With Randall Gay added to the injury reserve this week along with Dan Koppen, the Patriots secondary took another shot to the gut. Fortunately, the tenth and eleventh members of the defensive backfield from training camp, Ellis Hobbs and Hank Poteat, are available to fill in, as well as Artrell Hawkins, fresh from the scrap heap. This is an interesting game for Ellis Hobbs, as a rookie coming off a week of high praise has a tendancy to have a major letdown the next week. Of course, there is no margin of error on the Patriots now and Mr. Hobbs needs to build on his encouraging performance last Sunday.

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Jim Beattie? Jim Bowden? An internal candidate? A mystery candidate? My cat Slim Mimit? Does it really even matter anymore? I liked the recent discussion on Dennis & Callahan on WEEI about the Sox having their excuse to cut payroll and get younger. Of course, being WEEI, the two hosts had their debate topics in front of them with talking points to highlight the salient points of the side of the story they were to take and debate.

Anyway, the point they made is the same point I have been making for for years that the team has never been able to consistenty have the patience to implement: Hold onto your prospects, keep the payroll flexible and manageable, supplement (do not build, but SUPPLEMENT) the young players coming up through the farm system with mid-range and inexpensive free agents and quality trades, and get younger, faster, and more dynamic.

After all these years of media critics lambasting the Sox for not having the home-grown talent to bring up and of getting overpriced, oversized and one-dimensional free agent power hitters, the team finally comes up with an on-base machine of a team, a dynamite farm system stocked with prospects for today and the near future, and people have the audacity to complain?

A few off-season observations:

Forget about Johnny Damon - the three year offer effectively tells the Damon camp that the Sox are not getting in a bidding war for the aging star. Defense is a liability, post-concussion symptoms are still a concern, media-whoring is an issue, bulking up with loss of speed, and significant drop-off in the second half should be enough to keep his market down, but I am sure some team will jump off the turnip truck and sign him for five years and fifty million plus and deal with him injured, old, and almost forty in 2010.

The Renteria Renaissance is due: I am sorry for all the Edgar detractors out there, but having seen Renteria perform over the last five plus years, the 2005 version of Edgar Reneteria was obviously pulling a Duane Starks and playing injured and taking the slings and arrows from the media. Renteria is not a bust. He will hit .300 with 15 home runs, 40 doubles, score 100 runs, and play great defense in 2006. Yes, I am serious!

Keep Manny & Unload Trot Nixon: talk about a drain on the team finances! Trot Nixon is the party which deserves to be run out of town on a rail, not Manny. As long as Manny keeps hitting .300 with 40 homers and 120+ RBIs, I think the team can deal with his eccentric mannerisms. It could be worse: we could have Hamburger Helper on the squad for four more years and his Mommy making excuses for him after he stinks out the joint in the playoffs.

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* B.J. Ryan will not go to New York.

*Did anyone ever tell Ugueth Urbina that having won Fireman of the Year does not give him the right to set yard workers on fire?

* The Colts will finish the season 12-4. Too many tough games in the second half.

* Are Pittsburg Steelers fans bracing themselves for their first round playoff loss yet?

* Remember, the J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets were built to win THIS season, as their salary cap hit goes nuts next season.

* This time, definately, certainly, maybe J.P. Losman is the answer in Buffalo. Of course, the question might be: Who could we get at QB worse than Rob Johnson was in his time here?

* Speaking of the Bills, the Football Gods punished them with the Music City Miracle back when in the playoffs as punishment for benching Doug Flutie for Rob Johnson. Never forget that.

* Yeah, Raymond Berry is still haunted by the Ghosts of Football Past for benching Flutie in the playoffs in 1988 against the Broncos and going with Tony Eason.

* Eason was a great college QB. Lost to Bear Bryant in his last college game. Eason was knocked out of the game three times, his replacement through an interception each time, and then Eason dragged himself back in. In my opinion, he was damaged goods after the Bear got through with him.

* I am still waiting for the Tuna to pull a Woody Hayes and tackle a ball-carrier running down the sidelines one of these days.

* Anyone seen the Bruins defense lately? Someone call Don Sweeney for gods sake!

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