Patriots taking positive steps on injury front

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Patriots taking positive steps on injury front

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn
FOXBORO -- The New England Patriots are a close-to-the-vest, even-keeled team regardless of who the opponent may be.

That lock-and-load focus has been on another level leading up to Sunday's game against AFC rival New York Jets.

Of course, having focus always helps.

Healthy bodies? Even better.

The Pats are certainly moving in the right direction on the health front, with a couple of key players -- tight end Aaron Hernandez (knee) and defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth (back) -- returning to practice this week.

"Anytime you got another weapon out there, it helps out and really helps us move the ball and get us working down the field," said Pats wide receiver Wes Welker, whose success of late has been in part because of the absence of Hernandez. "The more weapons we can have out there, the better we can be."

The same goes for the Patriots defensive line, which came into the season with one of the deepest, most experienced lines in the NFL.

In addition to Haynesworth, who hasn't played in the last two games, New England's defensive line also includes battle-tested veterans such as Andre Carter (32-years old), Vince Wilfork (30 next month), Shaun Ellis (34), Gerard Warren (34) and Mike Wright (29) who returned to practice this week after being out due to another concussion - he missed final 7 games of last season due to a concussion.

The plan going into the season was to platoon players along the defensive line as much as possible, which would keep a fresh, hard-charging body on the field on almost every down.

But the absence of Haynesworth, 30, has meant more reps for the veterans. And over the course of a game, their ability to impact a game diminishes.

Getting injured players back on the practice field is just part of the process involved in their return to actually seeing action and contributing in a meaningful way. As important as the first day back is in a player's recovery, Day Two is even more telling.

"The question really is the second day, was that too much? Do they need to back off a little bit? Was that something they could easily handle and are we able to escalate the workload?" Belichick said. "If that second day goes good, that's probably a good indication the player is ready to move up. If it doesn't or it levels off or starts to stress whatever the injury is, then the medical people will back him off a little bit until we're able to raise up and get to a higher level."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Kraft OK with the idea of a Raiders move to Las Vegas

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Kraft OK with the idea of a Raiders move to Las Vegas

Robert Kraft doesn't seem all that concerned about the potential pitfalls of having an NFL franchise in Las Vegas.

The temptations found in that city, he says, can now be found around any dark corner of the Internet. That's part of the reason why he would be supportive of the Raiders if owner Mark Davis chose to move the team to Vegas from Oakland. 

He explained his reasoning to NFL Media's Judy Battista at the league's annual spring meetings on Tuesday. 

"I think we can put the discipline and controls in [for] whatever anyone might be worried about," Kraft said. "With the Internet and the age of the Internet and what's going on in today's world, it's so much different than when I came in 20 odd years ago. If you'd like to move there and they're supportive and Oakland doesn't do what they should do, I'm behind them."

The comments echoed what Kraft told USA Today earlier this week.

"I came into the league in ’94," Kraft said. "Back then, any exploration of that market was dismissed out of hand. I’m looking where we are today and thinking of the last 10 to 15 years, and the emergence of new media, with Google and Facebook and the like. We’re just living in a different world, technology-wise. The [sports gambling] risks in Vegas are no longer exclusive to Vegas. Whatever the risks, they are no greater [in Las Vegas] than playing a game in New Jersey."

Davis' hope to move the Raiders stems from an inability to get a deal done for a new stadium in Oakland.

"I have given my commitment to Las Vegas," Davis said this week, "and if they can get done what they're talking about doing, then we will go to Las Vegas."

Curran: Roger The Dodger continues his evasive maneuvers

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Curran: Roger The Dodger continues his evasive maneuvers

Roger Goodell is doing that damn thing again down in North Carolina this afternoon.

The NFL commissioner -- who once could carry off a press conference with a breezy, in-command air -- came off like a carrot-topped armadillo talking to reporters at the end of the May owner’s meetings in Charlotte.

Defensive, clipped and disingenuous, a monotone-speaking Goodell was asked about Deflategate and Monday’s Congressional report that alleged the NFL had lobbyists trying to pressure concussion researchers into using NFL-approved doctors.

Asked about the appeal for a rehearing of Tom Brady’s case on Monday, Goodell said, “I respect the NFLPA’s ability to appeal if they choose to do that . . . I’m not really focused on that at all.”

Goodell did not answer the second part of the question, whether or not he’d keep Tom Brady off the field if the court case was unresolved.

The answer, one can only presume would be, “Abso-friggin-lutely.”

As for the Congressional report, Goodell had the gall to answer that he “didn’t see the report.”

He then went on to disagree with what was in the report -- meaning his initial response was less than candid.

A few more minutes of short answers and the show was over with nobody much the wiser than when he began. 

Kraft on Deflategate: 'The whole thing has been mishandled'

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Kraft on Deflategate: 'The whole thing has been mishandled'

At the NFL's brief annual spring meeting, which typically lasts about 24 hours, Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft provided some equally brief remarks about his quarterback. 

Asked for some comment on Tom Brady's legal situation, Kraft told NFL Media's Judy Battista a version of what he has been saying for the last few months as it relates to Deflategate.

"We've been behind him," Kraft said, "and the whole thing has been mishandled, in my opinion. It's unfortunate, and we hope he prevails."

The NFLPA and Brady's legal team filed a petition to the Second Circuit on Monday requesting that he be granted a rehearing. The Second Circuit reinstated Brady's four-game suspension upon appeal earlier this offseason.