Brady sets tone for Ochocinco, Haynesworth

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Brady sets tone for Ochocinco, Haynesworth

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran

FOXBORO - The assimilation of Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco into the Patriots way of doing things began in earnest Friday. The underlying message delivered by the most important Patriots player there's ever been?

No playeris more remarkable than anyone else. And nobody individual player is ever more remarkable than the team.

"You have to put the team first," Tom Brady said to a throng of media after Friday morning's practice. "The Troy Browns, the Tedy Bruschis and the Rodney Harrisons, those guys set a great example and it's an example that I learned from over the years. That's really what the veterans have tried to do here."

There's anidea that NFL players "take care of"rogue players in the locker room by threat of force. Alpha male crap. It's a myth. At least in this NFL.

A team's culture is diffused through incoming players not by injection but in an ooze. It's the tenor of teammates' comments, practice habits, locker room comportment and meeting room posture. It's the tempo of practice and the speed with which players move from drill-to-drill. More than anything else, does a team let things slide if they are "good enough" or do they freak with less than perfection?

Don't abide and you'll be minimized.

When a two-time league MVP and three-time Super Bowl champion works as hard as an undrafted free agent, the message is sent and often gets through. Bill Belichick has said that things are easier for the coaches when your best players are your hardest workers. Between Brady, Jerod Mayo, Logan Mankins, Vince Wilfork, Wes Welker and Devin McCourty, there are several messengers.

And the message to the new guys is, "Great to have you. Get comfortable. Don't act like you're more important than everyone else."

Theres been a lot of trades and a lot of transactions over the course of my career, so guys have come and gone, and Im always excited to get great players," said Brady. "Were all trying to find our role. Chads trying to find a role, the rookies are trying to find a role. The only way that were going to have a successful year, is if were out on the field practicing and executing at a high level."

Let's be honest here: it doesn't always work. Doesn't matter if it's Ocho or Steve Martin, or Monty Beisel or Chad Jackson, Donald Hayes or Johnathan Sullivan. Some guys don't get the operation or don't want to be a part of it.

Rarely does that player latch on somewhere else and find great success. Still, the point is that there are guys who just don't work out.

The chance exists that Ocho might be unable to accept the challenge of toning down his personal stuff. Or that he'll outwardly cry about touches. There's an even better chance that Haynesworth's conditioning will never catch up and he'll play like a dog when he does play.

But the best chance is that these players - liberated from being seen as "stars" and having someone tell them what to do - will accept it for a while.

I think coach Belichick sets an expectation for everybody," Brady pointed out. "He doesnt treat me any different than he treats a rookie whos coming out here for his second day of practice. Every time we walk in the building, theres four things listed. And every time we walk out, theres four things listed. The most important one is, doing our job."

So when I come in, its actually pretty easy," Brady admitted. "I follow the game plan that he puts up there. I think for each guy that comes in, they have to do the same thing. Its not, Hey, Toms got a different set of rules, Wes has a different set of rules. Everyone has the same set of rules.

There is no way to predict. It's really all guessing.

"Every player is different," Belichick said Friday. "There are no two players that are the same. There are no two players circumstances that are the same. There are no two of us that exist that are the same. Everything is different with each guy."

Ocho will tweet his love for Brady and act as if he's wandered into the NFL's Garden of Eden. Brady appreciates that and likes the enthusiasm. But it comes back to one thing, he said.

Hes just fun to be around. He loves football," Brady said of his new target. "I think thats why guys do well here. Because they love the game. They love to compete. They show up, and they want to win. To be a good player on this team, you have to put the team first."

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

Curran: In the end, everyone stood because of the game

Curran: In the end, everyone stood because of the game

FOXBORO – The boos and demands to “Stand up!” rained down just as the Star Spangled Banner began. The players on the Patriots sideline who knelt – the ones boos and invective was directed at – stayed down. Others stood, locking arms with teammates while others stood with their hands over their hearts.

By game’s end, everyone was on their feet. Players. Coaches. Fans. Together.

Unless they left early because of traffic and a late Patriots deficit. Or because they couldn’t bear the thought of watching an NFL game on a beautiful September Sunday because the entertainers didn’t do what they wanted them to do before the performance began.

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The whole thing’s complicated. I understand why people take offense at those who don’t stand for the anthem.

I understand why others want to deliver a symbolic message about their American experience.

I completely understand why, two days after President Trump thought it appropriate to use the phrase “son of a bitch” to refer to someone making a silent, reflective statement, many NFL players felt challenged, backed into a corner and somewhat dehumanized. The message delivered was, in essence, “Shut up and dance.”

Personally, I prefer to stick to sports. I don’t think I’m equipped to talk politics because I don’t know policy, legislation, constituencies and special interests – all the things that I define as politics – well enough to drone on at anybody.

As for sociology – which is what this is about rather than politics – I have my experiences and others have theirs. I’m trying to mow my own lawn over here. You do you. I’ll do me. As long as you don’t encroach on me doing me while you do you, I’m fine. When I’m not completely self-absorbed, a respectful exchange of ideas can make me see things in a different light.

It didn’t surprise me some people at Gillette Stadium had a visceral and vocal reaction to players kneeling. The pot was brought to a boil all weekend, the lid was just lifted and it bubbled over.

But the irony of how the afternoon played out – that Brandin Cooks, a player booing fans were screaming at to stand three hours earlier brought them to their feet with his toe-tapping last-minute touchdown – was perfectly symbolic.

Ultimately, everyone was there for the football – the players, coaches, media and fans – and in the end it was the football that brought the unified response that stood in contrast to the divided reactions in the stands and on the field before the game.

“That’s what sports is,” said Patriots safety Devin McCourty. “That’s what sports does. That’s what makes them great. They bring out what we have in common.

“I don’t think people look at us as human,” McCourty said. “I don’t think they ever have. We’re just the entertainment. They don’t understand that there’s a human behind it. People want to shake your hand or have their picture taken with you but they don’t want to know you. That’s reality.”

Maybe. Or maybe people feel their voices aren’t heard. They don’t have a column they can write or a TV or radio show to spout off on. They don’t have the chance to demonstrate their individual feelings at their cubicle before the workday starts.

All they know is they spent $500 or more to get to and into with a belly full of steak tips and beer and they don’t need to feel like being reminded about somebody else’s societal oppression on their day off, thank you very much.

It’s not so much about who does what during the Star Spangled Banner as much as it is that a lot of people don’t appreciate the intrusion. That, and they’re tired of hearing how bad everyone else has it when it’s really no damn picnic for most people these days.

Believe me, there’s not unanimity of opinion in the Patriots locker room any more than there is in your office, home, dorm or neighborhood. Players of different races, backgrounds, economic circumstances and ways of expressing themselves are thrown in a pot together and told to work for a common goal and rely on each other.

The mish-mash of ways in which players responded during the anthem on the Patriots sideline, the reticence of some players to dip a toe in the conversation, McCourty’s opening statement at the podium and then his declining to take questions and Bill Belichick’s comment that he would “deal with that later” all seemed to indicate that the team itself is still working through how it expresses itself as a whole.

It’s complicated for them too.

But in the end, it was the football that bound them together. It was the game that left them jumping on each other and the fans standing and screaming and nobody thinking at all about who did what when the song played before the game.

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SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Redskins put it all together in prime time to rout Raiders

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SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Redskins put it all together in prime time to rout Raiders

LANDOVER, Md. - Kirk Cousins threw for 365 yards and three touchdowns, Chris Thompson had 188 all-purpose yards and a score and the Washington Redskins sacked Derek Carr four times and held the Oakland Raiders to 128 yards in a dominating 27-10 victory on Sunday night.

Cousins was a spectacular 25 of 30, including TD passes to Thompson, Vernon Davis and a 52-yarder to Josh Doctson. Thompson had 150 yards receiving and 38 yards rushing, joining Jamaal Charles as the only running backs to put up 150 yards receiving against the Raiders (2-1) since they moved to Oakland in 1995.

Thompson was again a difference maker and has four of Washington's seven offensive touchdowns this season. The Redskins (2-1), who piled up 472 yards, improved to 4-6 in prime-time games under coach Jay Gruden and tied the Philadelphia Eagles for first place in the NFC East.

Under pressure all night, Carr was 19 of 31 for 118 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Carr had thrown 112 consecutive passes before being picked off by Montae Nicholson on the second play of the game.

Oakland's rushing offense, which came in ranked fifth in the NFL, managed just 32 yards.

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