New England Patriots Week 1: Sunday morning thoughts

Logan Ryan (26) New England Patriots - Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Logan Ryan (26) New England Patriots - Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports /

Today is the day. The New England Patriots Week 1 kicks off in 10 hours.

Here are some Sunday morning New England Patriots Week 1 thoughts as this writer lazes in bed.

Patriots Week 1 Sunday morning thought: Might Pats be holding Gronk to parallel Brady’s return?

Last night, I was chatting with a fellow UMass student and he proposed a theory to me: Might the Pats be keeping Rob Gronkowski out of harm’s way so that he is fully good to go when Tom Brady returns in Week 5? In other words, he was saying that the Patriots would have played Gronkowski tonight had Brady not been embroiled in the Deflategate mess. It’s an interesting thought.

Patriots Week 1 Sunday morning thought: All eyes on LaAdrian Waddle

LaAdrian Waddle hasn’t been talked about much this week, but he is expected to fill-in for the injured Nate Solder at left tackle. Perhaps no other player on the Patriots Week 1 roster holds such a vital job in this game, as Waddle must ensure that the Cardinals’ fierce pass rush doesn’t reach Jimmy Garoppolo from his blind side, or else it will be fumble city.

Patriots Week 1 Sunday morning thought: Keep a close eye on Logan Ryan

Logan Ryan is tracking upward after a strong 2015 season and equally impressive preseason. He is expected to play the same role he did last year, the No. 2 corner covering the No. 1 wideout with safety help in the form of Devin McCourty over the top. In the context of tonight’s game, that will likely mean Ryan’s first career encounter with Future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald. Entering his fourth pro season, Ryan is up to the task.

Patriots Week 1 Sunday morning thought: A.J. Derby, Malcolm Mitchell are sleepers

One of the ripple effects we listed of Gronk missing Week 1 was increased looks for promising second-year tight end A.J. Derby. In comparison to Clay Harbor, Derby was the better pass catcher all season long. Consider him a sleeper in this game.

Additionally, pencil-in intriguing rookie wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell as another sleeper candidate. The Patriots love this kid, and he looks good to go after suffering a gruesome-looking but not very serious elbow injury in the preseason opener against the New Orleans Saints. Mitchell is long, sure-handed and aware of his surroundings, all traits that will help him get accustomed to life as a rookie wideout in New England.

Next: Pats vs. Cards: 6 Bold Predictions

Alright, time to get out of bed. Check back in at this time next week here on Musket Fire for another edition of Sunday Morning Thoughts.