OK, so it was more of a whisper, but there is very little worry, concern, fear, and or loathing in Patriots camp this summer. Everyone knew that the option to sit out for nothing or make more per game than you made in base salary the season before would bring Asante Samuel back into the fold before week one. Sure, we would all have loved to see more of Randy Moss and Dante Stallworth running under passes from Papa Brady, more Adalius Thomas jumping from position to position, more Lawrence Maroney showing why he was the best back in the 2006 draft, and more healthy bodies, but no one will complain if there are more games like the pre-season tilt against the Panthers.

The Patriots ran and threw the ball with impunity against Carolina. Brady was sharp, Maroney looked good, the offensive line was consistent, and short of one hiccup (where Eugene Wilson limped off after the subsequent play) there were very few things to complain about on defense. Even the special teams stepped it up, blocking two kicks as Vince Wilfork showed off that tremendous strength and explosive first step not seen since his days at the U.

Sure it was only preseason, and, yes, Heath Evans looked like Bronco Naguski out on the turf, but it as nice to see the Patriots looking like the cohesive Mangini-crushers we expect them to be this season.

* * *

One last note, I will be putting together a special Patriots Final Cuts blog very soon. Not that there are a lot of positions up for the taking, but battle for the last five or six roster spots should be intense, as well as the excitement of sneaking the kids to the practice squad knowing that Mangini (or as the New Yorkers call him: Man-Genius. As he is forever referred to here: Man-gina) is hovering around the Foxboro cast-offs and desperate to bring them into New York. Seriously though, we do not really hate Mangina, he is one of our guys. We just hate those arrogant Jets fans who think they are the new suffering Red Sox and every season is going to be their own personal 2004.

* * *