Patriots will prepare for Jones-Drew's possible return


Patriots will prepare for Jones-Drew's possible return

If Maurice Jones-Drew plays this Sunday it will be his first football action since October 21.

The Jaguars running back injured his foot in that game against the Raiders. Though it was feared he could miss the rest of the season, head coach Mike Mularkey never put Jones-Drew on IR, saying in November, "We still think he has a chance to come back for a few games."

There are two games left to tack onto Jacksonville's forgettable 2-12 season. The first of those is against New England.

Though this is the first week MJD hasn't been ruled out immediately, it's hard to imagine Mularkey will put him on the field and risk any kind of setback.

The Patriots will prepare for him, anyway.

"Obviously, he's a phenomenal back for them and he's really been a workhorse for that offense," said defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. "He's a player that is very explosive and dynamic. We're talking about a guy that's extremely hard to tackle; extremely hard to make sure he's down. I know there's a lot of times where it looks like you've got him wrapped up, you've got him contained, where he's down on the ground and he's really not -- he's still driving his legs and he's still breaking tackles and squeaks through and turns a nothing play into a big play.

"I think it's really important for us to have a high awareness for a player like that when he's in the game. Obviously, tackling is critical in the essence that sometimes, behind those offensive lineman, he gets a little bit lost in there and you have to try to find him when he's hitting those holes at 100 miles an hour and trying to get through really fast."

Jones-Drew's 414 rushing yards (86 attempts) still leads the Jaguars despite his eight-week absence. It won't surprise you, then, to know Jacksonville is ranked 30th in the NFL in ground yards per game (82.4) and is dead last in attempts per game (22.3).

For perspective, last season this team was No. 4 in the NFL in rushing attempts and No. 12 in yards per game.

But Patricia played nice.

"Really, in all respects they've done a great job with the backs they've been able to put in there, certainly with Rashad Jennings and Montell Owens, in just keeping it rolling as far as running the football and keeping the offense moving with the rushing game."

Two more Pastrnak goals pull him into tie for NHL lead with Crosby

Two more Pastrnak goals pull him into tie for NHL lead with Crosby

BOSTON – While the loss to the Avalanche on Thursday night was a monumental dud, it put another dazzling display on the hockey resume of David Pastrnak. 

The 20-year-old star right winger scored two more goals in the 4-2 loss at TD Garden and nearly brought the Bruins back into the game by himself before another defensive breakdown at the end of the second period doomed them. 

Instead, Pastrnak had to settle with being the proud owner of 18 goals scored in 23 games that places him in a tie with NHL superstar Sidney Crosby for the NHL lead in goals. 

The goals also showed his wide range of lethal offensive skills. On the first score, he just broke away from the Avalanche defense and managed to bury a second-effort breakaway chance after a nice Tim Schaller stretch pass off the boards. The second goal was a straight one-timer bomb from the high slot off a slick setup pass from Brad Marchand in the corner, and it had the Bruins right back into the mix after a dreadful first period. 

It wasn’t enough when the B’s defense faltered again toward the end of the second period, but it was enough for everybody to be singing Pastrnak’s praises once again following the loss. 

“He’s a game changer. The momentum is going the other way, and he has the ability to break away on any given shift and score a big goal for us. He did that tonight,” said Torey Krug. “We can’t just keep relying on the same guys to score goals. We’ve got to come up with secondary offense, and I know every other guy wants to do that. 

“Now it’s about showing that on the ice and making sure we’re doing the work and getting better and proving to ourselves. But Pasta [David Pastrnak] has been great for us so far, and we’re obviously lucky to have him.”

The 18 goals barely two months into the season are not too shabby for a kid, in his third NHL season, who just now coming into his own. He’s nearly halfway to 40 before Christmas. For Pastrnak, however, it’s about the team result and he wasn’t overly satisfied with his two goals in a losing effort. 

“I’ve said before the season that our goal is to make the playoffs and to have that experience and have the chance to win the Stanley Cup. I’m still focusing on that,” said Pastrnak, who has yet to experience the Stanley Cup playoffs in his two-plus seasons with the Black and Gold. “We have zero points from tonight’s game and we have to move on. I think our game gets better in the second and third periods, you know, and we have to regroup and get ready for Saturday’s game.”

The Bruins will undoubtedly regroup and once again count on another Pastrnak offensive explosion to help lead the way in what’s become a truly spectacular season for the youngster. 

Report: Bobby Valentine could be Trump’s US ambassador to Japan

Report: Bobby Valentine could be Trump’s US ambassador to Japan

Major league manager. Inventor of the wrap sandwich. Champion ballroom dancer.  And…

US ambassador to Japan?

Bobby Valentine is on the short list for that position in President Donald Trump’s administration, according to a report.

The former Red Sox manager (fired after a 69-93 season and last-place finish in 2012), and ex-New York Mets and Texas Rangers, skipper, also managed the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons. 

Valentine, 66, has known the President-elect and Trump's brother Bob since the 1980s, is close to others on Trump’s transition team and has had preliminary discussions about the ambassador position, according to’s Rob Bradford. 

Valentine, currently the athletic director of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., is also friendly with current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who, like Valentine, attended the University of Southern California.