logoby Scott Benson

The Patriots have begun a busy last week of pre-season action, with a final practice game with the World Champion Giants sandwiched by two roster cutdowns. For the most part, though, the Sunday papers are still considering the fallout of the Pats third-straight exhibition loss on Friday night. Let’s head out to the doorstep and grab our copies.

In the Globe, Michael Vega says Matt Gutierrez managed to score some points amidst the Friday Night Frights. For me, his presence in the pocket stood out, as did his decision-making and touch. It was also nice to see a Patriot do a little jumping around during the team’s August funk. After all, this is supposed to be entertainment too. No question in my mind who I’d rather see backing up Tom Brady this season – by this time next week, we should know where Bill Belichick stands on the issue.

Vega also says we should expect to see more of the backups on Thursday night.

In his weekly league notes, Mike Reiss has the NFLPA moving on in the wake of the shocking death of Gene Upshaw. Now it’s left to general counsel Richard Berthelsen to craft the next labor deal for the players, before the salary cap disappears in 2010 and all hell breaks loose in the NFL. I don’t know where you stand on this issue, but to me, the cap represents the parity that is fundamental to the league’s success. Without it, the league might as well be the MLB, with its clear deliniation between the haves and have nots.

Karen Gurgeian of the Herald is seeing green dots in the paper’s morning notebook. I understand the Pats have to prepare for use of the new defensive communications systems, but weren’t you hoping they wouldn’t use them at all? The idea that Tedy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel have to carry two helmets to every game seems like a giant pain in the ass, and there would just be something poetic about the Pats telling the rest of the league that they don’t need no stinkin’ stickers.

KG also looks back to somehow pick the winners and losers out of Friday night’s debacle. John Tomase has the Colts opening Lucas Oil Stadium tonight in his weekly league notes.

Down in Providence, Shalise Manza Young has Bill Belichick praising his second team receivers for their work on Friday night. By the way, no new news on Wes Welker, who may have broken a rib with his boneheaded decision to return an unreturnable punt early in the game. Also in the ProJo, Jim Donaldson is having a conversation with himself.

Mark Farinella of the Sun Chronicle takes a closer look at Gutierrez, before visiting with a downcast Kelley Washington, who returned Friday night only to see his kick coverage units give up two straight touchdowns to the Eagles.

Out west, Doug Flynn of the MWDN and Rich Garven of the Telegram-Gazette aren’t ones to dwell on the past. Flynn breaks down a possible 53 man roster and Garven looks at the UDFA’s who still have a chance to stick with the Pats.

In Brockton, Glen Farley spends a minute with Chris Hanson, who has already punted more this August than he did all last fall. Seems like it, anyway. In Manchester, Ian M. Clark says this pre-season has raised more questions than answers found.

You said it, brother.