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

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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

Trump wishes Kraft good luck, says Brady called to congratulate him

Trump wishes Kraft good luck, says Brady called to congratulate him

President-elect Donald Trump made sure to thank a few of his supporters from New England -- particularly those at 1 Patriot Place -- during a speech on the eve of his inauguration to the nation's highest office. 

Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady all earned shout-outs from Trump. Kraft was one of many Trump donors present for a dinner at Washington, DC's Union Station, where he was singled out by the soon-to-be-president. 

"In the audience we have somebody that's under no pressure whatsoever because he's got a great quarterback named Tom Brady and a great coach named Belichick: Bob Kraft," Trump said. "Good luck, Bob.

"Your friend Tom Brady just called. He feels good. He called to congratulate us. He feels good. Good luck. You're going to do great."

Trump gave one extra nod to Belichick, who he says taught him to out-work his competition. 

"I out-worked everybody," Trump said. "I think I out-worked anyone who ever ran for office. I learned that from Belichick."

Patriots sign TE Rob Housler to future contract

Patriots sign TE Rob Housler to future contract

FOXBORO -- The Patriots have signed free-agent tight end Rob Housler to a future contract. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound target last played for the Bears but was released at the end of training camp.

Housler won't be eligible to participate with the Patriots during the postseason, but he will be available for the offseason program and training camp leading up to the 2017 campaign. 

Housler taken in the third round by the Cardinals with the 69th overall selection in 2011. In 65 career games, he has 109 catches for 1,166 yards and one touchdown. 

The Patriots may have been intrigued by Housler's skill set last summer when he caught one pass for 52 yards -- making two Patriots defenders miss in the process -- during a preseason game at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots and Bears held joint training camp practices in August that would have given Patriots coaches and scouts a closer look at everything Housler has to offer as a player. 

Housler was one of the better athletes at the NFL Scouting Combine in 2011, running a 4.55-second 40-yard dash (fastest among tight ends), posting a 6.9-second three-cone drill, and recording a 37-inch vertical leap.

Bill Belichick and his staff hit big on a future-contract signing two years ago when a running back with a significant injury history was available to scoop up at the behest of then-assistant to the coaching staff Michael Lombardi. Since then, the Patriots still have never lost with Dion Lewis in uniform.