By Tom E. Curran
NEW ORLEANS - A whole mess of baseball kept me (happily) from reporting to New Orleans for the NFL Owner's Meetings until this morning. Now I'm here at the Motel 6 on the outskirts of Slidell Roosevelt Hotel (a Waldorf Astoria joint) in downtown New Orleans, settling in to hear owners 'splain themselves and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick gum flap on Tuesday for the first time since the Pro Bowl. You can't swing a polo stick without hitting someone of NFL note. Just walking from the front door to get my credentials, I saw Jerry Jones, Ken Whisenhunt, John Elway, Mike Smith and Chan Gailey and Pete Carroll. These meetings are going to be "compressed." Usually, they run into Wednesday when NFL commissioner Roger Goodell brings the curtain down with an address to the media. This week, they are slated to end Tuesday afternoon. The entire labor situation has cast a pall over the atmosphere here. Still, I may be an idiot optimist, but I have sensed a cooling-off in the rhetoric between the owners and players since Goodell fired off his "Dear NFL player" letter. It's as if both sides have shouted their points from the rooftops, name-called and accused and they're all set with that. Troy Vincent, the NFL's VP of Player Development and a finalist for the executive director's job now held by DeMaurice Smith, agreed there's been some creeping civility and genuine interest in dialogue that's emerged.I wouldn't be at all surprised if major progress is not made among the owners this week. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy just told me we'll have some of the NFL's all-star lawyer revue coming out in the next couple of hours (fascinating). There may be a chat with Goodell today as well. Currently, I'm hanging out in a high-back chair outside a ballroom where the owners are trying to catch a word with any of the Patriots' principals. Don't move a muscle, we'll keep you updated.
Tom E. Curran can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran
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
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)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE
TE Charles Clay (knee)
OL Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle)
OL Patrick Lewis (knee)
WR Sammy Watkins (foot)
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)
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.”
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.”