It’s Friday, and here are this morning’s top stories:

Mark Daniels of the Boston Herald has an article this morning on Matthew Slater, who after having to fight just for a roster spot a couple of weeks ago is honored by the fact he’s now a captain on this football team.

A. Sherrod Blakely of NECN has a great article on Slater, and writes that he had spent most of the preseason waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Now that this has happened,  he admitted that it was a bit of an odd transition.

“It’s kind of a weird shift to go from that to now, being a captain,” Slater admitted. “But I’m just grateful for the opportunity, and just really appreciative that my teammates think of me that way.”

Mark Farinella of the Attleboro Sun Chronicle also has his “notebook”, and writes that Slater isn’t planning on letting his new status change his approach in the locker room.

“I’m going to approach it the way I always have,” Slater said. “I’m going to be the guy that goes out there and works hard. I don’t take things for granted, I’d like to think, and I’m just going to try to be an encourager now, to be there for the young guys, and to realize I can learn things from the younger guys as well.”

Rich Garven of the Worcester Telegram files his “notebook” this morning which leads off with Slater, and also ends with the fact where Garven points out that in his seven games against the Dolphins, his former team, Wes Welker has 55 receptions for 683 yards and two touchdowns.

Ian Rapoport also files his “notebook” this morning, and writes that defensive back Devin McCourty was surprised when he found out he found out he had been voted as a captain by his teammates.

“When your teammates get to vote for you,” McCourty said, “and show how much they believe in you or show how much they’re behind you as a leader, I think it’s important for me to just try to continue what I’m doing.”

In the same article Rapoport also points out that should Sebastian Vollmer remain sidelined for Monday night, Nate Solder may find himself with his hands full against Miami’s Cameron Wake, who had 14 sacks last season for the Dolphins.

Karen Guregian has a good article this morning on Albert Haynesworth, with a friend of the big guy offering up some insight on a different side of the New England defensive lineman.  The guy in question is Pat Santa Maria, owner of “Pats Service Center and Towing”, and the interesting part of this article is that he’s apparently customizing a tow truck in honor of Hanesworth.

“Already, there’s a big red, white and blue Pat’s tow truck with a Patriots [team stats] logo on the toolbox door. There’s another one in the shop being specially made and customized with the logo, Haynesworth’s No. 92, and his initials. Rumor has it, Patriots owner Robert Kraft has already dared him to pull that up in front of the stadium on game day.”

Rapoport also has an article on Haynesworth, who told him yesterday that he’s enjoying coming to work these days with his new football team after two frustrating years in Washington.

“For two years, I was kind of taken out of football a little bit,” Haynesworth said. “Now I’m back in it and I’m truly enjoying the game again. I’m truly enjoying coming into practice and coming into work every day. And just to be able to have the chance again and play and to show what I can do is awesome.”

Monique Walker of the Boston Herald also has an article on Haynesworth, and points out that he hasn’t played a game since Nov. 28th of last season, and is ready for the “sleeping giant to awaken” when he takes the field Monday night against Miami.

“Last year, I didn’t think I was going to play because I was playing a lot of scout team,’’ he said. “Now I’m in the system and I’m playing and practicing. I think it’s time for me – I guess, the sleeping giant – to awaken and go back out there on the field and play football again.’’

Rick Snider of the Washington Telegram scoffs at Haynesworth’s ‘sleeping giant’ comment and instead called him a ‘giant nightmare’ while he was with the Redskins.

Christopher Price has a good article on Haynesworth, who is ready to begin a new chapter with this football team.

Walker also files her “notebook”, which includes a mention on the fact that the Patriots practiced in full pads for the second straight day yesterday.  She points out that the reason why this is significant is because under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, players can only practice in full pads two days in a row one time during the regular season – so New England took advantage of that this week.

Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe has yesterday’s practice report here.

Rapoport was at a screening for the media two nights ago for the upcoming Bill Belichick documentary, and has an article this morning on it where he describes several interesting moments in the film - which will probably only make you that much more eager to see it.

Jeremy Lundbland of ESPN is stirring the pot on a possible reunion between the Patriots and Randy Moss.  However, he makes one great point that should hopefully remind fans of why that’s a bad idea: “in their last 20 games sharing the field, 10 of Brady’s 15 interceptions were targeting Moss.”

Mike Reiss pointed out an article by Vinnie Iyer of the Sporting News, who takes a look at the backup quarterback situation around the league.  He ranks New England’s Brian Hoyer at the #2  spot behind the Packers’ Matt Flynn:

2. Patriots: Brian Hoyer. As the man behind Brady, Hoyer is being looked at the in the same light as Cassel, who guided New England to a 10-6 record in ’08 after Brady went down in Week 1 to the team to which Cassel was eventually traded, the Chiefs.

Obviously New England didn’t finish 10-6 – they finished 11-5 that season and still missed the playoffs.

Jim Lazar of the Boston Herald writes that with football on the horizon this Sunday, there may be a former New England Patriot on every team in the league, “thanks to the crumbs of Bill Belichick being pecked up like a seagull scavenging outside Kelly’s Roast Beef at Revere Beach”.

Mike Reiss and Tedy Bruschi offer up this week’s “Bruschi’s Breakdown”, and Bruschi points out that Dolphins offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is a former Patriots assistant and other former New England coaches have had success in the past putting together game plans against the Patriots.

“This is why the Dolphins brought him in. It’s about having success against this Patriots defense, and he’s had some in the past. Expect some of the same things you saw in Cleveland last season, as Daboll was the Browns’ offensive coordinator the past two years. Multiple shifts. Multiple motions. Make the Patriots adjust. The Patriots have been the big boys of this division, beating up on the Dolphins. The Dolphins know they need to score points to keep up with the Patriots, and what the Browns did last season against New England had to catch their eye. Daboll also has them throwing it down the field more. So look out for jump balls to Brandon Marshall. Big receivers have had success against this Patriots secondary in the past.”

Jeff Howe of NESN.com has his mailbag this morning, and makes an interesting mention on the fact that considering how steady James Sanders had been for New England at safety, the fact Brandon Meriweather was waived was done due to an issue with the now-former safety – not the defense.

“First, I think Belichick had tired of Meriweather’s unpredictability and lack of discipline on the field, and that led to his undoing,” wrote Howe.  “But that’s not an all-encompassing thing with the Patriots’ defense. Remember,James Sanders was about as consistent as could be back there. So, the release of Meriweather had to do with Meriweather and not the defense.”

There are some other interesting tidbits in there as well, so be sure and check it out.

I mentioned this in yesterday’s edition of the afternoon notes, but it ties in with the above link so I’ll throw it in here for those who haven’t seen it.  Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com held his weekly chat on Thursday afternoon, and had an interesting mention that I thought I’d share here.  According to Reiss, the Patriots like linebacker Jeff Tarpinian quite a bit and think he can not only help them on special teams, but also on defense.  Reiss also said he, “had one player tell me they see a little Tedy Bruschi in him from an instincts standpoint.”  Interesting.  There were some other insightful bits in that transcript, so it’s yet another one you may want to skim through.

Bill Doyle of the Worcester Telegram has an article this morning with comments from the Monday night football crew, with Ron Jaworski saying that after looking at the tape from their playoff loss in January, Brady left a lot of plays on the field.

“So I think to a certain degree,” Jaworski said, “they spooked Tom Brady in that game. When I went through that tape, I thought there were a number of plays left on the field by Tom Brady, which is highly unusual. Normally, Tom can decode a defense rather quickly, but he really struggled in that game to figure out what the Jets were doing.”

And finally, a couple of quick former player notes.  According to Aaron Wilson of Scout.com, former Patriots linebacker Niko Koutouvides worked out for the Dolphins yesterday.  He also reports that former Patriot Tully Banta-Cain passed a physical out in Oakland, which means he’s “apparently recovered well from his abdominal surgery.”  However, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, Banta-Cain wasn’t spotted on the practice field last night with the Raiders – so it’s not known yet whether or not he’s actually going to join the team.

That’s it for this morning.  We’ll have more throughout the day so be sure and check back for updates.