By Tom E. CurranFOXBORO -On Friday night, Tom Brady took the bullet for a first quarter strip sack in Tampa, even though right tackle Marcus Cannon's effort on the play was embarrassing. Monday morning, Brady took the blame again. And Monday afternoon in the Patriots locker room, Brady assured me the offensive and the offensive line would be just fine. That's an assertion one will have to take on faith. Because, while the run blocking has been very good at times, the pass protection on the right edge behind Cannon has been scary for three games. On the left side behind Nate Solder, there's been one "good" performance. There's reason to believe they'll be better in the regular season. The middle-of-the-line shuffling will end. Tight ends may stay in longer to afford extra protection. Brady knows how to get rid of the ball quickly and fight another play. But until they're better...they're not better. It is what it is. Bill Belichick was asked during his Monday press conference whether he felt Brady's been getting hit too often. "You never want to see your quarterback get hit but its a function of a lot of things: not getting rid of the ball, protection, routes, so theres a lot of things come into play," said Belichick. "It needs to be better all the way around. I mean, we havent played very well offensively in any game, with anybody, for any length of time so weve got a lot of work to do."Belichick bristled a bit when asked when he'd settle on a clear-cut group of five linemen. "I would say were probably doing the best we can given the circumstances that we have," he stated. "I dont think all of our offensive linemen have been available. Weve had some guys on the roster that have been in different degrees ofhave worked in different ranges or stages and they havent been totally available for one reason or another. It is what it is."What it's beenwith Cannon is a disappointment. He's been fundamentally weak on someplays and - despite being athletic - his lack of fundamentals has put him in places that leave him looking awkward. There's not a lot of insight forthcoming when Cannon's asked how things are going. "We're all bonding together pretty good," he said." Working together and getting everything figured out.We're just out there doing our jobs to the best of our ability, um...there's uhhh, ya know...ummm...that's it." Yup. That about puts a bow on it.
FOXBORO - While there’s no official word yet on how the playing time will be divided among the Patriots quarterbacks, all three will travel to New Jersey for the preseason finale against the Giants on Thursday night.
There has been plenty of speculation about how much playing time Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett would get, and if Brady would even travel with the team.
Brady will begin serving his four-game Deflategate suspension on Saturday at 4 p.m. so the game provides his last opportunity to play before he returns to the Patriots before he returns for preparations for the Week 5 matchup in Cleveland on Oct. 9.
More to come….
BOSTON - Without saying so directly, John Farrell broadly hinted that the Red Sox appear ready to call up Yoan Moncada as rosters expand from the current 25-man limit Thursday.
Farrell first noted that the Red Sox "need better production'' at third base, where both Travis Shaw and Aaron Hill have struggled mightily at the position.
Moncada, a natural second baseman, was shifted to third base earlier this month at Double A Portland. Moncada has a slash line of .285/.388/.547 with 11 homers and 27 RBI in 44 games.
Asked specifically about the chances of a call-up for Moncada, Farrell said: "We've talked about Yoan. And not just as a pinch-runner. It's an exciting young player, an extremely talented guy. There's all positive reviews and evaluations of him.
"When that major league experience is going to initiate, time will tell that. But in terms of playing the position of third base [in the big leagues], that conversation has been had.''
Previously, the Red Sox had resisted bringing Moncada to the big leagues, worried that he wouldn't be in the lineup often enough to continue his development. The Sox didn't want him to miss out on additional experience in the minors by playing only part-time in the majors.
But now that the minor league seasons are about to end -- Portland finishes Labor Day -- there's nothing in the minors for Moncada to miss.
"This is a different scenario than if it were July or early August,'' said Farrell. "The minor league season ends [soon], so is there benefit to him just being here? The answer to that is yes. Do you weigh playing 'X' number of games per week versus what he could be doing at Portland or Pawtucket? Well, that goes away [with the minor league regular seasons end].
"So, again, by all accounts, there's nothing but positives that could come out of experience here -- if that were to happen.''
Moncada's promotion would be similar to the one experience by Xander Bogaerts in 2013, who was brought up in the final week of August 2013 and remained with the club all the way through the end of the team's World Series run that fall, taking playing time from struggling third baseman Will Middlebrooks.
"For those who have been around this team for a number of years,'' said Farrell, "teams that have had success have always had an injection of young players late in the season that have helped carry the team through the postseason. I think Yoan would be in a similar category to when Pedey [Dustin Pedroia], when Jake [Jacoby Ellsbury] came into the picture. And Andrew (Benintendi) is already here, so I wouldn't separate [Moncada] out from that at all.
"In fact, he's a direct comparison [to those cases].’’
Farrell agreed that the arrival of a young, highly-touted player can inject some energy into a team in the throes of a pennant race.
"Absolutely, there is,'' said Farrell. "You've got a newness element. You've got, likely, above-average speed. You've got athleticism. You've got the unknown across the field on how does a given [opposing] team attack a given guy.
"In the cases we've talked about, it has been beneficial to us for the young player to come up. They find a way to contribute in a meaningful role.
Without saying that [Moncada's promotion] is a definite, there's a lot [of positives]going for it.''
Farrell also acknowledged that the Sox have already held internal discussions about how Moncada would be utilized, given that the switch-hitter has been far more productive from the left side of the plate.
"We've talked about what's strong side, how do you look to best ease him in, so to speak,'' said Farrell. "We thought that with Benintendi, how do we best ease him in. Well, he blew the doors off of that one [with his early success]. So, if it happens, and if begins here soon, you'll all be aware.''
Farrell said the reports of Moncada's transition to third base have been encouraging despite three errors in his first nine games there.
"He's shown good range, an above-average arm,'' said Farrell. "Where there will be ongoing work and continued development, just as there was at second base, is the ball hit straight at him. That's just pure technique and fundamental positioning with hands and feet.
"But as far as range to his glove side, moving to third base, that seemingly has not been that big of a challenge for him.''
The Red Sox try to end their short homestand at 3-3 and take two of three from the last-place Tampa Bay Rays in the series finale this afternoon at Fenway Park.
Steven Wright (13-6, 3.18 ERA), who allowed five first-inning runs to the Kansas Royals in his last start - his first since coming off the disabled list - is on the mound for the Red Sox. Left-hander Drew Smyly (6-11, 4.80) starts for the Rays.
The Red Sox begin a nine-game road trip to Oakland, San Diego and Toronto on Friday night.
Logan Forsythe 2B
Kevin Kiermaier 2B
Evan Longoria 3B
Brad Miller DH
Nick Franklin RF
Logan Morrison 1B
Tim Beckham SS
Corey Dickerson LF
Bobby Wilson C
Drew Smyly LHP
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Sandy Leon C
Chris Young LF
Aaron Hill 3B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF