Denver Post columnist says Pats 'cheat system'

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Denver Post columnist says Pats 'cheat system'

Remember the outrage and indignation when the Dallas Cowboys hired Paul Pasqualoni back in 2009?

The Dolphins' defensive coordinator, fired at the end of the regular season, was hired by Dallas for their playoff run. He was brought in because Cowboys defensive line coach Todd Grantham was taking a job with the University of Georgia.

You don't remember the outrage? Know what? Me neither.

So when I read the, "Not fair! Not fair" foot-stomping column written by my friend from the Denver Post, Mike Klis, whining about the Patriots hiring Josh McDaniels for the playoff run after the Rams let McDaniels out of his contract, I know it's justan instance of someone wantinga separate set of rules for 31 teams and another set of rules for the Patriots.

This is what happens when you become in the eyes of the NFL media and the majority of NFL consumers the NFL's Godzilla.

This is what happens when you go fromtheir cuddly "Little FranchiseThat Could" in 2001 to boring, relentlessly excellent dynastyby 2004.

This is what happens when the head coach isn't a laugh-a-minute soundbite machine, is prickly with the media even on his best days, gets drawn-and-quartered by the league for the equivalent of a second-offense speeding ticket (Spygate) and still continues to win and win and win.

Otherwise sane people like Klis get emotional and insist that new rules be drawn up to stop the evil Patriots and the diabolical Bill Belichick. Absurd.

I'm not saying that the hiring of McDaniels after the Rams' season ended passes the smell test of propriety with ease. That's why I contacted NFL VP of media Greg Aiello on Saturday to check that the whole thing wasn't going to get squashed and was told it was all legal and within the rules.

From there, you shrug and say, "What the hell, good play by them. Pretty smart."

Instead you get from Klis: "Once again, Bill Belichick has figured out a way to cheat the system. And once again, he caught the NFL standing there sucking their collective thumbs."

Klis goes on to explain how awful McDaniels has been since getting fired by Denver last season and then says he brings a competitive advantage to the Patriots even though Denver's played 25 games since he left.

The "Good vs. Evil" storyline that's too easy to pass up has been hatched. Consider this the first of many salvos between now and Saturday night.

Branch on reduced role vs. Saints: "Ask Bill"

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Branch on reduced role vs. Saints: "Ask Bill"

FOXBORO - If Alan Branch is worried about his spot with the Patriots, he isn’t acting that way. A notorious slow starter, Branch played just six snaps in Sunday’s win at New Orleans. And to hear him talk, it’s business as usual.

“It’s not like you can practice 3 technique on a store clerk,” said Branch late Wednesday afternoon. When informed that he probably could if he wanted, Branch smiled and noted “you’d probably get arrested for that.”

All kidding aside, it was stark to see Branch’s ample behind stapled to the bench. He earned a two-year contract this offseason, and his presence on the interior has been critical to the defense’s success. But after getting pushed around a bit too often in that opening night loss to the Chiefs, Branch spent a lot more time watching then playing. Did he know that he wasn’t a big part of the plan?

“That’s another question you gotta ask Bill, man” said Branch. “That’s not something I can talk about.”

Branch has - at times - come off as nonchalant about the game. Wins, losses, big plays, no plays, none of it seems to change his demeanor. Knowing that, I asked him if he was frustrated by his lack of playing time.

“I mean every player wants to be on the field so it is what it is,” he responded. 

Does he think that he’ll be more involved Sunday against the Texans?

“I don’t know what they plan to do with me,” he said. “i just need to go in there and keep my head to the grindstone and work.”

That may be Bill Belichick’s plan: sitting the player to motivate him. It would also seem to be potentially the last resort, and with someone who clearly marches to the beat of his own drum, it’s unclear how he’ll respond.

Patriots-Texans practice report: Gronk sits out; Gilmore limited

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Patriots-Texans practice report: Gronk sits out; Gilmore limited

Wednesday's practice participation/injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Texans game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
RB Rex Burkhead (ribs)
OT Marcus Cannon (ankle/concussion)
TE Rob Gronkowski (groin)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
WR Danny Amendola (concussion/knee)
WR Phillip Dorsett (knee)
CB Stephon Gilmore (groin)
LB Dont'a Hightower (knee)
WR Chris Hogan (knee)
LB Elandon Roberts (thumb)
CB Eric Rowe (groin)
WR Matthew Slater (hamstring)
DT Vincent Valentine (knee)

HOUSTON TEXANS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
G Jeff Allen (ankle)
CB Kevin Johnson (knee)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
TE Stephen Anderson (concussion)
RB Alfred Blue (ankle)
WR Will Fuller V (shoulder)
CB Jonathan Joseph (shoulder)
G Xavier Su'a-Filo (knee)
DE J.J. Watt (finger)

FULL PARTICIPATION
CB Marcus Burley (knee)
T Chris Clark (wrist)
WR Bruce Ellington (concussion)
TE Ryan Griffin (concussion)