Kraft goes to bat for embattled Panthers owner

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Kraft goes to bat for embattled Panthers owner

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

With Panthers' owner Jerry Richardson taking heat for his conduct in the pre-Super Bowl sitdown between owners and players, Patriots' owner Robert Kraft -- a longtime friend of Richardson's -- hasdefended Richardson to the Rock Hill Herald"Since the Panthers joined the NFL, Jerry Richardson has been one of the league's most influential owners, frequently bridging any gaps among the ownership groups on various issues," said Kraft in a statement published Wednesday. "His unique background as a former NFL player and successful businessman helps form a perfect personality to co-chair the owner's negotiating committee. Anyone who has ever heard Jerry speak at the owners' meetings knows that he has reverent regard for the players in this league."There were plenty who heard Richardson speak to both Peyton Manning and Drew Brees at thatnegotiating session who did not describe Richardson's tone as "reverent."Our Quick Slants buddy Michael Silver from Yahoo! (via ProFootballTalk.com) said Richardson started out with a bad attitude and got worse from there.He was condescending to Peyton, a player who was at the meeting told Silver. "He tried to talk about P&L profit and loss statements and all these other risks that the owners assume, as if Peyton didnt know anything. Drew Brees interrupted and said, All were doing is just asking you to show us your books. We want to negotiate in good faith.Former Patriots Sean Morey, a Marshfield native, tried to bring up concussions and Richardson reportedly shot back, "You guys made so much expletive money -- if you played three years in the NFL, you should own your own expletive team."Silver reported that Kraft, Giants owner John Mara andChiefs owner Clark Hunt apologized to playersduring a break. If Kraft went to Richardson's defense, that's understandable. It's in contrast to the lack of solidarity seen when guys like Antonio Cromartie leans on his favorite pejorativeand someone like Kevin Mawae fires back. But if Kraft is going to be a bridge-builder in this, he needs to be careful to make sure his support of Richardson isn't seen as a defense of what -- if the fleet of reports are true -- is pretty indefensible for a group that should be interested in deal-making.

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.