Fresh Patriots defense does enough vs. Manning


Fresh Patriots defense does enough vs. Manning

FOXBORO -- New England's souped-up no-huddle offense may have helped wear out Denver's defensive personnel, but it did just the opposite for the Patriots 'D.' As Tom Brady led his offense for long drive after long drive, Jerod Mayo and his defense were afforded an opportunity to save their energy.

"It helps us a lot," Mayo said of New England's ability to keep its offense on the field. "We're able to go over adjustments, catch our breath, and go out there the next series and try to get the ball back for our offense."

The Broncos held possession for 24:11, and the Patriots defense forced three turnovers in that time. Rob Ninkovich forced two fumbles while Sterling Moore forced one, all of which the Patriots recovered. They made big plays at opportune times, and they made enough of them to hold on to win, 31-21.

It wasn't easy with Peyton Manning on the other side. The Broncos quarterback was 31-for-44 for 345 yards and three touchdowns. Physically, he may not be the same passer as he once was, but Mayo thought Manning was as sharp as ever mentally.

"He checked a lot of plays at the line of scrimmage," Mayo said. "Even if it's not vocally, he's still doing hand signals that little subtle things that can change the entire play. It's like a chess match out there."

Though it felt as though the Patriots defense -- missing starters Steve Gregory and Dont'a Hightower -- passed its most recent test by beating a quarterback of Manning's caliber, Mayo wouldn't concede that the Patriots defense had progressed markedly.

"That's for you to decide," he told reporters. "I think guys are working hard. I think guys are going out there practicing and getting better. You want an A, B, C, D grade? I don't do that."

What Mayo did do was keep the lines of communication open among his teammates as they tried to adjust to Manning's adjustments. Because Gregory was out, Tavon Wilson got the start at safety. That meant Ras-I Dowling filled in at the money position in New England's dime package. As a sort of hybrid linebacker-safety Dowling took direction from Mayo before many of his snaps.

The Patriots survived with Wilson, Dowling and rookie cornerback Alfonzo Dennard all receiving a significant time on the field.

"It's very important to communicate," Mayo said, referring to some of his team's relatively inexperienced contributors. "Especially when you're playing a great quarterback like that, to make sure everyone's on the same page. They were changing the pace of the game sometimes so making sure everyone was on the same page was huge."

Red Sox call up RHP Cuevas, send Marrero to Pawtucket


Red Sox call up RHP Cuevas, send Marrero to Pawtucket

With the Red Sox bullpen taxed in recent days with a extra-inning game and a short outing Friday night by starter David Price, right-hander William Cuevas was called up from Triple-A Pawtucket and infielder Deven Marrero was sent down.

Cuevas, 25, made one relief appearance for Boston (allowing two runs on three hits in 2 1/3 innings in his major league debut April 21) and had been starting at Pawtucket (4-3, 3.30 ERA in 12 starts). He pitched 5 1/3 innings on Sunday. He'll be available out of the bullpen tonight as the Red Sox continue their three-game series in Texas. 

Marrero, 25, appeared in four games and went 1-for-7 in his latest stint in Boston.

Bruins select hard-nosed D-man Lindgren with second-round pick


Bruins select hard-nosed D-man Lindgren with second-round pick

BUFFALO – The Bruins went back for another young defenseman with the 49th overall pick in the second round and drafted Minnesota-born Ryan Lindgren, who will be playing for the Gophers this season as another college hockey product in the B’s system.

The 6-foot, 198-pound Lindgren is a hard-nosed, high-character defenseman that didn’t blow away scouts with any one tool, but was solid with six goals and 25 points in 61 games for the US National Development Team Program Under-18 team last season.

Lindgren has good hockey bloodlines as the younger brother of Montreal Canadiens goalie Charlie Lindgren and would be more of a solid all-around defenseman rather than an offensive D-man like first-round pick Charlie McAvoy.

“I honestly could not be more excited,” said Lindgren. “They are one of the teams that seemed like they had a lot of interest in me. When you get selected by a team like the Boston Bruins, everyone knows what a great organization they are. I really could not be more excited.

“I think I’m a leader on and off the ice, and bring a good compete level. I bring it every day. I think more of a defensive defenseman, but I think I’ve got some offensive ability in my game as well. I’m a guy who’s going to be physical, going to bring it every game, block shots. [I am] going to do what he has to do to help the team.”

The choice of Lindgren is a nice bounce-back pick for the Bruins on Day 2 after reaching a bit for Trent Frederic at the end of the first round on Friday night. The Bruins could end up regretting that choice if second-round picks such as Alex DeBrincat or Pascal Laberge end up developing into high-end forwards in the NHL.


Saturday, June 25: No stress for No. 16 pick Chychrun


Saturday, June 25: No stress for No. 16 pick Chychrun

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while there’s a beautiful day going on outside in Buffalo.

*D-man Jakob Chychrun says that he wasn’t stressing dropping into the middle of the first round before the Arizona Coyotes picked him.

*It’s a great piece of video from Friday night’s first round as Tyson Jost’s grandpa became a sobbing, proud man when his grandson was taken early in the first round of the NHL Draft.

*PHT writer Joey Alfieri has Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin believing that Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning crossed the line by publicly expressing interest in P.K. Subban.  

*Evander Kane is being investigated on a couple of harassment claims in the Buffalo area, a tough development during NHL Draft weekend there.

*The Blue Jackets had the biggest surprise of the first round by drafting Pierre-Luc Dubois with the third overall pick in the first round. They must think he’s going to be a center long term.

*The Edmonton Oilers and Minnesota Wild are talking trade for a D-man, but none of the defensemen names moved on Friday night.

*For something completely different: Adam Kaufman gives his take on the draft night for the Celtics.