By Tom E. CurranLet's be honest, the Patriots haven't played anything that approaches the status of a "real" game since Tampa. Andeven that pales in comparison to what they'll do Sunday against the Titans with a fully-developed game plan. Theroster conversation is a little stale,what they'll do, who they'll sign, whether Brian Waters is taking a nap or watching infomercials - it's all just conjecture. We need a game. Badly.And that wasaudible Tuesday as Bill Belichick conducted his conference call with media. News-wise, the only thing kicking is whether the Patriots will puta player on theIR that they can re-activate later in the year. I wondered if tight end Visanthe Shiancoe might be headed there. He's been down for most of camp and, although he's been seen walking through the locker room with a wrap on his lower leg, he seems a candidate. Belichick was having none of that conversation, proclaiming Shiancoe"day-to-day" and saying he wouldalert the press ifwhen anyone gets moved onto IR. A few quick notes from his conference call: ON CHRIS PALMER, TITANS OFFENSIVE COORDINATORBB: Chris and I were together in 96 and I actually worked quite a bit with Chris that year because I was coaching the secondary and he was coaching the quarterbacks. In a lot of the passing drills and so forth we worked with each other, setting things up and just on opposite sides of the ball, especially through training camp and some of the individual drills there during the season. Chris has a real good grasp of the passing game as well as overall offensively. They definitely have elements of the four wide receiver run and shoot type of offense in their system. With Jared Cook as the tight end, hes really flexed out a lot, playing like a wide receiver in that type of offense, although they have versatility with him because he doesnt have to be flexed out. He can be in the backfield protection or on the line in his normal tight end position. They have a good scheme, they definitely try to take advantage of where the defense is weak and they do that by trying to read the coverage pre-snap but also having the receivers adjust their routes after the snap based on what defense youre in. Theyre always attacking your weakness defensively so that will be a big challenge for us to be able to make sure that whatever coverage were in, we know theyre going to the softer spots in the coverage that were able to keep those things tightened up. Chris is a smart guy and he does a real good job offensively and with the passing game and developing young quarterbacks, I might add. ON TITANS RUNNING BACK CHRIS JOHNSONBB: His production speaks for itself. Hes really an outstanding player with the ball in his hands in the passing game, in the running game, inside runs, outside runs, draws, screens. Everybody is at the point of attack because he has the speed to start one way and go the other to get back to the cutback backside of the defense or bounce out in either direction. Really everybody is at the point of attack when he has the ball. Its a big challenge for our defense. Hes very dangerous. Hes had like four touchdowns over 75 yards, something like that. Whenever he gets the ball anywhere on the field, hes just one play away from the end zone. Everybody has to be ready and do their job and make sure that no matter where he hits it, we have to defend it because he can attack anywhere on the field. ON TITANS SAFETY MICHAEL GRIFFINBB: Griffin is one of the better safeties in the league; has been very consistent back there and dependable. Hes very athletic for a safety, runs well, has good quickness, can match up in man-coverage, has range and can cover a lot of ground in the deep part of the field in zone coverage. Hes smart, he anticipates things well: route combinations and things like that. Hes been used both in the deep part of the field as a free safety and then this year theyve played him more in the strong safety type position, but again, sometimes hes back, sometimes hes close to the line hell do both and has done both from either spot. You never know exactly where hes going to be but hes one of those versatile guys that can play well away from the line of scrimmage and play well close to the line in terms of run support, matching tight ends in coverage and then reading the quarterback on the underneath combination routes and zone coverage and so forth. Hes a very good player, versatile player and hes done it now for awhile. Hes experienced but is still a fairly young guy. Hes kind of right there at the prime of his career.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while saying RIP Vine but not really feeling it since it’s a rabbit hole I never really delved down into.
*Down Goes Brown celebrates the “NHL’s old guys”, and yes, that means a gratuitous shout out to Zdeno Chara as the top defenseman on the All-Graybeard squad.
*Hampus Lindholm has signed a long term deal with the Anaheim Ducks, so now that deal leaves everybody to wonder who is leaving the Anaheim roster in the eventual salary cap crunch. It will be interesting to see if this hastens any Cam Fowler trade talk as far as the Bruins are concerned because it looks like they need the help.
*Pro Hockey Talk has the Oilers off to their best start since the Wayne Gretzky Era and people in Edmonton finally getting to see the hockey they’ve been waiting for over the past few years.
*In honor of the Halloween season that we’re in, here are a few cool and scary goalie masks with a bit of spooky flair.
*Arizona Coyotes GM John Chayka is confident that his young team is going to rebound after a rough start to the season.
*Speaking of creative uniforms, it’s a most wonderful time of the year for hockey when they bust out their Oktoberfest sweaters.
*For something completely different: this matchup of Peanuts and Stranger Things hits all the right notes for fans of both.
FOXBORO -- It's not often that NFL teams make deals before the trade deadline. Seeing starters get dealt before the deadline is a veritable rarity. It's no wonder linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who started in all seven Lions games this season, reacted the way he did when he was dealt to the Patriots earlier this week.
"I was shocked to go from starting there to traded," Van Noy said during his first back-and-forth with Patriots reporters. "I was shocked. I respect everybody with the Detroit Lions, they'll all be my guys there. Just grateful for the opportunity to come here and get it going."
Van Noy has been working closely with Patriots linebackers and linebackers coach Brian Flores since his arrival, even getting some last-minute notes from Flores before meeting with reporters and heading out to Thursday's practice.
The 6-foot-3, 243-pounder wasn't completely unfamiliar with the operation in New England before being sent to Foxboro along with a seventh-round pick in exchange for a sixth-rounder. He admitted he had "a lot" of contact with the Patriots before being taken in the second round by Detroit.
Now he's playing "catch-up" to learn the Patriots playbook, which could include learning multiple positions within the team's defense. He played mostly as an off-the-line linebacker in Detroit, but when he entered into the league out of BYU, he was considered to have the tools to be a productive pass-rusher as a pro.
Van Noy, who lost about 15 pounds going into this season, indicated that the Lions didn't get the most out of him because of how he was used.
"I mean, they didn't know where to put me," he said. "Here, they want me here, and I'm happy to be wanted."
Van Noy was injured for much of his rookie season and had a hard time making an impact last year. He was relied upon to fill a more substantial role this season, playing in 60 percent of the team's defensive snaps. It's unclear just how Van Noy will fit in as a member of the Patriots, but he says he's willing to do whatever it takes to work his way back up another depth chart.
"I'm here now, and I'm gonna do whatever they have me [do], and whatever they want my weight to be at," he said. "Whatever they want me to do I'm gonna do it because I want to win and be part of this team."