Niners' Smith looking for ways to get to Brady


Niners' Smith looking for ways to get to Brady

FOXBORO -- On Monday night, J.J. Watt hit Tom Brady hard several times, but he couldn't come up with a single sack in the game. 
Watt has the second most sacks in the NFL, with 16.5.
On Sunday night, the Patriots' offensive line will have another sack machine on their hands. This time, in San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith, who leads the NFL with 19.5 sacks.
"It's definitely a good achievement, setting the franchise record last week," said Smith in a conference call on Wednesday. "It means a lot to me. It's one of the goals I have. And I just have to really keep it going, and see if I can make that number even better."
"He's got a very high motor," said 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh in his conference call. "He really likes football. And he's got a lot of physical attributes, speed and power. And he's a very smart guy."
And to think, the Patriots were actually the first team that Smith talked to at the NFL combine before the 2011 draft, where he was taken seventh overall by San Francisco.
Before being drafted, Smith also made a visit to New England.
"It was a good experience," said Smith. "There's a lot of history there, with them being Super Bowl champions. And the coaching staff does a great job of teaching their players. It's really just a well-built organization, and they're doing things right."
Nowadays, Smith and the 49ers are also doing things the right way. But they still have to figure out a plan to get to Brady on Sunday night at Gillette Stadium.
"Well, we'd sure like to find the answer to that," said Harbaugh on Wednesday. "And then implement it. But it is really difficult. They're tough to do that against."
"Tom Brady's ball mechanics are really good, and they do a good job of disguising things," said Smith. "So we've got to not only be disciplined, but try to anticipate, and pay attention to film so when it comes game time, we make sure we're not caught off-guard by anything."

Bennett back at practice, but admits injuries hurting his play

Bennett back at practice, but admits injuries hurting his play

FOXBORO -- Martellus Bennett is willing to admit it. 

"Last week was probably my worst game as a Patriot," he told reporters in the locker room on Thursday. "But, you know, you have a bad game here and there. This week, come back grinding, and get ready."

Never was it more clear than on Sunday that Bennett has been hobbled by the injuries he's dealing with. He's coped with an ankle injury since Week 5 in Cleveland that has earned him the respect of his teammates and coaches, but against the Rams it appeared to severely impact his performance. 

He saw four targets and caught two for four yards. As a blocker -- the facet of his game that stood out more than his receiving ability early this season -- he was called for two holds and had difficulty keeping his assignments in check, both in the run game and in pass protection. 

Asked if he may benefit from a week off, Bennett said he planned to continue to play.

"I never thought about that. I just keep going," he said. "I'm like the energizer bunny. I just try to find a way. Sometimes it's [expletive] when you're out there playing with different injuries. You can't do a lot of things that you want to do. You have [expletive] plays. You might have a string of bad plays in a row just because youre dealing with different things . . . 

"But throughout the game you kind of find a way to get the job done. I think that's the biggest point. It may not be pretty all the time, but try to figure some kind of way to get it done. Sometimes it's adjusting as the game goes on."

He added: "The thing about this sport is it's always something. You never go throuigh a season without having some kind of nick or tear, but there's a lot of guys playing with different things. But some guys are able to play through different injuries, and [with] some of the same injuries, you see guys around the league . . . go on IR and things like that. But it just depends on the person and their pain tolerance."

Bennett was back at practice Thursday after he wasn't spotted there on Wednesday. He may be helped by the long week leading up to Monday's game against the Ravens. It could mean an extra day of rest and recovery.

Sometimes, he said, it's difficult not to be out there.

"Sometimes. Sometimes it's like, thank God. I needed that today," he said. "It varies each week. . . I'll fight through whatever and I think that's something that my teammates and coaches know about me that I'm going to try to give them everything I got no matter what."

Tim Thomas ranked one of top 40 goalies on very weird list

Tim Thomas ranked one of top 40 goalies on very weird list

The NHL Network is terrific. Its programming is the best of any of the four major sports leagues’ channels, its talent is outstanding and it shows a lot of cool games across various leagues.  

Players mess up though. 

In the network’s recently released ranking of the 40 best goaltenders of all time, the Bruins were well-represented, but so too was insanity. We’re talking Jonathan Quick in the top 20 (No. 16!), Marc-Andre Fleury top 25 (No. 21!) and Corey Crawford top 30 (No. 26!). Those are just a few of the head-scratchers. 

Tim Thomas was one of seven Bruins on the list, coming in at No. 27. Other Bruins ranked were Bernie Parent (No. 12), Frank Brimsek (No. 23), Rogie Vachon (No. 25), Tiny Thompson (No. 28), Gerry Cheevers (No. 29), Andy Moog (No. 36). Here's the full list, per Mark Lazerus. 

Statistically, Tuukka Rask deserves a place on this list if Fleury and Crawford are going to be that high, but we’ll save the Rask arguments for literally every other second of my life. 

[OK, real quick: Rask has the highest career save percentage of all time. Quick sits No. 17 and Fleury is 32nd. This doesn’t need to be completely statistics based, but it also shouldn’t be completely how-many-Cup-teams-were-on-based. Honestly, I can’t tell what this list is based on at all. Like Cristobal Huet had a better career save percentage than Fleury has.]

Anyway, everyone else hated the list, too.