Ras-I Dowling continues routine of improvement

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Ras-I Dowling continues routine of improvement

FOXBORO -- Cornerback Ras-I Dowling was ready to go on Thursday. It was Day 3 of Patriots mini-camp and he had that left ankle taped as he took the practice field.
He, along with the rest of the team, walked back into the stadium 15 minutes later.
"We were just kind of shocked," Dowling drawled with a smile. "Everybody was ready to practice. A lot of guys were in the training room getting taped and then we got that news: 'You can go home a day early.'"
Whether or not the Patriots have cut mini-camp short in the past is still being debated -- sides taken depending on memory only. Deion Branch said it happened "back in the old days," but others insist Belichick's never done it in New England.
Either way, the players are now left to train on their own until July.
Dowling, who injured his hip during Week 2 of his rookie year and was relegated to IR, is still rehabbing. He had a successful surgery and has participated fully in OTAs and mini-camp (the ankle tape is for a college injury).
An update he gave reporters on the stadium field was breezy. It doesn't sound like any reason he won't be back and healthy in 2012.
"Dealing with the trainers. It's a great group we've got there with the training staff. Just getting in there with them -- they're giving me stuff to do. And just continuing to work hard.
"I think, conditioning-wise, I'll be working on my back-pedaling and different stuff. Doing it all."
Despite missing so much time, Dowling doesn't feel disadvantaged. He said it was good for him being around the team, watching film, learning the playbook.
Could he get back into a starting role by August?
Too early to tell.
"I can't tell you right now," he said. "Hopefully, I'll be able to help the team. I try to come out every year and just train as hard as I can in the offseason and try to have a better year every year."

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Is Rob Gronkowski good to go?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Is Rob Gronkowski good to go?

00:43 - Rob Gronkowski says he's ready to go against the Texans. Michael Holley, Tom Giles and Kayce Smith talk about this risks of him playing while injured.

05:47 - Phil A.Perry follows up the Gronk discussion with a deeper breakdown of Gronk’s decision to play this Sunday.

10:02 - David Price appears to be easing back into baseball after pitching Friday night. Evan Drellich joins BST to talk about Price’s outing in Cincinnati. 

16:12 - The BST crew recaps the Red Sox win over Reds. Drellich returns to analyze how the pitchers performed and how that will impact the Red Sox postseason stretch.  

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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