Blog en Patriots downgrade Julian Edelman, LeGarrette Blount, Kyle Arrington to out vs. Jets <!--paging_filter--><div id="attachment_79011" style="width: 160px" class="wp-caption alignright"><img class="size-full wp-image-79011" src="" alt="Julian Edelman" width="150" height="221" /><p class="wp-caption-text"><a class="r_lapi" href="">Julian Edelman</a></p></div> <p>EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. &#8212; The Patriots have downgraded three players to out for Sunday&#8217;s game against the Jets. <a href="" class="r_lapi">Julian Edelman</a>, LeGarrette Blount and <a class="r_lapi" href="">Kyle Arrington</a> did not make the trip and will not play Sunday.</p> <p>Edelman (concussion/thigh) was listed as questionable Friday and practiced on a limited basis all week, but will miss his first game of the season. Blount (shoulder) was the same as Edelman, practicing all week on a limited basis and being listed as questionable, but he will miss his first game since joining the Patriots a few weeks ago. Arrington (hamstring) left last week&#8217;s game, but spoke during the week and said he felt like he wouldn&#8217;t miss anytime, but he too will miss his first game of the season. He was also limited in practice all week and listed as questionable.</p> <p>It is worth noting on Arrington, he will snap a streak of 83 straight games played.</p> <p>Look for <a class="r_lapi" href="">Danny Amendola</a> to take a lot of Edelman reps, while Jonas Gray, <a class="r_lapi" href="">Shane Vereen</a> and Brandon Bolden should expect more carries without Blount. Defensively, Logan Ryan, Malcolm Butler and possibly Alfonzo Dennard will get the snaps in place of Arrington.</p> <p>For more Patriots news, check out <a href=""></a>.</p> Blog patriots Other Sun, 21 Dec 2014 02:02:22 +0000 823056 at Report: Julian Edelman stays at home, won’t play Sunday vs. Jets <!--paging_filter--><div id="attachment_81255" style="width: 385px" class="wp-caption alignright"><img class="wp-image-81255 size-full" src="" alt="Julian Edelman. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)" width="375" height="523" /><p class="wp-caption-text"><a href="" class="r_lapi">Julian Edelman</a>. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)</p></div> <p>FOXBORO &#8212; After being limited all week in practice with a concussion, the Patriots have decided to let Julian Edelman stay home and watch the team&#8217;s game against the Jets.</p> <p>In a move first reported by Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, the Patriots made the decision to leave for their short trip to New York without their leading receiver in tow.</p> <p>Edelman played the final minutes of last Sunday&#8217;s game against the Dolphins and spoke to reporters after the game, showing no indication of a possible head injury. Edelman&#8217;s name appeared on the injury list as limited with a concussion after Wednesday&#8217;s practice, leading to speculation that he suffered the injury during practice on Wednesday.</p> <p>Edelman, who has also been dealing with a thigh injury for several weeks, was limited in practice on Thursday and Friday before Saturday&#8217;s move by the team.</p> <p>Edelman has 92 catches for 972 yards and four touchdowns. His 92 catches are 16 better than <a href="" class="r_lapi">Rob Gronkowski</a>.</p> <p>With Edelman sidelined, <a href="" class="r_lapi">Danny Amendola</a> figures to step up his role from returning kicks. Brian Tyms could get more reps as well as tight end Tim Wright.</p> Blog patriots Other Sat, 20 Dec 2014 22:20:01 +0000 822641 at Bruins send Joe Morrow to Providence <!--paging_filter--><div id="attachment_49983" style="width: 160px" class="wp-caption alignright"><a href=""><img class="size-full wp-image-49983" src="" alt="Joseph Morrow" width="150" height="230" /></a><p class="wp-caption-text">Joe Morrow</p></div> <p>The Bruins sent defenseman Joe Morrow to Providence Saturday after scratching him for seven of the last eight games.</p> <p>Morrow was recalled by the Bruins in late October to play in place of the struggling Matt Bartkowski. He stayed in the lineup as the Bruins dealt with injuries on the back end, but the B&#8217;€™s began scratching him earlier in the month.</p> <p>The decision to take Morrow out of the lineup was somewhat perplexing given how well the former first-round pick was performing for the B&#8217;€™s, but the Bruins opted to stick with Zach Trotman and, at points, Bartkowksi. Trotman was scratched in Friday night&#8217;€™s loss to the Jets, but Bartkowski took his place rather than Morrow.</p> <p>After being scratched for two of the Bruins&#8217;€™ four games on a West Coast road trip earlier this month, Morrow <a title="Bruins should still make room for Joe Morrow" href="">told he understood there was a chance he could be sent down</a> given that the B&#8217;€™s had so many defensemen.</p> <p>&#8220;It&#8217;€™€™s in the back of your mind; you know it is [a possibility],&#8221;€ Morrow said. &#8220;€œIt is a chess match. You know they&#8217;€™€™ve got to strategically do things to help this organization and to keep it intact. Whatever that may be, I know I&#8217;€™€™m a part of it and I&#8217;€™€™m here to help out, too, so if that&#8217;€™€™s the case that it does work out better that way, you can&#8217;€™€™t be mad or you can&#8217;€™€™t be disappointed about it. It&#8217;€™€™s just the way things are.&#8221;</p> <p>In 15 games for the B&#8217;€™s, Morrow had one goal, no assists and a plus-3 rating in averaging 16:41 of ice time per night.</p> <p>For more Bruins news, visit <a href=""></a>.</p> Blog bruins Other Sat, 20 Dec 2014 18:00:07 +0000 822271 at Danny Ainge chimes in on why he traded Rajon Rondo <!--paging_filter--><p>Here&#8217;€™s the first question Danny Ainge was asked in his press conference prior to Friday&#8217;€™s game: &#8216;€œWhy did you trade <a class="r_lapi" href="">Rajon Rondo</a>?&#8217;€</p> <p>Ainge&#8217;€™s answer was brief: &#8216;€œThere was a definite uncertainty into what may happen this summer. So that was a big factor.&#8217;€</p> <p>That&#8217;€™s all Ainge initially said on trading away his largest asset for what will presumably be a late first-round pick and a few misfit parts. Those few words tell us everything we need to know, though.</p> <p>Ainge believed Rondo was going to bolt in free agency and didn&#8217;€™t want to lose him for nothing, so he traded him. It was the right move, plain and simple.</p> <p>However, uncertainty remained a key word.</p> <p>&#8216;€œWe like the players that we got in the trade,&#8217;€ Ainge expanded. &#8216;€œBut, listen, I think that with [Rondo&#8217;€™s] impending free agency and uncertainty of what may happen this summer, I think that gave us the impetus of wanting to do a deal.&#8217;€</p> <p>Ainge was later asked how long these uncertainties had existed regarding Rondo&#8217;€™s future in Boston.</p> <p>&#8216;€œOh, I think that there&#8217;€™s been uncertainty for a while,&#8217;€ Ainge claimed. &#8216;€œYou know, as to what kind of team we&#8217;€™d be able to put together. We tried this summer to get some significant players in, unsuccessfully, and there&#8217;€™s a price that we won&#8217;€™t go [to], either. [A price] that we won&#8217;€™t pay for any player in order to make that happen this past summer.</p> <p>&#8216;€œAt the same time, there&#8217;€™s been uncertainty as to what [Rondo&#8217;€™s] future would be, and there&#8217;€™s been uncertainty as to how he would return and how he&#8217;€™d come back and play [after tearing his ACL]. Yeah, I think he&#8217;€™s understood that, and I&#8217;€™ve understood that and we&#8217;€™ve talked about it.&#8217;€</p> <p>Despite being a huge contributor to many <a class="r_lapi" href="">Celtics</a>&#8216;€™ teams in the past, Rondo isn&#8217;€™t the type of player that could ever help this team win. So getting something for him while you still can makes perfect sense. <a href="">The only thing I questioned was the timing of Ainge&#8217;€™s move</a>, but that was another idea he addressed.</p> <p>&#8216;€œThe timing and the market was well though through and calculated,&#8217;€ said Ainge. &#8216;€œYou never know what may be available, but I think we had a pretty good feel for the teams that had interest, and consistent interest, over time and we thought all that through: timing and deals.&#8217;€</p> <p>Even though the timing was well thought out, it still isn&#8217;€™t an ideal time to try and trade your point guard away. Many, including myself at times, figured there just wasn&#8217;€™t a trade out there for Rondo that made sense.</p> <p>&#8216;€œRight, well you would expect maybe a one-third of the teams in the league wouldn&#8217;€™t want to acquire a player of Rajon&#8217;€™s stature even when their goal isn&#8217;€™t a championship,&#8217;€ Ainge said of the market for point guards. &#8216;€œI think that the top 10-12 teams with a realistic opportunity to win a championship would be the ones that would be interested in acquiring a player such as Rajon at this time. If you look around [at] the teams, this may have been the only one that didn&#8217;€™t have, that I would classify, a consideration for an All-Star type guard. Every good team has this level of point-guard.&#8217;€</p> <p>Ainge didn&#8217;€™t enjoy letting his star go, but he definitely wasn&#8217;€™t going to make the wrong decision because of that.</p> <p>&#8216;€œIt was hard,&#8217;€ Ainge admitted. &#8216;€œYeah, it was very difficult to move Rajon. I know that it&#8217;€™s business in professional sports, but you really develop a lot of close relationships. And I loved watching Rajon, I loved visiting with him, our one-on-one conversations were fun, entertaining, frustrating sometimes, and always a surprise. I mean, the guy is a very unique person. But watching him grow and watching him develop as a man and as a person and as a basketball player &#8216;€“ I just enjoyed my interactions with him. And so, yeah, it was an emotional time as we met [Thursday] night. It was not an easy thing to do, but I believe it was the right thing to do.&#8217;€</p> <p>On a night where Ainge expressed many uncertainties, one certainly was not pulling the trigger on the deal that sent Rondo to Dallas, we can be sure of that. This was a move Ainge very much felt needed to be made.</p> Blog celtics Other Sat, 20 Dec 2014 06:55:10 +0000 821161 at Red Sox officially send Will Middlebrooks to Padres for Ryan Hanigan <!--paging_filter--><p><div id="attachment_87793" style="width: 160px" class="wp-caption alignright"><a href=""><img src="" alt="Will Middlebrooks" width="150" height="214" class="size-full wp-image-87793" /></a><p class="wp-caption-text"><a href="" class="r_lapi">Will Middlebrooks</a></p></div>The <a href="" class="r_lapi">Red Sox</a> officially announced Friday night that they are sending Will Middlebrooks to San Diego in exchange for Ryan Hanigan.</p> <p>Completion of the deal was contingent on Middlebrooks passing his physical with the Padres. The 26-year-old recently said that he is still recovering from a wrist injury, although he didn&#8217;€™t view the ailment as an issue heading into 2015.</p> <p>&#8216;€œ€œI want to stay in Boston; I want to play in Boston,&#8217;€€ Middlebooks said a few weeks ago at <a href="" class="r_lapi">David Ortiz</a>&#8216;€˜s charity golf event. &#8216;€œI came up here, and I know it&#8217;€™€™s pretty rare for someone to stay in one place their whole career. I understand that. But I&#8217;€™€™m still going to try. I don&#8217;€™€™t really fit the mix right now. It doesn&#8217;€™€™t seem that there&#8217;€™€™s a place for me now. But it&#8217;€™€™s a long time until April and a lot of things can happen.&#8217;€</p> <p>After the Red Sox signed Pablo Sandoval, there wasn&#8217;€™t a full-time spot on the roster for the third baseman. Battling injuries the past two seasons Middlebrooks has batted .213 with 19 homers, 168 strikeouts and a .265 on-base percentage since the start of 2013.</p> <p>&#8216;€œIt&#8217;€™€™s not enjoyable to be replaced,&#8217;€€ he added. &#8216;€œBut like I said, I understand. I&#8217;€™€™m trying to look at the big picture for the organization, but selfishly I say, &#8216;€˜€˜What about me? What&#8217;€™€™s going to happen with me?&#8217;€™€™ I&#8217;€™€™m curious to see what&#8217;€™€™s going to happen.&#8217;€</p> <p>The Red Sox have previously expressed interested in Hanigan (an Andover native), targeting the 34-year-old right-handed hitter to back up Christian Vazquez. Hanigan, who played with Tampa Bay last season after spending his previous seven big league seasons with the Reds, was traded to San Diego earlier this week.</p> <p>Hanigan played in 84 games with the Rays, hitting .218 with five home runs. His career-high in games played came in &#8216;€™12, totaling 112 appearances. He carries a career .256 batting average and .694 OPS.</p> Blog red sox Other Sat, 20 Dec 2014 03:53:48 +0000 820906 at Without Rondo, Celtics Team Effort Traps Timberwolves <!--paging_filter--><div id="attachment_68453" style="width: 160px" class="wp-caption alignright"><img class="size-full wp-image-68453" src="" alt="Jeff Green" width="150" height="210" /><p class="wp-caption-text"><a href="" class="r_lapi">Jeff Green</a></p></div> <p>BOSTON &#8212; In their first game since the trade of <a class="r_lapi" href="">Rajon Rondo</a>, the <a href="" class="r_lapi">Celtics</a> defeated the <a href="" class="r_lapi">Timberwolves</a>, 114-98 (<a href="">box score here</a>) Friday night at TD Garden.</p> <p>While Rondo&#8217;s departure generated a lot of buzz pregame, the Celtics didn&#8217;t allow his absence to affect their play on the court. Separating the two worlds was easy, something <a class="r_lapi" href="">Jeff Green</a> predicted before the game.</p> <p>&#8220;At the end of the day, you got to still go and play basketball,&#8221; Green said. &#8220;Doing something that we love &#8212; its not that hard to go out there and play hard and give it all you got.&#8221;</p> <p>That&#8217;s exactly what the Celtics did. Despite the score being relatively close for the first three quarters, the Celtics controlled the game for the entire night and were able to pull away in fourth quarter. The Timberwolves got 26 points from Shabazz Muhammad and 19 from Chase Budinger, but their efforts were no match for the team effort put forth by Boston.</p> <p>Without Rondo, the Celtics had 29 assists, tying their fourth highest total this season. The crisp ball movement led to a balance attack in which six different players scored in double figures.</p> <p>If there were a standout individual performance, it would have to be Kelly Olynyk. Coming off the bench, Olnynk had an incredibly impressive first half, scoring 14 points in 14 minutes. On the heels of a career-high performance Monday with 30 points in a win over Phillu, he attacked the rim with ease and showed little hesitation when given a open looks beyond the arc. He finished with a team-high 21 points.</p> <p><a class="r_lapi" href="">Evan Turner</a> started in place of Rondo, and along with Phil Pressey and Marcus Smart, did a serviceable job running the offense. The three-headed point guard trio only had six turnovers while combining for 24 points and 10 assists.</p> <p>First overall pick and presumptive Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins struggled to find any sort of rhythm, finishing with only five points on 2-of-10 shooting. &#8220;Maple Jordan&#8221;€ did have a couple of nice blocks, but otherwise was a non-factor.</p> <p>After the game, the Celtics will take their talents to South Beach to prepare for a Sunday night battle against <a class="r_lapi" href="">Dwyane Wade</a>, Chris Bosh, and the 50 or so remaining <a class="r_lapi" href="">Miami Heat</a> fans.</p> Blog celtics Other Sat, 20 Dec 2014 03:44:50 +0000 820836 at 5 things we learned as Bruins get back to not scoring, losing <!--paging_filter--><p>The Bruins got back to not scoring goals Friday.</p> <p>After getting points out of the first two games of their three-game Western Conference road trip, the B&#8217;€™s wrapped it up with a 2-1 loss to the Jets in <a class="r_lapi" href="">Winnipeg</a> (<a href="">box</a>).</p> <p>The loss dropped the B&#8217;€™s to 16-14-3 on the season. Boston continues to look up at the Panthers and Maple Leafs in the Wild Card race as they sit on the outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture.</p> <p>The game marked the ninth time in the last 12 games that Boston has scored less than three goals. They are 3-6-3 in that span.</p> <p>Here are four more things we learned Friday:</p> <p><strong>FIRST IS THE WORST</strong></p> <p>The Bruins had a whale of a first period, spending most of the frame in their own zone and attempting less than half the shots (12) of what <a class="r_lapi" href="">Winnipeg</a> attempted (26).</p> <p>The B&#8217;€™s took a pair of penalties in the period, with Torey Krug sending the puck over the glass in the defensive zone and Dougie Hamilton later hooking <a class="r_lapi" href="">Blake Wheeler</a> following a horrid neutral zone giveaway that created a Jets rush into the Boston zone.</p> <p>All things considered, the Bruins were extremely fortunate to escape the period with just a one-goal deficit to overcome.</p> <p><strong>JULIEN TRIES ERIKSSON WITH KREJCI LATE</strong></p> <p><a class="r_lapi" href="">Claude Julien</a> told reporters in <a href="" class="r_lapi">Winnipeg</a> Friday morning that he was considering giving Loui Eriksson some looks with <a class="r_lapi" href="">David Krejci</a> and <a class="r_lapi" href="">Milan Lucic</a>. He didn&#8217;€™t end up doing that, as he clearly (he&#8217;€™s stated it multiple times now) does not want to break up his third line of Carl Soderberg between <a class="r_lapi" href="">Chris Kelly</a> and Eriksson.</p> <p>For the second straight game since Krejci returned to the lineup, Julien kept Eriksson with the Soderberg line and, for the second straight game since Krejci returned, the Soderberg line scored.</p> <p>With the B&#8217;€™s trailing in the second period, Soderberg skated the puck through the neutral zone and into offensive zone and fed the puck across to Kelly, whose bid yielded a rebound that a trailing Torey Krug tapped in to tie the game. This followed a performance Wednesday in which both Soderberg and Eriksson scored in Minnesota.</p> <p>It wasn&#8217;€™t all good for the trio, however, as they were also on the ice for Dustin Byfuglien&#8217;€™s second-period goal.</p> <p>Julien gave Eriksson a shift with Lucic and Krejci in the final minutes of the game, with <a class="r_lapi" href="">Daniel Paille</a> taking Eriksson&#8217;€™s place on Soderberg&#8217;€™s line</p> <p>Speaking of Eriksson&#8230;</p> <p><strong>B&#8217;€™S CATCH A BREAK ON PENALTIES</strong></p> <p><a class="r_lapi" href="">Milan Lucic</a> appeared to put the B&#8217;€™s in a real bad spot with a hit on Mark Scheifele that left the B&#8217;€™s killing an interference penalty with 8:20 left in a game in which they trailed.</p> <p>Fortunately for the Bruins, the officials bought what looked to be a Loui Eriksson dive on a swinging Andrew Ladd stick just 36 seconds later. The only call on the play was a trip on Ladd, which wiped out Winnipeg&#8217;€™s power play.</p> <p>I&#8217;€™ve said this a million times, but diving happens with every team. Nobody likes it, but it happens. On Friday, it helped the B&#8217;€™s.</p> <p><strong>BARTKOWSKI RETURNS AND IT DOESN&#8217;€™T GO GREAT</strong></p> <p>After being scratched for the previous five games, Matt Bartkowski made his return to the lineup Friday in place of Zach Trotman.</p> <p>Bartkowski&#8217;€™s return moved <a class="r_lapi" href="">Dennis Seidenberg</a> to the right side, with the two being paired together. The Bartkowski-Seidenberg pair was on the ice for both Winnipeg goals through the first two periods, the latter of which came amidst a lengthy stay in the Boston zone in which <a class="r_lapi" href="">Tuukka Rask</a> lost his stick in the final minute of the second period.</p> <p>Joe Morrow, meanwhile, has now been a healthy scratch for seven of the last eight games. Not sure why.</p> Blog bruins Other Sat, 20 Dec 2014 03:36:43 +0000 820826 at Scouting Report: What you have to know about Patriots-Jets <!--paging_filter--><div id="attachment_85556" style="width: 360px" class="wp-caption alignright"><img class="wp-image-85556" src="" alt="Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady combo will provide a test for the Jets Sunday in North Jersey. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)" width="350" height="479" /><p class="wp-caption-text"><a href="" class="r_lapi">Rob Gronkowski</a> and <a href="" class="r_lapi">Tom Brady</a> combo will provide a test for the Jets Sunday in North Jersey. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)</p></div> <p>Here&#8217;s what you have to know when it comes to Sunday&#8217;s Patriots-Jets game at MetLife Stadium:</p> <p><strong>WHEN THE PATRIOTS RUN THE BALL</strong></p> <p>Don&#8217;t expect New England to run the ball that much, as the Jets are still one of the better run defenses in the NFL. New York is fourth in the league when it comes to stopping the run, yielding a stingy 87.5 rushing yards per game. The Jets have allowed more than 100 rushing yards on just five occasions this season, and the Patriots had just 63 when they first met back in October, with <a class="r_lapi" href="">Shane Vereen</a> leading the way with 11 carries for 43 yards. (For what it&#8217;s worth, that was in the relatively brief window following <a class="r_lapi" href="">Stevan Ridley</a>&#8216;s season-ending knee injury against the Bills and the return of LeGarrette Blount from his nine-month odyssey in Western Pennsylvania.) It&#8217;s always dangerous to try and predict what the Patriots are going to do when it comes to utilizing their backs. But given the fact that they settled for less than 100 yards on the ground against the Bills, <a class="r_lapi" href="">Broncos</a>, Lions and Jets (all top 10 run defenses) and came away with wins in all four of those games, it wouldn&#8217;t be a shock to see them run the ball just enough to keep the New York defense honest, but throw to win.</p> <p><strong>WHEN THE PATRIOTS PASS THE BALL</strong></p> <p>Not breaking any major news here, but expect tight end <a class="r_lapi" href="">Rob Gronkowski</a> to be a sizable part of the game plan. His past career numbers against the Jets (in his last four games against Jets, the big fella has 27 catches on 47 targets for 373 yards and four touchdowns), combined with the fact that New York has struggled mightily to contain tight ends over the course of the season (<a href="" target="_blank">Football Outsiders ranks them 32nd when it comes to defending tight ends in the passing game this season</a>), are certainly good enough reasons to think that he will play a major role this week against New York. In the last few games where Gronkowski has been good to go, he&#8217;s seen a lot of 6-foot-1, 210-pound safety Antonio Allen, and while Allen has done a relatively good job against him &#8212; Allen picked off a ball intended for Gronkowski in the first game back for the tight end in 2013, taking it to the house for a pick-six &#8212; he still faces a massive challenge in trying to slow Gronkowski, who is the most unguardable option in the league.</p> <p>If the Jets are going to have a hope of pulling off the upset, they&#8217;ll have to demonstrate an ability to get to Patriots quarterback <a class="r_lapi" href="">Tom Brady</a> on a consistent basis with their pass rush. Given New York&#8217;s ability to pressure the passer over the course of the season &#8212; and the occasional struggles of the New England offensive line &#8212; this is a possibility. The New York pass rush is led by Sheldon Richardson (6.5 sacks) and Muhammad Wilkerson (4.5 sacks). In the first game of the season between the two teams, the Jets were able to sack Brady once (veteran linebacker <a class="r_lapi" href="">David Harris</a> got to him) and hit him seven times, with Wilkerson delivering three of those shots on the quarterback. They need to get to him as fast as possible because, <a href="" target="_blank">as our scout friend noted here</a>, the Jets secondary has struggled throughout the season, and don&#8217;t figure to have much of an answer when it comes to slowing Gronkowski. Look for the tight end to have a particular impact in two areas: that classic seam route down the field is always a favorite against the Jets, while he will also have his usual opportunities in the red zone.</p> <p>(One more thing worth noting &#8212; Vereen has almost always managed to pick up at least one sizable gain in the passing game against the Jets each time there&#8217;s a New York-New England matchup. He had five catches for 71 yards and a pair of touchdowns as a receiver the first time these two teams matched up earlier in the year.)</p> <p><strong>WHEN THE JETS RUN THE BALL</strong></p> <p><a class="r_lapi" href="">Vince Wilfork</a> was really steamed after the October meeting between the two teams, a contest where the Jets rushed for 218 yards, the highest total any team has put on New England this year. &#8220;I&#8217;m very stingy when it comes to the rush defense,&#8221; <a href="" target="_blank">Wilfork said after the game</a>, a 27-25 win for the Patriots. &#8220;That&#8217;s the one thing I&#8217;m disappointed in [the run defense]. We&#8217;ll fix it, we always do and hopefully we can get this thing rolling consistently.&#8221; We&#8217;ll see if that holds come Sunday against a Jets team that still does a pretty good job running the ball. <a class="r_lapi" href="">Chris Ivory</a> (174 carries, 739 yards, 6 touchdowns) and <a class="r_lapi" href="">Chris Johnson</a> (135 carries, 613 yards, one touchdown) lead the way for a running game that&#8217;s second in the league in rushing yards per game (147.1) and total rushing yards (2,060), and is tied for second with the Saints and Chiefs when it comes to yards per carry (4.7). They&#8217;ve had three games this season where they&#8217;ve rushed for more than 200 yards, including 218 the last time they played the Patriots and 277 this past Sunday against the <a class="r_lapi" href="">Titans</a>.</p> <p>Two wrinkles to keep an eye on when New York runs the ball: one, the Jets occasional use of the wildcat &#8212; Johnson had his longest run of the game last week out of a wildcat, a 37-yarded against the Titans. Two, the use of newcomer Percy Harvin in 3rd and short situations, as he&#8217;s a perfect 4-for-4 on converting 3rd and one chances in the running game. Look for him to get the call occasionally if that situation comes up Sunday.</p> <p>In the end, though, the big battle will come up front &#8212; it only makes sense for the Jets to run behind their best run blocker, and that&#8217;s center <a class="r_lapi" href="">Nick Mangold</a>. (We know that the Jets do most of their running up the middle, and that was true in the October matchup between the two teams.) Mangold and Wilfork have had some terrific battles over the years, and Sunday will likely be another clash between two elite performers.</p> <p><strong>WHEN THE JETS PASS THE BALL</strong></p> <p>This is a battle that the Jets want nothing to do with. New York is one of the worst teams in the league when it comes to throwing the ball &#8212; they&#8217;re last in the league in total passing yards (2,365) and passing yards per game (169), and they&#8217;re 31st in completion percentage (56.1) and yards per attempt (5.9). Geno Smith has completed 58 percent of his passes, to go along with 1,957 passing yards, nine touchdowns and 12 interceptions. His first read is usually wide receiver <a class="r_lapi" href="">Eric Decker</a> (62 catches, 720 yards, 4 TDs), who leads the team in every major receiving category. After a semi-decent start, rookie tight end Jace Amaro (35 catches, 311 yards, 2 TDs) has trailed off as of late &#8212; he&#8217;s had just three catches since the start of November, but is still the second-leading pass catcher on the team. Wide receiver Jeremy Kerley (34 catches, 322 yards, 1 TD) and newcomer Percy Harvin (25 catches, 306 yards, 1 TD) have performed well in spurts this season</p> <p>Looking back on that first game between the two teams this year, we&#8217;re still not sure how to explain the level of success that Smith: in one of the finest performances of his career, the young signal-caller was poised and as accurate as he&#8217;s ever been against a good defense in a nationally-televised game on the road. He finished by going 20-for-34 for 226 yards and a touchdown and no picks. (By way of comparison, his passer rating that night &#8212; 88.6 &#8212; was better than the 80.9 posted by <a class="r_lapi" href="">Peyton Manning</a> when the Patriots thumped the <a href="" class="r_lapi">Broncos</a> in November.) But it wasn&#8217;t like he leaned on his run game to help with play-action &#8212; according to Pro Football Focus, he was 1-for-3 for nine yards on six play-action opportunities that night. He was just patient, poised and relatively accurate, relying heavily on his running game and making a handful of good decisions at key moments. Ultimately, it would be a shock if he was able to come close to that level of performance a second time around, considering the fact that the Patriots have become one of the best pass defenses in the league since that October contest.</p> <p><strong>SPECIAL TEAMS</strong></p> <p>The last time these two teams met, it took a blocked field goal from Chris Jones to let New England to ultimately walk away with the win. It won&#8217;t be that dramatic this time around, but given the way they&#8217;ve been performing as of late, it wouldn&#8217;t be a surprise to see New England swing the momentum in their favor with an impactful special teams play somewhere along the way. New England has gotten game-changing plays out of its special teams unit over the last several weeks, including last week&#8217;s blocked field goal by Jamie Collins and a scoop-and-score style touchdown from <a class="r_lapi" href="">Kyle Arrington</a>, as well as the blocked punt the week before against the Chargers by Brandon Bolden. Both Chandler and Chris Jones have blocked field goals this year. And <a class="r_lapi" href="">Danny Amendola</a> had a big kick return to get things jump started in the win over the Lions, while <a class="r_lapi" href="">Julian Edelman</a> is one of nine punt returners with a touchdown, and his 12.3 yards per return is second best in the NFL.</p> <p>On the others side, the Jets are probably more competitive than other teams when it comes to special teams. Newcomer Percy Harvin has given the return game a bit of a kickstart &#8212; he&#8217;s 11th in the league and sixth in the AFC in return average at 24.5 yards per opportunity in kick returns. Jeremy Kerley is the lead when it comes to punt return work, and his 6.8 yards per return in his 18 opportunities is 23rd in the league. Nick Folk hit 15 of his first 16 field goal chances, but has struggled as of late (he missed a 48- and 45-yarder in a loss to the Dolphins earlier this month), and it was recently reported he&#8217;s been suffering from a hip flexor. He&#8217;s 26-for-31 on field goal attempts (83.9 percent tied for 18th). Punter Ryan Quigley is averaging 45.9 yards per opportunity, 14th in the league, but has dropped 21 of his 72 punts inside the 20. (He&#8217;s has one punt blocked this season.) New York&#8217;s coverage units are middle of the pack &#8212; 23rd in average kick return yards allowed (21.9) and 20th in average punt return yards allowed (8.5).</p> <p><strong>THE PATRIOTS ARE IN TROUBLE IF&#8230;</strong> Harvin proves himself to be a difference-maker, either on offense or on special teams. He wasn&#8217;t with the Jets the first time these two teams met, and while he&#8217;s been struggling with an ankle injury over the last few weeks, if he can get healthy for Sunday he has the potential to make things a little dicey for the Patriots. The 5-foot-11, 200-pounder, who is a bit of a gadget guy in that he can be moved around a few spots on the field, has flashed positively on several occasions this year, including an impressive outing against the Chiefs when he had 11 catches for 129 yards and a pair of kick returns for 88 yards. The Jets would love to get him cranked up early.</p> <p><strong>THE JETS ARE IN TROUBLE IF&#8230;</strong> the Patriots are able to get up on them early, control the tempo and take the energy out of the building. This is going to be the <a class="r_lapi" href="">Super Bowl</a> for Gang Green, and the potential emotion between <a class="r_lapi" href="">Rex Ryan</a> coaching his last game in North Jersey with the Jets and the possibility of knocking the Patriots out of the top spot in the AFC playoff picture will mean that there will be an edge in this one. If New England is capable of generating its own energy &#8212; something they&#8217;ve been pretty good at when it comes to road contests this season &#8212; and taking the crowd out of the game, that will be half the battle for the Patriots. If New England gets up early, chances are pretty good it&#8217;ll have little trouble staying in control down the stretch, particularly against a team that&#8217;s struggled to throw the ball. The Patriots have not allowed a touchdown in the second half in each of its last four games. In that stretch, New England has outscored opponents by a 54-6 count in the second half.</p> <p><strong>BY THE NUMBERS (tie): 19 &#8212; Per</strong> STATS, in the 10 games since their 41-14 loss to the Chiefs in Kansas City on Sept. 29, the Patriots have held opponents to 19 points per game, which ranks sixth despite that span including trips to Indianapolis and Green Bay and a home game with Denver &#8211; three of the five highest-scoring teams in the league.</p> <p><strong>59-65 &#8211;</strong> Ryan has been more successful than most when it comes to slowing Brady. According to ESPN Stats &amp; Information, Brady&#8217;€™s completion percentage in games against Jets&#8217; defenses led by Ryan is 59 percent. Against the rest of the league, Brady averages 65 percent. In addition, according to ESPN, in the 94 regular-season games the Patriots have played since the start of 2009 (Ryan&#8217;s first season as head coach of the Jets,) New England has scored at least 14 points 91 times. Two of those times the Patriots failed to hit 14 came against Ryan and the Jets.</p> <p><strong>UNDER THE RADAR STAR:</strong> The Jets may not feel like there&#8217;s a lot of respect for the Jets around <a class="r_lapi" href="">Gillette Stadium</a> (more on that shortly), but you&#8217;d be hard-pressed to find someone in the New England locker room who would dare to speak ill of inside linebacker <a href="" class="r_lapi">David Harris</a>. The relatively quiet veteran has been a steadying presence for New York since he first showed up in 2007. The 30-year-old &#8212; who was praised by <a class="r_lapi" href="">Darrelle Revis</a> earlier this year and <a class="r_lapi" href="">Bill Belichick</a> on Friday &#8212; isn&#8217;t overly flashy, but the 6-foot-2, 250-pounder will finish with more than 100 tackles for the third straight season, to go along with 27.5 career sacks. He&#8217;s started every regular-season game for the Jets since 2009, and while he&#8217;s struggled a bit in coverage, is still considered a good run stopper. Given <a href="" class="r_lapi">Bill Belichick</a>&#8216;s verbal bouquets this week, it wouldn&#8217;t be a surprise if the Patriots were interested in the veteran when he hits free agency this offseason.</p> <p><strong>QUOTE OF NOTE:</strong> &#8220;You can&#8217;t give respect to someone who doesn&#8217;t respect you. If you don&#8217;t give me any respect, I don&#8217;t care what you&#8217;ve got. I&#8217;m coming for you.&#8221; &#8212; <em>Jets receiver Jeremy Kerley, <a href="" target="_blank">speaking with Newsday about a perception that no one in the New England locker room respects the Jets</a></em></p> <p><strong>PREDICTION:</strong><br /> <iframe src="//" width="615" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> Blog patriots Other Sat, 20 Dec 2014 03:18:20 +0000 820831 at Red Sox agree to bring back left-hander Craig Breslow to one-year, $2 million deal <!--paging_filter--><div id="attachment_87889" style="width: 160px" class="wp-caption alignright"><a href=""><img class="size-full wp-image-87889" src="" alt="Craig Breslow" width="150" height="226" /></a><p class="wp-caption-text"><a href="" class="r_lapi">Craig Breslow</a></p></div> <p>According to an industry source, the <a href="" class="r_lapi">Red Sox</a> have reached an agreement with Craig Breslow to bring back the left-hander on a one-year, $2 million deal. The team had declined its one-year, $4 million option on Breslow following the 2014 season, in which Breslow struggled to a 2-4 record with a 5.96 ERA in 60 appearances. That struggle represented a career-worst year for a pitcher who had been one of the most consistent left-handed relievers in baseball for several years prior to that, forging a 2.82 ERA in an average of 65 games a year from 2008-13.</p> <p class="yiv0434039420MsoNormal">&#8216;€œI&#8217;€™ve never before had to play the last game of such a miserable season,&#8217;€ Breslow said on the final day of the season. &#8216;€œThere were a lot of firsts this year. I&#8217;€™ve never struggled like this at any point of my career. I&#8217;€™ve never had a full season that ended up like this, especially one that had significant expectations going on. The best part of this season is that it&#8217;€™s done. &#8216;€¦</p> <p class="yiv0434039420MsoNormal">&#8216;€œI&#8217;€™m not looking for sympathy. I recognize that in my mind, and I think quite pragmatically, 2014 was the complement to 2013. I wouldn&#8217;€™t undo any of that. I would gladly make that sacrifice. As much as this stinks, being able to contribute to a team that won a <a class="r_lapi" href="">World Series</a> is something that guys play for 20 years and never get a chance to do,&#8217;€ he added. &#8216;€œI think it&#8217;€™s kind of like I had the ultimate high of highs last year and the ultimate low of lows last year and in 2015 I&#8217;€™ll go back to being the same guy I was for six of the last seven years.&#8217;€</p> <p class="yiv0434039420MsoNormal">Breslow attended the <a href="" class="r_lapi">Major League Baseball</a> winter meetings to meet with potentially interested teams. On Friday, he narrowed his decision down to the Red Sox and Cubs before making the decision to return to the team that acquired him in a trade with the Diamondbacks at the July 31 deadline in 2012.</p> Blog red sox Other Sat, 20 Dec 2014 02:22:32 +0000 820721 at Bruins postpone hospital visits amidst mumps scare <!--paging_filter--><p>The Bruins announced Friday that they will not visit local hospitals to deliver toys as planned due to the mumps epidemic in the <a href="" class="r_lapi">NHL</a>.</p> <p>The team said in a release that no Bruins players currently have the mumps, but that the Bruins have chosen to &#8220;err on the side of caution&#8221; and eliminate the possibility of exposing pediatric patients to anything.</p> <p>As of Friday, the number of mumps cases in the <a href="" class="r_lapi">NHL</a> had reached 16, with <a href="" class="r_lapi">Penguins</a> star <a href="" class="r_lapi">Sidney Crosby</a> the biggest name to be diagnosed.</p> <p>Following is the Bruins&#8217;€™ release:</p> <p><em>After consultation with local hospitals and medical professionals, the Bruins have postponed their annual toy delivery to local hospitals due to the mumps diagnoses to various NHL players. While there are no known diagnoses of the mumps to Bruins players, and the organization has worked with their medical staff to take every precaution necessary, the team feels that it is best to err on the side of caution and not risk exposure to any pediatric patients.</em></p> <p><em>In continuing the Bruins players&#8217; annual holiday tradition, over $17,000 worth of toys purchased on behalf the players by the Bruins&#8217; wives, girlfriends and B&#8217;s alumni earlier this week at Target in Everett, MA will still be distributed to the local hospitals on Monday, courtesy of Gentle Giant. The Bruins will work with the local hospitals to reschedule the player visits after the Holiday Season.</em></p> Blog bruins Other Sat, 20 Dec 2014 01:52:40 +0000 820626 at Why stopping the Jets on third down means everything to Patriots <!--paging_filter--><div id="attachment_84486" style="width: 385px" class="wp-caption alignright"><img class="wp-image-84486 size-full" src="" alt="Devin McCourty and the Patriots defense must find a way to stop Jets on third down. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)" width="375" height="478" /><p class="wp-caption-text"><a class="r_lapi" href="">Devin McCourty</a> and the <a class="r_lapi" href="">Patriots defense</a> must find a way to stop Jets on third down. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)</p></div> <p>FOXBORO &#8212; Before Chris Jones saved the day with a blocked field goal attempt by Nick Folk on the game&#8217;s last play, <a class="r_lapi" href="">Bill Belichick</a> remembers exactly how the Patriots found themselves in such a precarious position with the lowly Jets on Oct. 16 at <a class="r_lapi" href="">Gillette Stadium</a>.</p> <p>The Patriots allowed Geno Smith and the Jets to convert 9-of-16 third down chances to extend drives.</p> <p>&#8220;Yeah, killed us,&#8221; Belichick recalled Friday morning.</p> <p><a class="r_lapi" href="">Devin McCourty</a> was a bit more expansive.</p> <p>&#8220;Big point [of emphasis],&#8221; McCourty said. &#8220;They dominated third down and that gave the ability to dominate the time of possession and keep our offense off the field, keep them in long drive, help them really be able to pound the ball against us. We&#8217;ve got to play better on third down.</p> <p>&#8220;Every week, we talk about third down and red area being a lot of times the determining factor in a game. I think it&#8217;s no different this week and now, coming up to a game where we&#8217;ve already played them, they were over 50 percent on third. It was evidence in watching that film, that third down really killed us.&#8221;</p> <p>If there&#8217;s one sure way to keep the 3-11 Jets hanging around on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, it&#8217;s allowing them to convert 56 percent of their chances on third down, keeping the <a class="r_lapi" href="">Patriots&#8217; defense</a> on the field for extended period.</p> <p>&#8220;Third down was a big problem for us in that game on both sides of the ball,&#8221; Belichick said. &#8220;It&#8217;€™s been a problem for us with them. We don&#8217;€™t have the ball very long on offense and we&#8217;€™re out there on the field too long on defense. It&#8217;€™s us converting them and it&#8217;€™s us, well, it&#8217;€™s converting them on both sides.&#8221;</p> <p>By contrast, the Patriots converted just 6-of-13 chances (46 percent) on that soggy Thursday night. That night in October, the Jets found a way to convert nine third downs, outrush the Patriots 218-63, outdistance the Patriots in first downs (28-16) and outlast New England in time of possession (40:54-19:06). The Patriots somehow found a way to win.</p> <p>&#8220;It&#8217;€™s us converting them offensively to stay on the field and it&#8217;€™s us converting them defensively to get off the field and get the ball back for our offense and with good field position,&#8221; Belichick added. &#8220;We haven&#8217;€™t made them punt very much. We just have too many, they have too many extended drives and we&#8217;€™ve had too many short ones.&#8221;</p> <p><span id="more-85548"></span></p> <p>McCourty told that he and the secondary won&#8217;t be fooled into cheating up to the line of scrimmage to help with the run game if the Jets get it going early in the game. </p> <p>&#8220;We&#8217;re going into a game like this where we know we have to stop the run,&#8221; McCourty said. &#8220;We also know it&#8217;s not going to be 11 guys on the line of scrimmage to stop the run. We all have different responsibilities. We can&#8217;t let a team that runs the ball well turn into corners looking into the backfield or the free safety being the guy who&#8217;s running forward 10 yards before he realizes the pass because we&#8217;ll just get a bunch of play-action passes. </p> <p>&#8220;The hardest thing for an offense to do is try to drive the field on every possession. You make it easy as a defense if you start coming forward and you give up the 50, the 60-yard throw over your head. Now, the offense on one play has gotten them a big chunk. You never want to make it that easy for an offense. You want to make them drive and have eight, 10, 12 consecutive plays to beat you.&#8221;</p> <p>McCourty has played <a href="" class="r_lapi">Rex Ryan</a>&#8216;s Jets enough and studied enough film to know what he&#8217;s trying to do. </p> <p>&#8220;I don&#8217;t think they lull you to sleep,&#8221; McCourty said. &#8220;I think they just like to run the ball. I think their head coach Rex Ryan running the ball. He believes in that. There are certain teams that like throwing the ball but I think that&#8217;s what he believes in. How effective they are running the ball makes you have to try to stop the run. I think maybe 10 years ago, that&#8217;s how everybody played: run, run, play-action, throw the ball down the field. </p> <p>&#8220;It&#8217;s more the change in the way the game is played now. What they&#8217;re doing is now considered different because they are actually trying to get the running game going first to throw the ball. I don&#8217;t think it&#8217;s like in college when we played Navy or somebody [with the option], I don&#8217;t think it&#8217;s to that point where they&#8217;re trying to catch you off guard with the throws. I think when they&#8217;re in passing situations, they do pass the ball. They want to start off by running and getting yardage. When you&#8217;ve got Ivory and Johnson over there, it&#8217;s a pretty good idea to run the ball and let them pound you.&#8221;</p> Blog patriots Other Sat, 20 Dec 2014 01:02:26 +0000 820556 at Devin McCourty isn’t buying disrespect card played by Jets: ‘There’s no difference between these 2 teams’ <!--paging_filter--><p><!-- Start of Brightcove Player --></p> <div style="display:none"> </div> <p><!--<br /> By use of this code snippet, I agree to the Brightcove Publisher T and C<br /> found at<br /> --></p> <p><script language="JavaScript" type="text/javascript" src=""></script></p> <p><object id="myExperience3953204492001" class="BrightcoveExperience"><param name="bgcolor" value="#FFFFFF" /><param name="width" value="600" /><param name="height" value="360" /><param name="playerID" value="986278206001" /><param name="playerKey" value="AQ~~,AAAAAFqWQUE~,yUWCxg2gZmYrOpGTQhafYN_BmnRJav2Z" /><param name="isVid" value="true" /><param name="isUI" value="true" /><param name="dynamicStreaming" value="true" /><param name="@videoPlayer" value="3953204492001" /></object></p> <p><!--<br /> This script tag will cause the Brightcove Players defined above it to be created as soon<br /> as the line is read by the browser. If you wish to have the player instantiated only after<br /> the rest of the HTML is processed and the page load is complete, remove the line.<br /> --><br /> <script type="text/javascript">brightcove.createExperiences();</script></p> <p><!-- End of Brightcove Player --></p> <p>FOXBORO &#8212; There was a ton of commotion when the reporters were allowed in the Patriots locker room early Friday afternoon. There was <a href="" class="r_lapi">Devin McCourty</a> in the middle of everything, yelling and screaming. </p> <p>He wasn&#8217;t trying to fire his team up about finishing the season strong or warning them about the perils of taking the 3-11 Jets lightly Sunday. </p> <p>No, he was telling everyone within earshot that he leads the fastest group of Patriots on the field. He was willing to race anyone willing, including Jonas Gray, <a href="" class="r_lapi">Matthew Slater</a> or even Aaron Dobson. </p> <p>&#8220;It&#8217;s matters what we run,&#8221; McCourty laughed. &#8220;We&#8217;re onto the Jets. We&#8217;re onto the Jets. You&#8217;re going to get me in trouble.&#8221;</p> <p>Once the yelling the settled down, McCourty was asked about the noise coming from New York that some Jets players like Willie Colon and Jeremy Kerley <a href="" title="Jeremy Kerley says Sunday'€™s game vs. Patriots '€˜is personal'€™ for Jets" target="_blank">feel disrespected by Patriots players</a> and the entire organization. </p> <p>&#8220;It&#8217;d be hard for us to say we don&#8217;t respect a team [when] the last three or four games have been decided three points or so and one of them last year, they won. So, I really don&#8217;t see how that&#8217;s possible. You&#8217;ve got two teams that like playing each other,&#8221; McCourty said. &#8220;You watch the film, you can tell that right away. There was a fight here, scuffle here last year. There&#8217;s no love lost between the two teams but I think there&#8217;s definitely a good amount of respect definitely coming from our side and I think they respect us, too. And I think that&#8217;s why we go out there and we play each other tough and have competitive games. We know how they want to play us, they know how we want to play them and I think that&#8217;s why there are so many good games between the two teams.&#8221;</p> <p>To McCourty&#8217;s point, the last three games have been decided by three or fewer points. In New England&#8217;s 13-10 win in the 2013 home opener, there was a brawl as the Patriots hung on for the win. The Jets got a measure of revenge five weeks later in a 30-27 overtime decision at MetLife Stadium.<br /> <span id="more-85545"></span></p> <p>On Oct. 16 at Gillette, the Patriots were handed their biggest scare during a seven-game win streak when Chris Jones blocked a Nick Folk field goal on the game&#8217;s last play, preserving a 27-25 victory. </p> <p>&#8220;I don&#8217;t care if we were both undefeated or both out of the playoffs, they don&#8217;t want to lose to us and we don&#8217;t want to lose to them,&#8221; McCourty said. &#8220;I feel like it&#8217;s like that every year, twice a year. That&#8217;s just how it is. Neither team wants to lose to the other one. To me, it&#8217;s probably one of the biggest rivalries in football and that&#8217;s how we play, and that&#8217;s how they play. Records go out the window in all division games, especially between these two teams.</p> <p>&#8220;There&#8217;s no surprises that we can do or they can do. Obviously, the game plans aren&#8217;t going to be exactly the same from what we watched on film but we know their personnel so well just like they know us that we know they&#8217;re going to do some things but that&#8217;s why it always comes to sheer execution and outplaying the guy across from you. We know each other well and they&#8217;re playing hard and we&#8217;re playing hard and that&#8217;s what it comes down to. Each year, it&#8217;s come down to a few plays, usually toward the end of the game, who makes one or two more plays has really won the game. I think it&#8217;ll be similar this year. To me, there&#8217;s no difference between these two teams.&#8221;</p> Blog patriots Other Sat, 20 Dec 2014 00:31:11 +0000 820451 at Sources: David Ross agrees to two-year deal with Cubs; Craig Breslow deciding between Red Sox, Chicago <!--paging_filter--><p><div id="attachment_87785" style="width: 160px" class="wp-caption alignright"><a href=""><img src="" alt="David Ross" width="150" height="218" class="size-full wp-image-87785" /></a><p class="wp-caption-text"><a href="" class="r_lapi">David Ross</a></p></div>According to a major league source, <a href="" class="r_lapi">David Ross</a> has agreed to a two-year, $5 million deal with the Cubs.</p> <p>The 37 year old had narrowed his decision down to the <a href="" class="r_lapi">Red Sox</a>, Padres and Cubs prior to Friday. The <a href="" class="r_lapi">Red Sox</a>, however, appear to be on the verge of acquiring Ryan Hanigan from San Diego for third baseman <a href="" class="r_lapi">Will Middlebrooks</a>.</p> <p>With the choice coming down to the Padres and Cubs, Ross made the move to join his former teammate <a href="" class="r_lapi">Jon Lester</a> in Chicago.</p> <p>Ross battled various injuries during his two-year stint with the <a href="" class="r_lapi">Red Sox</a>, including concussions. He played in a combined 86 regular season games with the Sox, thriving during the team&#8217;s 2013 postseason run when the backstop took over starting duties for the final two rounds.</p> <p>Ken Rosenthal of was first to report the agreement.</p> <p>The Cubs and Red Sox seemingly have at least one more free agent showdown, with another major league source suggesting reliever <a href="" class="r_lapi">Craig Breslow</a> has narrowed his decision down to the two teams. The Red Sox declined their $4 million option on the lefty earlier this offseason.</p> Blog red sox Other Fri, 19 Dec 2014 23:15:37 +0000 820346 at Right move to trade Rajon Rondo, but Celtics waited too long <!--paging_filter--><p>Danny Ainge finally decided it was time to send the last standing piece of his 2008 championship roster on its way. It was the right move, there&#8217;s no doubt about it. But couldn&#8217;t it have been done sooner?</p> <p>Ainge&#8217;s Plan A was no secret: Find a star to place next to <a class="r_lapi" href="">Rajon Rondo</a>. This plan began on June 27, 2013 &#8212; the day the <a class="r_lapi" href="">Celtics</a> agreed in principle to send <a class="r_lapi" href="">Paul Pierce</a> and <a class="r_lapi" href="">Kevin Garnett</a> to Brooklyn. Despite Ainge aggressively searching for that star, it just wasn&#8217;t there. When no deal presented itself at last season&#8217;s trade deadline, Boston patiently waited for summer to arrive.</p> <p>By June, it looked like the <a href="" class="r_lapi">Celtics</a> might be rewarded. <a class="r_lapi" href="">Kevin Love</a> did some notable flirting with Boston, and even chatted with Rondo himself at <a class="r_lapi" href="">Fenway Park</a>. Ainge went all-out to bring Love to Boston, and for a while it looked like he could offer Minnesota the best package to pry Love away. As we now know, one thing led to another and Minnesota got an offer it couldn&#8217;t decline. It was almost an unthinkable offer in which the <a class="r_lapi" href="">Timberwolves</a> received back-to-back No. 1 overall picks (Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett) for their star. In ways it was bad luck for the Celtics, but Plan A failed the second Love went to Cleveland.</p> <p>Ainge kept looking for trades but just never found one. Not only was a deal to add a star not out there at the time, there were no foreseeable trades on the horizon for the upcoming (now current) season. Plan B, it&#8217;s now clear, was to trade Rondo. Which begs the question: Why not trade Rondo as soon as Plan A failed?</p> <p>This is the part I don&#8217;t understand. Was Rondo really expected to succeed on the team he was given to lead this season? He&#8217;s not that type of player. In years past, debates have gone as far as to question which point guard you would rather have with players like Rondo against the likes of <a class="r_lapi" href="">Russell Westbrook</a> and <a class="r_lapi" href="">Chris Paul</a>. Those debates are nowhere to be found today. Most of that is to blame on Rondo&#8217;s ACL tear suffered in January 2013. But Rondo has never been the same type of player as other point guards in the league.</p> <p>Rondo&#8217;s uniqueness lies in the fact that his value is controlled by the talent of his teammates &#8212; something we can&#8217;t attribute to any other player. Rondo will thrive in Dallas, mostly because he will be playing with his best surrounding cast since at least 2010. He couldn&#8217;t succeed in Boston because the talent was not there, and for that reason Boston should have moved Rondo as soon as it realized it couldn&#8217;t add the necessary stars that its current star required.</p> <p>Knowing now what Ainge&#8217;s floor was, in terms of a deal he would accept for Rondo, wouldn&#8217;t he have taken a first-round pick in the 15-25 range of this past June&#8217;s draft? Yes, Love still was an option at the time, but the idea of him coming to Boston was fading. Even after the draft, a team like the Rockets had long been rumored to be interested in Rondo. Just a day prior the draft, Houston acquired New Orleans&#8217; 2015 first-round pick in a deal for Omer Asik. That pick figures to be higher than Dallas&#8217; will be in 2016, why not go for that? Obviously, Houston didn&#8217;t want to make a deal using that pick now. But what about five or six months ago?</p> <p>Hindsight is 20/20, but I (like many) was shocked by the low return on Rondo. Boston recieved <a class="r_lapi" href="">Brandan Wright</a>, Jameer Nelson, Jae Crowder and conditional first- and second-round draft picks. But Rondo had to go &#8212; <a href="">Kendrick Perkins has even revealed to Yahoo! Sports that Rondo wanted out of Boston</a>.</p> <p>In the end, Ainge made the right move for the franchise. Why he waited so long I may never understand, but, in fairness, we still don&#8217;t know what the final return on Rondo will be. Wright is a nice player with one of the highest efficiency ratings in the league. Could Wright, Nelson and/or Crowder fetch another draft pick before the trade deadline? Ainge purposely got this deal done more than 60 days before the deadline so that trading players he got in return this season remains an option.</p> <p>Ainge is a smart guy. He often makes gutsy and questionable moves. One of them was taking a gangly point guard who couldn&#8217;t shoot with the No. 21 pick 8 1/2 years ago. Who&#8217;s to say he won&#8217;t experience that success again with the pick he just got from Dallas?</p> Blog celtics Other Fri, 19 Dec 2014 21:33:07 +0000 820236 at Unsportsmanlike Podcast with Jen Royle of ABC’s ‘The Taste’ <!--paging_filter--><div id="attachment_378" style="width: 410px" class="wp-caption alignright"><a href=""><img class="wp-image-378" src="" alt="Jen Royle" width="400" height="299" /></a><p class="wp-caption-text">Jen Royle explains to Jerry what &#8220;The Taste&#8221; is all about. (Jerry Thornton)</p></div> <p>For this week&#8217;s episode of &#8220;Unsportsmanlike&#8221; I have the distinct pleasure of landing the beguiling Jen Royle. The former reporter covering the <a href="" class="r_lapi">Baltimore Ravens</a> and Orioles, the <a href="" class="r_lapi">Red Sox</a>, WEEI and Herald Radio host and cookbook author is nothing less than THE reality TV breakout star of 2014. If you&#8217;re not watching her on ABC&#8217;s &#8220;The Taste&#8221; every Thursday night at 8, you&#8217;re missing out.</p> <p>Jen is a hilariously profane and messy home cook let loose in a kitchen filled with professional chefs. She swears. She loses stuff. She gets into fights with people and cuts herself. In short, she&#8217;s pure Masshole. But so far she&#8217;s done more than survived; she&#8217;s stolen the show.</p> <p>Listen as she gives me the skinny on the behind the scenes, how she got into this and whether or not something is up between her and her French chef mentor.</p> <p>Enjoy and bon apetit.</p> <p><em>@JerryThornton1</em></p> <p><iframe style="border: 0; padding: 0; margin: 0;" src=";height=350" width="500" height="350" frameborder="0" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> Blog general Other Fri, 19 Dec 2014 21:11:16 +0000 820121 at