Chung happy to be back in any capacity

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Chung happy to be back in any capacity

FOXBORO -- Pat Chung is in his fourth season with the Patriots. This year will be the third where he won't play 16 games; he hasn't since 2009. 
Thursday night's Thanksgiving tilt against the Jets marked another return for Chung, this time from hamstring and shoulder injuries. He was most recently unavailable for four games between October 21 to November 18.  
Though Chung hated to miss field time, he says he's stayed sharp all the while.
"You can be on the sideline taking mental reps. If you know what you're doing, you can play. Everybody's big, fast, and strong, but you can make the play if you know what you're doing."
Chung went as far as to say those mental reps are more important than the physical. Still, his relief to be back was obvious via the huge grin he gave when asked about the Jets game. 
"It felt good. It felt good to get back out there and dig my cleats in the grass a little bit," the safety smiled. "But we've got five more games, and hopefully a lot more, and we've just got to transition." 
It will be interesting to see where Chung fits in. 
He played 22 of 72 defensive snaps against New York last week, with the Patriots keeping converted cornerback Devin McCourty and Steve Gregory as starting safeties. 
It's undeniable McCourty is better at the backend of the secondary. And with the addition of playmaking corner Aqib Talib, it's even more likely McCourty will stay put. Meanwhile, Gregory had his best game of the season two weeks ago against Indianapolis, intercepting a pass, forcing a fumble and recovering two (one he returned for a touchdown). 
Chung said he'll play wherever the coaches tell him to. Unfortunately for him, that might mean playing in nickel packages instead of starting at safety. Either way, to get more opportunities it would probably help to adopt the defense's penchant for forcing turnovers. 
New England is crushing the competition in takeaways with 32 (14 interceptions, 18 fumbles).
"It's just hard work and hustle. Just finishing the play. You could be on the other side of the field you never know, if you just run to the ball you might get a fumble recovery or a forced fumble. Always give a relentless effort."
Staying healthy would be a good start. 

First impressions: Pomeranz is better, but Red Sox fall to Tigers

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First impressions: Pomeranz is better, but Red Sox fall to Tigers

First impressions from the Red Sox' 4-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers:

 

1) The same problem remains for Joe Kelly

As a starter, no one doubted Kelly's fastball, and the velocity with which he threw it. But the problem was, Kelly's fastball was often quite straight, and most major league hitters can hit a fastball without movement, no matter how hard it's thrown.

In his first appearance as a reliever for the Red Sox, the same problem reared its head.

Kelly started off Justin Upton with a 99 mph fastball. After an 89 mph slider, Kelly next threw a 101 mph fastball.

But Upton drove it on a line to the triangle for a triple, and two batters later, trotted home on a soft flare to center by James McCann.

Velocity is one thing and can produce some swings-and-misses. But ultimately, Kelly is going to need more than straight gas to get hitters out.

 

2) Drew Pomeranz was miles better in his second start

Pomeranz failed to get an out in the fourth inning of his Red Sox debut and was charged with five runs.

So when Pomeranz -- who allowed just one hit through the first three innings Monday night -- allowed a leadoff single to Miguel Cabrera to start the fourth, there was uneasy sense of deja vu at Fenway.

But Pomeranz quickly erased Cabrera on a double play and through five innings had allowed just three hits and a walk.

He got into some trouble in the sixth when he allowed a one-out, two-run homer to Jose Iglesias, erasing what had been a 1-0 Red Sox lead.

But Pomeranz was far sharper than his first outing, threw his curveball for more strikes and kept the Tigers mostly off-balance. His line (6 IP; 4 H; 2 ER; 2 BB; 7 K) will be more than good enough on most nights.

Just not Monday night.

 

3) They may lead MLB in runs scored, but there are still nights when the Red Sox offense can frustrate

It happened last Friday when they loaded the bases with no out against the Twins - and failed to score in a 2-1 loss.

It was more of the same Monday night when the Sox loaded the bases in the ninth -- and managed just one run.

The problems weren't limited to the ninth, of course. The Sox put the leadoff man on in both the seventh and eighth innings -- and didn't score.

For the game, the Sox left 11 men on and were just 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position.