Curran at the Combine: 5 from Day 2

Curran at the Combine: 5 from Day 2

By Tom E. Patriots Insider

INDIANAPOLIS - For Patriotic purposes, Friday was not a big day news-wise. Running backs, quarterbacks and wide receivers made their way through. Two of those positions, the Patriots are normally opposed to spending early picks on (RB and WR). The other spot is set as well. Saturday brings a better crew of prospects for early-round picks when we get the defensive linemen and linebackers coming through. MUM'S THE UNION WORDNFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith held a meeting with agents at which he discussed the rules of engagement for teams and players in the event of a lockout. Two agents who were in the room told me that Smith was tight-lipped about the progress being made in mediated talks in Washington. Smith didn't sound very hopeful, though. In the mid-afternoon he met with reporters outside the Sagamore Ballroom in the Indianapolis Convention Center. He said, "Not gonna talk at all about the session that we have and will continue to have next week. The players? We want to get a deal done and our hope is that we can reach a resolution as quickly as possible. We're 1,800 guys that want to play football and the fans across the country have made it abundantly clear they want to keep seeing football. I know the businesses in America and the people who rely on football for things other than entertainemnt want football and we're right there with them side by side."

He refused to take questions and ignored one asking whether mediation has helped. VERY LESHOURE OF HIMSELF If the Patriots want a running back to complement the styles of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead, they'd have it if they drafted 6-foot, 230-pound Mikel Leshoure from Illinois. Trouble is, Leshoure makes it sound like the Patriots would have to use their 17th pick on him and New England may not wantto do that for a running back."I definitely think I can be the number one back taken. That's my goal" Leshoure said Friday. "I feel like my versatility and the things that I can bring to the table will show a lot of GMs, scouts, and owners that I can be that guy."God bless his confident heart. Wes Bunting at the National Football Post has Leshoure rated second among all running backs behind Alabama's Mark Ingram. Bunting and I spent time talking about Leshoure and some other running back prospects on Friday. Leshoure compares himself to the Rams Steven Jackson. Mel Kiper has Leshoure going to the Patriots with the 28th pick in the first round. The last back the Patriots took with a first-round pick - Laurence Maroney in 2006 - didn't work out so good. But Leshoure is definitely going to be a player to watch in the next two months. FORMER PATRIOT CLASSING IT UPRemember Victor Green? The former Jets safety that spent the 2002 season with the Patriots as part of the Big Nickel experiment? Well, he's in Indy this week covering the Combine for a webite he's started called Class Act Sports. Green, 41,now lives in Atlanta. He worked most recently for the Bucs in 2009 in pro scouting but stepped down in July. "Since then, I've been working to put on the map," he explained. "We're a site just like any other in terms of information but we're interviewing former and current players and promoting the positive that they've done."What prompted the idea?"Athletes receive so much negative press. They can be doing 10 things right, but you're hearing about the one thing they've done wrong," said Green. "We don't promote or talk about anything negative anybody has done. We focus on the positive."Was there one instance that caused him to want to start a site like that? "It wasn't one thing," Green explained. "Playing the game for 12 years and being in and around the negative press, I just said, 'This whole world is about negativity. It's time for someone to talk about the positive guys are doing.' "NEWTON DEBUTING SHIRT INNOVATIONAuburn quarterback Cam Newton is expected to speak Saturday at the NFL Combine. The Heisman Trophy winner will have some 'splainin to do after his comment last week that he wants to be an entertainer and an icon. Word is, he may begin his time with the media with a statement trying to address that misstep. Meanwhile, both he and Alabama wideout Julio Jones are Under Armour guys and will be wearing a wild workout shirt called the E39 compression shirt. The shirt itself has the capability to measure speed, g-force, horsepower, heart rate and breathing rate. Little electronic touchpoints on the shirt send the information to a device on the front of the shirt called a BUG. From there, the info can be downloaded onto computers or broadcast over Bluetooth. THE ODD CASE OF JOSH BARRETTLast season, the Patriots plucked a safety named Josh Barrett off of waivers. He'd been released by the Broncos after undergoing season ending surgery on his shoulder and Denver wanted to ultimately put him on injured reserve but the Patriots claimed him. It was somewhat surprising since teams are often hands-off with injured players being waived through to injured reserve. It's a courtesy thing. And the Broncos were then coached by former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. But the Pats flew in the face of convention and, perhaps, good form and took Barrett. On Friday, ESPNBoston's Mike Reiss and Mike Rodak reported that Barrett signed a two-year extension through 2012. He figured to be a restricted free agent in 2011 (whenever that league year begins). He's mainly been a special teams player. He's down to make 725,000 in 2011 and 775,000 in 2012. Best deal for Barrett, though, is he received a 250,000 signing bonus which is guaranteed. Hemust be an awesome rehabilitator.

Not a lot of talk about Cannon this season, and that's a good thing for Patriots


Not a lot of talk about Cannon this season, and that's a good thing for Patriots

Marcus Cannon has had his run as a piñata. The Patriots offensive lineman is a frequent target when things go wrong up front and, usually, he’s deserved it.

A bit of anecdotal evidence? 

Sunday, I tweeted that every time I watched Cannon, he was making another good play.

On cue, about 10 tweets came back at me with variations of “Keep watching him!”

I asked Bill Belichick if he agreed with the layman’s assessment that Cannon’s playing well.

“I think Marcus [Cannon] has done a good job for us for quite a while,” Belichick began. “I mean he’s stepped in for Sebastian [Vollmer] and then last year when Nate [Solder] was out [and he substituted] for Nate. He has played a lot of good football for us.

“We extended our agreement with him off of his rookie contract which I think speaks to the fact that we want him on the team and we like what he’s doing and so forth and he’s continued to I’d say show with his performance [that he has] validated the confidence that we have in him.”

Cannon’s ending to 2015 – a poor performance (along with the rest of the line) against the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game was followed by a performance against the Cardinals that was marred by late-game holding calls.

But with Sebastian Vollmer injured (and still injured) it was sink or swim with Cannon which had plenty of people rolling their eyes.

But – as I said – every time I see Cannon, he’s either holding off a defensive end in pass protection, steamrolling downfield in the running game or making really athletic second-level or cut blocks in the screen game.

“Like every player, as they gain more experience they do get better,” said Belichick. “I think our offensive line’s certainly improved over the course of the year and playing with more consistency than we did last year. But there’s always room for improvement and the continuity that we’ve had there since (right guard) Shaq [Mason] has gotten in the last few weeks – we had Shaq over on the right side a little bit at the end of the season last year and then this year most all of the year except when Shaq was out for a few weeks there at the end of training camp and the start of the season – but our overall consistency and communication on the offensive line has been better because we’ve had more continuity there so that helps everybody.”

It can’t hurt that the lineman whisperer, Dante Scranecchia, has returned to coach the group. Cannon’s conditioning and physique looks better. He just appears more athletic and explosive. And he’s seemed more relaxed in the limited time the media’s in the locker room.

All off that added up equals nobody really talking about Marcus Cannon.
“Like any lineman, the less you call his name probably the better he’s doing,” said Belichick. “It’s probably a good thing when you guys don’t talk about him. Then that probably means they’re not doing something too noticeably wrong, right?”