1. All right, third-string things first: I'm convinced the Patriots already know what they're going to do with Tim Tebow, and playing tonight (or not playing next week) really doesn't matter in the ultimate evaluation. And I do think they keep him -- Josh McDaniels did spend a first-round pick on him just three years ago, so there's something in that goofy skill-set that the Patriots offensive coordinator must believe is more than salvageable.
2. I'm all-in on Kenbrell Thompkins as a legitimate season-long contributor. I want to buy in on Zack Sudfeld as a competent Gronk replacement in the short-term, but he has to protect the ball better. Aaron Dobson? He'll hit on some spectacular catches and deep throws, but if he doesn't stop dropping passes and running into fellow receivers on routes, he's going to get that look -- I call it the Joey Galloway Hate Laser -- from Tom Brady if he isn't careful.
3. I believe the Patriots will have a top-10 defense this year. The schedule looks tough, but you know how that perception changes over the course of a season. They were ninth-best in the league in points allowed last year (20.7 per game) but just 25th in total yards (373.2). With Aqib Talib for a full season, Devin McCourty at safety, the logical expectation of Year 2 improvement from Chandler Jones and Donte' Hightower, wild-card Jamie Collins, and not-so-old standbys Vince Wilfork, Rob Ninkovich, and Jerod Mayo, this has the makings of their best defense in years.
4. Curious to see whether Tommy Kelly can add a legitimate and consistent inside pass-rush this season. He's getting good reviews, but I'm naturally skeptical of anyone with a recent Raiders affiliation.
5. But I'd take a reunion with this ex-Raider: Wish there were a way to bring Richard Seymour back here. He's 33, has creaky knees and is not what he once was, but I could see him being very valuable and versatile role player on a contending team. He's still a free agent, though, apparently because he still wants to be paid for what he was, not what he is.
6. A reader asked at the beginning of camp to name an established player within reason who might be a surprise cut. I suggested Adrian Wilson, because of age and salary and the possibility that he's lost a few feet beyond a step. But I didn't really expect him to be on the bubble. Now? I think I'd be surprised if he sticks. He just doesn't look like he can cover any ground in space anymore.
7. Thought my colleague Ben Volin did a great job dissecting Rolling Stone's Aaron Hernandez story here. It's common sense to wonder if Bill Belichick knew more about Hernandez than he's let on; he knows more about every player in that locker room than he lets on. But Rolling Stone was quick to put the burden on him with fairly thin details. I'm more interested in knowing what Urban Meyer knew about him, and I'm half-convinced Hernandez thinks Meyer is going to show up and make all of this go away any day now.
8. I'd be fine with keeping Danny Amendola out of Thursday's preseason finale against the Giants. His chemistry with Brady is already there, and like Randy Moss during the '07 preseason, it's better to keep him behind glass and make sure he's healthy for when the games actually matter.
9. Ras-IR Dowling, we hardly knew ya. Really. It says here you played nine games, but damned if I can even remember what number you were. It's too bad you couldn't stay on the field, though. Rumor was you could play before the parts started falling off.
10. The won/lost record for this team? All right, I'll play -- 13-3. The losses come at Atlanta, at Baltimore, and home against Denver, which is avenged in the AFC Championship Game. Optimistic? Yep.
11. Very impressed with how quickly Bob Socci and Scott Zolak have meshed on the Patriots radio broadcasts. Socci doesn't have Gil Santos's pipes -- who does? -- but his voice is pleasant and professional, and he tells you everything you need to know while still leaving room for Zolak to add his insights.
12. As for today's Completely Random Football Card:
Kind of amazing that Sam Bam remains the Patriots' all-time leading rusher 31 years after his last game with the team. With 3-4 more seasons like his last one, Stevan Ridley could actually catch him -- Cunningham ran for 5,443 yards, a low total for a franchise leader. Ridley is already at 1,704 just two years into his career.
About Touching All The Bases
Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.