Patriots

Expect Patriots to franchise Mankins

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Expect Patriots to franchise Mankins

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

Beginning Thursday, NFL franchises believe they canusetheir franchise tags to keep would-be unrestricted free agents from hitting the open market in 2011. If you've been paying a sliver of attention, you may be wondering what "open market" exists to be hit. The collective bargaining agreement between the players and owners expires at 11:59 p.m. on March 3 when the 2010 "league year" ends. There is no agreement governing the 2011 season. That means no free agency, no trades, no payment, no nothing until a new deal is reached. It means a lockout by the owners. Butwhile the league believes it can start applying franchise tags because their window for using themcomes before the CBA expires, the NFLPA says, "Whaaaa . . . ? How can you restrict a player from becoming a free agent in a league year that doesn't exist?"This is the union's viewpoint on it disseminated last week by my oldnew partner Mike Florio at ProFootballTalk.com. Here's the league's vantage point (our buddy Greg Bedard at The Boston Globe had the first confirmation of tag intentions). What's the pertinence around here? Logan Mankins. After spending 2010 under a restricted free agent tender, the All-Pro left guard still has no long-term deal. Mankins told Karen Guregian of The Boston Herald at the Pro Bowl he believes he's done in New England. The Patriots have no intention of allowing Mankins to go anywhere. Absent getting a long-term deal done, sources have told me they intend to use the franchise tag on him.You're wondering what happens if the players are right and the use of the franchise tag is, for lack of a better word, illegal? Well, where's Mankins going to sign before a new CBA gets done? Nowhere. And - according to sources close to the negotiations - there currently is no battle over whether or not franchise tags will exist when the new CBA is hammered out. They should be available. Here's the scenario. The Patriots apply a tag. The NFLPA takes the league to court and a judge says, "Yeah, can't do that. These guys aren't franchised," there willalmost certainly be a window prior to free agency that allows players to be franchised and kept off the market, even if it's a compressed 24-hour window. I'm told the franchise tag just isn't an important enough issue impacting rank-and-file players for the NFLPA to dig in on.
Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

The Patriots' only healthy QB offers little insight on Brady injury

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The Patriots' only healthy QB offers little insight on Brady injury

FOXBORO -- Brian Hoyer did his best Sgt, Schultz impression Thursday afternoon.

He saw nothing, he knows nothing and, had we asked him, Hoyer probably would have denied even Tom Brady’s existence. The Patriots backup quarterback has been thrust into the spotlight because of the right-hand injury Brady suffered in practice Wednesday. Though Brady appeared at the media access portion of today’s session, the team listed him on the injury report as not having participated. That would mean Hoyer -  as the team’s only healthy signal caller - had to get more reps than usual, right? 

“Define what is usual,” he said. “Since I’ve been here there’s been days where I’ve taken a lot of reps and days where I’ve taken any. I just do what’s asked of me.”

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So, you were asked to do more today?

“You’ll have to check the injury report. I don’t know if they put that on there or not.”

Okay then. This was just the beginning of a question-and-answer session that provided many of the former and almost none of the latter. Hoyer said he “wasn’t there” when the injury happened. When asked if Brady threw any passes today, the normally genial Hoyer paused before saying tersely, “you have to ask somebody else that question. I’m not going to answer that question.”

There were also a couple of “I’m not going to speak for him” or “you have to ask him” responses. Not unexpected given the nature of the queries but also handled better by every player we spoke to today, from Trey Flowers saying he’s not a hand doctor to James White joking the world will never know how Brady was injured to Kyle Van Noy saying of Brady: “He always looks good. He’s handsome”.

What Hoyer did have a good handle on was what he needs to do to be ready if his number does get called Sunday in the AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.  

“I prepare every week like I’m going to play,” he said. “Whether I do or don’t...that’s not really up to me. I did the one thing I can benefit from since I was the backup here - I played a lot of football. I’ve been a starter for three different teams. I know how to prepare as a starter. Whether I’m given those reps or not, each rep I’m not getting I take as a mental rep. I stand back there and I go through and I try to think who I’d go to, who would I’d make the Mike [middle linebacker] on this play. Whether I’m getting the reps or not I’m always preparing to play because you never know when your name is going to be called.”

The Patriots hope it doesn’t come to that. Hell, maybe even Hoyer hopes it doesn’t come to that.

“If I don’t play, that’s good for our team.”

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Brady injury has moved Patriots-Jaguars line 1.5 points

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Brady injury has moved Patriots-Jaguars line 1.5 points

FOXBORO -- You would have to be either supremely confident or supremely behind on current events to place a bet on the Patriots in this weekend's AFC title game. 

Tom Brady suffered a hand injury in Wednesday's practice and he was held out of Thursday's session (for all but the stretching portion), leaving him one final chance to practice on Friday before the Jaguars make their way to Gillette Stadium for a shot at a Super Bowl berth. 

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It's unclear how Brady's hand issue will impact his ability to play on Sunday. The expectation is that he will play, but his effectiveness . . . for now seems somewhat uncertain. And the line has moved as a result. 

The Patriots were once nine-point favorites at Caesars Palace, and they are now favored by 7.5 points. Westgate's line made the same move from Patriots -9 to Patriots -7.5. 

For those who feel as though Brady will be OK as he takes on the league's top-ranked passing defense, this represents a golden opportunity. For everyone else, this is probably a good time to focus your gambling efforts on the NFC Championship Game.