Jeff Howe reports the Patriots announced their captains yesterday, and they’ll keep the same group as last season.
That includes Brady, Mankins, Wilfork, linebacker Jerod Mayo, cornerback Devin McCourty and wide receiver Matthew Slater (special teams). This is the 11th captaincy for Brady, the fifth for Wilfork, the fourth for Mayo, and the second for Mankins, McCourty and Slater.
Stevan Ridley will carry the ball 300 times for 1,100 yards. The second-year back out of LSU learned his lesson from his two fumbles at the end of last season. He showed explosiveness between the tackles and the ability to get to the edge. He is the single biggest factor in helping to take some of the workload off Brady’s shoulders.
The offensive line will stabilize and be a non-story by November. As much legitimate worry there was in the preseason for the men protecting Tom Brady, there will be as much confidence after the first two months. The reason: motion. The Patriots will run hurry-up and no-huddle and keep opposing defenses on its toes. Nate Solder will settle down. Ryan Wendell will show he’s dependable. Dan Connolly will fill the shoes of Brian Waters and Sebastian Vollmer and Marcus Cannon will rotate smoothly at right tackle. It’s the second biggest limb I’m going out on in this list but one I think that’s worth it.
Jermaine Cunningham will help turn the Patriots into a NASCAR front. Bill Belichick knows a good thing when he sees it. Good friend Urban Meyer was surprised Belichick chose Cunningham before Brandon Spikes with the second of three second-round picks in the 2010 draft. But Belichick saw a raw pass-rushing talent. He decided to store him away for the right situation. After watching what the Giants did with their "NASCAR" speed pass rush on their way to the Super Bowl title last season, Belichick now sees the promise in Chandler Jones, Jermaine Cunningham, Trevor Scott and Rob Ninkovich, all of whom have the potential of getting to the quarterback.
Chandler Jones will set the NFL rookie sack record. Jevon "The Freak" Kearse set the record with the Titans, collecting 14 1/2 sacks in 1999. Jones has shown a high motor on the field and a free spirit in the locker room. All roads lead to the quarterback for the rookie out of Syracuse. He’ll become the defensive answer to Gronk, a freak on the defensive side of the ball the Patriots have desperately needed.
Jeff Howe notes Logan Mankins isn't too concerned with the replacement refs and figures the officials — regardless of whether they’re full-timers or fill-ins — would miss some calls.
"We’ve had the normal officials out there, and they make bad calls," Mankins said. "If these guys make a bad call, it’s no different than normal really. Every time they call a hold on me, it’s never a hold. They must just get my number confused with someone else’s."
- Patriots-Titans Thursday Injury Report.
- Erik Scalavino tells us Logan Mankins is ready for Week 1, plus more news and notes from Thursday at Gillette.
- Kerry Byrne makes the case that the Patriots' defensive upgrades should power them to the Super Bowl.
- Erik Scalavino tells us what happened at Thursday's practice, including the announcement of this year's team captains.
- Patriots Today - Pats will look out for Locker. (3.25 min. video)
- Patriots Today - Watch these two on Sunday. (2.34 min. video)
- Patriots Today - Thursday practice report. (1.16 min. video)
- Locker Room Uncut - Meet Hoo-man. (3.37 min. video)
- Player Interviews: Wes Welker (4.17 min.), Vince Wilfork (5.10 min.), Jerod Mayo (2.18 min.), Logan Mankins (2.12 min.) and Michael Hoomanawanui (6.31 min.)
- Jackie MacMullan writes Wes Welker's one and only goal is to win a Super Bowl ring with the Pats.
- Shalise Manza Young previews Sunday's Pats-Titans matchup. (3.42 min. video)
- Jeff Howe notes Jake Locker will make his first career start against NE, but Bill Belichick usually isn't kind to young QBs.
- Jeff Howe charts the previous unsuccessful attempts by rookie QBs who made their NFL starting debut against Belichick's Pats.
- Mike Reiss reports the O-line is still coming together.
- Kevin McNamara notes Logan Mankins says there’s nothing like familiarity and confidence to make an O-lineman comfortable about knocking heads in the NFL’s trenches.
- Christopher Price digs deeper on the Injury Report and tells us why he thinks Deion Branch will return to the roster.
- Dan Duggan introduces us to the newest Patriots TE Michael Hoomanawanui.
- Mike Petraglia tells us VInce WIlfork knows it's time for the Patriots D to step up and 'hit the ground running' in Tennessee.
- Phil Perry reports the veterans trust that their younger teammates will be ready to go in Week 1.
- Tedy Bruschi believes the season opener will be won or lost on the edges.
- Field Yates evaluates each player on the roster as it stands: Linebackers.
- Mike Reiss shares some thoughts the day after the NFL season opener.
- Mike Reiss, Mike Rodak and Field Yates forecast the performance of the defense and how they'll rank in yards and points given up per game.
- Michael Whitmer points out that the kick-return game is still murky. Matthew Slater noted the unit has to improve as a whole.
- Boston.com posts a graphic comparing the four players who returned the most kicks for NE last year.
- Matt Chatham vents his frustration over the NFL's misguided plan to eliminate kickoffs, and urges fans everywhere to loudly boo every touchback.
- Rich Levine sizes up the Patriots schedule and offers up a few predictions.
- Mike Reiss posts the transcript of his weekly online chat.
- Jim Lazar can't wait to see the game plan Sunday with four TEs and 11 D-linemen on the roster. He also makes his Week 1 picks. Pats 30-17.
- ESPNBoston posts the Patriots' statements on the passing of longtime Browns/Ravens owner Art Modell.
- Jeff Howe Patriots Notebook: The Pats are as young as ever, creating an interesting dynamic with the 30-somethings in the locker room; Logan Mankins says all officials miss some calls; Last year's captains will return again this year; Injury update.
- John Parolin (ESPN Stats & Information) Three-point stance: Tennessee Titans.
- James Walker (ESPN) Tom Brady not worried about O-Line.
- Zubin Mehenti (ESPN) AccuScore report for Pats-Titans.
- Peter King (SI) Weekend Pickoff: Week 1. Pats over Titans 27-16.
- Photo Gallery (Fox Sports) NFL Week 1 storylines.
- Dave Dameshek (NFL.com) The 2012 'Things I never need to hear again' list.
- Darin Gantt (ProFootballTalk) NFL outdraws DNC on television.
- Nate Davis (USA Today) Aaron Rodgers thinks the term 'game manager' "is a condescending term for quarterbacks."