Reggie rolls on for Colts in stately Wayne manner

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Reggie rolls on for Colts in stately Wayne manner

OXBORO - The Patriots made two shrewd picks in the 2001 NFL draft - Richard Seymour at No. 6 and Matt Light at No. 48.

But the need for a wideout back then was such that there was much lobbying outside Foxboro Stadium for the Patriots to pull the trigger on someone to help bail out Drew Bledsoe.

Reggie Wayne went 30th to the Colts that year. Now, we're not trying to roll back history and say the Patriots "missed" on Wayne. But he was known as a technically proficient route-runner at Miami with magnificent hands and - for the past 12 seasons - he's been as reliable as the sunrise.

He'll turn 34 on Saturday and his numbers this year with the newly remade Colts make him seem like a latter-day Art Monk.

He's got 69 catches so far this season and - by the end of the year - he'll be darn close to 1,000 for his career (he has 931). You could say, "if he stays healthy" but that's the other thing about Wayne. He hasn't missed a game since his rookie year.

And this year, he's been reinvented a little bit. After spending much of his career as Marvin Harrison's partner-in-crime on the receiving end of throws from Peyton Manning, Wayne re-upped with the Colts for the Andrew Luck era. And he's been terrific operating with Luck in the system that offensive coordinator Bruce Arians brought with him from Pittsburgh

"They moved him around a little in the past, but not much," said Bill Belichick. "And now he's Hines Ward. They motion him a lot, he's blocking, cracking, he's lining up close to the formation, he's in the slot, he's doing a lot of things that Hines Ward did in Pittsburgh.

"It's interesting to see him in that role, but he's always been good at whatever he's done," he said. "You see him work the middle of the field on middle reads, and on option routes or that kind of thing, or working on the perimeter. He's good at all of it."

Wayne had 75 catches last season with a collection of ineffective Colts quarterbacks throwing to him. But Belichick is quick to point out that Wayne wasn't responsible for his drop below 80 catches for the first time since 2004.

"I don't really see Reggie Wayne much differently than I saw him in the past," Belichick stated. "He was good then, he's good now. There were some issues with the quarterback and passing game and all that, but I didn't see any dropoff in Reggie Wayne as a football player. Maybe I missed it, but he's always looked pretty good to me."

Good enough so that the Patriots made an offseason run at signing Wayne before he returned to Indy.

Belichick told the Indianapolis media on Wednesday he believes Wayne is having a "Hall of Fame career."

Arians, who's been the Colts interim head coach in place of Chuck Pagano, makes it clear that Wayne's influence has extended far beyond his 69 receptions.

Arians mentioned that, a couple of weeks back, there were eight first-year players on the field during Indy's winning drive against the Dolphins.

"The rookies have followed the pied piper, and thats Reggie Wayne," said Arians. "He sets the tempo for us offensively and then Andrew is the second guy in line. If he can handle it, then they can handle it and Reggie makes sure that the receiving corps and everybody else is ready to go."

Arians said there was little doubt Wayne would return to Indy.

"Hes a Colt and he wanted to be a Colt bad. Hes a legend here and hes going to go into the Hall of Fame," Arians predicted. "Im really lucky because Ive gotten a chance to have my second receiver catch 1,000 passes and maybe get to two induction ceremonies (Hines Ward being the other). He always wanted to be here and as soon as Chuck made that call, it was just a matter of, Yeah Im coming. He knew what he was getting into and I think hes excited more than anybody with the change hes a rookie in this offense too because he sat out on the left side for 10 years and now hes all over the place, running routes that hes never run before. So hes jumped in and hes really excited about it. You cant put a quantified value on how much his leadership means to our team."

Like every season, this year's MVP debate will revolve around the best players on the best teams or the ones who put up eye-popping individual numbers.

So far, though, no player's been more valuable in more ways than Wayne's been to Indy.

Haggerty: Bruins putting a lot of their hopes in one roster fix

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Haggerty: Bruins putting a lot of their hopes in one roster fix

The improvement plan has become as clear as it’s going to be for the Bruins this offseason.

With Bruins general manager Don Sweeney locking up Kevan Miller to a four-year, $10 million deal this week and vowing to sign Torey Krug as well, the Bruins defensemen corps is going to look awfully similar to last season’s misbegotten group.

Almost identical, it would seem.

Sure, Sweeney said on Wednesday that the Bruins are actively seeking out “a transitional defenseman” that’s presumably a little better than 35-year-old journeyman John-Michael Liles, and can be paired with Zdeno Chara as a top duo for next season. It’s the No. 1 priority on the Bruins offseason shopping list just as it was last season once they shipped Dougie Hamilton to Calgary for draft picks and were instead saddled with a fearsome, crippling black hole at the top of their organizational D-man charts.

The trade market has been set to a degree by the Erik Gudbranson trade from the Florida Panthers to the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night with Jim Benning giving up a Grade-A center prospect in Jared McCann, a second-round pick and a fourth-round pick in exchange for the 24-year-old top-four defenseman. Per a hockey source with knowledge of the situation, the Bruins were not involved in any talks for the towering Gudbranso. It sounded like the Panthers and Canucks were pretty locked in with each other on making a deal.

That’s an unfortunate product of Boston not being able to match up with the available center prospect that might have interested Florida and having dealt some of those 2016 draft picks on fruitless deadline rental deals for Lee Stempniak and Liles.

So, how difficult will it be to land Kevin Shattenkirk, or Jacob Trouba, or Sami Vatanen, or Tyson Barrie, or any other mobile blueliner able to play big minutes, move pucks and survive against the other team’s best offensive players while being sheltered defensively by Zdeno Chara?

“Time will tell on that one, you know? Either through free agency or through acquisition, it’s a matter of finding a trading partner or finding a match in the marketplace. We’re going to be aggressive,” said Sweeney. “We certainly have identified, we had our pro meetings … I’m not going to give my whole plan out to you today. But we have areas that we want to address in the depth of our organization more likely in the forward position, either on the right wing or the center, or again on the backend. We’re exploring a bunch of different things trade-wise. It’s difficult in this league, but I think that we’re in the position with two first-round picks to be either selecting really good players or to be in the marketplace.”

The Bruins had better hope it’s a miracle-working puck-mover that they bring to Boston because otherwise they are on course for bringing back the same old sorry usual suspects from last season. Miller and Adam McQuaid will be taking up a combined $5.25 million on the salary cap, Krug will have a salary in the range of $5 million per season after watching the B’s largesse in the Miller deal and both Chara and Seidenberg will trudge on as proud, aging warriors well on the back end of their careers after outstanding service in Boston.

That means many defenders, including Joe Morrow and Colin Miller, return. Defense was the clear weakness on the team, which finished 19th in the NHL after being in the bottom third of the league pretty much all season. It was inarguably the worst defensive group of Claude Julien’s 10-year tenure with the Bruins and had major difficulties in all areas ranging from tape-to-tape passes, to coverage breakdowns and good, old-fashioned lost battles in all of the danger areas.

So, with the plan to add one high-caliber “transitional defenseman” already laid out, it’s clear the B’s belief is that will be enough to substantially improve things on the ice.

At least that’s the theory before the bullets start flying next season and Sweeney gave a few perfunctory lines about the team improving in every area.  

“This is a results-oriented business, so we have to get better in areas. We have to improve our roster. I’ve said all along that we need to continue to improve our roster. We’ll be in the marketplace in every different way, shape, or form to try and acquire players that will continue to help us do so,” said Sweeney. “Talking with Claude and going over the time he spent with Butch [Cassidy], through my dealings with Butch, and realizing the development of a lot of the players that have been a part of our roster and success is the transition game and stuff that Butch has brought to the table.

“[It’s] how he saw the game, how he expects players to play and move pucks and work on it every day, is an area that I think he’s going to be an addition to our [coaching] staff and how he sees the game. I think I identified that if Butch was playing in this day and age now, he’d be a very welcome addition to our roster.”

So that’s the plan, folks. The big move of the summer is getting a defenseman they badly need, filling in a few roster spots, signing a good deal of their own players and then hoping for a better result next time around.

Isn’t there some kind of line about insanity and expecting different results with the same cast of characters year in and year out? 

 

Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas earns All-NBA team votes

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Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas earns All-NBA team votes

BOSTON – Isaiah Thomas was among the breakout performers in the NBA this past season, earning the Celtics guard his first All-Star appearance in the process. 

And when the league announced its three All-NBA teams on Thursday, Thomas was among the contingent of players receiving votes.
 
Thomas, who averaged a career-high 22.2 points per game this past season, received a total of 20 points which was more than perennial standouts Pau Gasol (16 points) of Chicago, Dirk Nowitzki (8 points) of Dallas and New York’s Carmelo Anthony (2 points).
 
Golden State’s Stephen Curry was a unanimous first-team selection as he was named to the first team on all 129 ballots submitted for a total of 645 points. Points for first, second and third team nominations were awarded on a 5-3-1 basis.
 
Joining Curry on the first team was LeBron James who was named to the first Team for the 10th time in his 13 NBA seasons; San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard, DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook.
 
The second team includes Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, Golden State’s Draymond Green, Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins, Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers and Portland’s Damian Lillard.

On the third team, there’s Paul George of Indiana, LaMarcus Aldridge of San Antonio, Andre Drummond of Detroit, Klay Thompson of Golden State and Toronto’s Kyle Lowry.
 

Report: 3 owners unhappy with Kraft's amicus brief on behalf of Brady

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Report: 3 owners unhappy with Kraft's amicus brief on behalf of Brady

Three NFL owners have expressed “extreme disappointment” in Robert Kraft and the Patriots filing an amicus brief on behalf of Tom Brady in the quarterback’s appeal of the Second Circuit Court’s reinstatement of his Deflategate suspension, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report. 

The Patriots filed the brief on Wednesday. 

The owners see the move as a publicity stunt done to appease Brady and the Patriots fans, Cole said, and they don’t believe Kraft did it any seriousness because the issue speaks to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s ability to punish players and undermines the league’s collective bargaining agreement with the players.

If Kraft thought it mattered, he wouldn't have done it, Cole said one owner told him.