Every team needs a Chris Kemoeatu

373369.jpg

Every team needs a Chris Kemoeatu

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com

The Super Bowl is just 10 days away -- 10 days. Do you have any idea how much brain-raping (Hi, Ben!) obnoxious drama ESPN can inflict on we football fans between now and then?

So much. It's going to be ugly.

And it's why I love Chris Kemoeatu a little bit right now.

When Steelers Pro Bowl center Maukice Pouncey suffered a high ankle sprain and his Super Bowl status became questionable, The WWL was poised to pounce. Adam Schefter undoubtedly worked himself into a frenzy, planning his next remote interview (in front of his many leather-bound books in his apartment that smells of rich mahogany)...

"WILL Pouncey play? Or WILL he be forced to sit and watch helplessly as his team battles the Pack for the Lombardi trophy? Zomg, you guise!"

But Kemoeatu punched much of the suspense out of the report.

"We are definitely sad that he won't be able to be with us in the Super Bowl," the defensive end told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Wednesday. "Definitely I feel bad for him. We just have to win it for him."

ESPN is doing its best to persevere.

'There's no word from the Steelers... not beyond what that one teammate said after practice. Pouncey was seen wearing a walking boot but we're waiting for more definitive evidence of the injury.'

NFL Network's Albert Breer is helping the cause by tweeting this: "Playing optimist, Steeler G Ramon Foster just told me on Pouncey, "I think he'll play." ... Not sure if he was instructed to say it or not."

I wish Kemoeatu's comments could stand; they were refreshingly definitive. In fact, I wish that all teams had a player -- or just anybody -- to give such straight answers that bypass all the melodrama and guesswork.

EXAMPLE: WILL Dick LeBeau finally retire? WILL the 73-year old come back if the Steelers fail to win a third Super Bowl? Or will he keep coaching until he DIES on the field?

LeBeau's Wife: Dick is done. If he doesn't retire, I'm divorcing him. End of story.

And who needs a person like this more than the Patriots?

EXAMPLE: DID Bill Belichick know Wes Welker was going to taunt Rex Ryan in his press conference? WAS he possibly in on it? WILL Welker be punished?

Ross Ventrone: Bill didn't know anything. Wes lost a bet and had to say whatever the practice squad told him to. The "foot soldiers" thing was my idea. Good, right? Oh, but Wes is gonna be benched for the first series of the game. Oops.

I realize that such plain-speak would change the nature of my job, too. But I think I'm smart enough to adapt. Why? The leather-bound books in my library are real. And I actually read them.

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.”