Best & Worst: Patriots camp 2011

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Best & Worst: Patriots camp 2011

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
It's been less than a week since the lockout was settled. Why's it seem like it happened a month-and-a-half ago? Probably because a month-and-a-half's worth of NFL transaction activity has happened in the span since the now-forgotten lockout ended. With the Patriots taking a break from practice on Monday, I've slapped together a quick best-and-worst before going out to see what the hell happened to the back lawn since last week when I disappeared into the training camp abyss. Chinch bugs? Don't tell me it's chinch bugs. BEST SHOW OF SUPERHUMAN STRENGTHAlbert Haynesworth, perhaps hustled onto the practice field Sunday to head off the inevitable "Haynesworth Watch" that was coming if he didn't partake for a second straight day, rag-dolled Ryan Wendell and Rich Ohrnberger during a brief appearance in drills. And he showed his edge with a little shove given to the relatively diminutive Wendell after the play. WORST SENSE OF IMPENDING DOOMHaynesworth is one of the nastier defensive linemen in the league. Logan Mankins is one of the nastier offensive linemen. Very soon, the two men will be lining up across from each other. In the heat. With each having something to prove to each other, themselves and their teammates. That they will scrap is inevitable. Whether either gets hurt (bet on Haynesworth) and how much collateral damage is exacted are the only unknowns. WORST FIRST IMPRESSION (ON-FIELD)Chad Ochocinco has not been glue-fingered. He's had close to 10 drops in his first three practices -- an alarming number. He's got a habit of leaving his feet to make catches inside the numbers. It's a ploy that receivers use to help protect themselves - if they're planted, their resistance is greater against oncoming hits and going up allows them to turtle a bit and absorb impact - but Ocho does it more than necessary. And with a quarterback as accurate as Tom Brady, it takes away the YAC opportunity. Also, Ocho doesn't let a failed play end without emoting in some direction - quarterback or defender. It's a little whiny. BEST FIRST IMPRESSION (OFF-FIELD)Ty Law has been the single funniest Patriot I covered. He was the best at his position for a time and had the kind of enjoyable arrogance that very few pro athletes capably carry off. Ocho's got that too. He overstates and self inflates and you know he believes what he says. But he's so quick and so aware of his audience that it's completely harmless. He said he's going to keep his distance from the media and I don't doubt he will. He all but locked out the Cincy media the past few seasons. His interactions will be self-designed. You can disagree with the way he goes about his business, but it's hard to dislike him. WORST HOLDUPRookie first-rounder Nate Solder still isn't in camp as he haggles over his contract. This was supposed to be easy with the new rookie wage scale, but apparently there's wrestling over whether or not these guys are going to get guaranteed contracts (see PFT post here on matter). All the remaining first-round holdouts are players taken between 17 and 24. Solder was taken 17th. BC lineman Anthony Castonzo, the 24th pick by Indy, wants a guaranteed four-year deal. Coltsvice chairmanBill Polian cuffed that notion around. "We are old school and if we wont give Joseph Addaiwho helped us to two Super Bowls and helped us win two AFC championships, a fully guaranteed contract, we arent going to do it for a rookie, any rookie. We love Anthony. We think hes a great draft choice and we think he would be a great Colt, but its time for him to prove that before he gets a fully guaranteed contract.BEST HOLDUP INSURANCEMatt Light. As we told you all along, this was going to get done and it did. Contract's not signed but the agreement - as of Monday morning - is in place. WORST CROWD INTERACTIONThis one. About the :40 second mark

Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Rams hold off 49ers for wild 41-39 win

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THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Rams hold off 49ers for wild 41-39 win

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Coach Sean McVay walked into the postgame news conference and immediately asked, "Anyone have a beer?"

He probably wasn't the only person who wanted a drink after watching a surprisingly thrilling Thursday night shootout between his Rams and the San Francisco 49ers that wasn't decided until Los Angeles prevented a potential game-tying 2-point try and then delivered a rare defensive stop after blowing the onside kick in a 41-39 victory.

"We talk about mentally tough, be your best regardless of the circumstance," McVay said. "I thought the players did that. They found a way in spite of some of the ups and the downs to come away with the win."

While the defense came up big late, it was the offense that carried the day for the Rams (2-1), who have gone from the lowest-scoring team in the NFL a year ago to a dynamic one through three games under McVay.

Jared Goff threw for 292 yards and three touchdowns, Todd Gurley ran for 113 yards and scored three TDs and Robert Woods (108) and Sammy Watkins (106) each topped the 100-yard mark receiving in Los Angeles' second 40-point performance of the season. The Rams have 107 points in all so far, the second-most in franchise history after three games to the 119 by "The Greatest Show on Turf" squad in 2000.

"Since I've been here we haven't been able to do that," Gurley said. "Hopefully we can keep putting points together, keep working together and keep learning from this. I think we left a lot more points off the board."

This win didn't come easy as the Rams nearly blew a 15-point lead, giving up two late touchdowns, fumbling a kickoff return and failing to recover an onside kick. But Los Angeles managed to stop a potential game-tying 2-point conversion on a deflection by Troy Hill and then used an offensive pass interference penalty against Trent Taylor and a fourth-down sack by Aaron Donald to stop the Niners after the onside kick.

The 49ers (0-3) scored five touchdowns after failing to get any the first two weeks but still came up short in part because a missed extra point by Robbie Gould forced them to try for 2 on their late touchdown.

"I just rushed it, I missed it, I made a mistake," Gould said. "Obviously, I wish I didn't do that, or we'd probably be playing in overtime right now.""

This time it was a tired defense that hurt San Francisco. After facing 79 plays in a 12-9 loss at Seattle on Sunday, the 49ers appeared to run out of gas on the short week as Goff frequently had wide-open receivers, especially on third down.

The Rams were 8 for 12 on third down, including all three of Goff's touchdown passes.

The Rams needed all that offense on a night where Brian Hoyer threw for 332 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score.

QUICK START: The Rams took just 12 seconds to get on the board as Nickell Robey-Coleman intercepted Hoyer on the first play from scrimmage and returned it to the 3-yard line. Gurley ran it in on the next play to give the Rams a 7-0 lead.

"I just told him to start over," 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. "Got to go back to work. We didn't change anything, went right on with the script. But it was a tough way to start out."

DROUGHT BUSTER: The 49ers came into the game without a touchdown on the season but broke through in the first quarter with some help from the Rams. After Blake Countess jumped offside on a punt, the Niners took advantage of the second opportunity and drove to score on Hoyer's 9-yard run 126:43 into the season. That was the longest it took a team to score its first TD since 2006 when both Tampa Bay (143:03) and Oakland (127:10) took more time.

FOURTH DOWN CALLS: Both teams drove to the opposing 1 on their opening drives of the second half with help from a Willie Mays-style basket catch by Watkins and a perfect toe drag on the sideline by San Francisco's Pierre Garcon. But the Rams opted to kick a short field goal, while the 49ers went for it and converted on Carlos Hyde's 1-yard run that cut Los Angeles' lead to 27-20. Hyde added a second 1-yard run on fourth down in the fourth quarter.

INJURIES: Rams S Lamarcus Joyner left the game in the first half with a hamstring injury. ... Los Angeles C John Sullivan injured his groin in the second half and Watkins and Tavon Austin left with concussions. ... 49ers S Jaquiski Tartt (concussion), FB Kyle Juszczyk (neck), DL Tank Carradine (ankle) and LB Brock Coyle (concussion) all left with injuries in the second half.

UP NEXT: The Rams travel to Dallas on Oct. 1. The 49ers visit Arizona.

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Is there a blueprint to beat the Patriots?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Is there a blueprint to beat the Patriots?

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST.

0:41 - Tom E. Curran breaks down the ‘blueprint’ to beat the Patriots and if the Texans have the talent to do it.

5:27 - Michael Holley and Kayce Smith discuss Kyrie Irving’s comments that he made on Early Edition about going back to Cleveland for the opening game. 

9:52 - We take a listen to what Malcolm Butler had to say about his role on the team and discuss how the cornerback keeps saying all the right things. 

15:18 - Michael McCann, Legal Analyst for Sports Illustrated joins BST to talk about Aaron Hernandez’s brain found to have CTE and his family now suing the NFL and the Patriots.