McCourty move to safety? 'You've got to be ready'

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McCourty move to safety? 'You've got to be ready'

FOXBORO -- Last year Devin McCourty, whether because of a lack of depth at the position or because he was struggling at cornerback, was moved to safety. He played about 20-percent of his snaps in the back of the secondary.
After 2011 came to a close, New England moved to bolster the safety position behind starter Patrick Chung by bringing in free agent veteran Steve Gregory. The team also drafted surprise second-round pick Tavon Wilson. Defensive back Nate Ebner was selected in the sixth round, though his best chance to make the roster was thought to be as a special teamer.
McCourty was left to rebound at left corner.
But The Plan saw some setbacks. Gregory suffered a hip injury in Week 4. Chung hurt his shoulder last weekend against the Seahawks and left the game.
Who did that leave to defend Seattle's game-winning drive Sunday? A pair of rookies.
The Seahawks needed just four plays. Just under the two-minute warning, Russell fired a 46-yard missile downfield to Sidney Rice for the go-ahead touchdown.
It was not the first time this season the deep ball has wounded, even killed New England. McCourty was asked if, as critics have noted, the issue is as basic as the defensive backs failing to locate the ball in the air.
"In some cases, it is that simple," he admitted. "In other cases it's different; I wouldn't lie and say no. In some cases it's going and just making a play."
So here we are again: McCourty is getting beat on routes and New England needs help guarding the back door. Could the hard-hitting corner be moved back to safety? The idea seems to be gaining traction among fans and analysts alike.
"That's not my call," McCourty said Friday. "I'll do whatever Coach Belichick decides. We've got some young guys that I think are doing a great job of picking up the defense since they've been here. I think they've done a great job just responding and give them opportunities to show what they know and how they can play."
But would he be ready to play, if asked?
"On this team, you've got to be ready to go anywhere."

Red Wings' Vanek, Nielsen score in 6-5 SO win over Bruins

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Red Wings' Vanek, Nielsen score in 6-5 SO win over Bruins

DETROIT - Thomas Vanek and Frans Nielsen scored in a shootout, lifting the Detroit Red Wings to a comeback 6-5 win over the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night.

The Red Wings rallied from 3-0 and 4-1 deficits in the first period, and with 3:04 remaining in regulation, Gustav Nyquist scored to pull them into a tie.

In the shootout, Tuukka Rask and Petr Mrazek stopped the first shots they faced before Vanek scored for the Red Wings and Brad Marchand countered with a goal for the Bruins. Nielsen, who like Vanek joined the team last summer as a free agent, scored on the team's third attempt and Vatrano missed the net with a chance to extend the 1-on-1 duels.

The Bruins were dominant early before blowing a chance to keep Detroit at a distance in the Atlantic Division standings.

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics 'pummeled on the glass' by Knicks

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics 'pummeled on the glass' by Knicks

BOSTON – It seems to not matter whether teams go big or small against the Boston Celtics, rebounding remains a problem.

The Knicks proved that on Wednesday in handing the Boston Celtics a 117-106 loss which snapped Boston’s season-best seven game winning streak at home.

In the past, conversations regarding Boston’s rebounding problems centered around them playing against teams that just had more size and muscle in the frontcourt.

That was not the case against the Knicks (19-24) who out-rebounded Boston 57-33 despite playing smaller lineups than most of the Celtics’ past opponents.

“They were small tonight, so it’s not like that should’ve been a big excuse from a size standpoint,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “Not that you should ever get out-rebounded by 24. But we weren’t much different; in fact we were bigger for most of the game and we still got … we just got pummeled on the glass.”

When it comes to rebounding with a small lineup, often it’s just a matter of who wants the ball more.

And the Celtics (26-16) had to acknowledge on Wednesday that most of Wednesday night, it was the Knicks.

“They played harder than us, they out-rebounded us, they played more physical than us,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “You’re not going to beat anybody the way they manhandled us.”

Celtics forward Jae Crowder echoed similar sentiments.

“They wanted it more than we did,” Crowder said.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Wednesday’s game.

 

STARS

Derrick Rose

It was very much a hot tub time machine kind of night for Rose, who looked very much like the dominant player who won the league’s MVP award in 2011. Rose led the Knicks with a team-high 30 points, 12 of which came in the fourth quarter.

Isaiah Thomas

While Thomas had yet another strong showing in the fourth quarter, this was one of those nights when he needed more help than usual. That said, he still led all scorers with 39 points, eight of which came in the fourth quarter.

 

STUDS

Willy Hernangomez

No player better personified the struggles Boston had on the boards all game, than Hernangomez. He came off the Knicks bench to score 17 points and grab a game-high 11 rebounds – four on the offensive glass.

Jae Crowder

There were a lot of things to like about Crowder’s play on Wednesday, especially his defense on Carmelo Anthony (13 points, 5-for-14 shooting). But Crowder also delivered on the offensive end, scoring 21 points on 7-for-13 shooting with five rebounds and an assist.

Mindaugas Kuzminskas

Another unsung hero for New York on Wednesday, he had 17 points on 6-for-12 shooting with six rebounds and two assists.

Jaylen Brown

It was a rough night for most of the Celtics, but Brown did provide a bit of lift when he was in the game. He finished with 12 points on 3-for-6 shooting to go with four rebounds and a blocked shot.

 

DUDS

Al Horford

This was one of those games that Horford would be wise to forget as soon as he can. He scored a season-low five points and shot just  2-for-14 which was the worst shooting game of his career.