▪ What’s Bill Belichick up to? Last season, the Patriots threw to Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez with rare consistency and unparalleled success. In fact, one could make a case the Pats were one healthy Gronk ankle (“Grankle”?) away from winning the Super Bowl. So what’d Belichick do this off-season? He went out and got Daniel Fells from the Broncos, Hank Ballard from the Giants (although he may not play this season), Visanthe Shiancoe from the Vikes, and Tyler Urban from WVU. My first instinct is to crack wise about the Pats’ roster being comprised of 49 tight ends, Tom Brady, a kicker, and Vince Wilfork (who counts twice), but clearly, Belichick and his pals have discovered a wrinkle and are intent on exploiting it. In other words, defensive coordinators around the league would do well to be on high alert.
▪ Did I really hear NFL Network’s ace reporter Bert Breer on ‘NFL AM’ call Andrew Luck “probably the most hyped player to come into the NFL in 20 or 30 years”? I love Breer, but Luck isn’t even the most hyped quarterback drafted in 2012.
▪ The Ravens won’t have Terrell Suggs for, at best, most of the regular season. Ed Reed and Ray Lewis are, at best, one year further down the wrong side of the hill. The Steelers most dynamic offensive player, Mike Wallace, at best, won’t put on a black-and-gold uniform until Week 10. The Haley/Roethlisberger marriage gets, at best, a 5 on the Kardashian Konfidence Meter. The Bengals, at worst, have the fewest question marks going into the season – and I say they’ll win the 2012 AFC North.
▪ I know training camp QB battles make for fun talk this time of year, but let’s not pretend the ones going on with the Cardinals and Seahawks are real. Barring injury, Kevin Kolb will start for Arizona, Matt Flynn will start for Seattle.
▪ Saw ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ last week. Just as Don Knott’s Mr. Furley had the impossible assignment of replacing Norman Fell’s Mr. Roper, Tom Hardy’s Bane is destined to live in the shadow of Heath Ledger’s Joker – but just like Furley, Bane is fantastic. Also, I’m no expert on the strategic large-scale deployment of force to repel terrorists, but ‘Vision Quest’ wrestling star Matthew Modine’s decision to send the every, single Gotham police officer into the sewer was… questionable. And I feel it’s strange all those cops felt the need to stay clean-shaven while living in the bowels of the city for five months. No wonder they couldn’t hatch a decent escape plan with that misplaced sense of priorities.