Patriots defense ready for Luck to run

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Patriots defense ready for Luck to run

FOXBORO -- Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck's numbers aren't all that eye-popping.

This year's No. 1 overall draft pick completes 57.5 percent of his passes. His touchdown-to-interception ratio is 10-to-9. He's fumbled seven times. His quarterback rating is a ho-hum 79.1.

But the Patriots know he's better than the average rookie quarterback, and the tactics they may use to rattle other first-year signal-callers won't apply this week, according to linebacker Jerod Mayo.

"He's a good player," Mayo said of Luck. "He can run, do a lot of different things. He has a lot of different weapons, and he's a good player so it'll take 11 men to stop him."

Mayo said the Colts offense does some things similarly to the Steelers offenses of the past under interim head coach (former Pittsburgh offensive coordinator) Bruce Arians. But with Luck's ability to move around in the pocket and use his speed to pick up yardage when plays break down, it's a new look for New England.

Luck averages 4.7 yards every time he tucks it and runs, and he has rushed for five touchdowns this season. The only quarterback with more touchdown runs is this year's No. 2 overall pick, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (6).

"He's a great runner," Mayo said of Luck. "You look at his combine results and things like that, you can tell he can run the ball. At the same time, he can run and throw. So it'll be a difficult time to try to slow him down."

This will be the Patriots defense's second chance to stop a rookie quarterback this season. They lost to Russell Wilson and the Seahawks in Week 6, 24-23, when the Wisconsin product threw for 293 yards and three touchdowns, including a 46-yarder to receiver Sidney Rice with less than two minutes left in the fourth-quarter.

The Patriots will face a challenge to achieve a different result this time around. Luck's mostly mediocre numbers aside, the one that sticks out is the Colts record with him under center.

They're 6-3, just like the Patriots.

Brown fires up Celtics teammates with tomahawk dunk over Vucevic

Brown fires up Celtics teammates with tomahawk dunk over Vucevic

Well it appears that Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic wasn’t the only one who didn’t see Jaylen Brown’s powerful dunk over him coming. 
 
Apparently, Brown didn’t see it coming either. 
 
“It caught me off-guard,” Brown said after Boston’s 117-87 thumping of the Magic. “I wasn’t even expecting it. It happens. It’s part of basketball. It’s two points.”
 
The play in question came early in the second quarter when Brown blew past Jodie Meeks into the lane and took off towards the rim. 
 
Vucevic jumped late, got dunked on and the Celtics bench went bananas!
 
“It gave our team a lot of energy,” Brown acknowledged.
 
Brown understands part of his job in coming off the bench is to make an impact with effort. 
 
And in doing so, he senses that his teammate’s confidence him in and his game can only grow.
 
“I feel like my teammates are trusting me more, getting more trust from the coaching staff,” said Brown who finished with 13 points. 
 
Avery Bradley likes what he’s seen from Brown, a young player who has shown tremendous promise. 
 
And that dunk over Vucevic?
 
“You’re going to see a lot more of those in his career,” Bradley said. “He gets us going.”

Brown and Rozier seize opportunity, provide spark off Celtics bench

Brown and Rozier seize opportunity, provide spark off Celtics bench

There was Terry Rozier, delivering dizzying crossover dribbles that set up open jumpers, soon followed by defenders he then beat to the rim for easy scores. 
 
“I felt like I was in college a little bit,” Rozier told reporters Wednesday night. 
 
The second-year guard is a long way from his days at Louisville, but make no mistake about it.
 
His basketball education is ongoing, but on Wednesday it was Rozier and rookie Jaylen Brown teaching the Orlando Magic a lesson as Boston pulled away for a 117-87 victory.
 
Playing without Isaiah Thomas (right groin), Rozier came off the bench to score a career-high 16 points. 
 
And Brown, whose hustle and above-the-rim play energized the Celtics most of the night, had 13 points which included a powerful, poster-worthy dunk over an unsuspecting Nikola Vucevic. 

"I didn't expect to dunk, nor did I expect him to jump," Brown told reporters after the game. "When it happened, I was just as surprised as everyone else."
 
The Celtics (13-9) were pleased with the victory which included contributions from several players. 
 
But there was added pleasure for the veteran Celtics in watching their youthful teammates step up and play well.
 
“It’s hard as a young player to come in and find yourself on a team,” Boston’s Al Horford told reporters after the win. “And those guys are really hard workers. As the season goes on, they’ll become more comfortable with what we’re trying to do.”
 
We have seen Brown put in positions where he was given an opportunity to make a major impact. 
 
His first NBA start came against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. 
 
Boston lost 128-122 to the Cavs, but Brown had a career-high 19 points, five rebounds and three steals. 
 
Brown said when he’s on the floor with Rozier, the two have a very specific agenda. 
 
“Me and Terry get in, we talk to each other and say, ‘we gotta run,’” Brown said. “That’s our focus; we’re young. We try to get up and down the floor. It makes the game easier for us.”
 
The Celtics' second unit has been in a constant state of change most of this season due to the number of injuries sustained by the preferred starting five. 

So getting more consistent play from the team’s youngsters like Rozier and Brown is huge for this team going forward especially if they will be without Thomas for multiple games which is a possibility. 
 
“It was a great opportunity; they seized it,” Horford said. “Moving forward, if they play like they did tonight; defense first, confident, I feel like there will be plenty of more opportunities to show what they have.”