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Patriot Way strikes back: What we learned Wednesday

Just when you thought Robert Kraft was out, they pulled him back in.

The Patriots owner returned to the front lines of the "Deflategate" saga on Wednesday, sounding like a man who had been blindsided by the NFL's decision to uphold Tom Brady's four-game suspension.

Kraft surely thought he'd extended a healthy olive branch to the league office when he announced in May that he would not fight the Patriots' punishment, which included the loss of two draft picks and a fine of $1 million.

The Patriots are still out the picks and cash. And, as of now, they'll remain without their best player for the first four games of the 2015 season.

"I truly believe what I did in May, given the actual evidence of this situation and the league's history on discipline matters, would make it much easier for the league to exonerate Tom Brady," Kraft said during a surprise news conference. "Unfortunately, I was wrong.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick took a less aggressive tact in his Wednesday morning press conference, deferring to Kraft's comments and shutting down reporters who tried to dig into the psych of Patriot Way. Sample interaction:

"People have a lot of questions, you know," said one reporter. "Public, fans."

"You heard what Robert said, it's already been addressed," Belichick replied with maximum BB invective. "Now you gotta go back and look at your notes. It's already been addressed."

Meanwhile, Brady -- who offered his own statement on Facebook -- moved forward in the fight to clear his name. The quarterback and the NFL Players Association officially filed suit against the NFL in Minnesota on Wednesday. The suit asks Minnesota federal court for penalties against Brady to be vacated. U.S. District Judge Richard H. Kyle, however, ordered Thursday that the suit be transferred to the Manhattan court where the league originally filed it's claim asking for Brady's punishment to be confirmed.

Kraft and Belichick are probably done talking about the situation -- for now, anyway -- but this saga is a long way from over. Isn't that great? (No, this is not great.)

Here's what else we learned on Wednesday:

  1. Jerry Jones heaped plenty of praise on Darren McFadden this summer, but Wednesday was Joseph Randle's turn for the hype treatment. "We have a player (in Randle) that has the potential -- and we based that on, not on what he did at Oklahoma State or how we drafted him, but by literally being a teammate around here for the last two years -- but he has the potential to be the kind of back that would step in there and be your No. 1 back."
  1. What's Tim Tebow been up to during his time away from the Eagles? Oh, just working out on a machine that would lead to a double leg amputation for the rest of us.
  1. Eric Berry is a beast. The Chiefs safety -- who returned to practice on Wednesday after eight months away from the team -- said he trained for the new season during his chemotherapy treatment. That's no joke.
  1. John Fox isn't known to give his rookie's immediate roles, and Kevin White will fight an uphill battle if he can't get on the field. The Bears wide receiver will start training camp on the PUP list with a shin injury.
  1. ESPN recently ranked Geno Smith dead last in their quarterback tier rankings. Smith was asked his reaction: "I laughed at it," he said. "It's hilarious. It is."
  1. Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan is just 26 and is coming off a 13.5-sack season. These are the type of guys who get paid. On Wednesday, Kerrigan did.
  1. The Seahawks are dealing with the consequences of having so many good players -- they all want to get paid. Star safety Kam Chancellor is strongly considering a camp holdout. Seattle already has deals with Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner that need to get done.
  1. Gosder Cherilus didn't work out in Indianapolis, but other teams are interested in giving the right tackle another shot. Cherilus is visiting the Bills and Lions this week. If Cherilus is healthy, he can be a value pickup.
  1. We might have seen Stephen Hill for the last time.

*The latest Around The NFL Podcast discusses which coaches are on the hot seat heading into 2015. *

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