McCourty embraces different roles in the secondary

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McCourty embraces different roles in the secondary

FOXBORO -- As far as Devin McCourty's position in the secondary goes on game days, there are two things we know:

1. McCourty says he'll play wherever the coaches ask him to.

2. The coaches say they'll play him wherever it is deemed best for the team on a week-to-week basis.

Good to have that all figured out.

But for however uncertain his status may be -- especially considering safety Steve Gregory's possible return this weekend and last week's trade for cornerback Aqib Talib -- there are a few things to take from the situation.

For starters, the secondary has settled down some. McCourty has now played two games at safety this season. He remarked after last week's win over the Rams that he already feels more comfortable on the back end.

It seems he's embracing the move.

"It's cool. It's different. You get used to seeing more of the field," McCourty said of the new vantage. "I think you have more of a responsibility, since you have that viewpoint, to let everyone else know. Because I know when you're playing corner it's not as easy to see the different things that you see on film when you're just on that side of the field. So I try to just communicate and let guys know if I see anything from film study that might happen so they're aware of it."

Communication is key. Unfortunately, consistency in personnel -- something the Patriots haven't had in the secondary -- is key to communication.

Earlier in the week, head coach Bill Belichick acknowledged how roster upheaval can create problems.  

"I think the more consistent we can be as a unit then that builds their communication and better teamwork between the players that are involved.There are always going to be some moving parts, there are moving parts every week because of the team that we play and unfortunately weve had, like every team does, guys go in and out for various reasons, so its not perfect."

During games, much of that effort now falls on McCourty's shoulders. Belichick said Wednesday he appreciates his player's style.

"He's not a guy that has a lot of excess communication; he's concise, he's to the point: 'Here's the call, here's what it is.' It's good. Devin's more like, 'Here's what we need to do. Just get to the point and do it.' He does a good job at it."

As for the player himself, McCourty believes his positional flip-flopping actually provides an advantage.

"I have a good knowledge of, especially for our corners, what they're doing. I think a little bit of that helps when I can say things and communicate with them, to let them know that I'm going to call. My experience at corner helps me out with that aspect, and then just going out there and playing and listening to the guys that've been playing safety when they're trying to help me out."

Guys like Gregory.

Though he's been sidelined with a hip injury since Week 4, the veteran safety has been a valuable resource  in the film room and in meetings for the entire defensive backfield.

McCourty's appreciation for Gregory was returned in kind this week.

"Dev's a great athlete," he said. "He understands football; he's a smart football player. He understands what we're trying to do as a defense and he has the ability to play any position in the secondary, so he's done a great job."

So despite all the moving parts, all the instability, maybe there are fundamental aspects of McCourty's move that will make the whole thing work.

Gregory put it simply enough.

"Dev's a selfless guy. He's a team player. He just wants us to win, and whatever they ask him to do, just like the rest of us, he'll do."

Red Sox activate reliever Carson Smith off disbled list

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Red Sox activate reliever Carson Smith off disbled list

The Red Sox get a much needed boost to their bullpen as they begin their road trip through Chicago and New York. They have activated right-handed pitcher Carson Smith off the disabled list.

Smith was placed on the 15-day DL on April 3 (retroactive to March 25) with a right flexor strain suffered in spring training. He made two rehab appearances with the Portland Sea Dogs, retiring all five batters over 1.2 innings of work, striking out two in the process.

This is Smith’s first season with the Red Sox after being acquired in a traded with the Seattle Mariners in December.

In 79 major league games from 2014-15, the right-hander went 3-5 with 13 saves, a 2.07 ERA (18 ER), and 102 strikeouts in 78.1 innings pitched (11.7 SO/9.0 IP). Smith set Mariners reliever records for the most scoreless appearances (20) and most scoreless innings (19.1) to begin a major league career.

To make room on the 25-man roster, infielder Marco Hernandez was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket following Sunday night’s game against the New York Yankees.

Tuesday’s lineups: Red Sox vs. White Sox

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Tuesday’s lineups: Red Sox vs. White Sox

Right-handed hitting Chris Young gets the start in left field against left-hander Jose Quintana (3-1, 1.47 ERA) and Ryan Hanigan catchers knuckleballer Steven Wright (2-2, 1.37) as the Red Sox open a three-game series against the White Sox tonight in Chicago. 

The White Sox have the best record in the American League at 18-8. The Red Sox (15-10) have moved into first-place in the A.L. East after a three-game sweep of the Yankees.

The full lineups:

RED SOX
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Travis Shaw 3B
Chris Young LF
Ryan Hanigan C
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF

Steven Wright RHP

WHITE SOX
Adam Eaton RF
Jimmy Rollins SS
Jose Abreau 1B
Todd Frazier 3B
Melky Cabrera LF
Brett Lawrie 2B
Jerry Sands DH
Dioner Navarro C
Austin Jackson CF

Jose Quintana

Brady legal team granted 14-day extension

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Brady legal team granted 14-day extension

Tom Brady’s legal team, including recent hire former US Solictor General Ted Olson, have been granted the extension they were seeking for the deadline to file for a rehearing in the Deflategate case. 

Despite the NFL’s opposition - lawyers for the league requested Monday that the motion be denied - the court ruled Tuesday in favor of the NFLPA and Brady. They now have until May 23 to file the request for a rehearing or rehearing en banc with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which last week reinstated his four-game Deflategate suspension.

Once Team Brady makes the request, the court still has to agree to take up the case again. And while many legal experts speculate the odds of that happening are low, this case has continued to confound observers as it has played out.