From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- The NHL canceled the rest of the preseason Thursday, just a day before negotiations were set to resume in an effort to end the lockout.The league announced its second cancellation of preseason games in a two-sentence statement. NHL owners locked out players Sept. 16 when the collective bargaining agreement expired.The NHL had already called off all the exhibition games scheduled in September. The regular season is supposed to begin Oct. 11.The two sides have scheduled talks on Friday in New York, although they are on secondary economic issues as opposed to the core of the dispute, which is how to split more than 3 billion in annual revenue."I'll reserve judgment on my sense of optimism' (or not) until we see how our meetings unfold," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in an email to The Associated Press. "Ultimately, we have to meet and talk to make a deal. But until we make progress and see some compromise from the Union of their economic position, we won't be going anywhere fast."We will see."The NHL and the union last met for formal negotiations Sept. 12, three days before the labor pact that ended the previous lockout -- back in 2005 -- ran out.Now there is at least a glimmer of optimism as talks are expected to last through the weekend. If a deal isn't reached soon, regular-season games will be the next thing to be called off, and players will begin to miss paychecks.In the most recent round of talks, both sides exchanged proposals on the core economic issues. The NHL made the last offer that day and said it has been waiting for the NHLPA to make a counteroffer."Obviously, we've got to talk before you can get a deal, so I think it's important to get the talks going again," Daly said this week. "But you also have to have something to say. I think it's fair to say we feel like we need to hear from the players' association in a meaningful way because I don't think that they've really moved off their initial proposal, which was made more than a month ago now."As part of their decision to resume talks, the sides agreed to revisit the secondary issues that will have to be ironed out in the new CBA. Those include, but aren't limited to, grievance procedures, travel, medical care, and pensions and benefits."We are pleased the league is willing to come back to the bargaining table, and we look forward to Friday's discussions," NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr said on Tuesday, when the negotiations were scheduled.
WALTHAM, Mass. – Marcus Smart remains out with a left ankle sprain injury sustained earlier this week, but has yet to be ruled out for the season opener against Brooklyn next week.
An MRI came back negative on Smart’s ankle, which was good news.
But there’s still a high level of uncertainty as to whether Smart will heal in time for the team’s opener at home against Brooklyn on Wednesday night.
He sprained the left ankle in the second quarter of a 121-96 loss to the New York Knicks on Wednesday when he stepped on the foot of Knicks guard Justin Holiday.
Smart fell to the floor and was helped to his feet by teammates Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas in addition to the team’s head trainer Ed Lacerte.
The Celtics are indeed hopeful he will heal in time to play next week, but league sources indicate it’s doubtful due to the nature of the injury and Smart’s history with left ankle sprains.
He sustained one in his rookie season and it kept him out for several weeks and he has had a few minor ankle sprains since then.
Even if he shows signs of being healthy enough to play prior to the opener, the Celtics are likely to be overly cautious to best insure that when he does return he does not re-aggravate the ankle.
Smart appeared in all seven preseason games for the Celtics this season, averaging 8.1 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game. Smart shot 42 percent from the field, but struggled mightily from 3-point range while connecting on just 13.6 percent of his 3-point shot attempts.
If Smart is unable to play in the opener or potentially longer, look for the Celtics to lean heavily on Terry Rozier who has been the breakout performer for Boston in the summer and in camp.
“I’m just trying to do whatever they need me to do, to help us win games,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “I’m feeling good, real good about where my game’s at now. Obviously we’re a better team in every way, with Marcus out there. But if he’s not ready to go, the next man up has to get the job done. If that’s me, it’s me. I’ll be ready.”
FOXBORO -- Every Friday we take your Patriots questions on Twitter and answer them as a joint mailbag -- or a Friday Bag, as we call it. Typically Tom E. Curran and Mike Giardi join me in this endeavor, but I'm flying solo as those two get ready to head down to Pittsburgh.
If you ever have any questions for us, feel free to tweet at us using the hashtag #FridayBag, and we'll get to as many as we can.
On to the Bag...
@PhilAPerry do you think Elandon Roberts' break out could thrust him into a starting role?— SeattlePatsFan (@SeattlePatsFan) October 20, 2016
PP: Roberts has been kind of a revelation. It began with his performance against the Browns, when led the team in tackles, and it continued against the Bengals as he was a crucial piece in the Patriots' second-quarter goal-line stand. Not bad for a sixth-round pick who Bill Belichick hadn't even heard of until he popped in the tape of last year's Houston-Navy game and noticed the undersized linebacker making impact plays. I think his future usage will be based on 1) the health of Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower, and 2) the types of offenses the Patriots face moving forward. On Thursday, I wrote about just how infrequently the pair has been on the field. If that trend continues, the No. 3 linebacker in New England will essentially see starter snaps even though the team has moved to what is primarily a two-linebacker defense. Against run-heavy teams (like Cleveland, or probably Pittsburgh without Ben Roethlisberger), Roberts could see more time, whereas pass-happy clubs may get a heavier does of Barkevious Mingo. Roberts has been on the Patriots injury report this week with an ankle issue.
@PhilAPerry why do the Patriots not go for the 2 pt conversion more often? They would at least have a 50% success rate, no?— John Svagdis (@JohnSvagdis) October 20, 2016
PP: It's an interesting question, John. For a couple of reasons, actually. The first -- and maybe you had this in mind -- is the fact that Stephen Gostkowski has become less-than-automatic this year. If the extra point isn't a given, why not go for two? At least I could see that being your logic. The second is that the Steelers are known to be a team that is as willing to run two-point plays as often as any other team. Bill Belichick said this week, that his team will prepare more for that play than they would normally, which in and of itself, other than the obvious scoring advantage, is an argument to run more two-point plays. If it makes your opponent's work week a little more difficult, go for it. The reason I think the Patriots have not tried more two-point plays under Belichick is twofold: They trust their kicker, and I don't think they'll shy away from using Gostkowski moving forward, despite his recent struggled; I also think they might like to hold onto the two-point plays they do have drawn up to save them for critical situations.
@PhilAPerry Will the Patriots make a trade before the 11/1 4PM deadline? If so, for what position?— Cap Space=$9,269,424 (@patscap) October 21, 2016
PP: I do think there will be some kind of trade made, Miguel. The Patriots have obviously been willing to wheel and deal during what is otherwise a pretty monotonous trading deadline when compared to the other three major sports in this country. The position? That's tough. It will depend on the team's overall depth at that point in time, which will be based in large part on whatever injuries they incur between now and then. If I had to guess right now? I'd say tight end. Specifically a blocking tight end. They obviously love to stock up on that position, and it's one that isn't all that deep on the current roster. After Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett, there's AJ Derby and...that's it. The team recently placed tight end Greg Scruggs on injured reserve -- after choosing to keep him on the active roster over guard Jonathan Cooper, mind you -- and haven't filled his roster spot with another player at that position.
PP: Thanks for the question, Paul. If you listen to what Devin McCourty has said on Quick Slants over the course of the last few weeks, he'll tell you that third down comes down to matchups. The Patriots are primarily a man-to-man team, and I think their defensive backs could do a better job of plastering to their receivers in those situations. But coverage and pass-rush are always linked, and the Patriots pass-rush has to come into focus when discussing third down because -- particularly in third-and-long situations -- that's when they should be creating havoc in opposing backfields. The Patriots have pressured less of late as they've gone up against athletic quarterbacks who are dangerous outside the pocket, but sooner or later they're going to need more from their front. Jabaal Sheard (24 total quarterback pressures this season) and Chris Long (20) have been consistent, but as a team the Patriots are tied for 19th in the league with 11.0 sacks.
@PhilAPerry after the JG10 injury, what's your best bet for fair market trade in draft points? A mid 1st and a high 3rd?— Chris Chandonait (@chjch) October 20, 2016
PP: When considering a Patriots trade involving Jimmy Garoppolo, I think a good place to start might be the Sam Bradford deal executed between the Eagles and Vikings. Minnesota sent a 2017 first-rounder and a 2018 conditional fourth-rounder in order to pick up the former No. 1 overall pick. Garoppolo doesn't have near the game experience Bradford had at the time he was traded -- he had thrown for 14,790 yards, 78 touchdowns and 52 interceptions in 63 career starts -- but even in just six quarters of play, it was relatively apparent that Garoppolo could successfully run a complicated scheme. I would not be surprised if another team was willing to cough up a first and a third or better in order to acquire Garoppolo as their next franchise guy. Teams are that hungry. If it works out, and if a team finds someone it can trust for the next 10 years, that's a small price to pay. If the Patriots decide to deal Garoppolo, when they do so -- will it be with a year left on his deal, will it be with Garoppolo on the franchise tag, will it be mid-season? -- will impact the price. As far as Belichick's eventual retirement impacting the quarterback decision . . . I don't think it will. I think even after Belichick is gone, he'll want the franchise to be in good shape because he knows that will be a reflection on his work and therefore a part, however small, of his legacy. I don't see him selling out -- ie trading Garoppolo to get value now -- if he doesn't think that's the best decision for the team.
@PhilAPerry do they just let Deion Lewis stay out until December? Is James white good enough for now?— Tim Hannigan (@Hannigat) October 20, 2016
@PhilAPerry White doesn't impress me, and I don't have confidence in the durability of Lewis. Would Pats draft a 3rdDwnBack in early rounds?— David Dough Pan (@bigpartymaker) October 20, 2016
PP: Given the offensive output the Patriots have posted over the course of the last two weeks, and given the players around him, I'd say James White has been more than enough. If the Patriots needed more from that position, having a healthy Lewis would be their best option. He can simply do things that neither White nor most other backs in the league can when he's at his best. But right now? With Gronkowski, Bennett, Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan around to see the bulk of the targets, Lewis would be more of a luxury than a necessity. For that reason, not only is White enough, but I'd imagine that the Patriots would be incredibly cautious about bringing Lewis back. He's been in and around the locker room of late, but the six-week window for Lewis to begin practicing only just opened, and I would not be surprised if the team wanted to use most of it to buy Lewis as much time as possible. Once he begins practicing, the Patriots will have three weeks to decide if they want to activate him, meaning it could be as late as Week 15 when he makes his return. If healthy, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better end-of-season addition.
PP: I had a chance to speak with Jones at length earlier this week and he's a player who clearly understands that he needs to show the coaching staff more in order to re-gain a role. He said he didn't know if his ejection in Cleveland had anything to do with the decision to make him a healthy scratch, and so I don't know if it did, either. It couldn't have helped his chances at more playing time, though. Jones admitted he needed to be the bigger person in that scenario, even though Browns receiver Andrew Hawkins lunged at his legs. For Jones to come from Alabama, get to this level, and not contribute off the bat has been a bit of a surprise for Jones, I think. While he's frustrated he hasn't been able to do more, he understands he's not where he needs to be. From a locker-room standpoint, his teammates like him, and he's saying all the right things. I'm not sure that's enough to make him active for this week -- Eric Rowe played well in his debut, and Edelman and DJ Foster showed up as returners -- but it's a sign he's approaching his situation with a positive attitude and trying to do the right things.
PP: Hey, David. Just based on recent history, and based on which team I think has the better defense right now, I'd have to say Denver. Mile High has been this team's own personal house of horrors for a long time. Players will tell you Buffalo is a little underrated in terms of how difficult it can be to play there, but I don't see the Patriots getting swept in the regular season by Rex Ryan's club.
@PhilAPerry oh sorry, I was distracted by the squirrel over there. Q: do you think Edelman is holding back a bit to protect his foot?— Big Wally (@BostonWest80111) October 20, 2016
PP: I think what we're seeing from Edelman is simply what should be expected from a player coming back off of multiple foot surgeries. He may not be quite as sharp getting in and out of breaks, but keep in mind he was doing that at an elite level before he went down last season. Even if he's negatively impacted by the procedures he's undergone, he's still been able to get open and make plays with the ball in his hands. He was highly-effective as a punt returner against the Bengals, returning a free kick 16 yards, and taking back three punts for an average of 16.3 yards. His receiving statistics over the last couple of weeks have looked a off (nine catches on 16 targets for 65 yards), but Brady has misfired to Edelman on a couple of notable occasions -- once over the middle last week, and once deep down the middle of the field in Cleveland -- when he was open. Connections on either of those plays could've made for bigger numbers and resulted in fewer concerned Patriots fans. Edelman's not exactly himself -- he was added to the injury report on Oct. 6 and has been limited in practices ever since -- but he's still a viable option in the passing game and an effective blocker. He's played in 117 of 144 snaps (81 percent) since landing on the injury report.