Another day of perfect attendance at Pats practice

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Another day of perfect attendance at Pats practice

FOXBORO -- Friday marked yet another day of perfect practice attendance in New England.
The timing of such good health, two days before Houston rolls in for the Divisional Playoff, is excellent.
Do note that 20 players have been listed as "limited" on the Wednesday and Thursday injury reports. Some will sit for Sunday's postseason game as all seven inactives won't likely be healthy scratches.
Thursday's participation:
LIMITED: S Patrick Chung (shoulderhamstring), CB Marquice Cole (finger), G Dan Connolly (back), CB Alfonzo Dennard (hamstringknee), DB Nate Ebner (hamstring), TE Rob Gronkowski (forearmhip), TE Aaron Hernandez (ankle), LB Dont'a Hightower (hamstring), DE Chandler Jones (ankle), WR Brandon Lloyd (knee), G Logan Mankins (anklecalf), LB Jerod Mayo (elbow), OL Nick McDonald (shoulder), DE Rob Ninkovich (hip), LB Mike Rivera (ankle), DE Trevor Scott (knee), LB Brandon Spikes (knee), CB Aqib Talib (hip), WR Wes Welker (ankle), LB Tracy White (elbow).
Look for Friday's full report in the early evening.

Potential is there, now how quickly will Jaylen Brown reach it?

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Potential is there, now how quickly will Jaylen Brown reach it?

Every weekday until Sept. 7, we'll take a look at each player at the Celtics roster: Their strengths and their weaknesses, their ceiling and their floor. We continue today with Tyler Zeller. For a look at the other profiles, click here.

BOSTON –  When it comes to high NBA draft picks, there’s always a certain roll-of-the-dice dynamic in play, regardless of how impressive their credentials were in making them one of the first players selected.

Among this year’s incoming rookie class, Celtics forward Jaylen Brown is indeed one of the many men of mystery whose professional basketball career officially starts in a few months.

Drafted third overall, the 6-foot-7 Brown wasn’t exactly greeted with the warmest reception by Celtics Nation, many of whom wanted Boston to draft Providence College star Kris Dunn (he was the fifth overall pick, to Minnesota) or package the No. 3 pick with other assets to acquire a superstar-caliber player like Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, Utah’s Gordon Hayward or one of the Philadelphia big men, Jahlil Okafor or Massachusetts native Nerlens Noel.

But as Celtics fans witnessed when he was among the biggest stars on Boston’s summer league entry in Salt Lake City, as well as Las Vegas, Brown is indeed a player with tremendous potential that could be realized as soon as this season.  

The ceiling for Brown: All-Rookie honors

Brown’s most likely starting point as a pro will be serving as a backup to Jae Crowder, the unofficial Swiss Army knife of the Celtics roster. As we saw last season in Crowder’s first as a regular NBA starter, he can play a lot of positions on the floor and be effective.

Brown isn’t close to being as versatile as Crowder, but he does provide versatility at the wing position due to his above-average length and a level of athleticism that stands out among his fellow rookies.

Depending on what Brown does with his minutes at the start of the season – and he will play early on – he could parlay his on-court time into extended minutes, which would give him a shot at being one of the top rookies this season.

Brown isn’t going to put up the big-time numbers that Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons and Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram, the No. 1 and 2 picks, will register. Still, unlike those two players, Brown will be fighting for playing time on a legitimate playoff contender.

Both the Sixers and Lakers are poised to once again be among the worst teams in the NBA.

That means Browns’ success can’t be based on statistics, but instead it has to be about impact. We saw glimpses of that in the summer when he showed off his ability to attack the rim and draw contact, which resulted in him taking more than 10 free throws per game.

No one is expecting Brown to be that proficient at getting fouls called for him, especially when you consider only two players in the NBA last season – Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins and Houston’s James Harden – averaged 10 or more free throws per game.

But Brown’s aggressive style on offense, coupled with above-average athleticism and length defensively, will bode well for his chances of being more than just a solid rookie for Boston.

Brown has the potential to make a noticeable impact, the kind that would most likely land him a spot on one of the NBA’s All-Rookie teams and move him a step closer towards being one of the NBA’s better players – a goal he has set for himself.

The floor for Brown: Active roster

If Brown struggles offensively and doesn’t adjust defensively as quick as coach Brad Stevens wants, Brown could find himself on the bench racking up a few DNP-CDs (did not play-coaches decision) this season.

Still, even if that happens, the Celtics will not let him spend too much time at the end of the bench and certainly wouldn’t look to have him on the bench in street clothes as a healthy scratch. They would just as soon send him to play or practice with the team’s Development League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws.

While the rumors swirled on draft night that Boston was indeed planning to make a blockbuster-type move that would have involved the No. 3 pick, you won’t hear anyone in the front office complaining about drafting Brown.

They love his competitiveness, his drive to steadily improve as a player as well as his athleticism, which sets him apart from most of his Celtics teammates.

But only time will tell just how quickly the faster-paced NBA game will come to Brown. He’s a player the Celtics – for now at least – have every intention of including as part of their core group going forward.

Brady says he hopes to play Thursday night vs. Giants

Brady says he hopes to play Thursday night vs. Giants

FOXBORO -- All last week, leading up to the preseason game between the Patriots and the Panthers, sports talk radio (and television) debate raged: Should Tom Brady play? 

On one side of the argument were those who believed Jimmy Garoppolo should receive every last game rep as he prepares to be the starter for the first four weeks of the regular season. On the other side were those who believed Brady needed work at some point between New England's AFC title game loss to the Broncos and this season's Week 5 matchup with the Browns. 

Now we know how Bill Belichick and the Patriots felt: Brady played four series, completing three of his nine attempts, including one 33-yard touchdown to Chris Hogan.

But now, one week later, the debate may resurface. Brady has taken preseason game snaps. That can be checked off of the to-do list. Should he play again, though? If the goal is to keep him as sharp as possible for Cleveland, should he see time against the Giants?

He hopes to. 

"I mean, [it's] always up to coach Belichick," Brady said during a press conference on Tuesday. "I wish I'd play every game. I love playing. I love playing in practice. I love playing in preseason games, regular season games, postseason games. I love thinking about football. It's just the way it is. That part, I think, would be very challenging watching those games in September, but I'll find ways to preoccupy my mind."

Brady alluded to the fact that he had to make the most of every repetition he has with the team before his four-game ban kicks in. Whether those repetitions come in practice -- Tuesday's practice will be his last with the Patriots -- or on Thursday night, they all carry importance in his eyes.

"I've got a good day of practice [Tuesday]," Brady said. "I've tried to look at all these days of practice as ways to get better. I have access to the fields, and throwing to my receivers. [I] try to use those days the best that I can, just like I always would. I got another, hopefully, opportunity to play on Thursday night, be with the team Friday, and then try to do the best that I can over the next month."

If the team decides that it is within its best interest to play Brady against the Giants, the question would then become when? Because the fourth preseason game is typically a last chance for fringe players to make their cases for roster spots, if Brady were to play late in the game, he may be playing behind players who might not be on the team soon thereafter. If he starts, it takes away an opportunity for either Garoppolo or Jacoby Brissett to make a start on the road and work against what will likely be more talented defensive players. 

It may be a difficult call, something that Belichick alluded to earlier this week. 

"I’m sure," Belichick said, "you could bring up a lot of ‘If we did this, if we did that,’ those would all be good, and they would be, and we do that in the staff meeting. ‘We’d like to do this, we’d like to do that,’ OK, but what’s most important? What is at the top of the list? Or, how can we maybe do two or three things if we do take a certain approach? So, that’s what we try to figure out, so we’ll see."

Brady on Garoppolo: ‘I love being with Jimmy’

Brady on Garoppolo: ‘I love being with Jimmy’

FOXBORO – Tom Brady offered strong support of Jimmy Garoppolo on Tuesday. In probably his last press conference until after his four-game Deflategate suspension, Brady was asked if his relationship with his backup is at all similar to Brady’s relationship to Drew Bledsoe back in 2000 and 2001, which Brady said was very much a mentoring atmosphere.

“I have no idea. We’re totally on different ends of the spectrum,” said Brady, referring to Garoppolo. “I love being with Jimmy. I’ve enjoyed every day that we’ve spent with him. I wish him the very best, obviously. For our team. For [him]. When you see people that it means a lot to, you always want them to succeed as well. It will be tough to watch but I will be excited to watch and excited to learn. And hopefully when I come back in October I’ll be a better player than I am today.”

The Brady-Garoppolo dynamic has deserved close observation in recent weeks because it gives fascinating insight into how the greatest quarterback of his generation deals with his own football mortality.

The four-game sabbatical is temporary. But Brady’s distress last week after missing the Bears game, saying he “only had so many games left” to play, his discomfort with not being able to physically lead the team that day and the unbridled practice intensity he’s shown (25-for-25 on a Friday in an intrasquad scrimmage), plus his apparent impatience to get into the damn game last week against Carolina all combined to show just how hard this is for Brady.

It’s not necessarily even about Garoppolo. It’s about someone other than Brady squatting in Brady’s huddle and leading his offense. So it was good that Brady articulated his support of Garoppolo both as a person and as a player.

Brady can be both beside himself about Garoppolo playing quarterback instead of him and still like the kid and hope for the best. Ignoring the former with “all is well” blinders on is missing out an opportunity to observe the mindset of one of the NFL’s all-time greatest players and what exactly made him great.