By Phil Perry
Maybe the Patriots released nothing but NFL-quality players, or maybe the rest of the NFL is looking for insight into Foxboro's inner workings. Either way, ex-Patriots were re-claimed by NFL teams -- some Patriots rivals -- left and right this weekend.
You already know safety Brandon Meriweather was picked up by the Bears. That's the big one. (Another former Pats safety, James Sanders, signed with the Falcons last week.)
Receiver Brandon Tate couldn't cut it here, but he got picked up by Chad Ochocinco's former club in Cincinnati, according to our pals at Pro Football Talk.
Cornerback Jonathan Wilhite has signed with the Denver Broncos, according to ESPN.
Rookie tight end Lee Smith has been claimed by the Bills. Another rookie tight end, Will Yeatman, was claimed off of waivers by the Dolphins, ESPN reports. It was speculated that the Patriots would try to stash one of, or both, Smith and Yeatman on the practice squad, but the Pats AFC East competition put a stop to that.
Offensive lineman Thomas Austin was picked up by the Texans and defensive lineman Landon Cohen landed with Seattle, according to ESPN.
NEW ORLEANS - Devonta Freeman practically wore out the Superdome turf with one long gain after another, Tevin Coleman wouldn't be denied near the goal line and the New Orleans Saints hardly looked like the team that made an emotional homecoming nearly 10 years ago to the day.
Cheers turned to boos, and many fans filed out early.
Coleman rushed for three touchdowns, Matt Ryan passed for two TDs and Deion Jones returned an interception 90 yards for a score to help the Atlanta Falcons beat the winless New Orleans Saints 45-32 on Monday night.
"It was real fun. Everybody was doing their job and everybody was playing for each other," Coleman said. "Everything clicked, and we got it done. It's a real big win for us to beat this team here."
The game coincided with New Orleans' celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the Saints' memorable return to the Superdome on Sept. 25, 2006, 13 months after Hurricane Katrina. But there would be no reprise of New Orleans' dominant and emotional 23-3 triumph over Atlanta a decade ago.
The Saints' depleted defense struggled to slow Freeman, who rushed for 152 yards and caught five passes for 55 yards. Coleman also was effective in the passing game out of the backfield, with three receptions for 47 yards to go with his 42 yards rushing.
"We have to stop the run better," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "They were over 200 yards in situations where you knew the run was coming, even at the end of the game."
Ryan finished with 240 yards passing for Atlanta (2-1), which did not turn the ball over and moved into sole possession of first place in the NFC South.
Drew Brees put up his usual big numbers - 376 yards and three TDs passing - and hit tight end Coby Fleener seven times for 109 yards and a TD. But Brees' tipped pass that resulted in Jones' TD return early in the fourth quarter gave the Falcons a 45-25 lead that proved too much for New Orleans to overcome.
Devin McCourty says the early season results show the New England Patriots have bought in to what the coaches are saying