Patriots

Berman seems to agree with Kessler on 'general awareness'

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Berman seems to agree with Kessler on 'general awareness'

NEW YORK -- Judge Richard Berman seemed to commiserate with NFLPA attorney Jeffrey Kessler during final oral arguments, which are being presented this morning at the Daniel Patrick Moynihan U.S. Courthouse. 

During Kessler's hour-long summation of points where the NFL went astray in investigating and suspending Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, the topic of "general awareness" surfaced again. 

As Kessler stated that, "Player policies say you can't be punished for being 'generally aware,' " Berman nodded vigorously. Berman then asked, "Can Mr. Brady be fined under the equipment policy?"

Kessler answered, "Yes, but the 'generally aware' problem trumps that." 

Berman replied, "I read that and find that the 'general awareness' doesn't relate to the Jan. 18 game," to which Kessler said, "Outstanding observation."

Kessler was strident and animated during his oral argument. When Berman asked the question of whether the NFL's 2014 player-conduct policy provided notice that a player is supposed to cooperate with an investigation, Kessler said that that was for off-field issues related to domestic violence or arrests. 

Kessler went as far Wednesday as delving into the Wells report and the PSI findings turned in by the firm Exponent. Passing out a hand-out, Kessler said, "I call this hand-out 'Angels Dancing on the Head of a Pin.' " 

He went on to say that Exponent's testimony in the Wells report showed that the NFL is alleging, "Mr. McNally went into the bathroom to lower PSI one or two tenths."

Kessler said, "That's like being pulled over for going one or two miles over the speed limit and the officer saying he concluded that by counting, 'One-Mississippi, two Mississippi . . .' "

Berman also seemed to agree that the NFL withholding NFL council Jeff Pash from being questioned during Brady's appeal hearing in June was significant.

In concluding, Kessler said to Berman that, "Last week you asked, 'Where was the 'gate' in Deflategate?' I hope that the gate leads to a fair result . . . All we can ask for is that the NFL plays by the rules."

NFL attorney Daniel Nash followed Kessler at the podium, and while Berman said he could take just as long as Kessler, Nash said he likely wouldn't need it because this is not the time to fight the details. 
 
Nash alleged that Kessler's final argument proves the NFL's point, that the NFLPA is trying to re-open the investigation with Berman as the arbitrator. 

 
As of 11:10 a.m., Nash's arguments were still ongoing. 

Patriots confirm coaching changes, front office promotions for 2020 season

Patriots confirm coaching changes, front office promotions for 2020 season

The puzzle pieces of the New England Patriots' coaching staff and front office have fallen into place.

The Patriots saw turnover in both departments this offseason, as longtime offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia retired while director of college scouting Monti Ossenfort joined the Houston Texans as their director of player personnel.

The club also welcomed some new faces, including former Los Angeles Rams offensive assistant Jedd Fisch (the team's new quarterbacks coach) and ex-Cleveland Browns executive Eliot Wolf.

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So, how have the coaching staff and front office changed since last season? The Patriots have unveiled their 2020 media guide, which confirmed the new roles of several staffers.

Here's a rundown of the notable changes:

- Troy Brown officially is on staff as a running backs and kick returners coach. The former Patriots wide receiver will work with head running backs coach Ivan Fears and special teams assistant Joe Houston.

- Director of pro scouting Dave Ziegler has been promoted to assistant director of player personnel, reporting to director of player personnel Nick Caserio. He'll essentially fill Ossenfort's former role.

- Tyler Hughes, who reportedly joined the team in June, is listed as an "offensive assistant." Hughes most recently was the head coach at Bountiful (Utah) High School.

- Vinnie Sunseri joins the Patriots as a defensive assistant after spending the 2019 season as a graduate assistant for Nick Saban at Alabama. Sunseri had a brief stint in New England as a player during 2016 training camp.

- Wolf's official title is "scouting consultant." He served as Cleveland's assistant general manager in 2018 and 2019 after 14 seasons with the Green Bay Packers.

The Patriots go through personnel changes every year, but 2020 presents a unique challenge: Not only has COVID-19 prevented staff members from meeting in-person, but the club has lost a lengthy list of core veterans to free agency (Tom Brady, Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, etc.) and opt-outs (Dont'a Hightower, Patrick Chung, Marcus Cannon, etc.) this offseason.

Head coach Bill Belichick isn't one to make excuses, though, so expect his staff to be hard at work this week as the Patriots begin on-field training camp work at Gillette Stadium.

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NFL opt outs: Complete list of players who won't play in 2020 season

NFL opt outs: Complete list of players who won't play in 2020 season

NFL training camps officially began Tuesday, but there were some notable absences.

Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif became the first NFL player to opt out of the 2020 season last Friday, citing health concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Since then, multiple players have followed suit, continuing a trend across all major North American professional sports of players declining to participate in their seasons as COVID-19 persists in the United States.

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The Patriots especially have felt the impact of this trend: Six New England players -- including star linebacker Dont'a Hightower -- already have opted out, the most of any NFL team.

Below is a running list of the players who have opted out of the 2020 NFL season, according to reports or team/player confirmations. The list is sorted alphabetically after the Patriots, with the date of the players' opt-outs in parentheses.

New England Patriots

RB Brandon Bolden (July 28)
OT Marcus Cannon (July 28)
S Patrick Chung (July 28)
LB Dont'a Hightower (July 28)
WR Marqise Lee (August 1)
OG Najee Toran (July 27)
FB Danny Vitale (July 27)
TE Matt LaCosse (August 2)

Baltimore Ravens

OT Andre Smith (July 28)
WR/KR De'Anthony Thomas (July 27)

Buffalo Bills

CB E.J. Gaines (August 2)
DT Star Lotulelei (July 28)

Carolina Panthers

LB Jordan Mack (July 28)
LB Christian Miller (August 3)

Chicago Bears

DT Eddie Goldman (July 28)
S Jordan Lucas (August 3)

Cincinnati Bengals

OT Isaiah Prince (July 31)
DT Josh Tupou (July 31)

Cleveland Browns

DT Andrew Billings (August 4)
OL Drake Dorbeck (July 29)
OL Drew Forbes (July 29)

Dallas Cowboys

CB Maurice Canady (July 27)
WR Stephen Guidry (July 28)
FB Jamize Olawale (Aug. 2)

Denver Broncos

OT JaWuan James (Aug. 3)
DT Kyle Peko (July 28)

Detroit Lions

DT John Atkins (July 29)
WR Geronimo Allison (Aug. 2)

Green Bay Packers

WR Devin Funchess (July 28)

Houston Texans

DT Eddie Vanderdoes (July 28)

Jacksonville Jaguars

EDGE Larentee McCray (August 1)
DL Al Woods (July 31)

Kansas City Chiefs

OG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (July 24)
RB Damien Williams (July 29)

Las Vegas Raiders

CB D.J. Killings (August 3)
DE Jeremiah Valoaga (August 3)

Los Angeles Rams

OT Chandler Brewer (July 31)

Miami Dolphins

WR Allen Hurns (August 4)

Minnesota Vikings

NT Michael Pierce (July 28)

New Orleans Saints

TE Jason Vander Laan (July 28)
TE Cole Wick (July 28)

New York Giants

WR Da'Mari Scott (August 2)
LT Nate Solder (July 29)

New York Jets

OL Leo Koloamatangi (July 28)
LB CJ Mosley (August 1)

Philadelphia Eagles

WR Marquise Goodwin (July 28)

Seattle Seahawks

OG Chance Warmack (July 27)

Tennessee Titans

OL Anthony McKinney (July 28)

Washington Football Team

DT Caleb Brantley (July 27)
LB Josh Harvey-Clemons (August 3)

Free Agents

G Larry Warford (July 28)