by Scott Benson

I don’t know about you, but I’m struggling with these Friday night games.

I think it’s the ‘go to work for 8-10 hours first, THEN come home and watch the game’ thing that’s getting me. I like my job fine, but come on – I’ve got my priorities.

I guess if anything, this is our training camp for those two Monday night games the Patriots have scheduled later this fall. Push through the pain and drudgery now, and you’ll be ready to execute when the time comes.

Still sucks though. Here’s a few things I’ll be thinking about while pretending to pay attention in meetings today:

*What are we to make of these reports that say Asante Samuel is ready to end his holdout and rejoin the Patriots next week? I’ll use the most dreaded phrase in the English language here – “makes sense.” Samuel has staged his protest, and now he’ll return to the field, where presumably he can best position himself for another dash for the cash next spring (though there are no reports that the Patriots have conceded future franchise tags). I got to admit – out of all the posible resolutions here, I least expected Samuel to select the “makes sense” option. You know how these contract jihadists can be. Anyway, does he go right from Florida to the Pats starting lineup? Should he? I might suggest that he first watch the guys (Randall Gay) that have been putting the work in, at least for a few days, until he earns his way back out there. I can be a little jihadist myself.

*Will Laurence Maroney get a few touches against the Panthers tonight, and will we get a glimpse of the possibilities in the Pats new zone blocking schemes? Sammy Morris has shown promise as a solid backup so far, but there’s a lot of work still to be done with the New England offense, and finding a niche for the running game in and amongst all the spread formations would have to rank near the top of the offensive ‘to do’ list.

*Will the Patriots offensive line manage to get a finger in the dike tonight, or will they further bedevil Tom Brady with the missed assignments that plagued them last week? For that matter, will Brady even be in attendance? The man’s got a family to think of now. I hope he shows – I’m not sure my heart will stand Matt Cassel against the Carolina regulars. By the way, the Herald’s John Tomase has our Feature of the Day, an expansive piece on Brady’s prime years that features expert commentary from Roger Staubach, Ron Jaworski and Joe Theisman. For other news, as always, you can check

*Will the Patriots defense continue their dominance from last week, and further assert itself as the true strength of the team? Will Rodney Harrison and Gay continue their impressive comebacks? Will Adalius Thomas step from the shadows into the spotlight? Will LeKevin Smith and Kareen Brown extend their push towards the final roster, giving the defensive line unprecedented depth?

*Will Danny Baugher continue to hammer the ball and nail down the punting job? Will Stephen Gostkowski smooth out the rough edges of the last two weeks? Will someone step forward as the primary returner?

You got me – that’s why we watch the games. But first, I’ve got to go to work. Groan.

Work avoidance issues? Tell me about it.