Curran: Owners try for another P.R. score

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Curran: Owners try for another P.R. score

By TomE. Curran
CSNNE.com
Classic. Just classic. The NFL sent out a press release Wednesday saying it will deposit 177 million on Wednesday to complete the funding for the 2010 season. The press release notes that the total amount funded by owners for the 2010 season will be 245 million. What did they hold, a bake sale? Collect cans? Was this out of the goodness of their benevolent hearts? No. No. And no. They did it because they're supposed to. It's part of the deal, ya know, paying employees pension, medical, disability etc. This would be like the Patriots sending out a press release saying they paid Ron Brace his 586,000 salary. Of course, that 245 million is just 176 million less than the 421 million the owners wrangled out of DirecTV to pay the NFL if there's a lockout for the 2011 season. Until Judge David Doty said, essentially, "You can't take 421 million for yourselves for NOT HOLDING GAMES and then NOT SHARE IT WITH THE PLAYERS IN THE 60-40 SPLIT YOU'RE OBLIGATED TO."But this is just another example of the NFL playing chess while the employees are playing . . . tic-tac-toe. Total non-story that, if you just let it wash over you without processing, becomes another log on the owner's "aren't we generous" fire. Tom E. Curran canbe reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Belichick impressed by rookie Thuney's work at left guard

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Belichick impressed by rookie Thuney's work at left guard

FOXBORO -- Joe Thuney may not have won the starting left guard job officially, but Bill Belichick says he's on the right track. And for a rookie, that's feat in and of itself.

The third-round pick out of North Carolina State -- you may remember it as the Kevin-Faulk-in-the-No.-12-jersey selection -- has been the first-team left guard since the start of training camp, and he hasn't moved since. Thuney has occasionally taken snaps at center, and the Patriots have him learning multiple spots behind the scenes. But every time Nate Solder has run on to the field as the left tackle, Thuney has been there by his side at guard. 

Even going back to OTAs, held not long after he was drafted, Thuney was the top choice at that position. 

"Joe has done a good job with what we’ve given him," Belichick said. "There was a point where we felt comfortable making that, I’d say temporary move, It wasn’t permanent. But he has handled it well. I think he’s certainly moving towards being able to lock something down at some point. I don’t think we’re there yet, but I think he is certainly gaining on it. He has had a good preseason, had a good spring."

What once may have been deemed a temporary move back in the spring -- perhaps due to players like Shaq Mason, Tre' Jackson and Josh Kline dealing with injuries early in the offseason -- now seems like it should be a permanent one.

Thuney's run as the No. 1 left guard has been uninterrupted because his performance hasn't warranted a change. He's held his own against former first-round defensive tackle Malcom Brown in one-on-one practice drills, and he's been the highest-graded player on the Patriots offensive line through two preseason games, per Pro Football Focus. (The only players with higher grades on the team through two games are tight end AJ Derby and defensive end Trey Flowers.)

The man who went viral before the draft for his ability to solve a Rubik's cube in just over a minute has flashed an understanding of how quickly things move on the inside. Plus, playing under unretired offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, Thuney has been quick himself, both picking up pressures and working to the second level in the running game with aplomb.

Thuney will still have a preseason game or two to solidify his grasp on a starting role, but even for the brief period during which Mason and Kline were simultaneously healthy, Thuney was the choice on the left side of the interior offensive line. Now that Mason is dealing with what's been reported as a hand injury, Jackson remains on PUP, and Jonathan Cooper is still out after suffering a foot injury early in camp, the job seems like Thuney's to lose.

That Belichick even hinted Thuney is "gaining on it" is an indication of just how impressive he's been during his short time as a pro.