Plenty of 'D' being played for Robert Kraft


Plenty of 'D' being played for Robert Kraft

By TomE. Curran
NEW ORLEANS - Robert Kraft's got responsibilities that extend far beyond the local entrant in the National Football League. Corporations, charities, businesses - he's got a plateful.
Still, it must have pained him to be absent from the final negotiating sessions with the players before the lockout began. He was in Israel on a trade mission with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. Patriots left tackle Matt Light said he was disappointed Kraft wasn't at the final sessions. On Monday, Patriots president Jonathan Kraft said,"I respect Matt and I appreciate Matt's comments, but we do a lot of things other than just the New England Patriots."Something that's particularly important to Robert is the economy and job creation for people in all industries across the Commonwealth," added Jonathan Kraft. "This is a trade mission that had been worked on for a long time. Israel is a real center of high-tech anda lot of Israeli companies are choosing to pick Massachusetts as their corporate headquarters and this was about solidifying that and having more companies be comfortable coming to Massachusetts and create jobs. It was something he'd personally been working on a long time and he wasn't going to give that up. He helped put the whole thing together and it was something very personal for him.
"That being said, he didn't miss a call concerning the NFL labor talks, he didn't miss an e-mail, and he was up to all hours of the night. He was intimately involved with what was going on in the negotiations."Colts owner Jim Irsay also had the elder Kraft's back. "Bob had had that trip planned," said Irsay. "Part of being an owner is juggling many things. He's certainly had an impact. There are some times when you have to keep many things going, when you have many business commitments and people are depending on you. His trip was important and the negotiation is important. It's his judgment on how he balances both. It's not right to throw him under the bus and say, 'He should have been there, he doesn't care.'
"Many of us have different businesses and different things we do. Government people depend on us so you have to keep those commitments, too." Tom E. Curran canbe reached at Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Titans roll to 36-22 victory over Jaguars


THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Titans roll to 36-22 victory over Jaguars

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - There's nothing like a visit from the Jacksonville Jaguars to make the Tennessee Titans remember how to protect their home field.

Marcus Mariota threw for 270 yards and two touchdowns to end his home struggles and the Titans had their highest point total of the season in a 36-22 victory over the Jaguars on Thursday night.

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Develin stays on top of tight end techniques in case he's next man up


Develin stays on top of tight end techniques in case he's next man up

FOXBORO -- Once the Patriots traded AJ Derby to the Broncos for a fifth-round pick earlier this week, they were left with just two tight ends on their roster. While those two tight ends -- Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett -- have played as two of the best tight ends in football this season, it's a position group that has been considerably thinned. 

Until coach Bill Belichick adds another player at that spot, James Develin would be the logical "next man up." A position group unto himself as the team's lone active fullback -- the other fullback in the locker room is practice-squad player Glenn Gronkowski -- Develin meets with Patriots tight ends and coach Brian Daboll on a daily basis because the fullback and tight-end responsibilities in the Patriots offense are similar, particularly in the run game.

As much time as he spends with that group, Develin tries to absorb what he can when it comes to the nuances of the position. 

"I always kind of try to prepare, obviously, for my fullback role, but then in any other role that I might be called upon for," Develin said on Thursday. "A couple years ago, we had a bunch of injuries during the offseason program, during OTAs, and I filled in a little bit at tight end. I try to keep myself familiar with all those techniques and that tight end role so if the day were to come where I needed to go out there and do it, I'd be able to go out there and do it."

When the Patriots began the season relying more on the run, Develin was called upon to play a relatively significant role in the offense. He averaged 21.3 snaps per game through the first three games of the season, but that number has fallen to 13.6 since Tom Brady's return from a four-game suspension. Still, his role can be a critical one. 

The Patriots' running game faltered last season after both Blount and Dion Lewis went down with season-ending injuries. Having Develin in the mix as an extra blocker would not have guaranteed a more efficient attack, but it may have helped the team's running-game woes late in the year. 

Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels now has the luxury of bringing Develin onto the field when he wants some added muscle for his blocking schemes, and should the Patriots need a tight end in a pinch, Develin could do that too.

"A lot of times, especially in the blocking game, really the only difference [between fullback and tight end] is that I'm five yards off the ball in the backfield and they're up on the line," Develin said. "The angles are a little bit different. But a lot of times the assignment is typcially the same thing. It's just the technique of getting there and the angles that you take.

"Then in the passing game, as a tight end, there's just a lot more routes and stuff like that. I try to work on that to help me as a fullback to be a little bit better in space . . . It's a sybiotic relationship." 

As it is, Develin will line up occasionally outside. Though not a threat as a receiver in that spot in the same way that Gronkowski or Bennett would be, he understands some of the different looks tight ends have to be comfortable with.

If an emergency arose and he was asked to fill that role, he wouldn't hesitate.

"There's a little bit of carry-over depending on what we're doing or whatever play we have called where I'll line up on the line," he said. "But that's kind of what a fullback has to do. You kind of have to be able to be thrown into whatever position on the field that you gotta do and you gotta just do your job."