FOXBORO -- Jerod Mayo and the Patriots defense realize what type of threat San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is. The kid can throw, he can run, and he can throw accurately on the run.
Mayo reiterated that after Friday's practice, and pointed out that stopping Kaepernick will be all about "reading your keys" on Sunday night.
"He's very athletic," said Mayo. "He does a lot of different things for them. And he can also throw on the run. He has a strong arm. He has all the tools to being a good quarterback.
"You have to read your keys. It's all about reading your keys, going out there and playing disciplined football. We always talk about doing your job, and this is one of those games."
That also entails knowing where veteran running back Frank Gore is at all times, on Sunday night.
"Frank Gore's been doing it for a long time," said Mayo. "He has great power, and he can also take it outside as well. So, you can't really sleep on anything. He'll take the ball anywhere, and they have a good offensive line."
FOXBORO -- Jamie Collins and the Cleveland Browns are reportedly closing in on a contract that will turn the ex-Pat's place of exile into his long-term place of work.
That's interesting in itself. The Browns must have made it clear to Collins he was getting franchised, otherwise you'd think Collins would want to get out there and test the market for at least a couple of days when free agency rolled around.
It will also be interesting for Collins' former teammate in New England, Dont'a Hightower. While the Patriots aren't going to let the Browns dictate their market and offers when it comes to negotiating with Hightower, Collins' contract will be a useful comp for Hightower.
Whatever Collins gets, Hightower can make the case for a fair amount more. Hightower is the centerpiece of the Patriots defense, a run-stopper, blitzer, leader and tone-setter. From the jersey number (Tedy Bruschi's old number 54) they encouraged him to wear, to selecting him captain, the team and Hightower's teammates have stated how important he is to the club.
Hightower on the open market would be in line for a contract in the $10 million-per-year range, with a total value of around $50 million (using Luke Kuechly, Navarro Bowman, Bobby Wagner and Lawrence Timmons as comparable players). The Patriots can franchise Hightower just as easily as the Browns could have franchised Collins. The sticking point for the player is that he doesn't realize the windfall of guaranteed money that comes with a long-term deal. The injury Sword of Damocles dangles every day.
In other words, Collins' influence on the Patriots isn't done yet.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while simply skating my lane today.
*A terrific piece on Carolina Hurricanes forward Bryan Bickell getting on with his life after an MS diagnosis, and pushing to see if he can return to the ice.
*If the New York Islanders botch the hirings for people guiding the franchise, then John Tavares could be one of the next figures gone from Brooklyn.
*It’s been a rough go of it for St. Louis Blues goaltender Jake Allen over the past few weeks and that continued on Thursday night.
*Top NHL Draft prospect Nolan Patrick’s value comes from his two-way play, and that’s what teams are focused on rather than the injury issues.
*Mike Babcock talks a wide range of subjects with James Duthie during a 1-on-1 with the Toronto Maple Leafs head coach.
*In his never-ending odyssey on the fringes of the NHL, Seth Griffith has been claimed by the Maple Leafs on waivers for the second time.
*Veteran forward Clarke MacArthur won’t be playing this season for the Ottawa Senators amid his concussion issues.
*For something completely different: Bill Belichick just being Bill Belichick at his press conference on Friday and that’s something we can all be reassured about.