Collinsworth: 'Mr. Kraft, take the lead'


Collinsworth: 'Mr. Kraft, take the lead'

By Tom E. Curran

Cris Collinsworth, the leading Chicken Little in terms of prognosticating labor peace, sounded a clarion call Tuesday for Patriots' owner Robert Kraft to grab the reins in negotiations with the players. Using Kraft's Saturday remarks at Gillette Stadium as a springboard, Collinsworth -- an analyst on NBC's Sunday Night Football -- wrote a blog entry entitled "Robert Kraft: We Need You!"The fact that Kraft signaled concern for the aggravation level of fans is what caught Collinsworths's attention. The former Bengals great wrote, "Now is when we need rational men like Robert Kraft to step forward. Mr. Kraft was a fan long before he became an owner. He is a terrific family man who can see the same view of this process that we are all watching. Please Mr. Kraft take the lead. There are other owners who will be pushing various agendas, but as a player, I would trust Robert Kraft to make a fair deal. I really would. So far Mr. Kraft has not been willing to take the lead, probably because the Hawks always get the most attention. But Kraft is liked and respected by almost everyone in the NFL. He is tough but fair. The players would listen to him. Tom Brady could be the point man. Lawyers be gone. There is a deal to be made, and the time is now. Please Mr. Kraft, take the lead."This isn't exactly a novel concept. Mike Vrabel espoused Kraft, Jerry Richardson and Jerry Jones summiting with a few key players and kicking the lawyers out of the room to get things done. Hasn't happened. But Collinsworth is right; Kraft is not interested in seeing the players left bleeding on the ground. He's not of a mind to "break" them. And I can give you one anecdote why not. Last month, when a breakaway group of players began insisting it be involved in the labor wrangling, Vrabel said that the members of the NFLPA executive committee and its director, DeMaurice Smith, had things under control. Only thing was, the NFLPA had decertified. So Vrabel's articulating that seemed a costly faux pas. I saw Kraft that day at Gillette Stadium and asked -- in essence --if Vrabel's statement would be used as a sword by owners. Kraft waved his hand dismissively, returning to his oft-stated belief that rancor and litigation isn't going to get it done nor will chasing moths like the statement Vrabel made. Kraft does need to take a more forward role. The problem is, while the players may want to see that happen, there are so many agendas among the owners, it may be just too damn hard for them to send out one lone voice to speak for all of them.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Five quick impressions: Patriots 27, Steelers 16

Five quick impressions: Patriots 27, Steelers 16

The Patriots went into Pittsburgh and beat an under-manned Steelers team Sunday afternoon, 27-16. Here are some of our quick takeaways.

PATRIOTS 27, STEELERS 16: Curran's Best and Worst | Troy Brown: Pittsburgh didn't capitalize on Pats' mistakes

-- With all eyes on the matchup between Antonio Brown and Malcolm Butler, the third-year Patriots corner held his own. After allowing nine catches for 133 yards to Brown in their first meeting last season, Butler allowed Brown to catch five passes for 90 yards Sunday. Butler also took advantage of some of the chances taken by Landry Jones, intercepting one pass intended for Brown in the end zone in the first quarter. Butler finished the day with two pass breakups and a pick on 10 targets. The four catches he allowed to Brown were the only catches he allowed in the game. 

-- Julian Edelman looked like Julian Edelman in the win. He caught 9 of the 10 targets sent his way for 60 yards, getting open underneath while seeing one-on-one coverage for much of the contest. Edelman has been on the injury report for the last two weeks, limited with a foot injury, but he was able to get open on the intermediate routes that has made him one of Tom Brady's favorite targets over the last few years. Edelman did have one drop on third down, and he did fumble a punt return, which allows us to . . . 

-- . . . take a look at what was a rough day for Patriots special teams units. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed yet another extra point -- his second in as many weeks. He has now missed five kicks on the season, including three field goals. The Patriots kickoff unit also had a difficult day, allowing three kicks to be returned past the 25-yard line. The punt-coverage team made one costly error at the end of the first half when Brandon Bolden kicked a bouncing ball out of the back of the Steelers end zone. Instead of the Pittsburgh drive starting at the 6-yard line, where Bolden touched the football, it came out to the 20. At the end of the half, the Steelers kicked a 32-yard field goal. Bolden also dropped a third-down pass that would have gone for a first down. On another punt, it appeared as though Bolden got up slowly after trying to down the ball near the goal line. It was his first game back after suffering a knee injury in Week 4.

-- LeGarrette Blount had a big day against his former team. The 250-pound back didn't want to be a story line earlier in the week, denying interview requests, saying that he would speak after the game on Sunday. His performance at Heinz Field will certainly keep those requests coming. He ran 24 times for 127 yards and two touchdowns, beating up on the Steelers front-seven late in the game as New England protected its lead. 

-- While the Patriots offensive line provided Blount with enough room to run, it was a relatively sloppy day for Brady's protection up front. Left tackle Nate Solder turned in one drive during which he allowed a pressure and was then flagged for back-to-back holding penalties (one of which was declined). Shaq Mason also appeared to have trouble with Pittsburgh's Jarvis Jones, allowing a couple of pressures and picking up a flag for holding. Joe Thuney and David Andrews -- both of whom had good blocks on James White's score -- also picked up penalties. There will be plenty for offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia to pick at and try to improve in the coming week of practice.