Curran’s 34 Lines About 17 Topics: Edelman injury in focus

Curran’s 34 Lines About 17 Topics: Edelman injury in focus

This is a march through newsworthy and noteworthy Patriots and NFL-related items. Delivered in two-sentence blasts spawned by the 1993 Nails song “88 Lines About 44 Women.” 

Julian Edelman’s left foot – which was operated on about a month ago so that the area around the implanted screw could be more tightly packed – shouldn’t be a nagging, career-altering problem. It was a peace-of-mind decision by Edelman because he felt a measure of instability planting and cutting.

He is expected to be ready for the start of camp (though I wouldn’t be stunned if he starts camp on the PUP list as many convalescing players do. Missing regular-season time isn’t even in the forecast.

Cause for concern? The 2015 season was hijacked by injuries as the most dominant team in the league devolved into a fatally flawed one. A key player missing OTAs, passing camps and minicamps is less than ideal and we’ve seen it the past two years at the receiver spot with Aaron Dobson and Brandon LaFell never catching up after missing their summer work.

Great check-in with Patriots Olympic rugby aspirant Nate Ebner as he delves into his very personal motivation for taking this shot and what the hardest adjustment is from football to rugby.  Having Ebner unexpectedly open up to me about his father’s murder last fall and being trusted to tell some of that story was one of the things you feel humbled by in my job. 

The shiny, new 2016 rookie models have rolled off the assembly line in the past few weeks and we are all enamored with them and their backstories. The truth is, after minicamp, most of them do a slow fade into regular-season oblivion (with some exceptions of course).

With that in mind, there’s one guy from the 2015 class that got lost in the shuffle last year but will be one I’ll track through the summer. Cornerback Darryl Roberts, a seventh-round pick last year out of Marshall, a 6-0, 182-pound player with an aggressive streak had ridiculous workout numbers (including a 4.38 40 and 39-inch vertical) and - if he’s improved at all – could be a player of consequence.

Scale of 1-to-10, the likelihood of Marshawn Lynch unretiring has to be about an 8. He still hasn’t filed retirement papers and seems interested in extricating himself from Seattle while using the media he doesn’t see the need to speak with to further his mythology. And the mythology surrounding Lynch (who cryptically announced his supposed retirement with a symbolic tweet on Super Bowl Sunday for maximum coverage), is significant. Teammates lobbied management to not have Lynch’s No. 24 issued “for years to come” and the push to call Lynch a Hall of Famer is persistent.

If Lynch is a Hall of Famer before Corey Dillon, that would be testimony to the power of “Beast Mode” propaganda as much as anything done on the field. Dillon ran for 11,241 yards in 10 seasons with 82 rushing touchdowns and just as many Super Bowl rings as Lynch earned. Lynch ran for 9,112 in nine seasons with 79 touchdowns and played on better teams than Dillon who was the entire Bengals offense for much of his first six seasons in the league – actually, there are a few backs who should have just as many people jabbering about them being Canton-worthy as Lynch does. 

The notion of players requesting numbers be taken out of circulation or retired is nice in theory but impractical in the NFL where certain numbers have to be reserved for certain position groups. There are seven Patriots with retired numbers (73: John Hannah, 20: Gino Cappelletti, 89: Bob Dee, 79: Jim Lee Hunt, 57: Steve Nelson, 40: Mike Haynes and 78 Bruce Armstrong) and while the practice hasn’t been halted in Foxboro, it’s going to be damn rare from what I’ve been told.

The Bucs and GM Jason Licht have caught plenty of heat for drafting Florida State kicker Robert Aguayo in the second round. 

Do people actually remember what happened with the kicking game last season as the PAT was moved back to 33 yards and impacted myriad games including the AFC Championship where the best kicker in the NFL pushed an attempt that may have cost the Pats a Super Bowl trip? A second-round pick to increase the chances you won’t be held hostage by a position that is a direct point-producer is a no-brainer if you like the player enough.

(Name this 2-to-6 Boston radio host).

Gronk is on the cover of Madden this year – at least someone can cover him!!!!! Bwaaaahhaaaaahhaaaa. Seriously, though, I don’t like it Mike, I don’t, I DON’T!!!! Where’s his head!! It scares me, Mike, it does!

The Senator was suffering this week from premature evaluation (I am on a ROLL!). Phil Perry has a verrrrry early look at the Patriots 53-man roster and Donald Brown ain’t gonna like it. 

Sen. Phil and I (along with DJ Adam Hart) had a very, very solid podcast this week talking Amendola’s pay cut, Edelman’s foot, arguing whether the Jets are the Patriots main competition in the AFC East still and talking to the evil Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News who gave us 15 minutes of his tortured brilliance. I liked this one.

Two must-clicks from elsewhere that have Patriots links: the sadly funny tale of Reche Caldwell, Public Enemy No. 44,365, written by David Fleming of ESPN, and Bill Belichick’s interview regarding his passion for lacrosse and his foundation which raises money to (along with other things) introduce lacrosse in areas of need.

Finally, I’m taking part in a fundraiser Sunday benefiting Horizons For Homeless Children. It’s a cross-training event at EveryBodyFights in Boston and a number of Boston sports athletes and personalities will be on hand. Check with if you have interest in donating or for more information.

Change to pass-interference rule is WAY overdue

AP Photo

Change to pass-interference rule is WAY overdue

Yes, please, on the proposed adjustment to defensive pass interference. No, thank you on the revised catch rule.

And I know I'm going to have my dreams crushed on both counts.

Despite all the arm-flapping and breath wasted that "NOBODY KNOWS WHAT A CATCH IS ANYMORE!!!!", long-distance pass interference has been a bigger bugaboo for the league for a much longer time.

In 2017, there were 129 pass interference calls longer than 15 yards. The proposed rule change that will be debated at next week's NFL Annual Meeting will make pass interference a 15-yard penalty unless it's egregious and intentional. In those cases, it will continue to be a spot foul

So overdue. For too long offenses have been rewarded by officials on 50-50 balls where DBs and receivers engage in subtle handfighting. It's absolutely illogical to expect middle-aged officials in okay (or worse) shape to keep pace with Gronk-sized receivers and whippet-quick defenders, then make calls on plays 40 yards downfield.

If you're going to throw a flag that gives the offense 40 yards, there should be an extreme degree of certainty accompanies that flag. And too often, the officials are forced to make educated guesses. Next thing you know, Joe Flacco and Rex Grossman are in the Super Bowl.

It's probably the most difficult penalty to call in football, yet it carries the greatest punishment for a defense? What sense does that make? 

I actually think the NFL should go a step beyond and make pass interference reviewable. I'll even make this concession -- it's reviewable only for DPI that puts the ball inside the 10 and is longer than 15 yards. How's that?

"More reviews?!?!? We don't need more reviews?!?!?!"

Okay, but you'll accept them when a dimwit coach argues a spot on a three-yard run that may or may not mean a first down, but not on a play that hands the offense half the field? Come on. Forward thinking.

As for the contention corners are going to begin bludgeoning receivers once they realize they're being beaten deep -- BAM! -- that's where you get the aggravated pass interference (API . . . trademarked 2018) that can be dropped on their heads.

A DB that doesn't turn to face the ball and runs through a receiver? An arm bar all the way downfield preventing a receiver from getting his hands up? A way-too-early arrival? That's API and it's a spot foul. What are the possible negative consequences?

It will now spawn debate as to what's aggravated PI and just garden variety PI. And it asks officials to make another judgment call.

But the truth is, it already is -- in many cases -- a judgment call. And if I were an official reaching for my flag on a Hail Mary from the 43 at the end of the game where there was jostling, I'd sure as hell be happy that I have the option to call garden variety PI and put the ball at the 28 rather than put the ball at the 1.

It's a rule change that makes the game better. That way you don't have calls like this or this. This 55-yarder would be an API (defender hugs Crabtree).

Tellingly, there's no outcry about the need to reform pass interference NOW like there is about the catch rule. You know what needs to happen? A few more plays like this where the Patriots profit. Then you'll see a damn MOVEMENT!


Pro day circuit shows Belichick in his element

Pro day circuit shows Belichick in his element

Bill Belichick is a teacher. His father was a teacher. His mother was a teacher. He is very much their son in that regard. 

The glimpses into Belichick's essence aren't as rare as you might think, but they still generate an inordinate amount of interest because he's arguably the best to ever execute the kind of teaching he's made his life's work.

Every time he takes several minutes to answer a conference call or press conference question thoughtfully, the hundreds of words found in the text of the transcribed answer typically create a stir on Twitter. NFL Films productions that show Belichick operating behind the scenes are devoured. Exclusive interviews, where he shares his insight on individual games and matchups, NFL Films productions that show Belichick operating behind the scenes are devoured. Exclusive interviews, where he shares his insight on individual games and matchups, make every installment of the ‘Do Your Job’ series a must-watch.

Clips of Belichick on the practice field aren't necessarily hard to find, there just aren't many of them considering how many practices he's run over the course of his decades-long career. But thanks to more lax media policies at the college programs he visits for pro days, video of his on-the-field work pops up on a regular basis this time of year. They are mini-clinics dotting the internet. 

This is Belichick in his element. Even in the middle of a random university campus. Even with scouts, coaches and front-office people from around the league watching his every move. Whether he's coaching players one-on-one or three or four at a time, Belichick is imparting his wisdom on eager close-to-blank slates. All the while he's trying to evaluate how they're absorbing what he's giving them. Do they pay attention? How do they process information? Are they error-repeaters? 

It's a fascinating give-and-take between the 60-something coach trying to build a roster and the 20-something players trying to make one, some of whom hadn't yet hit kindergarten when Belichick won his first ring in New England. And he seems to enjoy it. 

Here's a quick look at some of what Belichick has been up to the last few days at Georgia, South Carolina and NC State.