By Mary Paoletti
While browsing the latest issue of SI I happened upon the players NFL poll. This week's question: Who is the smartest player in the league? Here are the results which are based on 282 player responses.
I know that this was a 'smartest on the FIELD' thing. But let's rewind real quick to Wednesday's conference call with Peyton Manning.
Reporter: Hey, Peyton. On maybe a subconscious level, do you think you and Tom Brady have pushed each other over the course of the last decade?
Manning: Thats probably a littleyou mentioned subconscious, thats pretty deep for me. Im not sure Im that much of a thinker. I dont have the ability to answer that kind of question. Im not really sure.
The Fast Facts footnotes are also interesting.
"Of the seven QBs named (brother Eli not among them), only three (Manning, Brees and Tom Brady) received more than one vote. Seven linebackers and 10 defensive backs were cited.... Not a single running back, kicker or punter received a vote; tight ends and D linemen were represented solely by Tony Gonzalez and Albert Haynesworth (one vote each)."
Some quick analysis:
-- Eli: Well. You're probably used to it by now.
--Brady: Everybody hates the pretty girl. It's your burden to bear. Sorry, Tommy.
--Brees: How quickly they forget. Sadface.
--Running backs, kickers, and punters: Running backs get their bells rung quite a bit so this one isn't so surprising. And most guys probably forget that kickers and punters even exist until those special teams units run out onto the field. Oops.
--Tony Gonzalez: You supports PETA; I like animals. But I didn't get to vote so who's Tony's secret admirer? Tom Brady, perhaps?
--Albert Haynesworth: You voted for yourself.
FOXBORO -- The Patriots had a welcome face back on the practice field on Wednesday, as tight end Rob Gronkowski returned to action after missing the team's previous five practices as he dealt with an injury.
Gronkowski participated in the warmup period of practice and then remained with the majority of his teammates for drills.
The last time Gronkowski was spotted on the field was last Monday, which was the first of three joint practices between the Patriots and the Bears. He pulled up after pursuing a Tom Brady pass, walked along the sideline, met with head trainer Jim Whalen, and then left practice early. He did not suit up for Thursday's game against Chicago.
Gronkowski has not participated in a preseason game since 2012.
Patriots not spotted at Wednesday's practice were Shaq Mason, Jonathan Cooper, Sebastian Vollmer (on the physically unable to perform list) and Dion Lewis (also on PUP). Alan Branch, who has been suspended by the team before last week's preseason game, was also missing.
Jabaal Sheard, Rob Ninkovich, Malcolm Mitchell, Shea McClellin, Tre' Jackson (PUP) and Danny Amendola (PUP) were present for warmups but went to a lower field for conditioning. Amendola and Jackson were not in pads for the short-and-shells session.
Jon Bon Jovi was taking in the session alongside Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft.
Michael Felger wants no part of Josh Gordon-to-the-Patriots, no matter the price.
Hanley Ramirez is getting a night off as the Red Sox look for their third straight win against the Rays tonight at Tropicana Field.
Travis Shaw will play first base, with Brock Holt at third.
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Sandy Leon C
Brock Holt 3B
Travis Shaw 1B
Andrew Benintendi LF
Rick Porcello P
Logan Forsythe 2B
Kevin Kiermaier CF
Evan Longoria 3B
Brad Miller SH
Matt Duffy SS
Logan Morrison 1B
Steven Souza Jr. RF
Corey Dickerson LF
Bobby Wilson C
Matt Andriese P