Belichick begins Titans assessment

Belichick begins Titans assessment

By Tom E. CurranLet's be honest, the Patriots haven't played anything that approaches the status of a "real" game since Tampa. Andeven that pales in comparison to what they'll do Sunday against the Titans with a fully-developed game plan. Theroster conversation is a little stale,what they'll do, who they'll sign, whether Brian Waters is taking a nap or watching infomercials - it's all just conjecture. We need a game. Badly.And that wasaudible Tuesday as Bill Belichick conducted his conference call with media. News-wise, the only thing kicking is whether the Patriots will puta player on theIR that they can re-activate later in the year. I wondered if tight end Visanthe Shiancoe might be headed there. He's been down for most of camp and, although he's been seen walking through the locker room with a wrap on his lower leg, he seems a candidate. Belichick was having none of that conversation, proclaiming Shiancoe"day-to-day" and saying he wouldalert the press ifwhen anyone gets moved onto IR. A few quick notes from his conference call: ON CHRIS PALMER, TITANS OFFENSIVE COORDINATORBB: Chris and I were together in 96 and I actually worked quite a bit with Chris that year because I was coaching the secondary and he was coaching the quarterbacks. In a lot of the passing drills and so forth we worked with each other, setting things up and just on opposite sides of the ball, especially through training camp and some of the individual drills there during the season. Chris has a real good grasp of the passing game as well as overall offensively. They definitely have elements of the four wide receiver run and shoot type of offense in their system. With Jared Cook as the tight end, hes really flexed out a lot, playing like a wide receiver in that type of offense, although they have versatility with him because he doesnt have to be flexed out. He can be in the backfield protection or on the line in his normal tight end position. They have a good scheme, they definitely try to take advantage of where the defense is weak and they do that by trying to read the coverage pre-snap but also having the receivers adjust their routes after the snap based on what defense youre in. Theyre always attacking your weakness defensively so that will be a big challenge for us to be able to make sure that whatever coverage were in, we know theyre going to the softer spots in the coverage that were able to keep those things tightened up. Chris is a smart guy and he does a real good job offensively and with the passing game and developing young quarterbacks, I might add. ON TITANS RUNNING BACK CHRIS JOHNSONBB: His production speaks for itself. Hes really an outstanding player with the ball in his hands in the passing game, in the running game, inside runs, outside runs, draws, screens. Everybody is at the point of attack because he has the speed to start one way and go the other to get back to the cutback backside of the defense or bounce out in either direction. Really everybody is at the point of attack when he has the ball. Its a big challenge for our defense. Hes very dangerous. Hes had like four touchdowns over 75 yards, something like that. Whenever he gets the ball anywhere on the field, hes just one play away from the end zone. Everybody has to be ready and do their job and make sure that no matter where he hits it, we have to defend it because he can attack anywhere on the field. ON TITANS SAFETY MICHAEL GRIFFINBB: Griffin is one of the better safeties in the league; has been very consistent back there and dependable. Hes very athletic for a safety, runs well, has good quickness, can match up in man-coverage, has range and can cover a lot of ground in the deep part of the field in zone coverage. Hes smart, he anticipates things well: route combinations and things like that. Hes been used both in the deep part of the field as a free safety and then this year theyve played him more in the strong safety type position, but again, sometimes hes back, sometimes hes close to the line hell do both and has done both from either spot. You never know exactly where hes going to be but hes one of those versatile guys that can play well away from the line of scrimmage and play well close to the line in terms of run support, matching tight ends in coverage and then reading the quarterback on the underneath combination routes and zone coverage and so forth. Hes a very good player, versatile player and hes done it now for awhile. Hes experienced but is still a fairly young guy. Hes kind of right there at the prime of his career.

Bradley, Green and Jackson to miss Celtics' game Tuesday against Wizards

Bradley, Green and Jackson to miss Celtics' game Tuesday against Wizards

WALTHAM -- The team flight to Washington for tomorrow night's game against the Wizards will be a little lighter than the Celtics would like. 
 
Boston continues to be cautious with Avery Bradley and his right Achilles strain injury. Coach Brad Stevens confirmed that the 6-foot-2 guard won't travel and will sit out for the seventh time in the last eight games. 

Stevens added he didn't anticipate Bradley returning to the court anytime this week, which means he's likely not to return until next week's game against Detroit on Jan. 30. 
 
Bradley won’t be the only Celtic not making the trip for health-related reasons. Gerald Green and Demetrius Jackson are both not traveling due to sickness. 
 
However, the Celtics did get a bit of good news on the health front. Jonas Jerebko and Tyler Zeller, both having missed games with sickness, will take the trip to D.C. with the rest of their teammates.

Super Bowl appearances aren't old hat to all the Patriots

Super Bowl appearances aren't old hat to all the Patriots

FOXBORO -- It’s old hat to plenty of the Patriot, but certainly not all of them. A whole lot of players who joined the team since 2015 haven’t been to a Super Bowl. That says an awful lot about the personnel department headed by Nick Caserio with Dave Ziegler heading up pro personnel and Monti Ossenfort doing college personnel. 

Two of them -- cornerback Eric Rowe and linebacker Kyle Van Noy -- figured in the two Steelers turnovers in Sunday night’s AFC Championship Game. Both joined the team via in-season trades. 

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So in the afterglow of the Patriots postgame locker room, we asked a few of them what their emotions were upon realizing they were going to the Super Bowl

Eric Rowe (acquired via trade with Eagles, September 6): "It’s been a long road. Everyone has their own journey and how they got here but just for me, it’s been a long road. During OTAs and training camp down in Philadelphia, it was frustrating. I didn’t understand why I was sliding down the depth chart but I just kept my head down and kept working and once I got traded here I had to learn a whole new culture and defense and then I got hurt. Through those ups and downs it’s been all worth it. My parents, my girlfriend, my agent, all through training camp with the Eagles kept telling me, ‘Just keep your head up, there’s always something greater on the other side. Don’t stop working, keep working because you never know when you’ll get your chance and, ‘Boom’ I got traded so that was the way around that obstacle. And now I know what’s on the other side. 

Kyle Van Noy (acquired via trade with Lions, October 26): “I took a lot of heat [in Detroit]. I wasn’t living up to what I was capable of doing, even for myself. I had high expectations and I just wasn’t fitting in right away and it was great to get a fresh start and I’m really blessed to have them trust in me to come in and contribute. I don’t know if you ever get comfortable here. You better learn or they’re gonna pass up on you. I’m just grateful for the opportunity. Eric and I are holding it down for the Utah schools (Rowe went to Utah; Van Noy to BYU). We’re here to represent. It hasn’t sunk in yet. I am truly blessed and the man upstairs is looking out.”

Chris Long (signed in March as free agent): "I honestly didn't know they did the confetti thing after. Because I'm usually at the bar with these games are going on. And maybe it's a little later at night. I've turned it off. I didn't know they did the confetti thing after the AFC Championship. That was a real plus . . . because I love confetti. There's no bad situation where there's confetti. I can't think of one. I certainly feel like I’m in the right place at the right time. I’m on a helluva football team and lucky to be a part of it and we’ve earned the right for one more opportunity. It means something different to everybody. We come from different backgrounds, we come from different teams but we’ve all earned this together. It’s a melting pot in that way."

David Andrews (signed as undrafted free agent, 2015) whose great uncle is former Atlanta coach Dan Reeves: "When the Falcons went [in 1998], my parents couldn't take me, but they went." (Is he still sore about that?) "Not anymore. Not at this moment."

Joe Thuney (drafted in third round in May): "It's just a great opportunity. You've got people like Marty [Bennett] and Chris Long that have played so long and just don't get the opportunity. You just got to take advantage of it, and soak upevery minute, and just prepare as best you can, I think. Just go out there and do the best you can."

Malcolm Mitchell (drafted in fourth round in May): "I have no idea [what to expect]. I'm pretty sure I'll be debriefed. And guys will tell me everything I need to know walking into it."

Jabaal Sheard (signed as free agent, 2015): “Great feeling. Unreal. Just an awesome feeling. We gotta get this ring, man and go finish this thing off. It’s exciting, obviously. I’ve heard the stories from the guys who’ve been here. It’s huge. We have to go out there and take care of business.” 

Phil Perry contributed to this report.