Curran at the Combine: 5 from Day 2

Curran at the Combine: 5 from Day 2

By Tom E. CurranCSNNE.com Patriots Insider

INDIANAPOLIS - For Patriotic purposes, Friday was not a big day news-wise. Running backs, quarterbacks and wide receivers made their way through. Two of those positions, the Patriots are normally opposed to spending early picks on (RB and WR). The other spot is set as well. Saturday brings a better crew of prospects for early-round picks when we get the defensive linemen and linebackers coming through. MUM'S THE UNION WORDNFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith held a meeting with agents at which he discussed the rules of engagement for teams and players in the event of a lockout. Two agents who were in the room told me that Smith was tight-lipped about the progress being made in mediated talks in Washington. Smith didn't sound very hopeful, though. In the mid-afternoon he met with reporters outside the Sagamore Ballroom in the Indianapolis Convention Center. He said, "Not gonna talk at all about the session that we have and will continue to have next week. The players? We want to get a deal done and our hope is that we can reach a resolution as quickly as possible. We're 1,800 guys that want to play football and the fans across the country have made it abundantly clear they want to keep seeing football. I know the businesses in America and the people who rely on football for things other than entertainemnt want football and we're right there with them side by side."

He refused to take questions and ignored one asking whether mediation has helped. VERY LESHOURE OF HIMSELF If the Patriots want a running back to complement the styles of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead, they'd have it if they drafted 6-foot, 230-pound Mikel Leshoure from Illinois. Trouble is, Leshoure makes it sound like the Patriots would have to use their 17th pick on him and New England may not wantto do that for a running back."I definitely think I can be the number one back taken. That's my goal" Leshoure said Friday. "I feel like my versatility and the things that I can bring to the table will show a lot of GMs, scouts, and owners that I can be that guy."God bless his confident heart. Wes Bunting at the National Football Post has Leshoure rated second among all running backs behind Alabama's Mark Ingram. Bunting and I spent time talking about Leshoure and some other running back prospects on Friday. Leshoure compares himself to the Rams Steven Jackson. Mel Kiper has Leshoure going to the Patriots with the 28th pick in the first round. The last back the Patriots took with a first-round pick - Laurence Maroney in 2006 - didn't work out so good. But Leshoure is definitely going to be a player to watch in the next two months. FORMER PATRIOT CLASSING IT UPRemember Victor Green? The former Jets safety that spent the 2002 season with the Patriots as part of the Big Nickel experiment? Well, he's in Indy this week covering the Combine for a webite he's started called Class Act Sports. Green, 41,now lives in Atlanta. He worked most recently for the Bucs in 2009 in pro scouting but stepped down in July. "Since then, I've been working to put ClassActSports.com on the map," he explained. "We're a site just like any other in terms of information but we're interviewing former and current players and promoting the positive that they've done."What prompted the idea?"Athletes receive so much negative press. They can be doing 10 things right, but you're hearing about the one thing they've done wrong," said Green. "We don't promote or talk about anything negative anybody has done. We focus on the positive."Was there one instance that caused him to want to start a site like that? "It wasn't one thing," Green explained. "Playing the game for 12 years and being in and around the negative press, I just said, 'This whole world is about negativity. It's time for someone to talk about the positive guys are doing.' "NEWTON DEBUTING SHIRT INNOVATIONAuburn quarterback Cam Newton is expected to speak Saturday at the NFL Combine. The Heisman Trophy winner will have some 'splainin to do after his comment last week that he wants to be an entertainer and an icon. Word is, he may begin his time with the media with a statement trying to address that misstep. Meanwhile, both he and Alabama wideout Julio Jones are Under Armour guys and will be wearing a wild workout shirt called the E39 compression shirt. The shirt itself has the capability to measure speed, g-force, horsepower, heart rate and breathing rate. Little electronic touchpoints on the shirt send the information to a device on the front of the shirt called a BUG. From there, the info can be downloaded onto computers or broadcast over Bluetooth. THE ODD CASE OF JOSH BARRETTLast season, the Patriots plucked a safety named Josh Barrett off of waivers. He'd been released by the Broncos after undergoing season ending surgery on his shoulder and Denver wanted to ultimately put him on injured reserve but the Patriots claimed him. It was somewhat surprising since teams are often hands-off with injured players being waived through to injured reserve. It's a courtesy thing. And the Broncos were then coached by former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. But the Pats flew in the face of convention and, perhaps, good form and took Barrett. On Friday, ESPNBoston's Mike Reiss and Mike Rodak reported that Barrett signed a two-year extension through 2012. He figured to be a restricted free agent in 2011 (whenever that league year begins). He's mainly been a special teams player. He's down to make 725,000 in 2011 and 775,000 in 2012. Best deal for Barrett, though, is he received a 250,000 signing bonus which is guaranteed. Hemust be an awesome rehabilitator.

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.”