brockton Enterprise is looking for the Pats to take a step forward in Tampa, and Ian Clark of the Manchester Union-Leader posts the obligatory Brady story while reminding us to keep an eye out for Sammy Morris’s 08 debut tonight.
That’s it for me. Now, get out there and take care of your weekend chores so you can settle down with the game tonight. Remember to check back tomorrow morning for Chris Warner’s review of the Pats and Bucs.