Patriots have varied plans for their time off

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Patriots have varied plans for their time off

FOXBORO -- With the bye week at hand, Patriots players have been afforded more time off than they've had all season. After today's practice, they won't have another until Tuesday of next week. For many, it's a chance to get away and decompress. For some others, it will be a chance to do extra work in preparation for the second half of the season.

Here are some of the things the Patriots have planned for their upcoming long weekend:

Tom Brady
Im not sure yet. I havent quite made any plans. Get a little rest, stay focused on what we have to do here and try to gear up for a really important next eight games of the year.

Stevan Ridley
I'll be down in Baton Rouge, watching the LSU-'Bama game, of course. I gotta get back and see my boys play and try to get this upset so I can come back and talk a little trash to Dont'a Hightower and Brandon Deaderick. I'll be right there in Baton Rouge . . . I'll probably be down on the sideline. Somewhere around. Not too far. I'm going down there to see my boys, man. I'm going back to see them and wish 'em luck. I'm with them out there on the field. I want them to get that win, like I said, so I can get back up here and talk a little bit . . . It's funny you get some time away and I'm going to another football game. I'm going back to my local high school game, then I'm gonna catch the LSU game, then I come on back. I'm leaving football to go to football. It's my life, man.

Steve Gregory
Right now getting healthy and being ready to play is the most important thing so I'll be around here . . . The season can be a grind. It's a long season. The bye week always comes, and it's good for guys to get away, get their mind off things a little bit. Even take a little trip, just get away from it for a little bit, but then get back, ready to play.

Tavon Wilson
I feel like a bye week is always good and I feel like ours came at the perfect time. Right in the middle of the season. I feel like it's perfect just to kind of relax, and kind of look at some things you've done wrong, some things you've done right and just try to build on those things . . . I'm definitely getting away. I'm gonna get away, relax a little bit and when I get back here next week then I'll be able to get ready for Buffalo.

Rob Ninkovich
I'm not going anywhere. I'm going to stay here, lay around, just kind of relax. Try and get myself back to feeling a little bit normal. Come next week, I'll be refreshed . . . You come in, get your lifts in, do the same things that you would do every other week. You just have a little bit more time to sleep in the morning so that you don't have to get up so early and so you don't have those long, 12-hour days . . . I'll probably sit down and watch some college games, the pro games as well. Obviously having the first chance to just kind of relax and watch a football game.

Brandon Spikes
Me personally, I'm still gonna be working. I wanna just be a professional. I wanna be the best at my position. I can't let a day get by. I'm definitely going to enjoy my family but at the same time, still trying to get the edge.

Bill Belichick
Well see how it goes. Right now were just trying to have a good day here today, take advantage of our day on the field with the players. We have some things that we definitely need to clean up after they leave going forward. Well just kind of take it day to day here and see how it goes.

Blakely: Thomas isn't a starter, but new All-Star voting is an improvement

Blakely: Thomas isn't a starter, but new All-Star voting is an improvement

BOSTON – There’s certainly some disappointment among Celtics Nation that Isaiah Thomas just missed out on being an All-Star starter in the East.

But one thing we can certainly see with the new voting system … it works way better than the old way of choosing starters.

This was the first year that the NBA decided to allow current NBA players as well as a select panel of media choose who the starting five in the Eastern and Western Conferences would be.

The fan vote would count for 50 percent while media and players would each represent 25 percent of the final tally.

From there, the players would receive a fan ranking, a media ranking and a player ranking.

Because of the aforementioned breakdown – fans count for 50 percent while media and players represent 25 percent of the vote – the fan ranking would be counted twice while the media and player rankings would be counted once.

Let’s look at Isaiah Thomas’ situation which ultimately came down to him and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan for the final starting spot in the backcourt.

Thomas was fourth in the fan voting, second in the player voting and first among guards in the media voting. So when you add the fan voting (4 *2) + player voting (2 *1) + media voting (1*1), you get a total of 11 which is then divided by 4 to arrive at a score of 2.75.

Now let’s look at DeRozan.

He was third in the fan voting, third in the player ranking and second in the media voting among guards. So his score when you add the fan voting (3*2) + player voting (3*1) + media voting (2*1), you get a total of 11 which when divided by 4 brings you to a score of 2.75 – same as Thomas.

The tiebreaker was the fan vote which meant DeRozan and not Thomas, would get the starting nod in next month’s All-Star game.

As much as it may suck that Thomas lost out because of this system, he would not have had a shot at being a starter under the old system in which the fans were the ones to pick starters.

In fact, it would have been Chicago’s Dwyane Wade in the starting lineup under the old system.

No disrespect to D-Wade, but he has not had an All-Star worthy season. And had the old system been in place, he would be an all-star and thus take up a roster spot of another player who frankly, is more deserving.

And if you take a glance out West, they too would have had a starter who has not had an All-Star caliber season.

Golden State’s Zaza Pachulia finished second in the voting among Western Conference forwards, fueled in large part to his home country, Georgia, voting early and often for him. Because of the media and player voting, Pachulia wound up sixth among Western Conference big men which is still too high when you consider some of the players behind him – Memphis’ Marc Gasol, Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge and Los Angeles Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan – who are all having better seasons.

While no one would say this new system is perfect, considering how this year’s voting would have panned out under the old rules, this change by the league is a good one that should stick around.

NOTE: I was among the media panelists selected by the NBA to vote for this year’s All-Star starters. My selections in the East were Cleveland’s LeBron James, Kevin Love and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo in the frontcourt with Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving and Boston’s Isaiah Thomas in the backcourt. My Western Conference selections were Kevin Durant of Golden State, Anthony Davis of New Orleans and Kawhi Leonard of San Antonio in the frontcourt, with Houston’s James Harden and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook in the backcourt.