Woodhead an important piece to Patriots new rushing attack

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Woodhead an important piece to Patriots new rushing attack

FOXBORO -- With Stevan Ridley putting together back-to-back 100-plus yard rushing games, and Brandon Bolden throwing in one of his own, the Patriots ground game has gotten some good attention this season.
Danny Woodhead also deserves a share of the credit.
Sunday against Seattle, New England rushed for only 87 yards as a team. Woodhead averaged 6.3 yards on his four carries. He added 46 yards on five catches.
Though his numbers aren't gaudy, they still made an impact.
The Patriots needed 6 yards and Woodhead got 7. They needed 4 and he got 9. They needed 10, he got 12.
"Danny is obviously a very important player for us," said offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. "Hes made a lot of critical plays, whether its catches or runs, third-down protections or blocking blitzers. Danny has filled that role and done a really nice job with it."
Could Woodhead's work in clutch situations evolve into a third-down role similar to Kevin Faulk's?
"Kevin was certainly one of the best Patriots ever and had a great career and did a lot of similar things, but I think theyre different players," McDaniels noted carefully. "Danny did definitely show up and make some important plays for us yesterday like he has all year."
His responsibilities have at least shifted in the locker room, if not by default. When BenJarvus Green-Ellis was traded to Cincinnati, Woodhead, at age 27, became New England's most senior running back. Ridley and Shane Vereen are in their sophomore seasons. Bolden is a rookie.
So it's for Woodhead to answer, not ask questions.
"It's not something that I think about too much. I like to think of myself as a young guy, still. You guys are starting to make me feel old," he laughed. "But, whatever it may be . . . if I am older, I guess I'm older."
The Patriots may ask even more of him in the coming weeks. Bolden suffered a knee injury in Sunday's loss to Seattle and has missed practice since. If he's inactive for Sunday's divisional game against the Jets, the running back corps will have to rally.
Woodhead isn't worried.
"We're a very close unit. All of us are great friends. It's a very, very, very unselfish group of guys. That's what you need in a room like that. When you get off the field, if you make a play, the other guys are the first ones to be there to congratulate you. We've got a very tight room."

Curran: Goodell wins, but the truth again is lost

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Curran: Goodell wins, but the truth again is lost

You keep thinking Roger Goodell’s hit absolute rock-bottom and then he sets a new low.

Thursday morning, while stumping for the NFL Draft on "CBS This Morning," Goodell was back at it again, calling the Wells Report an independent investigation.

Responding to a comment from Saints quarterback Drew Brees that Brees would not “trust any league-led investigation when it comes to anything,” Goodell answered, “There was an independent investigation on this, and an independent report that was presented to me. And that’s what we based the judgement off of. And then we had a hearing, we had a process that is articulated in our collective bargaining agreement that has been there for several decades.” 

We long ago established why the Wells Report wasn’t independent, but since Goodell’s talking points included trying to sell that lie anew, let’s revisit the reasons the Wells Report was a propaganda hit piece.

First, Jeff Pash, the NFL’s lead counsel and one of the primary investigators during the proceedings, edited the report. Goodell’s right-hand man, his legal brain and advisor, the man Wells initially said was around merely to facilitate interviews, put his eyes and hands on the slanted 243-page report that has been proven to be anything but independent.

Second, Lorin Reisner, a fellow lawyer at Wells’ firm, popped up on the conference call Wells staged to bluster about his own integrity during the investigation.

Then, Reisner was questioning and cross-examining on behalf of the NFL during Tom Brady’s appeal. Ultimately, the league stated during court proceedings that it wasn’t bound to give a player an independent investigation anyway so all the holes being poked in Wells’ obvious propaganda piece didn’t even matter. 

So, Goodell would be best off not mentioning the words “independent” and “investigation” as it relates to the Brady case. Of course, he’d have been better off not talking about anything except this week’s appeal decision handed down, but he can’t help himself.

On Wednesday, he offered this fabrication, saying that the 2-to-1 decision upholding Goodell’s right to suspend Brady and conduct the arbitration hearing in the manner he did, “Reaffirmed our authority and the underlying facts to the case.”

They didn’t reaffirm the underlying facts to the case. Actually, the judges were clear that they were not doing that. They were simply reviewing whether Goodell had the right to suspend for conduct detrimental in this instance and whether he was fair in the arbitration process. Two robes thought he was. The third thought he dispensed his own brand of industrial justice and moved the goalposts during the proceedings.

Spinning and selling. Laughing and lying. All in a day’s work.
 

King: Best guess is Notre Dame's Smith lands with Patriots in third

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King: Best guess is Notre Dame's Smith lands with Patriots in third

Earlier this week, our intrepid Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran broached the topic of Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith potentially being worth a Patriots draft pick.

A top-10 talent before suffering a gruesome knee injury at the end of last season, it seems as though Smith would certainly be worthy of a late-round selection, Curran wrote. The Patriots front office has proven its willingness to take chances on talented players with injuries in the past so why wouldn't they do it again? Especially if Smith lasts until the sixth round where the Patriots have five selections, three of which are compensatory picks and can't be traded. 

But what if the Patriots pounced sooner?

In a draft-day column on MMQB.com, Peter King's "best guess" on where Smith will end up was with New England at pick No. 96 overall in the third round. 

"He’s the first-round pick they didn’t have this year, assuming the Notre Dame linebacker ever comes back from the nerve damage in his knee stemming from his Fiesta Bowl injury," King wrote. "The Pats can justify it because of their multiple selections in this area—60, 61, 91 and 96."

Smith, when healthy, checks every box as the protorypical modern-day linebacker. At 223 pounds, he's a bit undersized relative to the players that the Patriots typically like to draft at that position, but athletically he was elite before his injury.

If the Patriots medical staff gives the coach Bill Belichick and director of player personnel Nick Caserio the thumbs up in regard to the health of Smith's knee, it would absolutely come as no surprise if the Patriots drafted him.

No two injuries are alike, obviously, but when it comes to getting good value on a player in the draft with physical question marks -- whether it's Rob Gronkowski or Dominique Easley or Ras-I Dowling -- their track record is proven. They'll take a shot.