Patriots' lockout workouts are under wraps

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Patriots' lockout workouts are under wraps

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

The Patriots first rule for working out en masse during the lockout? Don't talk about working out en masse during the lockout. And that's why you'll see no accompanying video for this story. Or photos. Or quotes from any of the 16 players who've been going hard for over two months with respected trainer Brian McDonough. Initially, we thought we'd put together a nice little package. We'd go visit McDonough at Edge Performance Systems, located at the Foxboro Sports Center. Once there, we'd get some footage of players working out, talk with Jerod Mayo, who's been the ringleader and head organizer, and talk with McDonough.
Then, get the hell out of their way. But McDonough wanted his clients to decide on the level of coverage. So he put it to a vote.You are left withthis simple story. You can lock the Patriots out of their facility, but you can't rip the Patriots out of their Patriotic mindset. What we know? Four days a week for three-and-a-half-hours at a whack, a group of "anywhere from 12 to 16 guys" have been working with the 37-year-old McDonough. Who's he? McDonough'sa Milton native who now lives in Easton with his wife Shauna and daughter Lyla. He's trained more than 150 professional athletes since 2000. The first Patriots he worked with were Troy Brown and Adam Vinatieri. Then it was Christian Fauria and Rodney Harrison. His intensity, preparedness and loyalty to his clients helped his reputation grow. Mayo began working with him in 2008 and, when the lockout hit, Mayo helped reel in the rest of the crew to work with McDonough. Who's there? We don't have a complete list but Matt Light, Dan Koppen, Rob Gronkowski, Brian Hoyer, Mayo and Patrick Chung are some of the regulars we're sureof. What are they doing? "We're covering all the bases from a strength and conditioning standpoint," McDonough said. "We have a turf field, a 40-yard sandpit, everything under the sun for strength, a network of people around me providing yoga, physical therapy, pool work, massage, everything I need."But McDonough readily acknowledged he can'tgive NFL players the soup-to-nuts football preparation they need to be ready for a season."With the absence of position coaches and a full coaching staff, there are certain things we can't cover," McDonough pointed out. "I dont have a playbook. I can't correct technique, for example. I can cover every base from a strength and conditioning standpoint andthis is such agood group of guys in terms ofworking their asses off and feeding off each other and pushing each other. But I think we're all anxious for them to get back to work with their coaching staff."McDonough's also cognizant of the pressure involved in training professional athletes during this lockout when team-sponsored health benefits are suspended. "I am very confident in what I do but, put it this way, there's an added bit of liability," said McDonough. "There are some younger trainers who work with younger athletes and they say to me, 'I'd like to train pro athletes like you.' Sometimes I look at them and say, 'Do you really?' There is a lot to it."It's foreign for the players too. "It's a pretty big shift in what they're used to," he explained. "Paying for health insurance, paying for someone to train you as opposed to having someone pay you to work out. Their mindset seems to be,'Let's control what is in front of us, what we can control. We'll be in the best shape possible and let everything fall as it will."McDonough said he wasn't able to take on any of the newly-drafted Patriots. He says the group is too far along with its conditioning andthathe'd "pretty much topped out" with the number of guys he could work with. Meanwhile, the core group that's showing up tries its best to replicate an NFL offseason. In April, there was a "Back-Seven" minicamp for the defensive backs and linebackers that Mayo hauled everyone in for. "He's one of the most pure leaders and respected people I've seen. Ever," McDonough said. "He's constantly communicating with them, holding everyone accountable. They all do, really. This group has a great dynamic."We'll have to take his word for it.
Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran.

SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Rawls leads Seahawks to 40-7 pummeling of Panthers

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SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Rawls leads Seahawks to 40-7 pummeling of Panthers

SEATTLE - Behind Thomas Rawls bouncing off and through tacklers and a big-play punch from Tyler Lockett, the Seattle Seahawks rediscovered their offensive star power on Sunday night.

It came at a significant cost to their defense.

Rawls ran for 103 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, Lockett took a reverse 75 yards for a score to open the second half and the Seahawks routed the Carolina Panthers 40-7 on Sunday night.

Click here to read the complete story

Curran: Outcome expected, Patriots can still build off win vs. Rams

Curran: Outcome expected, Patriots can still build off win vs. Rams

FOXBORO – So they did precisely what they were supposed to do. Poleaxed a bad team that had come cross-country to get its whipping and then return home.

It’s hard to downgrade the Patriots for that. Not this time. Even though they were facing a rookie quarterback making his third NFL start in Jared Goff, even though the Rams were without wide receiver Tavon Austin, the net the Patriots threw over the Rams offense was so stifling that those qualifiers don’t count.

The Rams went 1-for-9 on third down. They were 0-for-8 before the late conversion. They didn’t get over 100 total yards until their final drive of the game and that required a breakdown by Malcolm Butler on Kenny Britt. Britt, the Rams best offensive player this season, hadn’t had a catch before that.

PATRIOTS 26, RAMS 10

So what if the Patriots used the Rams as their step stool to get to the next rung? So what if they were supposed to do exactly that? They’d had other matchups this season when they hadn’t choked out lesser opponents. This time they did.

And some of the players who figured prominently are precisely some of the players who’ve had their struggles.

Jabaal Sheard, benched two weeks ago, forced a pick and three passes defensed. Logan Ryan, who’s seen his role change and playing time dwindle, had a sack on a corner blitz and had two quarterback hits to go with five tackles. Kyle Van Noy, still fitting into the defense, had a pick, a pass defensed and four tackles. Alan Branch, who hasn’t struggled but had an NFL suspension hanging over his head until the league rescinded it Saturday, was his normal nuisance up front. Chris Long and Shea McClellin, both new to the team this year, had sacks.

“That happens around here,” explained Dont'a Hightower. “The next-man-up mentality has been here for a few years. Guys don’t play early then later in the season, they get right whatever it was that wasn’t right and they come back and we play well. It’s about us playing together.”

Hightower has steadily proclaimed that the defense has the talent and self-belief necessary to get where it needs to be on a consistent basis.  

“I feel like every week should be like this regardless of who we’re playing,” he said. “We had a great week of practice. Everyone was all in the same mindset, the same focus. (Defensive coordinator Matty Patricia) again did a great job of calling the game, mixing it up. We just went out there and executed.”

As the Patriots head into the final four games of their schedule, the caliber of their competition will rise. The next opponent, Baltimore, has won four of five including a 38-6 demolition of the Dolphins on Sunday.

The Broncos are up after the Ravens and that game will be in Denver, never an easy spot for the Patriots to say the least.

The Patriots close at home with the always-annoying Jets and then have to go to South Florida to play Miami in the New Year’s Day finale.  

“We’re just one week at a time,” said Ryan. “You can’t break this season off a couple weeks. Next week, we see what Baltimore [Ravens] just did, they’re a real good team. We know how that’s been in the past so it should be a nice game, a competitive game, competitive atmosphere. We’re just one week at a time, we’re happy we got this game and we’re on to the next one.”

It’s hard to point to this game and say, “All’s fixed.”

It was the outcome expected and there was no letdown. Part of the process.

“It’s December, time to play our best football,” said Devin McCourty. "We’ve been at it for a while now dating back to the beginning of training camp. Things we’ve talked about working on and things we’ve talked about improving, it’s time to start improving on those things and getting them done. Bill [Belichick] said it over and over that who we play each week is not going to matter if we don’t come and fix the things we need to fix and play the way we need to play. I think the whole team understands that and it starts with him, but [also] us echoing it as captains and as leaders. Today I think showed that when we do those things, we go out there and play well.”

The principals in this win – players like Sheard and Ryan – signaled that concerns over buy-in and locker room fissures appearing after playing time was shifted and personnel was shipped out were probably unfounded.

It’s a tough place to play because performance matters and there’s not a lot of, “That’s ok, you’ll get ‘em next time…” with this coaching staff.

It’s mentally challenging.

“That might be an understatement,” laughed Hightower. “But that’s part of the process, that’s part of the Patriot way and we try to adapt to it.”