Patriots pledge to stay in shape if locked out

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Patriots pledge to stay in shape if locked out

By TomE. Curran
CSNNE.com
BOSTON -- Tom Brady has agreed to be one of four player-plaintiffs against theowners if this labor mess ever gets to court.
But one of the stickier decisions for Brady -- and for all players facing this work stoppage right now -- is deciding between the game of football and the business of football. Winning a lawsuit or a negotiation could probably never excitea player'ssenses the way winning a single game can. The game and the competition are in the players' DNA.Yet if the players really want to make the owners (and coaches) sweat, they need to show they can wait out a work stoppage over the long haul. "Lock us out? Fine. But we aren't taking less money than we make right now and we'll just wait until you see we're serious."Conducting player-organized workouts during a lockout isn't going to give the owners that vibe. The owners think the players will cave because, well, they always have.The rank-and-file guys who don't have millions socked away (and that's most of the league) need the paycheck. But there's that other dynamic at play here, too. The need to compete, to be a "football player." The need to work a craft that's been a way of life since, for many, the second grade. You know how we never believe guys when they say, "I'd play the game for free"?When it comes right down to it, some of them might just consider doing that.Houston Texans' offensive lineman Eric Winston talked to PFTLive recently and pointed out that any player injured during a lockout training session could land on the non-football injury list and miss out on his 2011 salary. To say nothing of the fact they may be running, lifting and preparing for free when they are normally paid to do so. Thursday, during a charity appearance at Children's Hospital in Boston, several Patriots spoke of their very serious intention to stay in shape and prepare for football during this lockout. Patriots All-Pro linebacker Jerod Mayo said he's all set with a DVR to watch game film and a Bowflex and treadmill in his basement. Asked about the disconnect between the union imploring players to not organize workouts and give the owners something for nothing, Mayo said, "I'm staying in shape, I'm telling you that. That's the mindset guys have. Stay in shape and wait for a phone call. It's personal preference what each player does but at the end of the day, I'm a football player."A football player in an excellent program. A program that is so cloistered and managed, the word of Bill Belichick is -- for most players -- going to trump that of Kevin Mawae or DeMaurice Smith. In aline of work where careers are short, players don't want to see a season wasted because they or their teammates aren't ready when the bell rings.Andcan any marginal playerthat does jack squat during the lockout and shows up out of shape and unprepared expect to make it past the first round of cuts? Probably not. "This is football, this is what I do," said Rob Ninkovich. "What they tell us to do, I do. I'm always gonna be working out. I'll be working out every day. When the season starts, I'll be ready to roll." Think about it. Tom Brady, Terrell Suggsand Antonio Cromartie are on the same team during this lockout. But the second it ends, they return to being adversaries. The players that remember thatand show a unified front whilestill preparing to kick the other guy's behind will be the teams that are successful in 2011. "I'm gonna be prepared," promised Leigh Bodden. "That's all I can do, is be prepared myself. The guys are gonna do what they're gonna do. I'm gonna do what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna prepare myself in any way possible to make myself the best player when things hopefully do get worked out." Tom E. Curran canbe reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Report: Patriots sign LB Jonathan Freeny to two-year extension

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Report: Patriots sign LB Jonathan Freeny to two-year extension

The Patriots have signed backup linebacker and special teamer Jonathan Freeny to a two-year contract extension through 2018, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported.

Freeney, 27, was originally signed by the Patriots to a one-year free-agent deal in March 2015 after spending the first four years of his NFL career with the Miami Dolphins. He then earned a one-year extension last September and played 13 games, seven starts, with 50 tackles, one sack and a forced fumble. 

"Jonathan is a very dependable player," Bill Belichick said on a conference call Saturday. "He is able to do a lot of different roles for us. He can play inside, outside, on the line of scrimmage and off the ball defensively. He has been a very valuable player for us in the kicking game, obviously with some size, a four-phase special teams player.

"He is one of our overall top workers in terms of the offseason program, preparation, training. He always does things right. He works hard, doesn't really say a lot, but is very dependable and consistent. I think everybody in the organization looks up to him."

 

49ers' Colin Kaepernick refusal to stand for national anthem ignites controversy

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49ers' Colin Kaepernick refusal to stand for national anthem ignites controversy

Colin Kaepernick was already a noteable NFL player as the one-time, and now apparently former, face of the San Francisco 49ers.

The quarterback likely will gain even more notoriety for his stance on refusing to stand for the national anthem at a preseason game on Friday:

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told Steve Wyche of NFL Media. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

In a statement released Saturday, the NFL said players "are encouraged but not required to" stand for the anthem.

More here from Mike Florio of NBCSports.com's Pro Football Talk on Kaepernick and Florio on the NFL's statement in response.

 

 

Curran: Impact of Brady's suspension already being felt on field

Curran: Impact of Brady's suspension already being felt on field

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – It’s an inconvenient and uncomfortable truth that can’t just be blissfully ignored.

The pound of flesh Roger Goodell extracted from the Patriots in the form of Tom Brady’s Deflategate suspension is starting to hurt.

Friday night, we watched the less-than-ideal quarterback rotation between Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo unfold. 

Garoppolo completed a 17-yard dart to Aaron Dobson on his first throw of the night. He completed eight of his next 14 for 40 yards – an ugly yards per attempt average of 3 – took a sack, threw a would-be pick and had a fumble. He looked skittish, indecisive and a thousand miles away from being in total command.

The Brady suspension was designed to punish the Patriots and it is.

Garoppolo played three ineffective series at the start of the game. He got the hook after that and the predictable power surge that came when Brady was on the field instead of the guy who – on this night – couldn’t get anything done was almost tangible.

Garoppolo’s first pass went to Dobson went for 17? Brady dialed up the same player and the play went for 37. Three of Brady’s six incompletions were drops (one was a near pick) and his 33-yard touchdown throw would have given every quarterback in the league except maybe Aaron Rodgers inadequacy issues.

I asked Garoppolo earlier in the week about trying to take command of the team while still remaining deferential to Brady’s status as TFB, future Hall of Famer. Garoppolo admitted it was tough.

How can it not be when the reminders are everywhere, including the pregame exit from the locker room and the trot onto the field. 

Brady is the leader. Jimmy is the long-term substitute. Substitutes don’t have it easy.

There is no solution for what’s going on. It is the ultimate, “Is what it is…” scenario. Can’t do anything about it, so everyone’s got to deal with it.

For Brady on Friday night, that meant staying apart from pretty much everyone for most of the first quarter.

When the Patriots offense was on the bench, he stood with arms folded and jaw set staring onto the field with the occasional glance up at the replay board or over at the area where Garoppolo, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and rookie Jacoby Brissett were going over plans.

When the Patriots offense took the field, Brady retreated to the bench and sat alone. There were two interactions during the first three series came when strength coach Moses Cabrera went to Brady and clapped him on the shoulder pads then rubbed his head as Brady sat on the bench. The other came when Brady sidled up to Brissett and asked him to play catch.

This is not open hostility. This is not Brady trying to undermine Garoppolo. But anyone expecting to see Brady putting an arm around Garoppolo every time he came off the field and publicly lend an ear to Jimmy isn’t getting that. Who knows, maybe Garoppolo doesn’t want that, maybe Brady thinks it’d be counter-productive, maybe McDaniels wants there to be one voice in Garoppolo’s ear during games. The fact is, it’s not cozy.

And you shouldn’t expect it to be. Brady is a quarterback who – while still at the height of his powers – is being forever reminded that the party for him is almost over.

Belichick himself did it the day he drafted Garoppolo. Consider again what was said: 

“The situation we have at quarterback, I think that we felt as an organization that we needed to address that to some degree in the future, so we’ll see how all that works out,” Belichick said during the 2014 draft when Garoppolo was taken in the second round. “I think we’re better off being early than being late at that position. We know what Ryan [Mallett’s] contract situation is. We know what Tom’s age and contract situation is. I don’t think you want to have one quarterback on your team. I don’t think that’s responsible to the entire team or the organization."

Age? Contract? Rather be early at that position than late?

Brady’s best method for combating speculation about when he’d be put out to pasture has been to own his position with peerless play and turn in – in my opinion – the best Super Bowl performance a quarterback’s ever had.

Not only is Brady miles away from being ripe for the picking, the only reason Garoppolo’s playing at all is because of a BS investigation and punishment that turned Brady’s life upside down and besmirched his name.

Garoppolo taking Brady’s reps, taking Brady’s team for a month is the punishment for Deflategate. Watching Jimmy G. play is the punishment Brady was handed. No wonder he’s standing with arms folded and jaw set.

If you simply look at the dynamics between players of Brady’s ilk and their would-be successors you realize that expecting Brady to go merrily along and show no signs of agitation is absurd. Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, Joe Montana and Steve Young, Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler. In each, the incumbent wasn’t real keen on wet-nursing the new guy.

Garoppolo’s case is a little different, though. He has no illusions about being better than Brady (that little 25-for-25 day from Brady in the intrasquad scrimmage earlier this month probably helped put that to bed). 

Garoppolo just wants to come in, play well, do his job and not step on any toes. He’s not looking to create a quarterback controversy. But he can’t afford to be deferential anymore or concerned about how the legend in his shadow feels or how he feels about the legend in his shadow.

He just has to go play. Something that Brady – very soon – won’t be able to do.