Belichick: All players must be ready, period

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Belichick: All players must be ready, period

As surprised as you might have been to see Tom Brady look to Shane Vereen for the first play of Sunday's game, Vereen could hardly believe it himself.
The running back didn't know he'd get in until right before kickoff.
No, not at all," he said of receiving fair warning. "They tell us to be ready and thats the one thing I try to do is just be ready when my numbers called."
It was called for the first three snaps of New England's first series. Vereen started with a 10-yard catch, followed it with a 14-yard run, and added another 1-yard run to that.
You get excited," said Vereen. "Anyway I get to help the team, I get excited to do that.
He hasn't had much of a chance.
Before Sunday, Vereen had just six yards total (one rushing, five receiving) to his name. He's played in only four of seven games for the Patriots this year because of a foot injury that lingered from the preseason finale into Week 3. When called to duty on Sunday he ran for 49 yards on eight carries in addition to the 10-yard catch that opened the game.
From 14 offensive snaps on the season to 17 in one night -- that's a decent leap. Head coach Bill Belichick knew Vereen would make it.
"Shane is a good athlete. He's worked hard. He's a smart kid and he had more opportunities yesterday than he's had since the preseason. Like everybody who played yesterday, there are some good things to build on, some things that could have been better, and we'll just keep going forward, keep trying to work on some things and build on them."
Vereen's ability to perform comes from a combination of things, like athleticism and the work put in at practice. Belichick said the coaches approach each player the same way in regard to preparation, no matter what his experience.
If you're put on that football field, you're as ready to go as the next guy. Efficiency is expected.
"It comes down to everybody on our team being ready to go. Period. Just ready to go," he said. "Preparing during the week, getting ready to do their job, then with however many -- whatever opportunities present themselves during the game -- being able to go out there and do it at a quality level. That's what every one of our players prepares for.
"Playing time is not something that a player controls; opportunity isn't something they control. They don't call the plays, they don't know what the defenses are going to be, so those opportunities aren't always 100-percent predictable. The most important thing is the players, every player, is mentally and physically prepared to do their job, to what adjustments have to be made before or after the snap, and go out there and do it."
Vereen can only hope doing that will translate to more opportunities.
He may finally be ready.

Big Papi's Papi was taken by surprise at retirement announcement

Big Papi's Papi was taken by surprise at retirement announcement

BOSTON - David Ortiz may be masterful in the clutch and one of the more charitable athletes in the city, but much like anyone else, Big Papi doesn’t always inform his own Papi of news right away -- even if he plans to announce it to the general public.

“He actually didn’t tell me [that he planned to announce his retirement],” Enrique Ortiz, David’s father, said through a Red Sox’ translator on Saturday before the next-to-last regular-season game. “I was in the Dominican Republic when he announced it in the states.

While Enrique would explain -- humbly -- how proud he was of his son, he’s not so sure announcing his retirement before the season was the correct move.

“If I was [in America], I would have told him not to announce his retirement,” the elder Ortiz explained, “just because there’s so many things that can happen in a season. Or you might have a change of heart after the season.

“If I were here I would have told him to stay neutral so his options were more open. So I wouldn’t have told him to retire.”

Although dad wasn’t on board with his son’s announcement, he’s done what any good parent does -- bite their tongue and let things play out.

“I haven’t told him anything about why he's retiring because I know it’s coming from him and it’s his decision,” Enrique said. “But when I look back to 2013, I remember coming here and I see him with what looks like two cats on his feet. And I’m like ‘What happened to my boy? Did he get into an accident or something?’ And what he told me was, ‘This is how you son is making this money, doing all of this stuff before a game.’ So [him retiring] is not a surprise to me.”

Avery Bradley hopes to take next step on D: Defensive Player of the Year

Avery Bradley hopes to take next step on D: Defensive Player of the Year

WALTHAM, Mass. – Prior to Friday night’s Green and White Scrimmage, Celtics coach Brad Stevens made a point of having Avery Bradley honored for being named to the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team.
 
It was a good feeling and an award that Bradley is extremely proud of accomplishing.
 
But he wants more.
 
First-team All-Defense is nice.
 
Defensive Player of the Year?
 
Even better.
 
Prior to Saturday’s practice, Bradley’s case for being in contention for such a lofty award stems from him consistently being among the better perimeter defenders in the NBA.
 
On most game nights, Bradley is usually assigned whichever guard is the more potent scorer.
 
And in that role, Bradley has been able to establish himself as one of the toughest matchups players will face from a defender, all season.

But as good as Bradley may be as an individual defender, he knows any praise or accolades for what he does has to come with the knowledge that his teammates have also elevated their play defensively, too.
 
“Like I said, it’s hand-in-hand with how you play as an individual and your team success,” Bradley said. “How far we can go this year, hopefully I can show and the rest of my teammates can show how good we are on defense.”
 
One of the reasons Bradley was able to garner enough votes to be named to the league’s First-team defense, is due to the ringing endorsements he received from various players throughout the league.
 
Two of Bradley’s biggest supporters are Portland’s explosive backcourt tandem of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.

After Boston’s 116-109 loss at Portland on March 31, McCollum tweeted out that Avery Bradley was “the best perimeter defender in the league” and added, “I don’t think it’s close.”
 
In Boston’s loss to Portland, Lillard had 14 points on 3-for-16 shooting while McCollum had 17 points on 8-for-19 shooting.
 
“Hopefully the entire NBA can believe that I’m one of the best defenders,” Bradley said.