Curran: 17 Patriots thoughts in 34 lines

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Curran: 17 Patriots thoughts in 34 lines

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran 1. Zoltan Mesko was seen Monday afternoon walking without a limp around aFoxboro-area shopping plaza. Good sign for the punter, who got his left legcrumpled Sunday afternoon. 2. As of late Monday, the final diagnosis on Aaron Hernandez' knee wasn't in. He's out this week but the severity of the MCL injury will either keep him down for a game or two or - if it's as banged up as suspected - down for at least four games. 3. With Hernandez down, I think Chad Ochocinco is poised fora breakout week against the Bills. The third-down catch he made while being interfered with that went for 15 yards was a brilliant play. 4. I'm not sure what bus Eric Weddle was running to catch on the30-yarder to Ochocinco. The big-money safety was headed in the exact wrong direction as the pass came in. 5. Weddle had a very long day dealing with Rob Gronkowski. Not impressive for a guy being paid 40 million over eight years with 19 million in guarantees. 6. (Special extra lines!) Bill Belichickon Tom Brady trying to steal the third-down conversion on third-and-four that led to the Pats facing fourth-and-four early in the fourth: "I think everybody was doing what they thought was best. They were trying hard. I dont think there were plays where we were just asleep and just got caught napping or something like that. We tried to do what we thought was best. It didnt always work out. Maybe it wasnt always the best decision myself included but I think we all were trying to do the right thing, trying to do the best thing. But when youre playing a good football team like that, it doesnt always work out." In other words, nice try but not what we were looking for there. 7. "We just sit there and look dumb like everybody else and then they come back and say it was a touchdown or if it wasnt, they tell us it wasnt." That's Belichick on the review of the Chargers final touchdown or the extra point - couldn't tell which. 8. If Andre Carter gets fined for his takedown of Philip Rivers in the second quarter in addition to the 15-yard penalty that was called, it will be a disservice to the sport of football. Asking these guys to unlearn what they were taught since they were 7-years-old is absurd. 9. With Patrick Chung now in a cast as well, the Patriots' two starting safeties - Chung and Josh Barrett - have two good hands between them. The Bills figure to attack them with 6-foot-7, 263-pound tight end Scott Chandler on Sunday. 10. Danny Woodhead had just six touches on Sunday. Aside from last year's regular-season finale when he got hurt and his first game with the Pats, that's tied for his fewest chances (126 vs. New York; 1114 vs. Pittsburgh). 11. With 15 catches for 222 yards, Deion Branch is off to the most productive start of his career. In 2005, he had 15 catches for 159 yards; he's never had more than nine catches in his first two games other than this year and 2005. 12. ESPNBoston's Mike Reiss documented that second-year, second-round linebackerDE Jermaine Cunningham was on the field for a grand total of one defensive snap. A kind way of phrasing this disuse would be that he's trying to establish a role.13. Taylor Price has now been active for a grand total of one NFL game. The wideout created such a preseason stir but an injured hamstring and the fact that better, veteran players are ahead of him (or are more important on special teams) has kept him down. 14. Some would say the Patriots don't do a great job developing young wide receivers. Between Brandon Tate, Chad Jackson and - so far, Price - I would agree with them. 15. There's a ton of concern right now about the Patriots defense and why it's been so permissive. My suspicion is that it's very, very far from being at its highest compete level and will be very good come midseason. 16. Devin McCourty has shown in the first two games that the title "shutdown corner" doesn't yet fit him. But he'll be happy this week to be away from beasts like Brandon Marshall and Vincent Jackson. 17. Lions wideout Nate Burleson wants to fashion himself into "the black Wes Welker."I'm looking to become the paler Mike Giardi.
Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran.

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski is a model citizen in the NFL. In fact, the NFL Players Association is advising rookies to be more like Gronk, according to The Boston Globe

The New England Patriots tight end has developed a name for himself on and off the football field. With that attention comes branding. And at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere from May 18 to 20, the NFLPA encouraged rookies to develop their own brand -- much like Gronkowski.

“Some people think he’s just this extension of a frat boy, and that it’s sort of accidental,” Ahmad Nassar said, via The Globe. Nassar is the president of NFL Players Inc., the for-profit subsidiary of the NFLPA. “And that’s wrong. It’s not accidental, it’s very purposeful. So the message there is, really good branding is where you don’t even feel it. You think, ‘Oh, that’s just Gronk being Gronk.’ Actually, that’s his brand, but it’s so good and so ingrained and so authentic, you don’t even know it’s a brand or think it.”

Gronkowski's "Summer of Gronk" has indirectly become one of his streams of income. The tight end makes appearances for magazines and sponsors. Because of his earnings from branding and endorsements, he didn't touch his NFL salary during the early years of his career.

Gronk was one of three players who were the topics of discussion during the symposium. Dak Prescott and Odell Beckham were also used as examples of players who have been able to generate additional income from endorsements. Beckham, in particular, has been in the spotlight off the football field. He's appeared on the cover of Madden, and just signed a deal with NIke which is reportedly worth $25 million over five years with upwards of $48 million over eight years. His deal, which is a record for an NFL player, will pay him more than his contract with the Giants.

“A lot of people talk to the players about, ‘You should be careful with your money and you should treat your family this way and you should treat your girlfriend or your wife.’ Which is fine. I think that’s valuable,” Nassar said, via The Globe. “But we don’t often give them a chance to answer the question: How do you see yourself as a brand? Because Gronk, Odell, none of those guys accidentally ended up where they are from a branding and marketing standpoint.”

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL


Tom Brady delivered a video message last week at the funeral of Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken, a Maine native and former UConn track athlete killed in Somalia on May 5.

Bill Speros of The Boston Herald, in a column this Memorial Day weekend, wrote about Milliken and Brady's message.   

Milliken ran track at Cheverus High School in Falmouth, Maine, and at UConn, where he graduated in 2001. Milliken lived in Virginia Beach, Va., with his wife, Erin, and two children.  He other Navy SEALs participated in a training exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011 where he met and posed for pictures with Brady.

Speros wrote that at Milliken’s funeral in Virginia Beach, Va., Brady's video offered condolences and thanked Milliken’s family for its sacrifice and spoke of how Milliken was considered a “glue guy” by UConn track coach Greg Roy.

Milliken had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning four Bronze Star Medals and was based in Virginia since 2004.  He was killed in a nighttime firefight with Al-Shabaab militants near Barij, about 40 miles from the Somali capital of Mogadishu. He was 38.

The Pentagon said Milliken was the first American serviceman killed in combat in Somalia since the "Black Hawk Down" battle that killed 18 Americans in 1993. 

In a statement to the Herald, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said: “It was an honor to host Kyle and his team for an exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011. It gave new meaning to the stadium being known as home of the Patriots. We were deeply saddened to hear of Kyle’s death earlier this month.

“As Memorial Day weekend approaches, we are reminded of the sacrifices made by patriots like Kyle and so many others who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend and protect our rights as Americans. Our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt appreciation are extended to the Milliken family and the many families who will be remembering lives lost this Memorial Day weekend.”