Marriage with Pats is rolling, and so, too, will be Moss

The idea is as difficult to imagine as the idea of Randy Moss playing for the Patriots.

But after almost four months together, the Patriots now wish they had more players as hard-working and as vastly talented as Moss.

Soon enough, the public and Patriots fans will see for themselves.

With Moss nursing a minor hamstring injury that the Patriots are being extremely cautious with, the mercurial wide receiver is not expected to play Friday night at Carolina, but he could see some brief action in New England's preseason finale.

But here's the news that will be felt all the way to Hempstead, New York: The Patriots fully expect Moss to be on the field for the regular-season opener against the New York Jets.

After being around Moss since April, the Patriots have high hopes.

People wondered how the marriage between Moss and the Patriots would work. The early answers are in ... and the honeymoon shows no signs of letting up.

For now, Patriots coach Bill Belichick is steering clear of any discussion about exactly when Moss might be back and how his absence has hurt him.

''I think all of the players, when they don't practice, what they have to focus on is ... what they can do and not what they can't do,'' Belichick said. ''That's true for every player. There are a lot of things that you can do mentally, in the meeting room and in a film study. The areas of the body that you can train, that are trainable, you train and the ones that aren't, then you rehab them until they are.

''I think that's really what the focus of every injured player should be, is to work on the things that he can work on and then try to treat whatever injury it is until he can get back on the field and fully participate with the group. That's what we try to do.''

And they've done it with Moss. As early as next week, Moss will be ready to go. And so will the Patriots' offense.

DOWN IN MOTOWN

An injury has all but ended the competition for Detroit's No. 2 quarterback job, with the well-traveled J.T. O'Sullivan trumping the now-injured Dan Orlovsky.

For the next 10 days or so, Orlovsky will remain in a walking boot to help heal the ligament damage and turf toe he sustained. Orlovsky will not play again this preseason, meaning O'Sullivan will be the quarterback the Lions lean on.

Of course, Detroit might have done that anyway. O'Sullivan has been the more impressive quarterback this summer. But now Detroit has some quarterback concerns.

Back spasms have sidelined starter Jon Kitna the past two days and Orlovsky's injury is worse than what many thought. He is not day-to-day; he is week-to-week.

And maybe the biggest ramification of his injury is that Detroit no longer has a quarterback it might have been willing to trade to Atlanta.

EYES WIDE OPEN

For the time being, Atlanta is content to sit and wait for a quarterback to come free. But while the Falcons are waiting, the two teams they are eyeing are the Oakland Raiders and Philadelphia Eagles.

The Raiders have a surplus of quarterbacks and, if and when No. 1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell signs, Oakland will be intent on unloading one. Atlanta would like to land one of the Raiders' quarterbacks, either Andrew Walter or Josh McCown. But neither might be available until the time Russell signs.

The odd quarterback out in Philadelphia is going to be veteran Kelly Holcomb, who has drawn interest from multiple teams, not just the Falcons. It sounds as if Philadelphia is going to be able to deal Holcomb, and if so, the Falcons will have to decide whether it is worth trading a draft pick for him.

But right now, Atlanta is sitting back, waiting, eyeing quarterbacks in Oakland and Philadelphia from afar, and deciding the best option to pursue.

HUDDLING UP ...

Before any suspension is handed down, Michael Vick and his representatives still might attempt to meet with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, according to the Washington Post.

However, it is unlikely Goodell will meet with Vick until the public finds out the specific details of what the Falcons quarterback agreed to plead guilty to in his dogfighting case.

Vick will officially plead guilty to federal charges Monday in Richmond, Va.

Contacted Wednesday, Vick's agent Joel Segal issued his first comments, however brief, about his client. It is likely that Segal has refrained from making any comments about Vick out of respect to the wishes of his client's attorneys.

''I've represented Mike for most of his professional career and I'm deeply saddened by his situation,'' Segal said from New York. ''He has taken full responsibility for his actions and the mistakes he has made. After speaking with Mike at great lengths, I'm convinced that he is remorseful and, over time, will show people that this is not who he is.''

Segal declined to address any issues regarding his client's future in Atlanta.

CROYLE'S JOB TO LOSE

Preseason games do not count in the standings, but they do on the depth chart.

When Kansas City plays New Orleans on Thursday night, Chiefs quarterack Brodie Croyle will be trying to wrap up his team's starting quarterback job.

There were a couple of events this past week that helped impact the competition. For starters, Chiefs quarterback Damon Huard has nursed a calf strain that has enabled Croyle to take a greater hold on the starting job.

Also, workhorse running back Larry Johnson reported back to work, making it that much easier for Kansas City to lean even harder on a younger quarterback, which Croyle is.

Should Croyle have a solid performance Thursday night, pencil him in for the Chiefs' regular-season opener in Houston.

But if Croyle struggles, then Huard might have a chance to win back the job.

Live preseason games on NFL Network

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NO HONOR IN THIS MOVE

For what defensive lineman John Browning contributed to Kansas City during 11 NFL seasons, the Chiefs were planning to honor him at halftime of a game this season.

Somebody now needs to change those plans.

With Denver desperate to help find another defensive lineman to make up for the season-ending injury suffered by defensive end Ebenezer Ekuban, the Broncos signed the 33-year-old Browning on Wednesday.

Now, instead of honoring Browning, the Chiefs will try to embarrass him. If he is healthy and recovered from a back injury that sidlined him all of last year, Browning will play twice this season against the Chiefs, for whom he started 96 games and totaled 307 tackles.

The Chiefs had been hoping to honor Browning along with former Kansas City greats Will Shields and Jerome Woods at halftime of a game this season.

But these are signs that the Apocalypse is Upon Us: In the same week, the Broncos and Raiders engineered their first trade since 1993, and then one of the longest-tenured players in Chiefs history opted to finish his career in Denver. Weird.

EXTRA POINTS

-- The Falcons waived injured quarterback D.J. Shockley, who blew out his knee in Atlanta's preseason game against Buffalo.

-- The Chiefs released wide receiver Rod Gardner, who has struggled to find a home after being drafted in the first round.

-- A decision from Giants holdout defensive end Michael Strahan is expected any day now.

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