Edelman eager to put hand injury behind him

594808.jpg

Edelman eager to put hand injury behind him

FOXBORO -- Lost in the ugly drama of New England's 29-26 overtime win over the Jets was the return of Julian Edelman. 
The receiver was active Sunday after being stuck on the sidelines for three weeks. Edelman injured his hand on a 7-yard touchdown catch in the Patriots' loss to Baltimore. 
He had a quiet comeback against New York: Two catches for 7 yards. 
Still better than nothing. 
"It's good," he said Tuesday. "I'm getting back into the routine of things. Getting out there and preparing with your teammates is always a fun thing."
Precious little was learned about the exact nature or severity of the ailment. Edelman was whisked away from the media's sights immediately and totally. 
It was quite a change, considering how bright the spotlight had been at the start of the season. 
Edelman had the best training camp of his career this year. This, coming off a strange 2011 where injuries in the Patriots secondary forced him to play 94 snaps at defensive back against 111 on offense. 
It seemed all but a dream by the time 2012 started. 
Edelman played 23 offensive snaps against the Titans in Game 1. The following week, his participation skyrocketed and he played 75 of 82 total snaps. Tom Brady's No. 1 receiver, Wes Welker, played 63 by comparison. 
Going into the Ravens game, he was on pace for 53 catches and 453 yards, both of which would be career highs. Easily. We're talking about a guy who had just 11 receptions for 120 yards in the last two years combined. 
Edelman played the most of any receiver in the first half against Baltimore (38 snaps). 
Then came the injury.  
"It's something I can't control, so if I get frustrated about that I'm thinking about the wrong things," Edelman said of being derailed. "It's part of the game. It's unfortunate sometimes, but you get knocked off the horse, you've got to get back on."
He did what he could over the last three weeks -- went to meetings, watched practice, did everything he could to actually simulate participating in practice. Turns out, there's one good thing about a hand injury: It's not going to stop a guy from running. 
"I kept my shape up. Usually that's the thing when you get injured -- you get out of shape and all that stuff -- but it was something I could deal with," he explained. 
So now we know a little more of what Edelman has gone through. But that's not the biggest takeaway from his first media meet. The most striking thing? How desperate the receiver is to move on. 
"That's all in the past," he said about half a dozen times. "I'm really just trying to focus on the role that I'm going to be given and I'm looking forward to that task."
One has to wonder if that role will resemble anything as big as his first few games suggested. Though there's probably no one more eager to find out than Edelman. 

Brown taking opportunities with Celtics as they come

Brown taking opportunities with Celtics as they come

BOSTON -- Compared to most high draft picks, Jaylen Brown doesn’t log a ton of minutes for the Boston Celtics.
 
Playing on an experienced team with legit hopes of making a deep playoff run, rookies seeing limited minutes is a given.
 
Knowing playing time will come in a limited supply, Brown understands all too well the importance of taking advantage of every opportunity he gets on the floor.
 
He did just that on Saturday in Boston’s 107-106 win over Philadelphia, and he hopes to do more of the same on Monday when the Celtics take on the Houston Rockets.
 
When you look at Brown’s stat line, nothing about it looks impressive. He played 15 minutes, scored two points with one rebound and one blocked shot.
 
But beyond the stats was the fact that he was on the floor for seven minutes in the fourth quarter in a close back-and-forth game on the road. Rookies on the floor in crunch time is not the norm in the NBA.
 
“It means a lot,” Brown told reporters after Saturday’s win. “I try to be as best I can be for my team; try to put my best foot forward every night out.”
 
And he did just that on Saturday.
 
In the fourth quarter with the Celtics leading 87-83, Brown blocked a Gerald Henderson shot that wound up in the hands of Jae Crowder. Moments later, Jonas Jerebko hit a 3-pointer that gave the Celtics their largest lead of the game, 90-83.
 
And just two minutes prior to the blocked shot, he was out in transition following an Isaiah Thomas steal and threw down a dunk that pushed Boston’s lead to 86-83 with 7:11 to play.
 
Brown acknowledged making the most of those opportunities bodes well for him and the franchise.
 
“It’s great for our team in general; not just for me,” Brown said. “Those plays helped us to pull the game out in the end. So I’m glad we got the win. I think we should have played a little better than we did.”
 
The continued pursuit of self-improvement is a hallmark of what Brown’s focus and desire are at this stage of his pro career. He has talked often about not wanting to be just one of the best in this draft class but also one of the best in the NBA overall.
 
But he’s also learned that to get there takes time and experience developing both physically and mentally. Part of that mental growth entails having the right approach to games.
 
“Usually you try to tell yourself not to mess up,” Brown said. “Now that I’m getting more comfortable, it’s just play basketball, bring energy, things like that; come out and do what you’re supposed to do. A lot of times you try to tell yourself to not mess up and it’s counteractive; just come out and play basketball and have fun.”
 
And by doing so the minutes will come.
 
“You can’t control that. I just have to control what I can control,” Brown said. “I trust coach (Brad Stevens); I trust my coaching staff. I have to come out and in the minutes I get, play my hand as best I can and take advantage of what I do get and impact this team as much as possible.”
 
This season, Brown is averaging 4.8 points, 2.0 rebounds while shooting 41.9 percent from the field.

Zolak: Bennett helps with Gronk loss, but Pats need to manage him

Zolak: Bennett helps with Gronk loss, but Pats need to manage him

Scott Zolak said on Pregame Live Sunday that the Patriots are better-suited to survive a season-ending injury to Rob Gronkowski than they were a season ago. 

Zolak said that given the health of Dion Lewis, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and the signing of Chris Hogan, the offense has more stability at other positions to make up for the loss of Gronkowski, whose season is over due to back surgery. As for the tight end position, Zolak said he feels the Patriots traded for Martellus Bennett to protect themselves against scenarios like the one they currently face. 

“This offseason they [acquired] Martellus Bennett, I think for this very reason: to prepare for what really happens year after year, is some sort of issue comes up with Rob Gronkowski and you have to play without him,” Zolak said.

Bennett was questionable with an ankle injury for this week’s game, but is expected to play. Asked about the health of Bennett, Zolak said that he believes the tight end is good to play, but that his importance to the team with Gronkowski out means the Pats will need to be careful. 

“I think he’s healthy enough to get through about 30-35 snaps,” Zolak said. “They’ve got to balance him now moving forward.”