Smith-Kaepernick situation stirs up Brady-Bledsoe memories

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Smith-Kaepernick situation stirs up Brady-Bledsoe memories

FOXBORO -- When San Francisco starting quarterback Alex Smith got injured this year his backup was pressed into service.
But that backup, 25-year old Colin Kaepernick, played well, well enough that the starter's job was no longer guaranteed.
Sound familiar?
Tom Brady and Drew Bledsoe might think so.
In March of 2001, Bledsoe signed a 10-year, 103 million dollar contract with New England. He never got to earn that new money with the Patriots, however, as a tackle in the season's second game sheared a blood vessel in his chest. Brady stepped in under center. When Bledsoe recovered, he found the climate in New England quite changed.
You know the story.
In light of the 49ers upcoming visit to Gillette, Brady reflected on his mindset during the experience.
"Individually, as a player, you just focus on what you have to do to help the team win. I mean, that's your role. When you're on a team, you're supposed to support the team in whatever way the coach needs you to support the team. So, when you're not playing you support the guys who are playing -- you help out in practice. When you get your opportunity you try to go in there and support the team by playing.
"Ultimately, it's about winning games, it's not about an individual. It's about doing what's best for the team. When you play, you've got to play well."
San Francisco's Smith, who suffered a concussion November 11, was medically cleared for play 11 days later. But it's Kaepernick who started the next four games. It's Kaepernick who will start against the AFC East champion Patriots this weekend.
Might Smith be angry? Is it at least awkward?
Brady was asked what it was like when the backup starts by choice, not necessity.
"That was a long time ago for me. But there was nothing like that on our team. I had great support from all the quarterbacks, especially Drew, at the time. I don't really know what's going on in San Francisco."
Bledsoe might not have been a monster, but he was no saint.
You may remember No. 11's reaction when, after New England's November 18, 2001 loss to the Rams, head coach Bill Belichick said Brady would get most of the quarterback snaps for the rest of the season.
"I look forward to the chance to compete for my job," Bledsoe had said.
But the job was Brady's.
Looking at it now, his view sounds flatly analytical. Easy to do after a decade, perhaps.
"Like I said, you just try to focus on your job. There's a lot of players that you count on; they depend on you and you depend on them. It's a team game. That's why the best teams win the most important games, because they've got a group of players that are committed to doing their job. Like I said, if your role is to play quarterback, your role is to play quarterback; you've got to do as best you can. If your role is to play scout team quarterback, that's what your role is.
"Until that role changes, you've got to do the best you can do."
It's safe to say Brady has done ok with the opportunity he got.

Red Sox 'not going to rush' moving pitching depth after acquiring Sale

Red Sox 'not going to rush' moving pitching depth after acquiring Sale

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The addition of Chris Sale to the Red Sox' rotation has created a rare glut of starting pitchers, including seven with major league experience.

That means that at least one will have to be moved in a trade. But Red Sox' president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski isn't in any hurry.

"We're not aggressively looking to do something,'' he said. "We're really just digesting what's taken place. I think if we wanted to aggressively make a deal, we could definitely do that. But I don't really have a big hole on our major league club to address at this time.

"I think it's really important to gather all the info. Some teams have (starters) available; there are free agents out there. Our philosophy is kind of say, 'Let's just see what happens.' We're not going to rush out and do anything.''

That makes sense, especially since there's a very thin free agent market for starters, and many teams that need upgrades to their rotation.

Eventually, some are going to get desperate and may have to overpay. In that scenario, the Sox could really capitalize.

The starter the Sox would like to move the most is Clay Buchholz, if only because his salary ($13.5 million) is easily the highest among the three the Sox would be willing to part with. Steven Wright has yet to qualify for salary arbitration and Drew Pomeranz will get a bump from last year, but will still be under $5 million after arbitration.

Eduardo Rodriguez, meanwhile, almost certainly won't be dealt because of his youth and potential, though Dombrowski hinted that teams have checked on the availability of every starter except The Big Three of Sale, David Price and Rick Porcello "as well as guys who aren't (in the current major league picture like Brian Johnson, Henry Owens, and Roenis Elias).''

Depth in the rotation is always welcome, but the numbers are such that the Sox can't make the current group of seven starters work.

"You start counting,'' said Dombrowski, "and there's not enough spots for everybody on the team.''

It's possible that the Sox could go into spring training with all seven and wait to see if injuries elsewhere give them additional leverage.

But that, too, is unlikely.

"It seems like there's not a lot of moves made in spring training,'' he said.

As for what the Sox might be seeking in return, the Sox don't have any obvious need they have to fill. It's possible they could want to obtain some prospects to help restock the system after six were traded in two trades this week.

"I can't really answer that question.'' he said. "We've traded a lot (of prospects). We wouldn't mind replenishing some of what we've traded.''

Stevens on Thomas' groin injury: 'It’s important that he’s 100 percent'

Stevens on Thomas' groin injury: 'It’s important that he’s 100 percent'

There’s no such thing as a good time to have an injury. 

But in terms of Isaiah Thomas being sidelined with a right groin injury and the schedule awaiting the Boston Celtics … this is about as bad a time as you can imagine to be without their scoring leader.

Thomas returned to Boston ahead of tonight’s game at Orlando, marking his first game missed since the 2014-2015 season. 

He suffered a right groin injury in the second quarter of Boston’s 107-106 loss at Houston on Monday. 

At the time, Thomas was optimistic that he would be able to play tonight. But with a day off from practice, the soreness proved to be too much for Thomas to suit up and play tonight. 

While it’s unclear just how severe his groin injury is, the Celtics are likely to be overly cautious (like they are with most injuries) about his return which may result in him missing more games than Wednesday night’s matchup against Orlando. 

“Those things (groin injuries) are a little unpredictable,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told reporters earlier today. “Especially in this sport, you have to be able to stop and change direction on a dime, especially him. It’s important that he’s 100 percent.”

Stevens is spot-on when he talks about how uncertain a return for Thomas is currently. 

New York’s Kristaps Porzingis suffered a groin injury against the Celtics in a preseason game back in October that didn’t result in anything more than him missing a day of practice. 

It was a different story when Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic suffered a right groin injury last spring (March 7-29) that sidelined him for 13 games. 

The timetable for Thomas’ return to the floor is likely to fall somewhere within those two timetables which would make an already daunting stretch of games even more difficult. 

Following tonight’s game, Boston has 12 games remaining in the month of December with nine being against teams with a winning record. And of the three games against teams below-.500 (Miami twice, Indiana), two of them are on the road.