Belichick praises Welker's dependability, durability


Belichick praises Welker's dependability, durability

FOXBORO --Wes Welker had only three receptions on Monday night against the Houston Texans, leaving him five receptions away from his fifth 100-catch season, which would be an NFL record.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick took the time during Friday's press conference to discuss what that potential milestone means.

"That's a lot of catches for a lot of years," said Belichick. "To be able to go out there and do it week after week, against all different coverages and all different match ups that you see, and all that, it's a real credit to Wes' ability, but also his toughness and his durability. He's taken a lot of hits out there.

"Our slot receivers, historically, Troy Brown and Wes, have always caught a lot of balls . . . Welker even returns kicks for us sometimes. And he blocks. He's a tough kid. He's in there on a lot of plays. It's not all catches. He's in the blocking and running game. He had a big block on Ridley's touchdown run last week."

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner


Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.