Ninkovich: Texans run away from sacks

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Ninkovich: Texans run away from sacks

FOXBORO -- The Houston Texans are tied with the New York Giants for the league lead in fewest sacks allowed this season.

Sure, it's a credit to their offensive line. But according to Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich, it's even more of a credit to Arian Foster and the Texans' run game, which continues to make it easier on quarterback Matt Schaub in third-down situations.

"Well, I think they do a good job of running the ball, obviously," said Ninkovich after Friday's practice at Gillette Stadium. "And that sets up the play action. So it's not like guys are just letting loose out there and getting up the field every play. Because obviously if you did that, then they're going to run even more on you.

"And even when they're in third down, it's not like they're 3rd-and-12. They're 3rd-and-4, 3rd-and-5. So the ball's coming out quick, and it's not like Schaub's going to be back there patting the ball all day.

"It all comes down to doing your best to stop the run," added Ninkovich. "That kind of sets everything else up."

So to stop that run, Ninkovich says Monday night will be "all about hustle" for the Patriots' defensive front to get through the Texans' zone blocking scheme.

"They're all rolling," said Ninkovich. "So I think that's how they've been having some of those big plays in the running game. Everybody's running and the back side's getting cut down. So that's when the cutback comes and those big 20-yard runs come out."

Bruins lose Stempniak, Eriksson, others in free agency

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Bruins lose Stempniak, Eriksson, others in free agency

The Bruins lost a number of free agents on after the market opened at noontime. None bigger than Loui Eriksson signing a six-year, $36 million contract with the Vancouver Canucks to play with the Sedin Twins.

It’s the exact level of term and salary that Eriksson said he was looking for from the Bruins in contract negotiations around the trade deadline, but the Bruins never really moved from their offer of a four-year deal at comparable money.

The Bruins will miss the 30-goal production and solid all-around, two-way play from Eriksson as he heads to the West Coast, but they also traded in a passive player in Eriksson for an in-your-face, physical leader in David Backes on a five-year deal. 

Backes is much more of a Bruins-style player than Eriksson could have ever hoped to have been. That part of it is a win for a Bruins fan base that wants intensity and physicality from their players.

The Bruins also watched Jonas Gustavsson sign a one-year, $800,000 contract with Peter Chiarelli and the Edmonton Oilers, Brett Connolly sign a one-year deal for $850,000 with the Washington Capitals, Zach Trotman signs a one-year deal for $950,000 and Lee Stempniak ink a two-year, $5 million contract with the Carolina Hurricanes after being a non-contract training camp invite with New Jersey last season.

Sweeney had maintained as late as Thursday that he was still keeping ties with many of Boston’s free agents prior to the noon opening of the free agent market, but clearly that’s changed.

“We’ll continue to have talks and sort of figure out where things may go. We’ve had talks with a number of players to see what they would like to see as the opportunity here or what we see as a fit,” said Sweeney on the Torey Krug conference call on Thursday night. “I haven’t ruled absolutely any of that out; just haven’t found common ground and obviously it gets harder and harder as we go further along in the process.”
 

OFFSEASON

Evan Turner agrees to 4-year, $70M deal with Trail Blazers

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Evan Turner agrees to 4-year, $70M deal with Trail Blazers

BOSTON — We have heard how good a coach Brad Stevens has been for the Celtics.

And then Evan Turner goes out and lands a four-year, $70 million deal from the Portland Trail Blazers, which says more about Stevens than the crazy NBA free agency market.

Remember, it was just two years ago that Turner was a player that hardly anyone wanted.

Sure, he put up big numbers in his final season in Philadelphia before they traded him, but the Sixers were still a bad team.

And when he arrived in Indiana, the Pacers seemed to regress which on the eve of free agency, led to Turner’s stock taking an Enron-like plunge.

So, in came the Celtics, offering him two-year, $6.9 million contract and with it a chance to change the narrative of him as being a lottery pick bust.

Instead of being a bust, Turner blossomed into a reliable, jack-of-all-trades who could impact the game positively off the bench or in the starting lineup.

And while Turner certainly deserves a lot of credit for turning his basketball career around, it’s also yet another testament to what Stevens can do for veterans in need of a image makeover (read: Dwight Howard).

Kris Humphries was on the Celtics’ 2013-2014 squad which was Stevens’ first season as an NBA coach.

Humphries was part of the Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett trade with Brooklyn, a player whose contract was viewed as being as valuable as he was as a player.

There were rumors all the way up to the trade deadline that Boston would move him and his expiring contract.

Instead, they kept him around and gradually Stevens found ways to get him in the game, allow him to do some things on the floor that he had not done before.

So, rather than having to settle for a veteran’s minimum contract which seemed to be in his future, his play under Stevens led to a three-year, $13 million deal with Washington.

Humphries credits Stevens’ system as being one of the keys to his success and ability to land a decent, multi-year contract following a season in which Boston won just 25 games and he shot a career-best 50.1 percent from the field.

“If you look at a lot of guys, they have a lot of versatility in their game,” Humphries told CSNNE.com in April. “They’re able to handle the ball more than they have throughout their careers, show they can do more in terms of being an overall player. That helps guys with the NBA today, 1 [point guard] through 5 [center] has to be able to make plays. Brad’s system lets you do that.”

Especially for players like Humphries and Turner, who parlayed success under Stevens into a huge payday.

 

Red Sox activate Brock Holt off DL, will start in LF

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Red Sox activate Brock Holt off DL, will start in LF

After being out with a concussion since May 20, Brock Holt has been activated by the Red Sox and will start in left field in the opener of the three-game series with the Angels. 

Infielder Mike Miller was optioned back to Triple-A Pawtucket to make room for Holt on the roster.

Holt was hitting .239 with three homers and 19 RBI before he was injured. He hit .320 (8-for-25) in an eight-game rehab stint for the PawSox.