Doc 'likes' week off before season

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Doc 'likes' week off before season

WALTHAM, Mass. - Having more than a week to get ready for their season opener at Miami is for the most part a good thing for the Boston Celtics.
"I like it," Celtics coach Doc Rivers told reporters following the team's practice on Thursday. "I'd rather have this than playing on Friday, I'll say that."
Boston closed out its preseason schedule with a home loss to Philadelphia on Sunday with their regular season opener against the Heat on Oct. 30.
But with so much time in between games, Rivers acknowledges one of the challenges the C's face will be keeping themselves sharp enough to play well.
"That's gotta be tough," Rivers added. "To have this much time off and then play a game ... that's not an easy thing. You'd rather have some games around the corner, but we don't."
But don't confuse Rivers' comments as him grumbling about the extended time off which he has referred to as a "second training camp."
"I still would rather have this, for the season," Rivers said. "For one game, I'd take having a game on Friday. But for the whole season, I like this week."
The extra time without games also affords a number of Celtics time to heal some of those preseason aches and pains.
Celtics center Darko Milicic suffered a right wrist injury during the preseason. The injury kept him out of four of Boston's eight preseason games.
It is not totally healed, but it should not prevent him from being available at the start of the season which is what he feared the most with the injury.
"I want to be ready when the season starts," Milicic told CSNNE.com in a recent interview. "I'll be ready."
Following Thursday's practice, Milicic said the wrist -- which was taped up -- was "feeling great."
Another Celtic on the mend this week is Chris Wilcox, who suffered a back injury shortly before the Celtics left for Istanbul, Turkey. He did not play in any of Boston's  eight preseason games.
"We out here grinding, getting ready for the year and I couldn't be part of it," Wilcox told reporters following his return to practice on Wednesday. "(Wednesday) was a great challenge for me. I went up there and worked hard. I didn't expect too much (on the first day back), but I think I did we'll."

Solder, Patriots training staff earn Ed Block Courage Awards

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Solder, Patriots training staff earn Ed Block Courage Awards

FOXBORO -- Patriots left tackle Nate Solder has been through a lot over the last few years. 

He battled and beat testicular cancer before the 2014 offseason and then went on to help the Patriots to their fourth Super Bowl title. In 2015, he tore his biceps in Week 5 and spent the rest of the year on injured reserve. Just weeks later after suffering that season-ending injury, Solder's son, Hudson, was diagnosed with a Wilms' tumor in his kidneys. 

A quiet leader in the Patriots locker room, Solder has used his platform with the team to spread awareness stemming from personal hardships in addition to serving as a prominent supporter of the Hockomock Area YMCA. For his devotion to helping those in need, and for the example he sets at his job and in the community, he has been named the team's Ed Block Courage Award winner for 2016. 

Solder also participated in the NFL's My Cause My Cleats initiative wearing cleats to raise awareness for the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, which gives financial aid to cancer patients and their families. He also supports The Fresh Truck, which describes itself as a mobile food market on a mission to radically improve community health.

Rob Gronkowski, Sebastian Vollmer, Marcus Cannon, Jerod Mayo, Logan Mankins, Wes Welker and Tedy Bruschi have also recently been named Ed Block Courage Awards-winners for the Patriots. 

The team's training staff, led by head trainer Jim Whalen and assistant trainer and director of rehabilitation Joe Van Allen, was also honored on Tuesday as it was named the 2016 Ed Block Courage Award NFL Athletic Training Staff of the Year.

"The annual award, named for the longtime head athletic trainer for the Baltimore Colts who demonstrated an untiring dedication to helping others, recognizes an NFL staff for their distinguished service to their club, community and athletic training profession," the Patriots announced in a statement. 

In the release, trainer Daryl Nelson and physical therapist Michael Akinbola are also credited with helping keep the Patriots healthy. 

Others, including head strength and conditioning coach Moses Cabrera and team nutritionist Ted Harper, have a hand in keeping players at their physical peak. Combined, given the overall health of the roster this season, they've all had a hand in keep the team humming as it heads into its sixth consecutive AFC title game.