Curran: Don't blame lockout for Banta-Cain surgery

175736.jpg

Curran: Don't blame lockout for Banta-Cain surgery

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
Troubled by a sports hernia throughout the 2010 season, Patriots outside linebacker Tully Banta-Cain could have had surgery to repairit when the season ended. He chose not to, hoping that -- with core strengthening and training -- the injury would improve. It didn't. So last week, Banta-Cain underwent surgery to have a long-standing injury repaired that will keep him down for more than a month. The decision to repair the injury now as opposed to back in February (or March, April, May or June) won't likely fly well with the Patriots coaching staff. You can't blame this on the lockout. Players have had full access to their team medical staffs even during the shutdown. Players like Tom Brady (foot) and Deion Branch (knee) have been able to get their progress monitored. And a player with an existing injury -- like Banta-Cain -- should have made the effort to have his progress checked. It's just a sports hernia. It's a relatively quick fix. The excuse that "it just got worse" doesn't really float because sports hernias generally don't get better. There's no other way around it. This is a bad miscalculation by Banta-Cain. Signed to a three-year, 13.5 million deal in March 2010 after a 10-sack season in 2009, Banta-Cain had 50 tackles and five sacks in 2010 and lost standing on the depth chart. He's on the books to make 2.3 million in salary this season. The Patriots -- already hurting for pass rushers -- now have one of their best pass rushers (at least on reputation) on the shelf. Bad for business. Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Van Noy sees playing-time bump as he learns Patriots language

van_noy.jpg

Van Noy sees playing-time bump as he learns Patriots language

When Kyle Van Noy was traded to the Patriots in late October, he had a lot to learn. He needed to understand the layout of his new team's maze-like facility. He needed to adjust to a new locker room. He needed to adapt to a new home. 

He also had to become fluent in a new language.

The former Lions 'backer was inactive for two weeks before he was comfortable enough with the Patriots system -- and the coaching staff was comfortable enough with him -- to get on the field. He played 29 snaps against the Niners in first game with his new club, then saw 28 plays against the Jets. On Sunday he saw his role expand as he played 40 of a possible 51 plays, which was more than Shea McClellin (38) or Dont'a Hightower (33). 

"Kyle has done a great job of working really hard to acclimate to what we’re doing, and he has had to learn really fast as far as the system, the communication, the language," said defensive coordinator Matt Patricia on a conference call Tuesday. "It’s like when you go to a different system, offensively or defensively, a lot of times it’s just learning the vernacular and the verbiage . . . That’s a big part of it. Then getting more familiar with that kind of terminology and the communication is critical because there’s a lot of calls and adjustments, things like that that we’ve got to do on the field."

Van Noy was making some of those calls himself on Sunday as he wore the green dot on his helmet when Hightower was on the sidelines. Even with the added responsibility, Van Noy was able to play freely enough that he put together what might have been the best game of his three-year career. 

Used at the end of the line of scrimmage as well as in a more traditional off-the-line linebacker role, Van Noy was effective in defending both the pass and the run: He stuffed three Rams rush attempts, he recorded a quarterback hit that led to an incompletion, he drew a holding call, and he recorded an athletic interception when he tracked a wobbling Jared Goff pass that floated over the middle after Jabaal Sheard hit Goff's arm as the rookie released his throw.

After several of his stand-out plays, Van Noy was visibly excited on the field and later on the sidelines. It was the culmination of six weeks of work, learning as much as he could from a coaching staff that was eager to teach him. 

"He’s extremely prideful in his work and his approach to the game," Patricia said. "He’s very cerebral. He’ll ask a lot of questions. He really wants to understand what we’re doing and why, which is great. We’re trying to give him those answers and insight into kind of where some of this either came from or developed or situations like that so that’s really good."