Demps hopes to get on fast track for Pats

Demps hopes to get on fast track for Pats

By Tom E. Currab

TAMPA - I'm 5-10. With shoes.

So when I stood behind Jeff Demps in a media scrum on Wednesday and realized that he's about up to my nose, I once again found myself marveling at just how amazing these athletes like Demps, Wes Welker, Danny Woodhead, Kevin Faulk, Darren Sproles, etc. really are.
Blessed, yes. But - particularly in the case of Demps, who just returned from the London Olympics - wholly committed to doing all they can with the talent given.
Patriots running backs coach Ivan Fears was beaming Wednesday after his first padded practice with Demps.
Hes super fast," said Fears. "Just going back to his college history (at the University of Florida),the guy was extremely productive in college. All that is part ofit, but this is the first day weve seen him. So there isnt a whole lot totell you right now except that he got tired running two runs, so I was kind ofa little pissed off at him. Id like to know what type of Olympic training theydo. Its not conditioning for football.
Demps admitted as much after the practice, saying he could be beaten straight up in a 100-meter sprint at that point. That, no doubt, was humility.
No doubt aboutit," said Fears when asked if Demps is the fastest player he's coached. "I havent had anybody that Id say had world-class speed. Ive had somefast guys, but legitimate world-class speed? No.Fears has seen machines on the Patriots teams. Terry Glenn, Bethel Johnson and Donte Stallworth spring to mind. For Demps to be called the hands-down fastest shows just how speedy he is.
What's his prognosis?
Skill guys can play a lot faster than big guys can," said Fears. "Forhim, its mostly just getting his feet up under him, getting a little wind backin his lungs, and getting used to catching the ball. He hasnt touched it insix months, and getting the feel for what he did when he was back in college,getting back in the groove. Im sure it wont take that long for a guy likehim. Hes such a great athlete, just based on what Ive seen on film.Fortunately, this is not a track athlete that's dabbling. Demps is about football, which Fears noted when he pointed out how willing he was in blitz pickup drills.
Demps cited the family atmosphere in New England as a reason he signed here as opposed to with other pursuers like the Bucs and Jets.
He acknowledged he needs to get into football shape and get into the playbook fast to make a contribution.

Demps also is aware that what he's poised to do this season - regardless of his role with the Patriots - is unique.

"It's just a blessing to come from the Olympics and come to a football field," he pointed out. "Not many people do that, so it's just a blessing to do that.

Fears seems to feel a bit blessed himself. Within reason.

Im not going to go overboard," said the coach. "What hes done has beentruly amazing and a great story, but out here, I aint giving him nothing. Hesgoing to earn everything he gets from us. No matter how I feel about him,unless he does it on the field, hes not getting anything else.

Haggerty: So what exactly has happened to the Bruins-Habs rivalry?


Haggerty: So what exactly has happened to the Bruins-Habs rivalry?

BRIGHTON, MASS -- It didn’t take last season’s embarrassing Winter Classic result to figure out something has been missing from the storied, legendary Bruins-Canadiens rivalry over the last few years.

The last traces of the latest, great incarnation of the B’s-Habs rivalry were clearly still there a couple of seasons ago when the two hockey clubs met in the second round of the playoffs. After falling short the last few times the teams met in the postseason, Boston was summarily dismissed by Montreal in Game 7 on their own home ice during that series. The following season the B’s simply had so many of their own players struggling to put out a consistent effort, so the games against the Habs didn’t really register highly on the importance scale, and last season both Boston and Montreal suffered through subpar seasons that saw them each fall short of the playoffs.

Since the second round loss to the Habs in the 2013-14 playoffs, the Bruins are 2-7 while being outscored by a 31-18 margin in nine regular season meetings over the last two seasons in an incredibly one-sided chapter in the two teams’ shared history. The real lack of competitiveness has been a noticeable lack of deep emotion or ill will on the ice between the two hockey clubs, and that is very different from the recent past when signature players like Milan Lucic, P.K. Subban and Shawn Thornton were card-carrying members of healthy hate that regularly spilled out on the ice between the two rival NHL organizations.

Instead it will probably be new blood that breathes glorious, hard-edged life into the history between the two Original Six teams, and new personalities like David Backes, Shea Weber and Andrew Shaw are likely to do just that. Certainly the Canadiens wanted to be much more difficult to play against in recruiting players like Shaw and Weber, and, their presence along with the offensively explosive Alex Radulov, could make it a tough matchup for the Black and Gold.

Either way, the Bruins are curious to see what the matchup looks like this season with the electric P.K. Subban removed from the mix as one of the classic Habs villain-type characters from a Boston perspective.

“It’s always fun to play Montreal at home, or in Montreal. This will be our second time counting the preseason, and our first time at the Garden. It’s going to be pretty cool,” said David Krejci. “When you say any NHL team there are a few names that pop out for that team, and [P.K. Subban] was definitely one of them [for Montreal]. But P.K. is gone, and now it’s Shea Weber. So it’s going to be a little different, but he’s a hell of a player as well so it isn’t going to be any easier.

“It’s a big game. It’s a division game. We don’t want to take any game lightly within the 82 games because you don’t know what can happen at the end. When those games against [Montreal] are done you always feel like you’ve played two games, and not just one. It’s high intensity, and it’s obviously a rivalry that you get up for.”

As Bruins head coach Claude Julien would say it, things are a bit too civilized between the two enemy teams when thinking back to the days of Georges Laraque chasing Milan Lucic around the ice challenging him a fight on the Bell Centre ice, or the awful epoch in B’s-Habs history when Zdeno Chara clobbered Max Pacioretty with a dangerous, injury-inducing hit into the stanchion area.

Nobody is looking for players to get hurt on borderline plays when the two teams suit up on Saturday night, but something to introduce a new chapter into the Boston-Montreal rivalry would be a good thing for both teams, a good thing for the fans and a potentially great thing for an NHL that prides itself on good, old-fashioned rivalries.

“We need to make sure that we’re ready to play [on Saturday]. I like the way that we’ve played so far, and except for Toronto we’ve managed to compete with all of the teams that we’ve played against,” said Julien. “I don’t know if it’s going to stay that way, but I’m going to use the word that [the rivalry] has been more civilized for the last few years. There hasn’t been as much of the sideshow as there has been [in the past].

“I think there’s still a lot of hatred between the two organizations when they meet, but I think the way the game is trending, and how costly that penalties can be in a game, both teams are a little cautious in that way. I still think there is great intensity and both teams get up for the games, so hopefully that happens tomorrow, and the fans get to see a good game.”

One thing that should ensure a good, familiar showdown with plenty of hard-hitting and honest-to-goodness rivalry-like behavior: both the Canadiens and Bruins are off to strong starts at the top of the Atlantic Division in the first couple of weeks this season, and there are some new faces that are undoubtedly going to want to announce their presence for these Bruins-Habs tilts with authority.

Let’s hope this happens because last season’s Bruins-Habs games needed a pair of jumper cables and 1.21 jigowatts of electricity to shock them back into their elevated level of intensity, and that’s when hockey is served best after all.