Curran: NFL better open its doors

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Curran: NFL better open its doors

By TomE. Curran
CSNNE.com
For two days, the NFL has played (to borrow a phrase from Frank Curran) Mickey The Dunce. They pretended they didn't know what Judge Susan Nelson meant when she told them to end their lockout of the players. "She doesn't mean 'now,' does she?" seemed to be the owners' approach. "Let's do nothing and see if she changes her mind. Maybe she'll allow us to keep them locked out while we appeal her ruling to lift the lockout."Well, Wednesday night, Nelson told them again that "lift the lockout" means "lift the lockout." While the players' antitrust case against the NFL proceeds, the players must be allowed to work, says Nelson. Now we'll see if the NFL tries again to play dumb and refuses to let the players work while they appeal to the 8th Circuit Court. Most people processing Wednesday night's clarifcation by Nelson figure that's exactly what the NFL will do. But everyone has to remember there is a case pending here. Brady vs. The NFLhasn'teven gotten underway in earnest. The only thing Nelson has told the owners is the players have a "fair chance of winning the case" and that the players' interests are being irreparably harmed. So how do you thinkNelson and any other robe-wearer will regard the NFL if they again refuse to follow a court order? How much will the damages be then? How will courts look on the damages they'll assess to the NFL over the lockout insurance case? How hard will it be for the NFL to argue its case to Judge Nelson? If any team pulls what the Browns did Tuesday and refuses to let players enter the facility, bad idea. If the cell phones of select free agents don't ring at all now that they are officially free, we'll hear the word "collusion."This isn't about who's right and who's wrong in the labor squabble. This is about how arrogant and shortsighted the NFL might be in ignoring a court order. Or trying to. And what the fallout will be. Does this mean free agency starts now? And offseason workouts and coach-player contact? Ummm, yeah. And if the owners decides to keep players out after Wednesday night's development, they will cost themselves a few billion more than they stand to lose already. Tom E. Curran canbe reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Wednesday's Pats-Bills practice report: Jimmy G., Brissett both 'limited'

Wednesday's Pats-Bills practice report: Jimmy G., Brissett both 'limited'

FOXBORO -- The highly-anticipated first Patriots injury report of the week was released on Wednesday afternoon, and it was fairly predictable. 

Both injured quarterbacks were active but limited in their practice participation, the report indicated. That comes as little surprise as both Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder) and Jacoby Brissett (thumb) were spotted throwing passes early in Wednesday's practice. Neither appeared to be experiencing any significant discomfort as they made their warm-up throws. 

Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower (knee) and tight end Rob Gronkowski (hamstring) were also limited. Gronkowski admitted that the team was taking it slow with him in his first game back on the field last week -- he played just 14 snaps in New England's win over Houston -- but he said on Wednesday that he hoped to go "freakin' crazy" on the field soon.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
QB Jacoby Brissett (right thumb)
OT Marcus Cannon (calf)
G Jonathan Cooper (foot)
LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder)
QB Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder)
TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring)
LB Dont'a Hightower (knee)
CB Eric Rowe (ankle)

BUFFALO BILLS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
TE Charles Clay (knee)
OL Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle)
OL Patrick Lewis (knee)
WR Sammy Watkins (foot)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
DB Colt Anderson (foot)
DB Ronald Darby (hamstring)
QB Cardale Jones (right shoulder)
DB Jonathan Meeks (foot)
WR Greg Salas (groin)
DB Aaron Williams (ankle)
OL Cordy Glenn (ankle)

Garoppolo: Not pressured by Patriots to return last Thursday

Garoppolo: Not pressured by Patriots to return last Thursday

FOXBORO -- Jimmy Garoppolo spoke Wednesday for the first time since getting his shoulder separated by the Dolphins’ Kiko Alonso. Standing by his locker, Garoppolo was predictably vague about the status of his arm, unless you consider, “Getting better day by day,” as being insightful. 

The only two responses offered that were worth a damn came when asked if he could have done anything different when he got squished by Alonso while retreating and buying time.  

“Just have to be smart I guess,” said Garoppolo. “I mean, it’s football and stuff’s gonna happen like that, but have to be smart in those situations.”

Asked if he regretted holding the ball as long as he did on a third-down play with the Patriots up 21-0, Garoppolo replied, “After it’s all said and done it’s easy to say that, but it’s one of those things, you’re in the heat of the game. But bottom line I have to be smarter than that.”

Agreed.  

Meanwhile, as he worked last week to get back for Thursday night’s game against Houston, The Boston Herald reported that the Patriots were “putting pressure” on Garoppolo to be ready for the game. Working hard to get key players ready for upcoming games is standard operating procedure for a medical staff. Trying to force a player to perform is not. 

I asked Garoppolo if he felt unduly pressured. He replied, “No.”