Brady lauds Luck's impressive rookie season

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Brady lauds Luck's impressive rookie season

FOXBORO -- It's hard to believe Andrew Luck is a rookie. Especially for Tom Brady.

By now, we all know how Brady describes his rookie season.

"I was like fourth-string and eating nachos before the game in the stands," he said after Thursday's practice, when asked about Luck's first NFL season.

It's a recycled line that Brady has used when comparing his rookie season to another's.

But it's true. Compared to what Luck has done this year -- 10 passing touchdowns, 5 rushing touchdowns, and 2,631 yards in the air -- Brady might as well have been eating nachos in the stands. But that was because Brady only appeared in one game during his rookie season in 2000-01. He went 1-for-3 for six yards.

Brady didn't want to get into comparing a potential rivalry with Andrew Luck to his former Indianapolis Colts rivalry with Peyton Manning, on Thursday.

"My focus has been on what that defense does," said Brady when asked about the old rivalry with Manning. "Its always the Colts defense and its always centered around two players and those two guys are still there. Thats really the challenge for us this week, is trying to figure out how to block that entire front. There are a lot of different looks from the last time we played them, trying to understand the scheme and how theyre doing things but theyre good and they really rush the passer and thats a big challenge."

But as much as Brady would like to end the "Colts rivalry" talk, there's no hiding from reality. And that reality is that Manning is now in Denver. And his replacement has already left his impression on the league.

So Brady did spend a few moments, on Thursday, reminiscing about the first time he met Manning. It was Brady's second season, and just his first full season, in 2001-02.

By that point in time, Manning was already a two-time Pro Bowler, and had been to the playoffs twice in his fourth full season.

Manning, the veteran. Meet Brady, the new guy.

"Yeah, I remember I was out there warming up for the game and he came over and he said, Hey Tom, Im Peyton,' " recalled Brady.

But Brady hinted towards not making such a gesture before the two teams play on Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

"I dont know," said Brady. "Well see. Usually I dont go out to the field too early anymore. I tend to just keep to myself."

So while Luck probably shouldn't expect the same treatment that Manning gave Brady back in 2001, the Colts' rookie quarterback should still realize that the Patriots' veteran quarterback respects the success he's having this early in his career.

"I always admire those rookies who can do it because it is such a challenge, whether youre a defensive end like Chandler Jones, or Donta Hightower or Andrew Luck or any of these rookies who really play a big role for a certain team," said Brady. "Its a real credit to them and their ability to transition and focus on all these new things that have really come about and go out there and play well.

"I had quite a few -- 18 months -- to develop camaraderie with the guys that I played with, and it was a lot of time and practice and extra coaching sessions and so forth. For those rookies, coming right from college to this position, is very challenging."

Bruins view newly signed Krug as an emerging leader

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Bruins view newly signed Krug as an emerging leader

With Bruins defenseman Torey Krug in the fold for four more years, a Thursday afternoon conference call with the 25-year-old defenseman and GM Don Sweeney was about what the young puck-mover can accomplish over the next few years. With Krug coming off a four goal, 44-point season and offseason shoulder surgery, it will be a slow and steady progression to begin next season once he’s cleared to play.

What isn’t in question is Krug’s leadership, toughness and gritty attitude to go along with his considerable offensive skill set, and those all made the $21 million contract a no-brainer from the Black and Gold end of things.

“Torey’s got a very, very unique skill set that’s important to our hockey club. He’s had a very, very productive three years. His role this year and his time on ice, in all situations, increased significantly. He was able to shoulder much, much more responsibility in all parts of the game. As a young player who is invested in the Boston Bruins organization, he wants to win, he does things the right way every time he comes to the rink,” said Sweeney. “He wants to get better; he’s not satisfied. All the things you want out of a young player to identify with, which is something we also acknowledge, that Torey has really been identified as an emerging part of our core leadership group.

“I think he’ll help tremendously to help all of our young players that hope to fall in similar fashion with the success that he’s had up to this point. We have a lot of work to do in front of us and Torey’s going to help us get back to where we want to be in trying to win a Stanley Cup.”

Krug has averaged 10 goals and 41 points over his first three seasons in the NHL, and averaged a career-high 21:37 of ice time last season as a de facto No. 2 defenseman behind Zdeno Chara. It was a big season because Krug survived, and continued to put up points, as a legit top-4 defenseman in the NHL, but the 5-foot-9, 181-pounder also needed his shoulder repaired after his first season of heavy duty usage.

So it bears the question of whether Krug will stay in one piece with the heavy top-4 duty over the next four years. Whatever the answer is to that question, the puck-moving defenseman will be a leader, a feisty character on the ice and somebody that’s going to serve as a good professional role model for the flock of young players expected to come through in the next couple of seasons.

The Michigan boy couldn’t be happier to be a part of all of it in Boston for the next four years.

“I think [the leadership thing] has been something that was instilled in me in a young age, you know, coming from my father. It’s always been authentic. If anyone tries to force it then people see right through that, and it just doesn’t happen. But for me and this team and this locker room I think I’m able to bridge that gap from the young guys to the older guys,” said Krug. “I relate to every single person in that locker room, which I think will help our team as we grow and we mature bringing in younger guys from Providence. Or guys that are just signed and helping them develop and helping them feel comfortable within the locker room because it can be intimidating.

“It’s tough to walk in the locker room, you know, when you have Stanley Cup Champions and Norris and Selke Trophy winners. So it can definitely be very intimidating and hopefully I can serve as that bridge to kind of ease that gap for those guys. As far as young defensemen goes, the one thing that Claude [Julien] helped me with when I first came up was making sure I was myself. I was here for a reason. I was able to do the thing I do well, and I wasn’t straying away from that to try to be someone that I’m not. So I think young defensemen, once they realize that and they realize that everyone in this organization is there to help them then they’ll begin to improve. They’ll become themselves as they will at the NHL level.”

With Krug having experienced a couple of years of late season collapses as one of the young leaders on this Bruins team, even more will be asked of him next season as the Black and Gold push hard to right the ship. 

OFFSEASON

Report: Lakers have interest in Celtics RFA Tyler Zeller

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Report: Lakers have interest in Celtics RFA Tyler Zeller

The Los Angeles Lakers have interest in Boston Celtics restricted free agent Tyler Zeller, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. 

The Celtics made a $3.7 million qualifying offer to Zeller this offseason, meaning the Celtics can match any offer sheet the 26-year-old center signs.

OFFSEASON

Report: Celtics amend Johnson, Jerebko guarantee date to July 7

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Report: Celtics amend Johnson, Jerebko guarantee date to July 7

The Boston Celtics have reportedly agreed to amend the guarantee date for Amir Johnson and Jonas Jerebko's contracts to July 7th instead of July 3rd, Jeff Goodman of ESPN reported.

The Celtics now have until July 7 to decide whether or not to waive the duo to make more cap space to potentially sign Kevin Durant and another near max-salary player.

The Boston Globe reported on Thursday that the Celtics will likely guarantee the second year of Amir Johnson’s contract.