Sean Payton hires a new def. coordinator

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Sean Payton hires a new def. coordinator

From Comcast SportsNetMETAIRIE, La. (AP) -- Saints coach Sean Payton has chosen Rob Ryan as his new defensive coordinator, hoping New Orleans can overhaul a unit that was historically bad last season.Ryan, the brother of New York Jets coach Rex Ryan, spent the past two seasons as Dallas' defensive coordinator. He was fired after last season, when his defense ranked 19th."We have experience in preparing and playing against his defenses and they've always been challenging in terms of the different looks and pressures that they feature," Payton said when Ryan's hiring was announced Saturday, one day after he interviewed for the job. "We've had the chance to visit with each other and talk about our visions for our team and I'm excited about moving forward as we prepare for the 2013 season."In 2010, Ryan was Cleveland's defensive coordinator when the Browns beat the Saints in the Superdome 30-17, intercepting passes by Drew Brees four times. One of those interceptions was made by linebacker Scott Fujita, who had been a captain of New Orleans' defense a season earlier and had helped Ryan prepare and execute the game plan against the Saints.Payton said he also has added Stan Kwan as an assistant special teams coach. Kwan has been an NFL assistant 23 years, the past three as special teams assistant in Buffalo."Stan is a veteran coach that understands all nuances of the special teams game," Payton said. "He has a wealth of knowledge and I believe he will be a good fit."Just days after returning from his season-long suspension in connection with the NFL's investigation of the Saints' cash-for-hits bounty program, Payton fired defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and said he would switch New Orleans' defensive scheme from a 4-3 alignment (four down linemen, three linebackers) to a 3-4. The Saints yielded 7,042 yards last season, the worst single-season total in NFL history.Ryan has run 3-4 schemes for years. He worked as a linebacker coach in such defenses in New England, where he was part of two Super Bowl-winning teams. He then spent five seasons as defensive coordinator in Oakland (2004-2008), followed by two seasons in Cleveland before moving to Dallas in 2011.Now the 50-year-old Ryan takes his fourth defensive coordinator job since 2004 while becoming Payton's fourth defensive coordinator since 2006."I have had the opportunity to get to know Sean Payton and his staff a bit better recently and I am excited about joining the team," Ryan said in a statement provided by the Saints. "I'm ready to get to work on all facets of the game. This is a great opportunity and we're getting started right away."When Payton took over as head coach in 2006, New Orleans had a 4-3 scheme overseen by Gary Gibbs, who was fired after the 2008 season. In 2009, Payton brought in Gregg Williams, whose hybrid scheme used a 4-3 base alignment but switched to a 3-4 in certain situations, usually on passing downs in order to help disguise which player might be blitzing.Williams left after the 2011 season, and months later was suspended along with Payton, general manager Mickey Loomis and Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in connection with the league's bounty probe.The NFL said Williams ran the bounty pool and gave him an indefinite suspension. He was reinstated this past week and hired as a top defensive coach by Tennessee.Williams has long proclaimed himself a disciple of Buddy Ryan, who was the defensive coordinator of the Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears in 1985 and later served as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals.Williams often spoke of wanting his defenses to be "nasty" and used mottos like "defenses are respected when they're feared."Now, a little more than a year after letting go of Williams, Payton has brought in the son of Williams' mentor.Rob Ryan got his start in the NFL on his father's Arizona staff in 1994. He later spent three seasons as defensive coordinator at Oklahoma State before returning to the NFL with New England, under Bill Belichick, in 2000.

Amendola says he feels 'really good' following offseason surgeries

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Amendola says he feels 'really good' following offseason surgeries

Danny Amendola did not participate in OTA or minicamp practices that were open to reporters, but that doesn't mean he's addled. 

"I feel really good," Amendola said while paying ESPN's NFL Insiders show a visit. "I had a couple minor procedures done after the season. Everybody knows how long the season can be. I wanted to go into next season feeling as fresh and ready as I can."

Amendola joined a relatively long list of Patriots regulars -- including LeGarrette Blount, Julian Edelman, Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon -- who were not spotted during spring workouts. There exists, however, some optimism that he'll be ready to participate in training camp.

Though Amendola has battled nagging injuries in three seasons with the Patriots, he's often played through them rather than miss time. The 30-year-old wideout has played in all but six regular-season games since 2013.

Amendola is coming off of his best year in a Patriots uniform, finishing 2015 with 65 catches for 648 yards and three scores. He now helps make up a receiving corps that will include Edelman, newly-acquired wideouts Chris Hogan and Nate Washington, Aaron Dobson, DeAndre Carter, Chris Harper and rookies Malcolm Mitchell and Devin Lucien. 

Did John Farrell mismanage Xander Bogaerts' playing time?

Did John Farrell mismanage Xander Bogaerts' playing time?

Michael Felger, Tony Massarotti, and Jim Murray discuss Xander Bogaerts, who admitted he's tired and is receiving the night off for the Boston Red Sox.

Lindgren brings toughness, leadership as Bruins second-round pick

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Lindgren brings toughness, leadership as Bruins second-round pick

Despite receiving a mixed reaction to their two first-round picks, the consensus is the Bruins made another good pick in the second round with Ryan Lindgren.

The 6-foot, 203-pound defenseman from the US National Team Development Program had a combined 10 goals and 37 points in 87 games played for the program last season, and was excellent at both ends for Team USA during the World Junior Under-18 tournament played during the year.

Lindgren isn’t flashy, doesn’t come into the next stage of his hockey development as an elite puck-mover and he wasn’t somebody that popped with amazing workouts during the NHL scouting combine. Instead he’s simply been a solid D-man with good leadership qualities, who is good at everything while also showing an eager willingness to block shots and sacrifice his body for wins at a very young age where grit doesn’t always come naturally.

“Lindgren blocks shots. He’s not the most skilled guy like [Charlie] McAvoy or anything like that, but he brings an element that we really liked as an organization,” said Bruins head scout Keith Gretzky of the University of Minnesota-bound Lindgren. “We believe that he’s a leader, and you win with those kinds of guys.”

The Minnesota-born Lindgren also captained both the USNDTP team and the Under-18 World Junior squad for Team USA where hard work is clearly part of his overall skill set.

“I’m a hard-working defenseman,” said Lindgren last weekend in Buffalo while sporting black eyes from a ball hockey league he plays in with older brother, and Montreal Canadiens goalie, Charlie Lindgren. “I think I’m a leader on and off the ice. I think I bring a big compete level, and I bring it every day. I’m more of a defensive defenseman, but I think I’ve got some offensive ability as well. I’m going to be physical and bring it every game. I’m going to block shots and do whatever it is to help the team win. That’s what I expect to bring every game.”

Now the Bruins can sit back and watch Lindgren’s development with the Gophers where he’ll undoubtedly become a gritty, tough leader and top D-man like he’s been at every level of his hockey career prior to being the 49th overall selection.

Joe Haggerty can be followed on Twitter: @HacksWithHaggs