By Tom E. Curran
INDIANAPOLIS - With no formal access to players and coaches on this Wednesday before the NFL Scouting Combine starts, we've spent the day getting our agenda set for this week (read: loitering in lobbies, rattling the locked gates at Lucas Oil Stadium and staying out of harm's way). The Patriots' contingent is trickling in gradually. The scouting department is pretty much all here, but Bill Belichick isn't expected until Thursday. Instead of flying coaches down en masse for the week, I'm hearing the team is having specific position coaches fly in for the workout and interview portions of their specialty. The Patriots will conduct their player interviews in a large meeting room at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown. That's the hotel that houses all draft prospects. There's a security desk there staffed by Indy cops so that no riff-raff reporters get through. New England normally holds its meetings well into the evening with prospects - until close to midnight in the past - so thePatriots' coaches aren't out and about quite as much as other staffs. The Patriots low-key it at these events and I'm not even sure yet if Belichick is going to meet with the media. Last season, Nick Caserio, the VP of Player Personnel did most of the talking. There is an NFLmeeting scheduled for Thursday, to which each team is supposed to send its head coach, GM and a finance guy.That would be Belichick, Caserio and - most likely - Floyd Reese. Meanwhile, a planned Thursday meeting with a select group of agents has been cancelled. The agents will meet en masse with the NFLPA on Friday. Attendance is said to be mandatory. In both cases, it's expected the meetings will be held to answer questions and give info about what the marching orders for contact are if and when the CBA expires March 4. So many players are about to hit free agency, so the question is: can agents discuss their clients with decision-makers from teams who may be interested in draft prospects once the CBA expires.Talking this week is supposed to be tampering, but every team flouts that rule. I'll be lookingto track down Logan Mankins' agent Frank Bauer after the agent meeting. I'm sure he'll be psyched to see me.We'll be talking to offensive linemen, kickers, punters, long snappers andtight ends tomorrow.
Tom E. Curran can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran
FOXBORO -- Seems as though the Bills don't quite have their stories straight.
On the one hand, you have Bills players, who say that they won't hesitate to retaliate if a Patriots player gets near one of their pregame warmup drills, as Jacoby Brissett did in Week 4.
On the other hand, you have the Bills coach, who sounded less eager for there to be any kind of scrap before this weekend's game at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
"No, I mean with us, just go out and warm up," Ryan said in a conference call Wednesday. "That’s what you do, but any of the extracurricular things, you know, there’s absolutely zero focus on that, and shouldn’t be any focus on that. It’s just about playing games.
"I mean if people want to show how tough they are, put the boxing gloves on and get in the ring or something. That might be more impressive -- I don’t want Gronk by the way.
"But I definitely don’t want to see that happen, and our focus is 100 percent on the game and doing the very best we possibly can."
It's an interesting comment from a coach who has made it very clear that he wanted to build a "bully" in Buffalo. His team shut out the Patriots after trying to intimidate New England's rookie quarterback before the game. Did his team not benefit somehow from what occurred before kickoff that day?
He doesn't think so.
"It had nothing to do with our team . . . Absolutely nothing," he said. "You know, those things happen every now and then but it was no big deal. It did absolutely nothing for us."
Tom Brady has fans everywhere, apparently. Even in Pittsburgh. Even on the Steelers roster.
Showtime's Inside the NFL caught video of Brady meeting with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger before Sunday's game between New England and Pittsburgh.
The pair hugged near the 50-yard line at Heinz Field. Brady called Roethlisberger "big guy." Roethlisberger, who was out with a knee injury, told Brady he wanted to play "so bad."
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Then Roethlisberger became a fan. And like many of them, he had a request.
"Um, hey, listen," he said. "I've never done this before, but I would love to get a jersey at some point. It'd mean...There's not many I want to put in my office. You're the best, dude."
Brady was happy to oblige. Just not right at that moment.
"Sure, I'd love to," Brady said. "I'll get you after the game."