Not Much to Knock with Pats

Greg Doyle on the Patriots Game Day page has a review of the tape from Saturday night, and no doubt to some people’s disappointment, has a hard time coming up with things to be critical about.

How good are the Patriots? Mike Reiss talks to Joe Theismann and Randy Cross in the aftermath of Saturday’s 41-0 preseason win over the Redskins to try and get an answer to that question. Michael Felger says that Junior Seau appears to be a good fit with the Patriots defense, as he showed something on Saturday night that we didn’t see at all from Chad Brown and Monty Beisel last season. Felger also looks at ups and downs from Saturday night. Shalise Manza Young says that Bill Belichick still found plenty of teaching opportunities from Saturday night’s game film. Rich Garven says that the Patriots displayed a dash of midseason form against the Redskins.

Jim Donaldson says that there was plenty of good to come out of this weekend for the Patriots, not the least of which was seeing Rodney Harrison and Dan Koppen on the field again. Alan Greenberg has the Patriots showing some swagger in the win over the Redskins and gets former Patriot Christian Fauria’s impressions on his old club. Ian Clark notes that Benjamin Watson has quickly become Tom Brady’s favorite target. Dan Pires says that the Patriots showed signs that they are capable of dominance this season. Christopher Price has the team preaching caution in the wake of their performance Saturday night.

Reiss’ notebook has coverage of the offensive line, which protected the quarterback very well on Saturday night, despite the Redskins sending an extra rusher on almost every down. Felger’s notebook looks at roster cuts that are due tomorrow at 4:00 PM. Garven’s notebook has the Patriots in line for a visit to China next summer. Michael Parente’s notebook says that Marquise Hill and Monty Beisel might be two players in jeopardy come cutdown day.

Swept in Seattle

The Red Sox were swept in a series for the second straight weekend, as they dropped three in Seattle to the Mariners, including yesterday’s 6-3 setback. David Ortiz and Mike Lowell each homered for the Red Sox, but it wasn’t enough once again.

Nick Cafardo says that the roster is so thin these days you can almost see through it, and no one has any answers for the problems. Jeff Horrigan looks at the Red Sox sinking to new depths out in Seattle. Steven Krasner says that it might be time to admit that the wheels have just about fallen off for the Sox. David Heuschkel says that Terry Francona may not be able to take much more of this.

Tony Massarotti says that the Red Sox have the look of a team that is starting to quit. Krasner’s Inside the Game has Kevin Youkilis put in a tough spot yesterday in left field. Horrigan reports on Jon Lester’s back pain, which has him scratched from tonight. Massarotti looks at things quickly falling apart for Kyle Snyder in yesterday’s start.

Dan Shaughnessy, of course, blames everything on Manny, (“Sox-Held-Hostage-By-Manny-Tour”) and says that it is no wonder that Theo Epstein never signed his contract. There are plenty of nicknames out there for Shaughnessy, but I’m seriously thinking of referring to him as La-Z-Dan from now on.

Cafardo’s notebook has more on Lester’s sore back, which will keep him from making his start against Oakland tonight, and might even shut him down for the rest of the season. Horrigan’s notebook has more on Manny having to sit out again yesterday. Krasner’s notebook has more on Manny’s absence. Heuschkel’s notebook also looks at the Red Sox continuing to be at the mercy of Manny’s knee.

Weekend Highlights:

Ron Borges had a very good look at Rodney Harrison getting back onto the field. Borges took the right angle to this story, focusing on how much it means for Harrison and and the Patriots just to have him back on the field. Michael Felger also wrote about Harrison, but chose to try and take the downer route and tell us how far he has to go and how the “real” Harrison would’ve made several plays that this edition wasn’t really near. Dan Pires says that Saturday night was a very good night for Rodney and an even better one for those who had been waiting for his return. Albert Breer on the Patriots Beat says that Saturday night was all about making strides for Harrison.

Felger’s NFL Notes focused in on the Bill Parcells/Terrell Owens soap opera in Dallas. Borges’ Football Notes led off with a note about the NFL planning on playing a preseason game in China next summer, and that the Patriots would be one of the teams possibly being considered to play there. An article by Mike Sando in the Tacoma News Tribune tells us that it will be the Patriots and Seahawks heading to China next summer, with the Patriots possibly also spending a week in Seattle. In John Altavilla’s NFL column, he starts out with a look at offseason rule changes. Ian Clark’s On Football notes started out with a look at the latest Patriots rookie offensive lineman looking to win a starting job on Ryan O’Callaghan. Eric McHugh looked at Reche Caldwell trying to make an impression with the Patriots.

On Saturday, Felger criticized the Patriots for how they’ve handled the Deion Branch situation, and noting that the Patriots are doing the same thing to Branch that the Red Sox did to Manny Ramirez when they put on him waivers a few years back. Felger is not really knocking the Patriots for what they’re doing with Branch, but rather the timing of it. Tom E Curran had a pretty thorough look at the situation, and concluded with three key questions that the Patriots offer to Branch prompts. Borges offered a measured assessment of the of the situation, noting that it isn’t ideal for either side. Jim Donaldson notes that Branch or no Branch, the Patriots appear ready to start the season. Mark Farinella took a crack at attempting to guess at what the final roster will look like for the Patriots.

Baseball

Nick Cafardo’s Baseball Notes have Nick polling people around baseball about who is the “toughest” manager in the game today. There were also some interesting quotes from Johnny Damon on Manny Ramirez. In Covering All Bases, Tony Massarotti looks at what has turned into another disappointing season for the Blue Jays, who still hold out hope that they can finish ahead of the Red Sox. (No Glenn, you’d still be wrong about both teams if that happened.) Jon Couture looked at Westport’s Kyle Fernandes working his way through the Red Sox minor league system, he’s currently at Single A Greenville, but has opened a few eyes with his performance there. On Saturday, Steven Krasner reported on how stress took its toll on David Ortiz and landed him in the hospital a week ago. Art Davidson said that the Red Sox should keep Jonathan Papelbon in the closer role for the future.

Right in the midst of an otherwise usual rip job on Manny Ramirez, Dan Shaughnessy seemed to try to get people off his own back by inserting the following paragraph into his Sunday column.

Bloggers, e-mail friends, fanboys, and other wonderful Globe readers: Please, this is not a Manny rip job. These are facts. Manny Ramírez is hitting .326 with 34 homers and 100 RBIs. He has played in 123 of Boston's first 129 games, which makes him something of a iron man in today's game. As previously stated, he is a modern-day Jimmie Foxx, a certain Hall of Famer, and he works hard at his craft. He has chosen not to talk to the media this year, and we don't care if you don't care. Even when he's not talking, Ramírez is polite, and his presence is anything but a disruption in the clubhouse. He goes about his business in his private orbit and doesn't bother anybody.

Just because you say it isn’t a rip job doesn’t change the fact that it IS one, Dan.

Saturday was Futures day at Fenway, with Single A Lowell and AAA Pawtucket each playing games in front of the green monster. Maureen Mullen said that Fenway was the main attraction for many who attended the games. Paul Harber covers a sweet sweep for the organization Saturday. Kevin Gray leads off his coverage with a look at NH native Mike Chambers starring for Lowell at Fenway. Seeing all the Red Sox prospects in one place made Rob Bradford wonder: Is the Sox future worth banking on?

NBA

In Scott Souza’s Courtside View, he talks to two men who coached Rajon Rondo the last few years and gets their opinion on the Celtics’ rookie point guard. Shira Springer’s Basketball Notes had a look at Al Harrington finally finding his way back to the Pacers, and the difficulty Danny Ainge has had in finding deals this summer, as he apparently places a higher value on his young players than do other NBA executives.

NHL

In Douglas Flynn’s On Hockey, he noted that the Bruins will need major crash courses in chemistry to start out training camp. In his NHL Notes, Steve Conroy has Bruins vice president Charlie Jacobs explaining ticket price increases for this season. He also has some leftover tidbits from Peter Chiarelli’s media update this week. In the Globe’s Hockey Notes, Kevin Paul Dupont advocates Zdeno Chara as the Bruin best fit to wear the Captain’s “C” this upcoming season.

NESN has Red Sox/A’s at 10:00. ESPN has Packers/Bengals preseason football at 8:00.

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