Edelman eager to put hand injury behind him

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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. 

Top Red Sox prospect Sam Travis out for year with torn ACL

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Top Red Sox prospect Sam Travis out for year with torn ACL

As good as things have gone for the Red Sox so far in 2016, their 2017 prospects took a bit of a blow over the weekend.

Sam Travis -- one of the organization's top prospects, and someone who opened a lot of eyes with an impressive spring-training showing this year -- suffered a torn ACL on Sunday while playing for the Pawtucket Red Sox and will be lost for the rest of the season. He was hurt while playing first base, collapsing as he chased down an opposition baserunner during a rundown play. He had to be helped off the field, and the extent of the injury was announced on Monday.

With David Ortiz retiring at the end of this season and Hanley Ramirez expected to replace him as the full-time designated hitter, the door was open for Travis to become the Red Sox' first baseman next year. Playing at Triple-A for the first time, the 22-year-old Travis -- honored by the Red Sox as their Minor League Offensive Player of the the Year in 2015 -- was hitting .272/.332/.434 with 10 doubles, 6 home runs and 29 RBI in 47 games.

Now, however, it's almost a complete certainty Travis won't be able to start next season in Boston. And depending on what the Red Sox do in the offseason to replace Ortiz, such as a signing a free agent to a multiyear contract, Travis' path upward in the Sox organization may become less wide open . . . if not blocked.

Kevin Durant's future a mystery as OKC collapses

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Kevin Durant's future a mystery as OKC collapses

OAKLAND, Calif. - As Stephen Curry dribbled out the clock in a raucous Oracle Arena, Kevin Durant could only stand and watch.

The Golden State Warriors are heading back to the NBA Finals, while Durant's future in Oklahoma City is much less certain.

Two nights after blowing an opportunity to close out the defending champion Warriors at home, the Thunder got sent home for the summer when they lost Game 7 of the Western Conference finals 96-88 on Monday night.

Instead of becoming known as the team that knocked off the Warriors after their record-setting 73-win regular season, the Thunder will be remembered for a playoff collapse. They became just the 10th NBA team to lose a playoff series after taking a 3-1 lead and now head into an uncertain offseason with Durant eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in July.

If he does leave the only franchise he has played for in his nine-year career, he will do it having failed to deliver the championship to Oklahoma City. The closest the Thunder have gotten in Durant's tenure was when they lost the NBA Finals in five games to LeBron James and the Miami Heat in 2012.

They then lost in the second round the next season, in the conference finals in 2014 to San Antonio before missing the playoffs entirely because of an injury to Durant last year.

But under first-year coach Billy Donovan, Oklahoma City earned the third seed in the top-heavy Western Conference this season and then upset 67-win San Antonio in the second round. The Thunder followed that by winning three of the first four games against the Warriors, with a pair of lopsided wins at home.

But after losing Game 5 on the road, the Thunder blew an opportunity to eliminate the Warriors at home on Saturday night. Oklahoma City led by seven points with less than five minutes remaining but made only one basket and committed six turnovers down the stretch of a 108-101 loss that could haunt the franchise for years.

The Thunder responded on the road in Game 7 by taking a 13-point lead in the second quarter. But once Curry and Klay Thompson started hitting Oklahoma City with a flurry of 3-pointers, the Thunder had no answer. The Splash Brothers combined for 13 3-pointers as Golden State outscored Oklahoma City by 30 points from behind the line.

Oklahoma City's stars were no match. Russell Westbrook missed 14 of 21 from the field and shot just 36.8 percent in the three potential clinchers. Durant finished with 27 points but took only 10 shots in the first three quarters.

Durant did score seven straight points to cut an 11-point deficit to four with 1:40 remaining. But Serge Ibaka then fouled Curry on a 3-pointer with the shot clock running down, allowing Golden State to build the lead back to seven.

Durant then missed two shots and could only stare blankly when Curry ended Oklahoma City's season with a 3-pointer with 26.8 seconds left. Now the Thunder can only hope it doesn't end Durant's tenure in Oklahoma City as well.