Jaguars laud Talib's contributions to Patriots defense

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Jaguars laud Talib's contributions to Patriots defense

FOXBORO -- Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne is aware that Bill Belichick's strategy against him involves bringing a lot of pressure. He knows that from his days with the Miami Dolphins.

And on Sunday in Jacksonville, Henne expects the same thing from a Patriots defense that he says relies on man-to-man coverage.

"Obviously they're a very disciplined defense," said Henne. "They're in the right spots, with Aqib Talib an addition to the outside at corner definitely helps them out. I think it's still a man-coverage team. The guys up front, their front four, they're stout, pressure guys.

"The Patriots defense looks similar," he added. "Obviously there's new guys in new spots, but for the most part, they kind of switched over to a 4-3 from last year, same thing. They've been switching up a little bit on the defensive fronts, moving around a little bit. But overall it's a lot of the same scheme. I think the pressure's down a little bit, but you always have to be aware of pressure with Belichick, because in the past, he's brought a lot of pressure against me."

Henne will also pinpoint where cornerback Aqib Talib is at all times on Sunday, while trying to avoid that pressure.

"I think he's done a great job," said Henne about Talib. "He's been traveling a lot with the No. 1 receiver in each game. He's making plays, he's had a couple picks. I thought he played pretty well last week, and I think overall, the defense is revolved around man coverage and winning those one-on-one match ups, so Talib adds that attribute to them."

Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey also acknowledged Talib's strong presence on the Patriots defense.

"I think he's a good addition, a very good addition," said Mularkey. "They do a number of things, and they've got very good players doing them. He just adds to the mix. You've got to be aware of who he's going to go against. And I think it's brought even more confidence, if they needed it, for that defense."

OFFSEASON

Thomas will be 'as real as possible' if part of Celtics meeting with Durant

Thomas will be 'as real as possible' if part of Celtics meeting with Durant

BOSTON – Isaiah Thomas and the Boston Celtics are longing for some fireworks this weekend, but we’re not talking about the Fourth of July variety.

The Celtics will make their pitch to Kevin Durant which is taking shape as the most important player pursuit by Boston ever.

Boston made the cut of six teams that Durant will limit his discussions to this weekend, with a decision expected prior to July 9 which is when he embarks on an overseas trip.

As of Thursday evening, Thomas wasn’t sure if he was going to be part of the group that meets with Durant.

“If they need me to do it, I’ll definitely do it,” said Thomas who added that he would be meeting with Danny Ainge later in the day. “We’ll see.”

If he does (as expected) partake in the official recruitment of Durant, Thomas already has an idea of how he’ll approach things.

“First off, I’m going to go buy some (Kevin Durant sneakers),” quipped Thomas. “If I do go to the meeting, I’ll be in … the whole outfit. I’m just gonna be as real as possible. As a basketball player and a basketball fan, he knows what Boston brings.”

On Thursday, Thomas was at Faneuil Hall in conjunction with Good Humor ice cream which began its East coast tour in Boston.

That relationship is yet another of the perks that comes with being a standout basketball player in Boston.

Thomas was a solid NBA player prior to coming to Boston.

But since his arrival in February of 2015, he has become a fan favorite whose play has been pivotal to Boston’s continued success which included them winning 48 games this past season – the most under third-year coach Brad Stevens – and Thomas being selected to his first all-star game.

As Thomas handed out free ice cream to kids and adults and a slew of Celtics fans, they all had a similar message for him – “Bring KD to Boston!”

Thomas wasn’t surprised.

“They (fans) want greatness, they want top players,” Thomas said. “They’ll do whatever they can to get them.”

And Thomas believes the same is true for Ainge and the entire Celtics franchise.

That’s in part by Thomas has a good feeling that Boston’s roster next fall will include at least one other all-star caliber player besides himself.

“I’m very confident,” Thomas said. “I’m not saying it’s going to be Kevin Durant. Who knows? But I’m confident he’ll get a guy that can help build on what we have going here.”

Report: Celtics likely to guarantee Amir Johnson’s $12M deal for next season

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Report: Celtics likely to guarantee Amir Johnson’s $12M deal for next season

The Celtics will likely guarantee the second year of Amir Johnson’s two-year, $24 million deal he signed last season, the Boston Globe reported.

Johnson, 29, a 6-9 forward, signed as a free agent last summer, averaged 7.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 79 regular season games for the Celtics and 8.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in the six-game, first-round playoff loss to the Atlanta Hawks. 

OFFSEASON

Report: Celtics to make qualifying offers to Sullinger, Zeller

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Report: Celtics to make qualifying offers to Sullinger, Zeller

The Celtics will make qualifying offers to Jared Sullinger and Tyler Zeller by the Friday deadline, the Boston Herald reports.

With offers of $4.4 million to Sullinger and $3.7 million to Zeller, the two will become restricted free agents, meaning the Celtics have can match any offer sheet they sign. The two would have become unrestricted free agents without the qualifying offers.

Sullinger could take the offer to become an unrestricted free agent next summer, but the Herald reported Zeller would likely be looking elsewhere to find a bigger role after his playing time decreased last season.

Sullinger started 73 games and averaged 10.3 points and 8.3 rebounds in the regular season. He averaged 5.2 points and 4.5 rebounds in 13.5 minutes in the first-round playoff loss to the Atlanta Hawks and lost his starting job two games into that series. 

Zeller averaged 6.1 points and 3.0 rebounds last season. He played in three of the six games in the Atlanta series.