Colts coach Jim Caldwell took time Sunday night to watch his predecessor's television debut. He gave Tony Dungy a thumbs up.
Caldwell believes Dungy's quick analytical skills will serve the longtime NFL head coach well in his new job with NBC's "Football Night In America."
"There's true football knowledge there," Caldwell said, smiling at reporters.
But there is one thing the Colts would have preferred Dungy not have done.
As the Super Bowl-winning coach broke down Reggie Wayne's 35-yard touchdown reception from Peyton Manning on the telecast, he called out the play name and explained what each part of the call meant. Dungy was asked if he was giving out too much information, but Dungy said Manning normally uses a one-word audible in that situation and that he didn't know what that word was for Sunday's game against Jacksonville.
Still, it's something the Colts would have preferred not gotten out.
"Well, he knows the system inside and out, so there may be a time or two when he disperses a little more knowledge than we'd like," Caldwell said. "But that is his prerogative."
VIVA SANCHEZ: Mark Sanchez is the face of the New York Jets' franchise and a symbol of success to the Mexican-American community he has warmly embraced.
The 22-year-old rookie quarterback is a third-generation, Mexican-American who realizes he's in a unique position now that he's in the NFL.
"I don't feel like it's a burden," Sanchez said. "If anything, I feel like it just makes me even stronger and more excited to play for even more fans that are just tuning in. If that makes other people tune in to the NFL, I'm sure everybody else will be happy around the league."
The NFL has had its share of Mexican-American quarterbacks, including Dallas' Tony Romo, St. Louis' Marc Bulger, Philadelphia's Jeff Garcia, and former stars Joe Kapp and Jim Plunkett. None of them, though, played in New York with its huge Hispanic community.
"I don't want to be the front man or anything like that," said Sanchez, who led the Jets to a win at Houston in his debut last Sunday. "A lot of that comes with what I'm doing, so I just take it in stride."
While playing at Southern California, Sanchez had a strong following of fans who wore sombreros, Mexican wrestling masks and chanted "Viva Sanchez!" throughout Trojans games. Sanchez's father, Nick, believes this could be an opportunity for his son to be a role model for the entire Latin-American community, and not just Mexican-Americans.
"Mark has a chance to do some really neat things within his football life and really have an impact on a lot of folks outside of football," Nick Sanchez said. "If he can have an impact on youngsters, it's going to have a ripple effect."
Mark Sanchez said his first positive message was graduating from USC in May with a degree in communications.
"There's responsibility to that Hispanic and Latino following just to set the right example," he said. "I think the most important thing I could've done was graduate. That's huge for them to see that because that's doing the right thing."
MAKING THE CUT: Minnesota's Bryant McKinnie gave himself an early 30th birthday present: a haircut.
Since his final season in college at Miami, the extra-large McKinnie has worn his hair in braids. The style actually stemmed from a pact he made with then-teammate Ed Reed to not cut his hair until the Hurricanes lost a game that year.
Well, they won the national championship. McKinnie kept the look and never cut his hair.
Drafted in the first round by the Vikings in 2002, the 6-foot-8, 335-pound McKinnie has been their starter at left tackle since. He had those braids the whole time until last week's opener, having chopped them off in favor of an ordinary close-cropped cut. Teammate Pat Williams took him to a barber he likes in Minneapolis.
People occasionally asked him when he was going to cut his hair, and eventually he targeted age 30. That birthday is next Wednesday.
"I did it a week ahead of time because you've got to train your hair to being low," McKinnie said, laughing.
Reaction, he said, has been positive. His friends and teammates like the look. His helmet felt loose last Sunday at Cleveland, but his head was a lot cooler.
"I'm not sweating as bad as I used to," he said. "I used to just start walking and start sweating. I think it was from my hair. Now I've got to keep stuff on my head because I get cool faster now."
McKinnie has found his share of off-field trouble; he served a four-game suspension last season for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy. He has also become more serious about business interests, including in the music industry, and he switched agents to sign with Drew Rosenhaus as part of that focus.
Add all that up, and the most important force behind his makeover was maturity.
"I'm changing a lot of things in my life, just period, so that was one thing that needed to change," McKinnie said. "To get rid of the braids and stop looking young or thuggish or whatever. I'm trying to take care of business though, so I'm going to look the part."
PLAYOFFS OVER RUSHING TITLE: Steve Slaton of Houston wound up 2008 as the top rushing rookie in the NFL with 1,282 yards. Titans running back Chris Johnson feels Slaton won that title by default.
Why? Johnson had the lead with 1,228 yards until Tennessee held him out of the regular-season finale. Slaton ran for 92 yards in Houston's finale, pushing him ahead of all rookies.
"That's the only reason I wasn't the leading rookie was because of that," Johnson said.
Slaton also has the edge in another category over Johnson. He had 100 yards in each of the team's two meetings in 2008. They face off again Sunday, with both eager to improve on poor opening games. Slaton had only 17 yards on nine carries in a 24-7 loss to the New York Jets, while Johnson ran 15 times for 57 yards in Tennessee's 13-10 overtime loss at Pittsburgh.
Told what Johnson said about not winning the rookie rushing title, Slaton replied only that everything happens for a reason. He takes pride in leading all rookie running backs because he was drafted in the third round. Asked if he would trade that for the playoff berth Johnson got to enjoy, Slaton had a one-word answer: "Yeah."
PIN 'EM: Now everyone knows why the Bengals spent a fifth-round draft pick on a punter.
Kevin Huber, who was one of the nation's top punters at the University of Cincinnati, had an impressive first game in the NFL. He made seven punts during a 12-7 loss to Denver, and pinned the Broncos inside their 20-yard line six times.
They took over at their 16, 16, 18, 14, 5 and 15 following punts. He also had a 55-yard punt.
The most interesting part? Huber and the Bengals are convinced he'll do even better now that he's got one game in.
"I thought Kevin did a good job, and I think Kevin will do much better as the year goes on," coach Marvin Lewis said. "It wasn't his best day punting the football. By our standards, it was good."
By Bengals standards, it was outstanding. They had one of the worst punt teams in the NFL last season, prompting them to get rid of Kyle Larson and take Huber, who grew up in Cincinnati and always hoped to play for his hometown team.
In college, he was known for pinning teams close to their goal line. He's convinced he can do better than getting his kicks to come down just inside the 20.
"I hit my punts pretty good," he said. "I left some yards on the field with those first two or three punts. Instead of getting it from the 15 to 20, I can get it inside the 10. That's my focus this week, to get more consistent with that."
His only bad moment came on his first chance to hold for a field goal. Huber, who was a holder in college, let an up-and-in snap fly through his hands, scuttling the attempt.
"I should have caught that ball," Huber said. "I'm putting it on me. I was pretty disappointed with that. It's definitely something that's never going to happen again."
AP Football Writer Barry Wilner and Sports Writers Joe Kay in Cincinnati, Dave Campbell in Minneapolis, Teresa M. Walker in Nashville, Dennis Waszak Jr. in New York, and Michael Marot in Indianapolis contributed to this story.