Pats have whirlwind schedule if July 21 deal done

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Pats have whirlwind schedule if July 21 deal done

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
If, as ESPN reported on Monday, the target date to get the new CBA ratified is July 21, that means the Patriots have just 21 days before they're on the field against the Jaguars in their preseason opener. That, obviously, could change. And probably will. But working off that assumption and the accompanying timeline for team construction that accompanied the report, let's look at what the Patriots will have to do by the approximate dates. JULY 21: Educate the clubs on the new league rules and allow voluntary training for teams and agents.The second portion of the sentence is most important. It allows veterans and rookies to report for what would probably be physicals, classwork, conditioning and logisitical work (living arrangements for rookies) in a mini-camp setting. If actual training camp opened, rookies would not be able to report without contracts. The "educate the clubs" aspect would be a seminar for personnel man Nick Caserio, contract guy Floyd Reese, overlord Bill Belichick and others to figure out the lay of the land business-wise. One has to figure Belichick has been kept abreast of things by Robert Kraft in terms of what he'll be looking at in regards to salary caps, rookie scales, etc. JULY 25: Sign undrafted rookies, as well as give free agents a chance to re-sign with their teams.Do the Patriots covet BC's Mark Herzlich, the Cam Newton of undrafted free agents? Will Matt Light be re-upped? (My guess is yes; he's been working out at Camp Mayo during the lockout.) Is Kevin Faulk coming back? This is when the window opens for the Patriots to make these moves. JULY 28: League year starts and free agency begins. The feeding frenzy begins. The 500 or so unrestricted free agents (my guess is it will be any player with four years of service and an expired contract) hit the market and the shopping that's been delayed nearly five months launches. Do the Patriots make a run at Matt Roth? Nnamdi Asomugha? Malcom Floyd? An outlier to be named? The action will be furious and -- because of the compressed schedule -- coast-to-coast tours will not be the norm. This will also be the period in which teams can try to pry restricted free agents from teams with offer sheets. Of course, with the preseason set to open for New England on August 11, will they be interested in diving deep into the pool of UFAs? Will they get bang for the buck from these players who have limited time to learn the system? The 2011 UFA class really gets screwed royally here. AUGUST 2: Rosters must be set at 90 players.The Patriots currently have 74 players under their control according to the estimable Miguel Benzan who does the Patriots salary cap page on Patsfans.com. That includes restricted free agents and Logan Mankins who's been franchised. When business reopens, some players are going to be thrown overboard (Nick Kaczur is a candidate with his estimated 4.3 million cap hit); others will be collected. AUGUST 3: Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets.BenJarvus Green-Ellis is the team's highest-profile RFA. He could be the quarry for some team interested in bolstering their running game but it's hard to see much happening on this front whether it be coming or going. AUGUST 7: A four-day match period for teams to match restricted free-agent offer sheets.This is usually a 10-day window for teams to decide whether they want to ante up to keep a guy. If you consider that -- if the schedule holds -- the preseason opener is just four days away from this date you can see the practical difficulty of bringing a guy in to learn a program on the fly. AUGUST 12: Deadline for rookies to sign contracts (not yet agreed upon).The whole rookie wage scale thing is apparently the speed bump that can't be cleared in negotiations. For instance, if they don't sign by August 12, then what? What are the penalties? Either way, you have to figure the angular Coloradoan (Colorado-ite, Colorado-idian?) Nate Solder will be firmly ensconced in camp before then. Just a vibe I get. AUGUST 16: Signing period for restricted free agents ends, as does the signing period for franchise and transition tenders.This would be the deadline for Dr. Mankins, Dr. Logan Mankins to report to surgery. AUGUST 29: Deadline for players to report to earn credit for an accrued season toward free agency.This appears to be the no-holdout law that the owners are trying to push to prevent instances like what Mankins did last year, bailing on the early part of the season while irritated about being an RFA and then showing up in time to get credit for 2010. So there it is. All the dates you need to know and how the local entrant is affected. Odds of it all changing? One hundred percent. Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Curran's Patriots-Bills preview

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Curran's Patriots-Bills preview

Click here for the gallery.

FOXBORO  – Four quarters left in Tom Brady’s suspension, an undetermined (but also dwindling) number of days remaining in Rex Ryan’s tenure as a head coach, this game is intriguing for a lot of reasons. The Patriots can close out a remarkable quarter-season performance without Brady and put him back in the driver’s seat with a three-game edge over the Bills simply by taking out Rex. How they manage that – and which quarterback manages that – is the question that’s swirled all week.
 
 
WHEN THE PATRIOTS HAVE THE BALL
 
Traditionally, the Patriots have thrown over and around the Bills’ front-seven with great success. Tom Brady’s good at that. Jimmy Garoppolo, with a bad shoulder, or Jacoby Brissett, with limited experience, may not be able to pull off the same act. Which means this could be a day for LeGarrette Blount who so far is leading the league in rushing. Many of those yards have come at the closeout juncture of games. This week, he may asked to do the damage early. The Bills have allowed five touchdowns on the grounds this season but only 3.4 yards per carry.
 
WHEN THE BILLS HAVE THE BALL
 
Without Sammy Watkins and dealing with issues at left tackle, the Bills are going to have to get a productive, 25-to-30-touch game out of running back LeSean McCoy. He’s handled the ball 59 times so far in three games (11 catches) and has been by far the focal point of the Bills offense. But with the Patriots having the chance to fixate on McCoy, Buffalo and newly-minted offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn better have a backup plan if and when the Patriots send multiple players to dog him. The Bills’ will be in a position where it’s on Tyrod Taylor to figure something out. The Patriots aren’t going to aggressively rush him. If the rush gets past him, it was done by mistake. Force Taylor to be a passer, find Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin and  ailing tight end Charles Clay. Meanwhile, the Patriots figure to have Donta Hightower back to help with quarterbacking the defense. The Patriots are in a position defensively to really put the screws to a Bills team that doesn’t seem to have a lot of options.
 
THE KICKING GAME
 
Old friend Brandon Tate is the Bills’ return guy on both punts and kickoffs. He’ll get a good test from the Patriots special teams corps which has been a major story this season. Ryan Allen had a career game last week against Houston with six punts inside the 20 and one sitting on the 20. There were no return yards. The Patriots kick coverage created two turnovers last game against Houston and hasn’t allowed a return past the 25.
 
PATRIOTS MEDICAL REPORT
QUESTIONABLE: QB Jacoby Brissett (thumb), QB Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder), T Marcus Cannon (calf), G Jonathan Cooper (foot), LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder), TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring), LB Dont’a Hightower (knee), CB Eric Rowe
 
BILLS MEDICAL REPORT
OUT: WR Sammy Watkins (foot), T Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle), C Patrick Lewis (knee) and WR Greg Salas (groin) QUESTIONABLE: S Colt Anderson (foot), TE Charles Clay (knee), CB Ronald Darby (hamstring), T Cordy Glenn (ankle), QB Cardale Jones (right shoulder), S Jonathan Meeks(foot) and S Aaron Williams (ankle)
 
GAME WITHIN THE GAME  

The speed with which Buffalo adjusts to the Patriots offensive game plan and whether or not the Patriots have an adjustment to the adjustment. The uncertainty of the Patriots quarterback situation has been a distraction for the Bills and Rex Ryan this week and – given the Bills leaky pass defense – how Buffalo decides to deploy will matter a lot depending on who’s at quarterback.
 
BILLS GOTTA STOP
 
Jannyris Edeldolagan. That’s just an amalgamation of the three wideouts of similar talent, pallor and quickness that kill defenses in the receiver shell game the Patriots play every week. Just when a defense thinks it’s got it figured out on a key third down and has set itself to take away Edelman, for instance, the dagger gets inserted by Amendola or Hogan. It’s like a shell game.
 
PATRIOTS GOTTA STOP
 
LeSean McCoy. That’s the whole damn game. Cuz you. Don’t wanna mess with Shady. Cuz Shady. Will … cause big problems.
 
THAT SUMS IT UP PATRIOTS STYLE
 
“I fly around every day. You can’t land this jet, you know what I’m saying? It’s like having a private plane, wherever I want to go, I just go. I don’t have to worry about no jet fuel. I would say Gatorade but they don’t sponsor me so I’ll just go get me some good ole’ something to drink, and Gatorade can have the plug.” – Martellus Bennett, Patriots tight end, on the team flying around in September.
 
THAT SUMS IT UP BILLS STYLE
 
“It’s more of a ‘this is still a game.’ It’s a billion dollar industry and things but it’s still a game and you’ve got to be true to yourself and I’m true to myself. To me it’s just a thing where, you know, I enjoy Belichick’s press conferences and everything else because he’s true to himself and he does a great job. It’s pretty funny to me because you guys can never get anything out of him and I just think it’s great. It’s kind of funny that way. I pulled it knowing that every question is going to be about who’s the quarterback and all that. One thing I know for sure is that Tom Brady is not the quarterback and I feel good about that.” – Simple Rex, after being asked why he mimicked Bill Belichick during his week-opening press conference
 
THE WINNER IS...
 
Patriots 23, Bills 13
 

Report: Ex-Raiders FB Marcel Reece works out for Patriots

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Report: Ex-Raiders FB Marcel Reece works out for Patriots

Fullback Marcel Reece, cut by the Oakland Raiders earlier this week, was one of five players who worked out Friday for the Patriots, ESPN's Mike Reiss reported

Reece, a seven-year NFL veteran, all with the Raiders, was suspended last December for the final game of the 2015 season and the first three games of this season for violating the NFL performance enhancing drug policy. 

Reiss reported that guards Jake Bernstein and Chase Farris, center Robert Kugler and tight end Greg Scruggs also worked out for the Patriots on Friday.

More on Reece from CSNBayAea.com.