Players, owners remain at standoff on mediation

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Players, owners remain at standoff on mediation

By TomE. Curran
CSNNE.com

So where do things stand with the NFL lockout one day after the two sides appeared in federal court? Back-to-back, arms crossed, refusing to budge. Chiefs linebacker and former Patriot Mike Vrabel told me via e-mail Thursday morning that he was "very impressed with our lead counsel Jim Quinn as well as Jeff Kessler who assisted him."He added, "Judge Nelson was extremely prepared to hear the case and we look forward, as the court suggested, to resume settlement talks under federal mediation."Later in the day, the players released a similar statement.
The key here is that the players want to meet with a mediator to settle their lawsuit, not to reach agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Once the lawsuit is settled, then they want to negotiate a new CBA.
The owners, meanwhile, want the lawsuit to go away so the sides can resume CBA negotiations. They want mediation, too, but their recommendation is to get back with federal mediator George Cohen and work towards a new contract agreement. And neither will likely budge too soon unless Judge Nelson forces both sides into mediation under her jurisdiction. Absent that, they'll stand back-to-back, arms crossed, as they wait for her ruling on the players' anti-trust lawsuit. And then they'll wait until the losing side's appeal is decided. All of which could drag out for months, into the summer.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled lockout. Tom E. Curran canbe reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Wednesday's Pats-Bills practice report: Jimmy G., Brissett both 'limited'

Wednesday's Pats-Bills practice report: Jimmy G., Brissett both 'limited'

FOXBORO -- The highly-anticipated first Patriots injury report of the week was released on Wednesday afternoon, and it was fairly predictable. 

Both injured quarterbacks were active but limited in their practice participation, the report indicated. That comes as little surprise as both Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder) and Jacoby Brissett (thumb) were spotted throwing passes early in Wednesday's practice. Neither appeared to be experiencing any significant discomfort as they made their warm-up throws. 

Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower (knee) and tight end Rob Gronkowski (hamstring) were also limited. Gronkowski admitted that the team was taking it slow with him in his first game back on the field last week -- he played just 14 snaps in New England's win over Houston -- but he said on Wednesday that he hoped to go "freakin' crazy" on the field soon.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
QB Jacoby Brissett (right thumb)
OT Marcus Cannon (calf)
G Jonathan Cooper (foot)
LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder)
QB Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder)
TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring)
LB Dont'a Hightower (knee)
CB Eric Rowe (ankle)

BUFFALO BILLS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
TE Charles Clay (knee)
OL Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle)
OL Patrick Lewis (knee)
WR Sammy Watkins (foot)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
DB Colt Anderson (foot)
DB Ronald Darby (hamstring)
QB Cardale Jones (right shoulder)
DB Jonathan Meeks (foot)
WR Greg Salas (groin)
DB Aaron Williams (ankle)
OL Cordy Glenn (ankle)

Garoppolo: Not pressured by Patriots to return last Thursday

Garoppolo: Not pressured by Patriots to return last Thursday

FOXBORO -- Jimmy Garoppolo spoke Wednesday for the first time since getting his shoulder separated by the Dolphins’ Kiko Alonso. Standing by his locker, Garoppolo was predictably vague about the status of his arm, unless you consider, “Getting better day by day,” as being insightful. 

The only two responses offered that were worth a damn came when asked if he could have done anything different when he got squished by Alonso while retreating and buying time.  

“Just have to be smart I guess,” said Garoppolo. “I mean, it’s football and stuff’s gonna happen like that, but have to be smart in those situations.”

Asked if he regretted holding the ball as long as he did on a third-down play with the Patriots up 21-0, Garoppolo replied, “After it’s all said and done it’s easy to say that, but it’s one of those things, you’re in the heat of the game. But bottom line I have to be smarter than that.”

Agreed.  

Meanwhile, as he worked last week to get back for Thursday night’s game against Houston, The Boston Herald reported that the Patriots were “putting pressure” on Garoppolo to be ready for the game. Working hard to get key players ready for upcoming games is standard operating procedure for a medical staff. Trying to force a player to perform is not. 

I asked Garoppolo if he felt unduly pressured. He replied, “No.”