The New England Patriots and the Carolina Panthers meet this Sunday for the first time in regular season play since Super Bowl XXXVII. The Patriots have long since put asside the events of previous Super Bowls, but to the Carolina Panthers, the loss in Super Bowl XXXVII is still a point of sensitivity. Michael Felger of the Boston Herald writes that Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme has no problem saying the loss still haunts him. Receiver Steve Smith, while restraining himself this week, has repeatedly claimed that cornerback Tyrone Poole spat in his face early in that game. Carolina fans aren't even ashamed of the T-shirts they produced for a Pats-Panthers preseason game last year that read: "The Rematch." The Patriots are wary of the Carolina Panthers but are not dwelling on the events of Super Bowl XXXVII. Mark Farinella of the Sun Chronicle and Tom Curran of the Providence Journal also offer a similar stories.
The Patriots offensive line will have it's hands full trying to handle Panther's defensive end Julius Peppers writes Michael Felger of the Boston Herald. At 6-7 and 290 lbs. Peppers has a blend of size and athleticism that is unique. "He's a hard guy to deal with. He's a hard guy to run at. He's hard to throw at. A lot of right-handed quarterbacks have to throw into that side," Belichick said. "You have to know where he is every play." Felger also offers Patriots notes in his article.
Eric McHugh of the Patriot Ledger writes that wide receiver Deion Branch (seven catches for 99 yards) and tight end Benjamin Watson (2-55) proved to be valuable weapons in the Patriots' season-opening victory over the Oakland Raiders last Thursday, but they both still need to prove they have the durability to make it through a full NFL season.
Jerome Solomon and Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe offer a story on Patriots cornerback Duane Starks. When the Patriots had traded for Starks in the offseason, the cornerback looked to be the Pats solution to the loss of Ty Law. Due to injury and a lack of production on the field, Starks has slipped to the bottom of the depth chart and was one of the inactives for last weeks season opener against the Raiders. "When you know you're out -- like when I had the [torn knee ligament, missing the 2003 season] two years ago -- when you know you're out, you can pretty much deal with it. You sit back and you watch and you know that there's nothing that you can do. But when you're not really hurt, you know, then you look and say, 'I want to be out there. I'm not used to being on the sideline.' That's what gets you," said Starks.
Jerome Solomon of the Boston Globe writes that offensive tackle Nick Kaczur is one of the big surpises from the Patriots 2005 draft class. Kaczur, a third round pick, has seen considerable playing time at left and right tackle. Solomon writes that in the Patriots' season opener against Oakland, Kaczur was in at right tackle for Ashworth by the third possession. Before he could settle into his first regular-season NFL game, he was sent in at left tackle for Matt Light. "It was really exciting, unexpected, but great," Kaczur said. ''I had no idea at all. Wherever they put me, that's where I play."
The Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots will launch a new weekly show geared towards children and families, called "Totally Patriots." The show will be hosted by former CBS4 news anchor Kerry Connolly. It will launch on Sunday, September 18 on WCVB-TV and air every Sunday at 11:00 a.m. Jesse Noyes of the Boston Herald and Eric McHugh of the Patriots Ledger offer a preview of the new Patriots show.
Michael Felger of the Boston Herald reports that former Pro Bowl safety and current Fox analyst Jason Sehorn appeared on ESPN radio and said he didn't consider Tom Brady to be in the upper tier of NFL quarterbacks. "(Brady's) not Peyton Manning. I'm taking Peyton any day over him," said Sehorn. "I'm even taking Bulger over him. . . . Hey, everyone has their picks."
Patriots cheerleaders are scoring alot of national exposure. Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa of the Boston Herald's "Inside Track" report that cheerleader Allison Preston will be appearing in this months FHM as well as appearing in Playboys' October issue while fellow cheerleader Jie Ralls is slated to pose for Playboy's February Super Bowl issue.
Tom Curran of the Providence Journal offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes and commentary.
Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes.