Judge rules in favor of NFL players; appeal expected

191543.jpg

Judge rules in favor of NFL players; appeal expected

By TomE. Curran
CSNNE.comThe NFL isn't open for regular business again. But it's getting closer. Late Monday, Judge Susan Nelson grantedNFL players an injunction to stop the NFL's six-week lockout.In essence, the lockout's been lifted. And Nelson didn't grant a "stay" of her decision meaning that - as far asher ruling is concerned - business opens back up immediately. The NFL iscurrentlyworking to get the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals to grant the stay that Nelson didn't. If the appeals court doesn't order a stay, free agency would begin immediately (most likely under the 2010 rules) and players would be okay to return to work and have contact with their coaches. The ruling by Nelson was expected. The only surprise is that there was no stay granted, meaning that chaos - just three days before the 2011 NFL draft - could loom. "I have no idea where this leaves us tonight, tomorrow,where this leaves us in the next 10 minutes or thenext 10 days," said Pete Kendall, a longtime NFL player who was at the forefront of mediation between the players and owners. "We'll see how quickly theEighth Circuit Court of Appeals rules on the stay."Kendall is pretty sure the owners are well-prepared for whatever is currently occuring though. "I don't think it's necessarily the Wild, Wild West," he cautioned. "The owners' representatives have considered every possible contingency. There's little doubt in my mind that they considered this contingency and have a plan for what just transpired. I'm sure they have rules that they will try and implementfor how this season plays out." Kendall noted that this is big for the players, though. "I think it's great news for the players, I think it's great news for the fans," he said. "If the court of appeals upholds Judge Nelson's decision, it seems to me we're all but ensured a football season." Tom E. Curran canbe reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Report: Steelers' offer for Dont'a Hightower was bigger than Patriots'

Report: Steelers' offer for Dont'a Hightower was bigger than Patriots'

Dont'a Hightower left money on the table in New York and in Pittsburgh, and instead took a smaller deal to return the New England Patriots, according to CBSSports' Jason La Canfora.

The Jets' offer was previously reported to be $12 million per year, including incentives. La Canfora reiterated that report. But he also detailed Pittsburgh's offer, as the Steelers also outbid the Patriots with over $9 million per year.

Instead, Hightower settled for $8.7 million per season with New England, and will play under Bill Belichick in a Patriots jersey for the sixth season in 2017.

Hightower traveled a great deal during free agency, and ended up garnering interest from the Steelers, Jets, Tennessee Titans and Miami Dolphins.

The 27-year-old linebacker finished the 2016 season with 65 tackles tackles, 2.5 sacks, two pass deflections and one forced fumble. He also had a game-changing strip sack on Matt Ryan in Super Bowl LI that shifted the momentum of game.

Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia spotted at Notre Dame pro day

Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia spotted at Notre Dame pro day

The Patriots were represented all over the country on Thursday at various pro days in order to scout potential draftees. They had a scout at Stanford. Bill Belichick was seen at Ohio State. And defensive coordinator Matt Patricia traveled to South Bend in order to get a closer look at some of Notre Dame's best players.

The biggest name working out was quarterback DeShone Kizer -- who threw passes to former Patriots running back Jonas Gray -- but Patricia was probably spending the majority of his energy getting a grip on what the defensive players present could do. 

He was seen spending a few extra minutes off to the side with linebacker James Onwualu, who served as a captain last season for the Fighting Irish.

Onwualu checks in at 6-foot-1, 232 pounds and projects as someone who could contribute immediately on special teams as a pro. A former receiver, he has good quickness and experts say he has an unrelenting motor, but his size makes it difficult to envision him as an NFL starter. He made 76 tackles last season, including 11.5 tackles for a loss and three sacks.

Here are a couple of the other Notre Dame defensive prospects Patricia may have had his eyes on . . . 

Jarron Jones, defensive tackle: Jones has great size (6-6, 316 pounds, 35.5-inch arms, 10.5 inch hands) and athleticism, but Lance Zierlein of NFL.com spoke to one NFC scouting director who called him a "character flag." Will he be motivated enough to capitalize on his physical gifts as a pro?

Isaac Rochell, defensive tackle: A team captain along with Onwualu last season, the 6-4, 280-pounder was close to an every-down player each of the last three years. Zierlein compares Rochell to newly-acquired Patriots defensive lineman Lawrence Guy since he's a little bit of a 'tweener but a high-energy guy who may have the ability to play multiple positions up front. Could be worthy of late-round consideration for the Patriots.