Patriots pledge to stay in shape if locked out

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Patriots pledge to stay in shape if locked out

By TomE. Curran
CSNNE.com
BOSTON -- Tom Brady has agreed to be one of four player-plaintiffs against theowners if this labor mess ever gets to court.
But one of the stickier decisions for Brady -- and for all players facing this work stoppage right now -- is deciding between the game of football and the business of football. Winning a lawsuit or a negotiation could probably never excitea player'ssenses the way winning a single game can. The game and the competition are in the players' DNA.Yet if the players really want to make the owners (and coaches) sweat, they need to show they can wait out a work stoppage over the long haul. "Lock us out? Fine. But we aren't taking less money than we make right now and we'll just wait until you see we're serious."Conducting player-organized workouts during a lockout isn't going to give the owners that vibe. The owners think the players will cave because, well, they always have.The rank-and-file guys who don't have millions socked away (and that's most of the league) need the paycheck. But there's that other dynamic at play here, too. The need to compete, to be a "football player." The need to work a craft that's been a way of life since, for many, the second grade. You know how we never believe guys when they say, "I'd play the game for free"?When it comes right down to it, some of them might just consider doing that.Houston Texans' offensive lineman Eric Winston talked to PFTLive recently and pointed out that any player injured during a lockout training session could land on the non-football injury list and miss out on his 2011 salary. To say nothing of the fact they may be running, lifting and preparing for free when they are normally paid to do so. Thursday, during a charity appearance at Children's Hospital in Boston, several Patriots spoke of their very serious intention to stay in shape and prepare for football during this lockout. Patriots All-Pro linebacker Jerod Mayo said he's all set with a DVR to watch game film and a Bowflex and treadmill in his basement. Asked about the disconnect between the union imploring players to not organize workouts and give the owners something for nothing, Mayo said, "I'm staying in shape, I'm telling you that. That's the mindset guys have. Stay in shape and wait for a phone call. It's personal preference what each player does but at the end of the day, I'm a football player."A football player in an excellent program. A program that is so cloistered and managed, the word of Bill Belichick is -- for most players -- going to trump that of Kevin Mawae or DeMaurice Smith. In aline of work where careers are short, players don't want to see a season wasted because they or their teammates aren't ready when the bell rings.Andcan any marginal playerthat does jack squat during the lockout and shows up out of shape and unprepared expect to make it past the first round of cuts? Probably not. "This is football, this is what I do," said Rob Ninkovich. "What they tell us to do, I do. I'm always gonna be working out. I'll be working out every day. When the season starts, I'll be ready to roll." Think about it. Tom Brady, Terrell Suggsand Antonio Cromartie are on the same team during this lockout. But the second it ends, they return to being adversaries. The players that remember thatand show a unified front whilestill preparing to kick the other guy's behind will be the teams that are successful in 2011. "I'm gonna be prepared," promised Leigh Bodden. "That's all I can do, is be prepared myself. The guys are gonna do what they're gonna do. I'm gonna do what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna prepare myself in any way possible to make myself the best player when things hopefully do get worked out." Tom E. Curran canbe reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Trump says NFL should fire players who kneel during anthem

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Trump says NFL should fire players who kneel during anthem

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — President Donald Trump says National Football League owners should fire players who kneel during the national anthem. And he’s encouraging spectators to walk out in protest.

In an extended riff during a freewheeling rally speech in Alabama Friday night, Trump also bemoaned that football games have become less violent.

“They’re ruining the game,” he complained.

Several athletes, including NFL players, have refused to stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner” to protest of the treatment of blacks by police.

Trump says those players are disrespecting the flag and deserve to lose their jobs.

“That’s a total disrespect of our heritage. That’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for,” he said, encouraging owners to act.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ’Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,” Trump said to loud applause.

Trump also predicted that any owner who went through with his encouragement would become “the most popular person in this country” — at least for a week.

Trump, who was in Alabama campaigning for Sen. Luther Strange, also blamed a decline in NFL ratings on the nation’s interest in “yours truly” as well as what he described as a decline in violence in the game.

He said players are being thrown out for aggressive tackles, and it’s “not the same game.”

The NFL has made several efforts to reduce violence in the sport, particularly hits that may cause damage to the head. A July report on 202 former football players found evidence of a debilitating brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them. The league has agreed to pay $1 billion to retired players who claimed it misled them about the concussion dangers of playing football.

During his campaign, Trump often expressed nostalgia for the “old days” — claiming, for example, that protesters at his rallies would have been carried out on stretchers back then. He recently suggested police officers should be rougher with criminals and shouldn’t protect their heads when pushing them into quad cars.

It’s also not the first time he’s raised the kneeling issue. Earlier this year he took credit for the fact that former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started the trend of kneeling during the anthem, hadn’t been signed by an NFL team.

Trump said the protest was the top reason NFL viewership had waned this season.

“You know what’s hurting the game more than that? When people like yourselves turn on television and you see those people taking the knee when they’re playing our great national anthem,” he said.

Trump encouraged his supporters to pick up and leave the stadium next time they spot a player failing to stand.

“I guarantee things will stop,” he said.

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Bill Belichick: Patriots 'spent quite a bit of time' with Texans rookie D'Onta Foreman leading up to draft

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Bill Belichick: Patriots 'spent quite a bit of time' with Texans rookie D'Onta Foreman leading up to draft

FOXBORO — As the Patriots make final preparations for Sunday’s matchup against the Texans, they’ll keep an eye on rookie running back D’Onta Foreman. It won’t be the first time they’ve taken a look at him. 

Foreman, a big back out of Texas, appears to be pushing Lamar Miller for the Texans’ starting job. Bill Belichick said Friday that the Pats worked heavily with him leading up to the draft. 

“I spent quite a bit of time with him at Texas last spring,” Belichick said, likening Foreman to a LeGarette Blount type who can also contribute as a pass-catching back.

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The Patriots didn’t like (or need) Foreman enough to draft him in the third round, where he was chosen. They had three cracks at him in the third round (at No. 72, where they traded down, and then at Nos. 83 and 85) and passed all three times. 

Instead of taking Foreman with one of the picks, they came away with Derek Rivers at No. 83 and Antonio Garcia at No. 85. The Texans grabbed Foreman at No. 89. 

When the teams met in the preseason, Foreman rushed for only 17 yards on seven carries, but had a rushing touchdown and 66 receiving yards on two catches, one of which went for 63 yards.

“He's an impressive guy. He can run through guys,” Belichick said. “He can run around them. He’s got good quickness in space, a good receiver. He’s a big back with some little back skills, so he's got a very good overall skill set. He can be used on all three downs, but he can get tough yards and he can be tough in space, as we saw in the preseason game.”

Of course, the Pats had already loaded their running back group by adding Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead to a crowded depth chart by then, so it’s no surprise they opted against taking a back with one of their first picks. 

While there wasn’t a spot for Foreman in New England, the opportunity seems plentiful in Houston. He received just one carry in Houston’s season-opener but cut into Miller’s workload with 12 carries in last week’s win over the Bengals. 

With fellow rookie Deshaun Watson making his second NFL start at quarterback, the Texans may have to rely on the running game more than usual Sunday. If that means more touches for Foreman, the Pats will at least know who they’re dealing with. 

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