Notes from Day 2 of Pats mini-camp

Notes from Day 2 of Pats mini-camp

FOXBORO -- I know what you're all clamoring for: Mini-camp notes! Well here, you heathens. Have at them.
NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith and Assistant Executive Director of External Affairs George Atallah were at Gillette Tuesday. Don't fret -- the CBA allows the Players Association to make five unofficial visits in the offseason. As far as we know, this was one of them.
Jonathan Fanene, who had his left leg worked on by a trainer yesterday, missed Wednesday's session. Rookie running back Brandon Bolden was also unavailable, though he watched practice from the sideline. Jermaine Cunningham only showed face at about 1:14 PM, as he walked with Brandon Spikes and Myron Pryor out of the bubble.
Sebastian Vollmer, Rob Gronkowski, Logan Mankins, Tracy White, and Matthew Slater also continued their rehabilitation and running. Vollmer and Mankins rolled in about an hour after practice began. The pair had a brief chat with De Smith and Patriots owner Robert Kraft before starting rehab work.
Offense, wearing blue, and defense, wearing white, split up to start. The offensive line practiced against dummy 'D' while the rest worked on the running game. Defense practiced separately against the pass.
Tom Brady again did some passing drills against air. Aaron Hernandez, who seems to generally hate his helmet, actually put the thing on only while actually in the route. He made the grab.
When the Patriots mixed in some defense, a lot of time was spent with Brady and his backups working on seam routes and dropping passes in over DBs who hadn't turned around.
More work for Patrick Chung in the return game. Donte' Stallworth also got some special teams reps, as we saw in OTAs.
There were a few consecutively ugly series during 7-on-7. First, Ryan Mallett and Brandon Lloyd missed a connection. Then Hoyer had a bad throw. Brady followed up with a grounder to Joseph Addai in the flat. Had to be the rain.
We saw a couple different coverages practiced in the Red Zone (we're not at liberty report on scheme). Brady found Gaffney in the end zone on a sweet play -- Devin McCourty and Will Allen were left looking foolish. All the while, newly anointed defensive coordinator Matt Patricia knelt and watched his men. You have to wonder if they're happier when the offense completes the play, or the defense breaks it up. Probably depends on which coach you talk to.
Alabama fans will be happy to hear rookie linebacker Dont'a Hightower had a nice pick-6 during 11-on-11 against Brian Hoyer who underthew a crossing route. Roll Tide.
Sterling Moore had an impressive pass break-up against the old man Jabar Gaffney.
Donte Stallworth made a contested catch in the end zone against Ras-I Dowling, a play on which there was probably a little more contact than is ideal. Stallworth spiked the ball near Dowling after the play.
Tight end Bo Scaife looked pretty good today. He looked pretty mad when he went up for a high pass and got pulled down around the shoulders by Tavon Wilson. The guys on the sidelines heckled the play.
Again on the sidelines Wednesday were coaching assistants David Patten and Billy Yates, both former Patriots. Patten and Deion Branch spent a long time talking together.

Don't expect to see Celtics shy away from 3-pointers

Don't expect to see Celtics shy away from 3-pointers

BOSTON – There were a bunch of numbers from Boston’s 121-114 loss to Detroit on Wednesday that stood out. 

Among the eye-grabbing stats was the fact that the Celtics had taken 42 3s (with 15 makes), an unusually high number of attempts that we may see matched or even surpassed tonight against the Sacramento Kings. 

Don’t count head coach Brad Stevens among those surprised to see the Celtics attempt a lot of three-pointers. 

Last season the Celtics took 26.1 three-pointers per game which ranked 11th in the NBA. 

This season they’re up to 31.2 three-pointers attempted and 11.3 made which both rank fifth in the NBA. 

You can count Kelly Olynyk among the Celtics pleased with the team's increased emphasis on shooting 3s. 

The 7-foot led the NBA in shooting percentage (.405) on 3s taken last season.

"We play a lot of spread offense with four shooters, four perimeter guys," Olynyk, who is shooting 38.1 percent on 3s this season, told CSNNE.com. "We're trying to make teams shrink their defense and spray out and hopefully make shots. You're making extra passes, giving up good ones for great ones. And we have some pretty good shooters on our team. That's the way we're trying to play. It's just a matter of us making shots."

And the Celtics face a Kings team ranks among the NBA’s worst at limiting 3-point attempts with Sacramento opponents averaging 28.4 three-pointers taken per game which ranks 25th in the league. 

One of Stevens’ main points about three-pointers is while it’s an important shot for them, they need to be the right shot, the right basketball play at the right time. 

And when asked about the 42 attempts against the Pistons, he was quick to acknowledge those were for the most part the right shots to be taken. 

“They are,” Stevens said. “At the end of the day we want lay-ups. And if we don’t get layups, we want the floor to be shrunk. If the defense shrinks in, you’re able to touch the paint and kick out. Two of our last three games, maybe three of the last four, two-thirds of our possessions we touched the paint or shrunk the defense with a roll. That’s our objective. We’re not a team that gets to the foul line a lot. We’re not a team that rebounds at a high rate. And we haven’t scored in transition. To be able to be sitting where we are offensively, a big reason is because we space the floor.”

Barnes, Cousins trying to keep 'emotions and energy focused'

Barnes, Cousins trying to keep 'emotions and energy focused'

BOSTON – No one is proclaiming DeMarcus Cousins’ demeanor is all that radically different than past seasons. 

But the volatile nature that has often overshadowed his on-the-court-brilliance, doesn’t seem to shine as brightly as it used to. 

Maybe he’s growing up. 

Maybe he’s finally comfortable with his team. 

And then there’s the almighty dollar which was the incentive for one of his teammates, Matt Barnes, to clean up his act as far as racking up technical fouls and being fined by the league. 

I asked Barnes whether there was a light bulb moment or a teammate or player that helped him get on track and not draw so much attention from officials and the league office. 

“It was all the money I was being fined,” he said. “I think I lost like $600,000 over my career for fines. It was time to kind of wake and say ‘hey, they don’t like you so you have to stick to the book.’”

With Barnes returning to Sacramento (he played for the Kings during the 2004-2005 season), he finds an intense, kindred spirit of sorts in Cousins who like Barnes has had his share of technical and fines handed down by the league office. 

This season, Cousins is the NBA’s leader in technical fouls with six. 

“I’ve always had a good head on my shoulders,” Barnes said. “I’m just a passionate player. I play with my emotion on my sleeve. I think DeMarcus does the same thing. What I’m trying to show him now, we have to keep our emotions and energy focused towards the right things. That could be detrimental to the team if it gets out of hand.”

First-year coach Dave Joerger has been pleased to see how different Cousins is to be around on a daily basis as opposed to how he’s perceived. 

“He gets credit for his talent. He gets credit that he’s improved in the league,” Joerger said. “I think he doesn’t get enough credit for the way that his approach to the game and the way that he’s carrying himself and conducting himself has greatly improved. He’s a good person. Now being with him, I see improvement over the last three years, the way that he goes about his business. I think that’s very positive.”