by Scott Benson
The Patriots have suffered their first significant injury of the pre-season and the Sunday links have all the details.
The Globe’s Mike Reiss has the news that Tank Williams has been placed on the IR as a result of the knee injury he suffered while covering a 2nd quarter kickoff on Thursday night. It’s a loss for the Pats, who had planned to use the vet free agent as a hybrid safety-linebacker against multiple-receiver sets this season. Can the same effect be achieved with a trioka of Harrison-Meriweather-Sanders? Too early to tell, I guess. One thing we know, though – Williams will lose his second NFL season in three years to injury (he missed all of 2006 with a shattered kneecap).
Reiss offers up a top notch weekly notes column, as he talks to Indy’s Bill Polian and San Diego’s AJ Smith about roster-building in the 80-man-roster era, where matchups are king. Which reminds me – I have loathed Polian for almost a decade, because of his well-documented words and deeds throughout the the blood rivalry between his Colts and our Patriots. But since the chips went way down for New England earlier this year, nobody’s vouched for the Patriots like Polian. He can’t seem to give an interview these days without saying something nice about Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. When Robert Kraft and Belichick went to their fellow owners and coaches on bended knee, it was Polian who was out front with the “all is well” soundbites after. That says to me one thing – company man. Polian may have still hated the Patriots as much as he ever did, but he wasn’t going to see the league embarrassed without a response. And that response was calm and rational and thus extremely beneficial to the Patriots at the time. All the well-connected Polian had to do is bellow “break (their) f**king leg!” and it would have been Katy-bar-the-door. But he didn’t, and he hasn’t. I can respect that.
Back to the papers. Reiss also checks in with Pats Hall of Famer John Hannah about his efforts to organize an association for retired players, since Gene Upshaw and the NFLPA don’t care to represent them. Which is pretty outrageous when you consider that Upshaw was once one of them, right before he got the big cake and the key to the executive wash room. Now he doesn’t ‘represent’ them. Gene, your very presence here represents them. What an ass.
Julian Benbow closes out Globe coverage with a look at utility-knife Ray Ventrone, scrambling to hang on to a roster spot. At one point Thursday night Ventrone was the intended receiver on one play and the defender in coverage on the next. No fist bumps, though. I wonder if his fate is tied to Williams’s in any way, or to WR Sam Aiken, another special teamer who was hurt against the Ravens. Ventrone, a special teamer of some repute, has played both positions in camp.
In the Herald, Karen Guregian has the story on Tank, and the Pats pickup of free agent CB Jeff Shoate, who’ll take some of the practice workload while Ellis Hobbs, Jason Webster and others round into playing shape. KG also dishes on the Pats offensive line, ruiners of Opening Day, while Randy Cross protests. Ignoring the game for a moment, Randy, I was just thinking how this stadium and its surrounding retail/restaurant/nightclub square footage has made me look at professional sports venues in a whole new way. The Kraft family has done such a great job, haven’t they?
Jeff Horrigan somehow refuses to be dazzled by the Foxborough surroundings, focusing instead on LaMont Jordan and his solid debut. I wish it was just “Lamont” instead of “LaMont”, with that extra shift key in there. It’s awkward. I suppose I can adjust if it means having Jordan on those third and goals from the 2. John Tomase has the weekly league notes, where he connects with KC Joyner, author of ‘Scientific Football’, a stat book based on flim review of the previous season. Sounds like a good book to have.
Lastly, Ventrone has gotten Steve Buckley’s attention. In a shocker, Buck begins with a baseball reference.
Shalise Manza Young has the word on Williams for the Pro Jo, and from the MetroWest comes Douglas Flynn with his look at LaMont (ouch!) Jordan, and his thoughts on overexposed, overrated quarterbacks and their effect on wild-eyed, desperate franchises.