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Shots Heard 'Round The Web - Links for 9/4/08

STEP AWAY FROM THE PRESEASON

ESPN's Gene Wojciechowski has an excellent piece to put Patriots fans at ease about the upcoming season, making the case for another serious run at perfection.  He also ranks their first five weeks in order of toughness:  "at Jets, at Niners, bye, Dolphins and Chiefs" and I think he's only marginally joking.

The point is, Tom Brady and Randy Moss haven't forgotten how to play catch; Wes Welker isn't going to quit running drag patterns; the defensive line won't suddenly go soft; Bill Belichick isn't going to let them forget what happened in Glendale. But there's still this essential football truth: Opposing teams don't want to see the Patriots' team bus pull up to the stadium.

The Pats won't be as dominating as 2007, but there's a reason they've won 14, 14, 10, 12 and 16 regular-season games the past five years: They adjust better than any other franchise.

INJURIES AFOOT.  John Dennis of WEEI disclosed a rumor yesterday --an unsubstantiated rumor-- that an MRI of Brady's right foot showed he has a cracked bone.  Tom Brady, Sr. had this to say regarding his son's status:

“He did tell us that he had stress on the bone, and that’s why he wore a [protective] boot for a day – one day,” Brady Sr. said. “He has never told us that he had any broken bones or fractured bones in his foot. All I knew is that he had stress on a bone, and there is a difference there.”

Brady (shoulder/foot) fully participated in practice on Wednesday.

Brandon Meriweather hopes to play and contribute on Sunday.

The Patriots have issued what's now called the "participation report," and four players -- WR Sam Aiken, G Dan Connolly, DL Le Kevin Smith and TE Benjamin Watson -- all missed practice Wednesday with knee injuries.

According to Mike Reiss, "[Matt] Light, who looks to be ready to play Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, did not seem very concerned that the likely starters had not had a lot of preseason snaps together."

With Hochstein, who was hurt in the first preseason game, returning to practice Monday, and Yates (pinched nerve in his neck/shoulder) coming back for the final preseason game against the Giants, the Patriots should start the season with familiar faces up front, even with right guard Stephen Neal relegated to the physically unable to perform list.

CORNERBACK CHRONICLES

  • Christopher Gasper at The Globe reports the possibility of Deltha O'Neal suiting up and playing on Sunday, after receiving extra game-specific tutoring from secondary coach Dom Capers.
  • Karen Guregian gets former defensive back Solomon Wilcots' assessment of where the Patriots stand at corner, the strengths and weaknesses of each player, and how the loss of Samuel affects the team.

    “Desperate times call for desperate measures,” Wilcots said. “But with this team, they always seem to be able to find a way to re-invent themselves.”

  • Mark Farinella of The Sun Chronicle details how Deltha O'Neal is adjusting to his abrupt cut from Cincinnati, and how he's missing his family but still happy to be a Patriot.  (I just want to know how to pronounce his first name.)

CHIEF CONCERNS.  No moral victory will be acceptable to The Chiefs, who are preparing to win on Sunday.  The Kansas City Star's Kent Babb reveals The Chief's secret plan they'll use to deliver a knockout punch  against New England.

Surprise. [Head Coach Herm] Edwards hopes New England doesn’t see the Chiefs coming. Maybe the Patriots will be looking past that 4-12 team from last season and will focus on the next week’s AFC East opener against the New York Jets. That might be the Chiefs’ only chance Sunday.

Great Plan!  You know how Coach Hoodie is always looking two or three games ahead.  At least.

And if the above strategy fails, Jason Whitlock offers some reverse psychology to BB for Sunday:  "Keep Tom Brady on the bench.  Trust me, you don’t need him to beat these Chiefs. You probably don’t need Randy Moss, either."  Yeah, give Cassel a chance for once.

Mark Farinella spoke with LaMont Jordan, Brandon Meriweather and Adalius Thomas on the players' excitement to start the season, and asks the Head Coach to define what it means when members of the Patriots repeatedly say that playing for Bill Belichick, he finds ways to put them into positions where they can succeed.  Pretty interesting.

EX-PATRIOTS IN THE NEWS:

  • The Jets quietly made a run at safety John Lynch before he signed with the Patriots in mid-August, and may try again now that he's been released.
  • ESPN.com's Bill Willimason reports that that the Raiders brought in Chad Jackson for a visit on Tuesday, while Steve Buckley of The Herald reminds us of some past Bobby Grier draft day doozies and calls Jackson a rare mistake of the Belichick era.
  • Rookie TE Jonathan Stupar landed on the Bills practice squad.
  • Safety Eugene Wilson, waived by the Buccaneers, was expected to sign with the Texans yesterday