Curran: Don't blame lockout for Banta-Cain surgery

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Curran: Don't blame lockout for Banta-Cain surgery

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
Troubled by a sports hernia throughout the 2010 season, Patriots outside linebacker Tully Banta-Cain could have had surgery to repairit when the season ended. He chose not to, hoping that -- with core strengthening and training -- the injury would improve. It didn't. So last week, Banta-Cain underwent surgery to have a long-standing injury repaired that will keep him down for more than a month. The decision to repair the injury now as opposed to back in February (or March, April, May or June) won't likely fly well with the Patriots coaching staff. You can't blame this on the lockout. Players have had full access to their team medical staffs even during the shutdown. Players like Tom Brady (foot) and Deion Branch (knee) have been able to get their progress monitored. And a player with an existing injury -- like Banta-Cain -- should have made the effort to have his progress checked. It's just a sports hernia. It's a relatively quick fix. The excuse that "it just got worse" doesn't really float because sports hernias generally don't get better. There's no other way around it. This is a bad miscalculation by Banta-Cain. Signed to a three-year, 13.5 million deal in March 2010 after a 10-sack season in 2009, Banta-Cain had 50 tackles and five sacks in 2010 and lost standing on the depth chart. He's on the books to make 2.3 million in salary this season. The Patriots -- already hurting for pass rushers -- now have one of their best pass rushers (at least on reputation) on the shelf. Bad for business. Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Belichick: Patriots have caught up after starting offseason 'five weeks behind'

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Belichick: Patriots have caught up after starting offseason 'five weeks behind'

FOXBORO -- After starting the offseason "five weeks behind," as Bill Belichick put it, the Patriots have caught up. 

"I think we’re probably caught up to where we are now," he said before Thursday's OTA practice at Gillette Stadium. "I think it’s being behind in draft, free agency and that type of thing.

"I think at this point, we’re ready for OTAs. We’ll be ready for training camp. I think that part of it we’ll be on schedule on. It’s the catching up on all the spring projects, draft and free agency. It’s the initial part of it."

Belichick made headlines on the morning after winning his fifth Lombardi Trophy with the Patriots when he said, "As of today, and as great as today feels and as great as today is, in all honesty we're five weeks behind in the 2017 season to most teams in the league. Fortunately we have a great personnel staff

"Look, in a couple weeks we're going to be looking at the combine, obviously the draft, all-star games have already occurred, and in a month we're into free agency, not to mention all the internal Patriots players (whose) contracts are up and we're going to have to work with in some form or fashion like every team in the league does."

Leaning on evaluations of players that began in the build-up to previous drafts, Belichick and his staff opted to trade away some of this year's draft capital for veterans like Brandin Cooks, Kony Ealy and Dwayne Allen. They also gave up their fifth-rounder to sign restricted free agent Mike Gillislee.

Before heading out to the team's third practice of the week -- the first week the Patriots were allowed to introduce helmets and run offense versus defense periods -- Belichick said that part of his focus will be spent on finding out how those players he picked up this offseason are progressing.

"Yeah, that’s definitely part of it," he said. "Seeing the new players, how they’re doing and also how they’re doing relevant to the rest of the other players that I’m a little more familiar with. Again, each year is a new year, so even though we’ve seen some of these guys multiple years, it’s still starting all over again, seeing where they are, how they’re progressing in their training and preparation for the season."