Jerome Solomon and Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe write that wide receiver Troy Brown needs just one more catch to reach 500 for his career, which would make him the second receiver in team history to snare 500 passes, behind franchise leader Stanley Morgan (534 receptions). Morgan, who played for the Patriots from 1977-89, knows Brown, a 13-year veteran, is coming. "In this day and age, I had envisioned Troy breaking the record; I figured he'd be the first to get there," Morgan said from Memphis. "I actually didn't expect it to last this long. Probably the biggest thing that held him back was spending some time on defense [last season]."
Jim McCabe of the Boston Globe writes that kicker Adam Vinatieri is inching closer to Gino Cappelletti's record of 1,130 career points. Vinatieri, currently at 1,121 points, calls Cappelletti a good friend ''and in my book, he's a Hall of Famer."
John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes that Kansas City Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez poses a serious challenge to the Patriots defense. If Gonzalez gets downfield, the 6-foot-5, 251-pounder will find himself matched up with one of the squad's smallish defensive backs, who have struggled with tall pass catchers all season. "Look, he's one of the top two tight ends in the league," linebacker Mike Vrabel said. "You talk about him and Gates. Every week he's good for six or seven catches, 80 to 100 yards, and one or two scores. He does it week after week after week, and that's what this league is about."
Tom Curran of the Providence Journal writes that the best way the Patriots could pay their head coach respect this week was to take care of business while he was in Annapolis attending his father's funeral. And, according to assistant head coach Dante Scarnecchia, he feels they've done that. "I think that we have enough leadership and enough mature guys that it's really been very easy," said Scarnecchia, who oversaw practice on Tuesday and Wednesday before the team took yesterday off. "I've been in this situation when it wasn't so easy (in 1992, Scarnecchia was interim coach for a bad Pats team when head coach Dick McPherson fell ill). "We have a lot of very prideful guys and they understand the routine and the work ethic that we want. We practiced out there [Tuesday] and they did a great job of practicing the way they practice. They just do what we asked them to do, be where they're supposed to be. We want to have two great practice days [Tuesday and Wednesday], and after two days say, 'Hey we have a lot of great preparation for these guys,' and they haven't let us down. Our meetings have been the way we wanted them conducted. I think that's unilateral, across-the-board, in all of the meeting rooms."
Eric McHugh of the Patriot Ledger offers a story on linebacker Tedy Bruschi. McHugh writes that since returning to the lineup against Buffalo in Week 8, Bruschi has gradually shown improvement. He's had two 10-tackle games and made nine stops against Indianapolis. He had only six tackles against Miami two weeks ago but batted down two passes, including a diving deflection that saved a touchdown. ''It's the first time I've done this - jumped into a season in the seventh week, so it's been a little bit of a process, a little bit of a learning curve to see where I have to improve,'' Bruschi said. ''But I think that I'm feeling comfortable now, and it's time to really start making plays.''
Alan Greenberg of the Hartford Courant writes that since Tedy Bruschi returned at inside linebacker and Mike Vrabel was shifted from outside linebacker to inside, Rosevelt Colvin has been starting at outside linebacker and making a difference. Colvin only has 21/2 sacks this season, but he has been in on more tackles (39) than he was in 16 games last season. He is the only Patriots who has forced two fumbles.
Eric McHugh of the Patriot Ledger offers a story on Patriots assistant head coach Dante Scarnecchia. Scarnecchia, in his 24th year as an NFL assistant, is a football coaching lifer, much like both of the Belichicks. The 57-year-old Los Angeles native joined the Patriots' staff in 1982 and except for a brief fling with the Indianapolis Colts from 1989-90, he's been a Foxboro fixture. He has served under six different head coaches and all four of the franchise's owners and has been charged with teaching tight ends, special teams, linebackers and, since 1999, the offensive line.
Tom Curran of the Providence Journal offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes and commentary.