Brady hopes to close first half on a high note

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Brady hopes to close first half on a high note

FOXBORO - The Patriots' all-expense paid trip to London begins Thursday night when their overseas flight departs. Can they forge a little midseason ubuntu over there and come back repurposed for the second half of the season? 
"Yeah, I think you're together for extended periods of time, which is always fun," Tom Brady agreed when asked if the trip east to play the Rams gives a chance to foster chemistry. "People are away from all their other commitments, certainly. At a home game, there are a lot of commitments that different players have, so when you go away, sometimes its really nice for the players to get some rest, to get some extra preparation, that extra time with your coaches. On this particular trip, we have more time than that."
Brady expressed surprise when told Wednesday that he was on the docket for an NFL Experience event on Saturday in London. Even though Brady said he'd probably be skipping that, chances are that, in the NFL's ever-present mission to create new revenue streams, Brady will be gently redirected to say hello to the Brits in Trafalgar Square that day. 
Nobody's showing up to see Sterling Moore. 
Still, Brady reminded, this game counts as much in the win-loss column as all the rest and the primary focus is on flying home 5-3. 
"Were focused in on the Rams," he said. "I think thats (the NFL's job to put on a show) and we have a job to do. I know they put a lot of effort into it and I know Mr. Robert Kraft is excited about us really having a chance to represent the NFL again and go over there and give the fans something to cheer about. It was a lot of fun the last time."
The last time was in 2009 when the Patriots pasted the Buccaneers at Wembley Stadium. 
The Patriots want to close their enigmatic first half of the season on a high note, said Brady. Nobody wants to sit around during the bye week staring at a 4-4 record. 
"The bye week is something that everyone looks forward to just because you get a chance to kind of take a deep breath," said Brady. "Its like the second half of the game. You go in at halftime and you have a chance to reevaluate some things. But that will come and it would feel really good for that two-week stretch to feel good about what weve done four of the last five weeks. But (the Rams are) going to make us earn it. This is a good team that provides a lot of tough challenges and weve already lost to two of these NFC teams (Seattle and Arizona), which (the Cardinals have) beaten. We know its a good football team and we have to go out there and play well."

Rodney Harrison apologizes for saying Kaepernick is ‘not black’

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Rodney Harrison apologizes for saying Kaepernick is ‘not black’

Former Patriots safety Rodney Harrison apologized on Twitter for saying Colin Kaepernick wasn’t black after saying in an earlier radio interview that the 49ers quarterback wouldn’t understand the discrimination people of color face every day.

“I’m a black man, and Colin Kaepernick, he’s not black,” Harrison told a Houston radio station. “He cannot understand what I face and what other young black men and black people or people of color face on a every single [day] basis when you walk in the grocery store, and you might have two or three thousand dollars in your pocket and you go up into a Foot Locker and they’re looking at you like you’re about to steal something. I don’t think he faces those type of things that we face on a daily basis.”

Kapernick, who ignited a controversy when he refused to stand for the national anthem before a preseason game to protest racial injustice, is biracial. His birth mother is white and he was adopted by white parents.

Harrison, now an NFL analyst for NBC Sports, later tweeted the following: 

 

 

 

Red Sox welcome Betts’ surprising power surge

Red Sox welcome Betts’ surprising power surge

BOSTON - With one quick flick of his wrists Monday night, Mookie Betts drove a pitch into the Monster Seats, marking his 30th homer of the season.

The homer put Betts into exclusive company in team history. Only two others before him -- Ted Williams and Tony Conigliaro -- had ever reached the 30-homer milestone before turning 24. 

It's a reasonable assumption that, with five weeks still to play in the regular season, Betts will more than double his home run total (17) from last year, a remarkable jump.    

More to the point, Betts wasn't projected as a power hitter. In 2011 and 2012, Betts played the first 72 games of his pro career career without hitting a single homer. 

The power began to manifest itself somewhat the following year when he belted 15 homers between Low-A Greenville and High-A Salem, but still, few envisioned that Betts would show this kind of power at the major league level.

He was athletic, with extra-base capability, and speed. But a 30-home run hitter? That wasn't in the cards.

"That's pretty cool, hitting 30,” allowed Betts after the Red Sox' 9-4 win over Tampa Bay. "But that's not the reason we play.''

 For several minutes, Betts did his best to deflect questions about his milestone, consistently emphasizing team goals "first and foremost” over his own personal achievements.

"Trying to affect the game in some form or fashion,” he shrugged. "We're in a race right now and that's way more important[than individual stats].”

Still, Betts himself acknowledged that his homer total has come as something of a revelation.

"I definitely wasn't expecting [this kind of] power,'' he said. "But I'll take it while it's here.''

Maybe the power explosion shouldn't come as a shock, however. Betts has always demonstrated exceptional strength and fast reflexes, exhibiting the sort of "quick-twitch'' athleticism that make scouts drool.

He's improved his pitch selection and recognition, and it surely hasn't hurt to be part of a powerful Red Sox lineup that currently has him hitting behind David Ortiz and in front of Hanley Ramirez.

"Experience...knowing when and when not to turn on balls,” Betts explained further. "There's a whole bunch of things that kind of go into it.”

As he's gained confidence, Betts now picks certain counts where he allows himself to take bigger swings, though he's careful to  point out that he's not ever trying to hit homers.

"Not necessarily trying to hit a home run,'' he offered, "but trying to drive [the ball]. Those things come with experience and knowing when and when not to. I'm not trying to hit a home run. They just kind of come.''

In this, just his second full season in the big leagues, they're coming more and more frequently -- whether anyone expected it or not.

     

Brady believes Patriots will have plenty of emotion, energy without him

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Brady believes Patriots will have plenty of emotion, energy without him

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady has been an emotional leader for the Patriots since he took over the starting quarterback's gig back in 2001. He leads the team out onto the field. He screams and yells and holds his teammates accountable and generally plays with a level of passion that borders on hysteria. 

Brady was asked how the Patriots might cope without him for the first four weeks of the regular season.

"We’ve got a lot of great leaders on this team," he said. "The veterans, I think we’ve got like -- we’ve got a lot of really good players, a lot of really good leaders. I think we’ve always done a good job cultivating guys to step in and fill the void. I think we’ll do a great job with that. Between our coaches and our players, we’ve got a lot of great leaders, so I’m very confident in that. We’ll go out and play with a lot of energy and emotion that we always do."

The last time the Patriots went without Brady for an extended period of time was in 2008 when he suffered a season-ending knee injury. Brady explained that during that stretch, he wasn't able to expend much energy watching games because he was so focused on getting well. This time, he hopes to return to the team with an improved perspective on his job.

"It will be tough to watch, but it will be fun to watch in some ways to see what it looks like when you’re not there," Brady said. "That’s a different perspective. Hopefully I can use that perspective and then come back with better perspective saying, ‘Wow, I really noticed some things that maybe I wouldn’t have seen had I been there.’ So that’s kind of what I’m going to try to do."