Mankins isn't Pats' first front officefootball squabble

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Mankins isn't Pats' first front officefootball squabble

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

In March of 2001, the Patriots called a press conference at Robert Kraft's downtown offices to announce a 10-year, 103 million contract extension for Drew Bledsoe. That day, Kraft suggested Bledsoe would follow in the footsteps of Ted Williams, Bill Russell and Larry Bird. He'dspend his entire career in Boston. He'dbe an icon. Alittle more than a year later, he wasa Buffalo Bill. Bill Belichick wasn't at the Bledsoe photo-op that day. None of the Patriots football brass was. It was a Kraft production, a dog-and-pony show Belichick didn't carve out time to be a part of. (CORRECTION: Ohhhh, yes he was. The CSNNE regrets the error. DAMN!)Bledsoe was too inaccurate, too indecisive, too unaware of pocket pressure for Belichick's tastes. The coach had rarely had difficulty defending Bledsoe when he was an opponent and nothing Bledsoe showed during the 2000 season or the first two games of 2001 changed his mind. But Belichick knew that with CMGi Field (later to be renamed Gillette Stadium) being built and Foxboro Stadium being torn down, keeping Bledsoe -- the franchise hood ornament -- was a business decision as much as a football decision. Would people buy luxury suites if Michael Bishop were the starter? Or Tom Brady? Even though the Patriots were 7-17 in Bledsoe's previous 24 starts, and the fact that Bledsoe had thrown 31 interceptions and been sacked 90 times in the previous 32 games, Belichick had to roll with it. By the end of the preseason, Bledsoe and his 103 million contract were on thin ice because he was playing so poorly. Belichick considered starting Brady in the third preseason game against Carolinathat August. And Bledsoe was so ineffective throughout the summer, Belichick made him play significant time in the fourth preseason game. A serious showdown between coach and quarterback loomed and when quarterback got benched, he would have headed straight for the owner. Then Mo Lewis intervened. We bring you this moment in Patriots' contractual history because of something Greg Bedard wrote in Sunday's Boston Globe. In discussing the ongoing Logan Mankins Affair, Bedard fires in a paragraph that reads, "And for those wondering whether there's a disconnect between the football staff and ownership on Mankins, there isn't. The two have been in agreement for 11 years on contracts, and now there might be a rift over a guard (albeit a darn good one)?"Eleven years of contractual bliss, huh? Head nods and high fives for better than a decade? Remarkable. Even more remarkable if it were true which, it isn't. Who's been talking about a disconnect, anyway? Well, me. Right here.Bedard, who was in Washington last week, said he hadn't seen my story when I asked him if his passage was a veiled rebuttal to me. I believe him because A) I'm not required reading and B) Bedard's a good guy and a writer I respect. But I predicted at the end ofmyarticle that my observation of a business-football disconnect would be pooh-poohed and here's the pooh-poohing. Which doesn't change the reality. The Mankins issue hasn't been strictly a football one. It did get personal when Mankins questioned Robert Kraft's honor. And the dislike for Mankins' agent Frank Bauer remains. I believe Bauer when he says Bill Belichick has worked extremely hard to facilitate a deal. So for those wondering if there's a disconnect between the football staff and ownership on Mankins?There is. Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Belichick: Brady-less Patriots ‘just really focused on Buffalo’

Belichick: Brady-less Patriots ‘just really focused on Buffalo’

FOXBORO -  A verrrrrryyyy long time ago, the Patriots targeted September. There were t-shirts and everything printed back in 2002 as the Patriots came off of their first Super Bowl title.

The names of that season’s first four opponents – Steelers, Jets, Chiefs and Chargers – were all listed on a bullseye.

How’d that work out? Well, they hit the bullseye for most of September, winning the first three. Then they lost four in a row and the notion of “targeting” a segment of the schedule around these parts went the way of the Dodo bird.

Which may be why, as truly remarkable as this September’s been, Bill Belichick isn’t taking any bows after three damn wins.

“We’re just really focused on Buffalo,” Belichick told me Friday morning when I asked about whether winning the first three in the face of some adversity was a point of pride. “I don’t really care about last week. I don’t really care about two weeks ago. I don’t really care about last year. I don’t really care about four years ago. I don’t really care. I think we’re just trying to get ready and compete against Buffalo. That’s our challenge this week.

“The rest of it – it’s in the books. It is what it is,” he said. “So write whatever you want to write about it. It’s good, it’s bad, I mean I don’t really care. It’s done. We’ve got to do a good job of what we have here with Buffalo. We can’t live in the past. And I respect where you’re coming from, I really do. It’s not like I’m trying to be dismissive of it, but I really don’t care. It doesn’t really matter. Nothing that happened last year, last week, last month really has anything to do with this week.”

Things change after Sunday. The best player the franchise has ever had rejoins a team that – in spite of the adversity – flourished without him. Even though the competition wasn’t what one would call “stiff” compared to challenges Brady faced as recently as last January, it’s still remarkable.

Asked about Brady’s looming return, wide receiver Julian Edelman also redirected.

“We got a game before that,” he pointed out. “When he comes back we'll obviously be happy but we got a job ahead of us with the Buffalo Bills.” 

Asked if there’s some pride taken in the beginning, Edelman replied, “It’s just having pride in your job in general. Really just focusing every week and trying to improve. I say it every week on these cameras, if you try to get better and you get better every week, you're gonna do these things. 

“It tells you that you have a mentally tough team that goes out there and works hard and prepares hard and does the extra things,” Edelman added. “I've been around here a little while and that's just the mentality we've always had and continue to have. We have a tough one against the Bills and we'll see how it tests out against these guys.”

 

 

Patriots-Bills injury report: Garoppolo, Brissett listed as questionable

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Patriots-Bills injury report: Garoppolo, Brissett listed as questionable

The inury report for Sunday's Patriots-Bills game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

QUESTIONABLE
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

OUT
OL Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle)
OL Patrick Lewis (knee)
WR Greg Salas (groin)
WR Sammy Watkins (foot)

QUESTIONABLE
DB Colt Anderson (foot)
TE Charles Clay (knee)
DB Ronald Darby (hamstring)
OL Cordy Glenn (ankle)
QB Cardale Jones (right shoulder)
DB Jonathan Meeks (foot)
DB Aaron Williams (ankle)