Some interesting names may fall to Patriots

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Some interesting names may fall to Patriots

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

Some of the most enduring memories from drafts past are the guys who slid. Whether it was Aaron Rodgers rotting in the green room, Brady Quinn canoodling with an increasingly disinterested blond, or Tom Brady walking through his neighborhood with a baseball bat, the guys who drop often become more fascinating than the guys who get picked. And there are three players this year who could take the unwelcome plunge - Clemson's Da'Quan Bowers, Alabama's Mark Ingram and Auburn's Nick Fairley. All three guys could have entertained thoughts of being top five picks at one point. But as the draft looms, there's a growing sense that all could drop precipitously. Start with Bowers. The 6-4, 280-pounder led the nation with 15.5 sacks last year. But I'm hearing there are concerns that his kneehas limited timebefore he'll need major surgery. With a kid whose weight fluctuates drastically and who plays an interior defensive line (or 3-4 end) position, this could be a chronic issue.
My compadre TimGraham at ESPN.com did a mock draft and he had the Patriots taking Bowers with the 17th pick. Even though Bowers is a good kid and potentially great player,at 17, he'stoo big a dice roll with those knee concerns. Especially with a defensive line class that is as good as any Bill Belichick has ever seen. Then there's Ingram, the Heisman Trophy winner in 2009 when he ran for 1,658 yards. His left knee was slow to fully recover from athroscopic surgery last August. There's concern it could be an ongoing trouble spot - though concerns about him aren't nearly as high as they are for Bowers. During the draft process, he's seen his stock fall to the point where it's been speculated he could drop to the second round. The Patriots have been sweet on Ingram for a while. Sweet enough to take him at 17 when they could get him at 28 or even 33? Probably not. Finally, there's Fairley. There is no smoking-gun reason for people to be apprehensive about the massive and athletically gifted wrecking ball. He hasn't been arrested, there are no reports of positive drug tests. But there's a perception he's not a hard-worker and can be immature and irresponsible. He reportedly blew off a dinner with the Miami Dolphins in March. The Titans are a possible landing spot for Fairley at No. 8. ESPN's Paul Kuharsky, the AFC South blogger, spoke to scouts recently about Fairley and asked them if he was as temperamental as Albert Haynesworth. The consensus was that Fairley was nothing like Haynesworth. He was just very, well . . . Southern. Fairley is more happy-go-lucky, hes not Haynesworth, the scout told Kuharsky. Albert played with a huge chip on his shoulder, like everybody was against him. This kid, when he hits the field, yeah, no question hes a competitive son of a gun. But hes not Albert . . .

I think Fairley clearly has a chance to be a special player. Youve got to remember, hes a Southern, Southern kid. Hes a bayou-type kid. The Titans had a guy like defensive end Antwan Odom, who was a bayou kid -- it can be misconstrued as not having a passion. But I dont think thats the case. I think this kid is a fun-loving type of kid whos silly.

Yeah, hes going to make mistakes. Are they going to be glaring or things done on purpose? His mistakes are going to come out of, pardon the expression, ignorance, just not knowing. License registration and stuff like that -- 'Oh, I didnt even know I had to register my car.'

To me, he's as dynamic a defensive lineman as any guy in this draft. And if he's sitting there at 17 - or within hailing distance of 17 - the Patriots should make a move to get him.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Tom Brady will play Friday night vs. Panthers

Tom Brady will play Friday night vs. Panthers

CHARLOTTE - Tom Brady didn't merely fly to Carolina because he likes having his ears pop. 

The Patriots quarterback will indeed play Friday night against the Carolina Panthers. Given Bill Belichick's stated objective of making Jimmy Garoppolo's preparation for the season's first four games a priority, it was uncertain whether Brady would be on the field even though he traveled. But with Brady a late scratch last Thursday against the Bears after gouging his thumb just before kickoff, his chances for game reps before his exile were waning. 

Brady made it very clear this week that he doesn't just want the game reps for tuning up and getting knocked around but because he believes it's his job and responsibility to be out there leading the team, regardless of where he'll be the first four weeks of the year. With him feeling that strongly about playing being important for his preparation and for his standing within the team, it makes sense for Belichick to give him reps. 

It's not known whether Brady or Garoppolo will start or how many series either quarterback will play Friday night. 

Branch reinstated by Patriots after week-long suspension

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Branch reinstated by Patriots after week-long suspension

Alan Branch has been reinstated by the Patriots after the team suspended him prior to last week's preseason game with the Bears, according to Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran. 

When Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked about Branch's absence last week, he replied, "It's a club matter."

What got Branch suspended by the team is still unknown, but he is expected to be a contributing player on the interior of the Patriots defensive line in 2016. He started in 17 games last season, including both playoff games, often lining up alongside fellow defensive tackle Malcom Brown. 

Through training camp the Patriots have also used Terrance Knighton, Vincent Valentine, Anthony Johnson and Joe Vellano on the interior of their defensive front. Branch, however, has consistently been used with the team's first defensive grouping. It's unclear how a week away from the team might impact his spot on the depth chart. 

Field Yates of ESPN was the first to report the news that Branch had been reinstated.

Brady makes trip with Patriots to Carolina

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Brady makes trip with Patriots to Carolina

Tom Brady traveled with the Patriots to Charlotte, N.C., on Thursday, ahead of the third preseason game Friday night against the Carolina Panthers.

Jeff Howe of The Boston Herald was first to report the news. 

There’s no word on if Brady will play. He missed the opener against the Saints and, after cutting his thumb with scissors, missed the second exhibition game last Thursday against the Bears, both at Gillette Stadium.

Brady, of course, will miss the first four games of the regular season serving his NFL-imposed Deflategate suspension.