By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
HULL - Since Paragon Park shut down in 1984, Nantasket hasn't been quite the same.
Until this week. Two days of meetings between players and owners at Nantasket Beach Resort wrapped up Thursday afternoon with NFLPA head De Smith and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaking together for the assembled media they'd tried to avoid. Asked if there was any symbolism to be drawn from the two men standing shoulder-to-shoulder, the two men jokingly blamed it on the rain. Still, there were murmurs of significant progress in these meetings which began Wednesday morning and went hard through Thursday. Fifteen rooms were rented at the resort for the party. Among those seen on the NFL side were Goodell, Pete Abitante, Greg Aiello, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Chargers owner Dean Spanos, Giants owner John Mara, counsel Bob Batterman and counsel Dennis Curran. From the players' side were Smith, counsel Richard Berthelsen and Tom DePaso, Chiefs running back Tony Richardson, Ravens defensive back Domonique Foxworth, former Jet Pete Kendall, Colts center Jeff Saturday. Judge Arthur Boylan presided. I didn't spot him. Groups met in all of the conference rooms at the resort. Sometimes they were meeting together; sometimes they broke off into smaller groups. Albert Breer from NFL Network reported that this was the first time in this string of "secret" meetings that the two sides broached talk of the rookie wage scale. That's an advance and likely means that enough things are buttoned down to move on to something more onerous. The comments made after they were done weren't particularly revealing. "Obviously, were all working hard, Goodell said. The players and owners were here over the last two days. De and I were here the entire meetings. And its complicated, its complex, and were working hard. We understand the fans frustration, but both of us are continuing to work hard at it.Smith went next.Someone asked me whether I was optimistic, Smith said. I think were both optimistic when we have the right people in the room. We know were talking about the right issues. And were working hard to get it done. Its extremely complicated, it requires a lot of hard work by all the people, but were going to keep working at it.They were asked about the symbolism of standing there together.Its raining outside, and his car is right there, Smith said with a smile.
Tom E. Curran can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran
CHARLOTTE - Tom Brady didn't merely fly to Carolina because he likes having his ears pop.
The Patriots quarterback will indeed play Friday night against the Carolina Panthers. Given Bill Belichick's stated objective of making Jimmy Garoppolo's preparation for the season's first four games a priority, it was uncertain whether Brady would be on the field even though he traveled. But with Brady a late scratch last Thursday against the Bears after gouging his thumb just before kickoff, his chances for game reps before his exile were waning.
Brady made it very clear this week that he doesn't just want the game reps for tuning up and getting knocked around but because he believes it's his job and responsibility to be out there leading the team, regardless of where he'll be the first four weeks of the year. With him feeling that strongly about playing being important for his preparation and for his standing within the team, it makes sense for Belichick to give him reps.
It's not known whether Brady or Garoppolo will start or how many series either quarterback will play Friday night.
Alan Branch has been reinstated by the Patriots after the team suspended him prior to last week's preseason game with the Bears, according to Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran.
When Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked about Branch's absence last week, he replied, "It's a club matter."
What got Branch suspended by the team is still unknown, but he is expected to be a contributing player on the interior of the Patriots defensive line in 2016. He started in 17 games last season, including both playoff games, often lining up alongside fellow defensive tackle Malcom Brown.
Through training camp the Patriots have also used Terrance Knighton, Vincent Valentine, Anthony Johnson and Joe Vellano on the interior of their defensive front. Branch, however, has consistently been used with the team's first defensive grouping. It's unclear how a week away from the team might impact his spot on the depth chart.
Field Yates of ESPN was the first to report the news that Branch had been reinstated.
Tom Brady traveled with the Patriots to Charlotte, N.C., on Thursday, ahead of the third preseason game Friday night against the Carolina Panthers.
Jeff Howe of The Boston Herald was first to report the news.
There’s no word on if Brady will play. He missed the opener against the Saints and, after cutting his thumb with scissors, missed the second exhibition game last Thursday against the Bears, both at Gillette Stadium.
Brady, of course, will miss the first four games of the regular season serving his NFL-imposed Deflategate suspension.