The Patriots begin the defense of their title Thursday when they host the Oakland Raiders to kickoff the 2005 NFL season. The new look Raiders offer the Patriots a big challenge with new weapons Randy Moss and LaMont Jordan.
One player the Patriots are sure to key on is Oakland's wide receiver Randy Moss. Jerome Solomon of the Boston Globe, Michael Felger of the Boston Herald and Tom Curran of the Providence Journal discuss how the Patriots will go about defending against Moss. "He's a very talented player, but they have a big, talented group of guys," said starting cornerback Asante Samuel. "It's a team sport. We can't be worried about just one guy."
Michael Felger of the Boston Herald explores the matchup between Patriots center Dan Koppen and Raiders nose tackle Ted Washington. Koppen faces a huge challenge as there is a 75 pound difference in weight between Koppen and Washington. "Getting your hands inside gives you the advantage at first, yeah, but there's always what happens after that,'' Koppen said. "There's a lot of in-fighting going on. Really, whoever ends up there wins 90 percent of the time. I mean, you can get your hands in their quickly, but if he can replace them, then you've lost what you had before and you have to start all over again. I think the key is to keep in-fighting and get (your hands) in there so you can control him."
Tom Curran of the Providence Journal writes that with Deion Branch under wraps for the entire preseason, the Oakland Raiders don't have any current film of the New England Patriots wide receiver from which to prepare. Branch is expected to start against the Raiders. Eric McHugh of the Patriots Ledger also offers a similar article.
Michael Felger of the Boston Herald writes that linebacker Mike Vrabel is "ready to go." The Patriots' starting outside linebacker is back to full speed and yesterday declared himself fit and ready for the Raiders on opening night Thursday. Vrabel had twisted his ankle during a kickoff return in preseason play against the Cincinnati Bengals. "I've been on special teams since I came into the league, and that's not going to change as long as I'm here," Vrabel said. "It just so happens that that's the play I got hurt on. We've won a lot of games on (special teams). I've covered punts. I've covered kicks. If someone goes down on Thursday on a kickoff team, I'm probably going to be the first guy in there. (Special teams coach) Brad (Seely) has told me that. We joke about it, but that's the way it is."
Jerome Solomon and Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe write that defensive lineman Jarvis Green has has about 60 relatives who lived in New Orleans. He hasn't been sleeping much because his thoughts are with his extended family in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Green's family are still searching for one of his uncles, who had not left New Orleans before the hurricane. "We're always watching TV, or waiting for that phone call that someone is OK," said Green.
Tom Curran of the Providence Journal offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes and commentary.
Peter King of Si.com offers his 2005 picks in which he lists the AFC East breaking down in the following order New England, Buffalo, New York Jets, Miami to finish the season.
Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes. In today's blog Reiss notes Tom Brady's comments on the retirement of Jerry Rice.