Talib, Lloyd gearing up for first career playoff game


Talib, Lloyd gearing up for first career playoff game

FOXBORO -- If they were on different teams, cornerback Aqib Talib would most likely have the duties of covering wide receiver Brandon Lloyd.
Instead, both players are Patriots. And both will be participating in their first career playoff game on Sunday.
Both Talib and Lloyd knew what they were getting into when they came to New England. They knew that they'd be getting a chance to make the playoffs.
Before then?
"I'd be at a Sundance Film Festival, on my way to the Bahamas, you know, all kind of different stuff," said Lloyd with a smile on Thursday, when asked what he usually does during the NFL playoffs.
Lloyd didn't go out of his way to watch the games he would rather be playing in.
"Unless it was on the television in the hotel lobby or something," he said.
Now, Lloyd's right where he wants to be, in position to get to a Super Bowl. Which is why he signed with New England in the first place.
"It was part of the decision," said Lloyd. "Ever since you're a kid, the ultimate goal is to play in the Super Bowl. And the only way to get to the Super Bowl is to make it to the playoffs."
Talib was traded to the Patriots during the season, so it wasn't necessarily his choice. But now that he's here and it's finally time to make his playoff debut, he believes he's ready.
"You see that intensity turned up in practice some," said Talib on Thursday. "Meetings turn up. So it definitely feels like a playoff week.
"Just prepare, man," he added. "As much as you prepared for the regular season, just prepare a little bit more for the playoffs. The game's going to speed up a little bit.
Talib said he expects the action to speed up, but that doesn't mean he's going to change what he does.
"I don't play scared," said Talib. "So I'm going to play my game. I'm going to read and react. Read my keys, and I'm going to react. I don't play scared though."
Just because Talib and Lloyd are big names, that doesn't mean their first seasons in New England were going to work out. Just ask, oh I don't know, Chad Ochocinco.
Talib and Lloyd had to fit in. The Patriots organization is run differently than any organization in the league. Players realize that the second they enter the building.
For Talib, he walked onto a Patriots defense that needed a shutdown corner. He didn't need to do too much to fit in with the team on the field. But previous off-the-field issues may have been a cause for concern for some.
Not for the Patriots.
"It's funny, as soon as he got here he was kind of just like one of the guys," said cornerback Devin McCourty. "I don't know if it's just with athletes in general, but it seems like anytime we get a new guy on this team -- even a guy like Marquis Cole that came in the offseason -- it seems like he's been here for years. There's always a lot of transition in the NFL. I think guys know each other from playing against each other, some guys know each other from college, guys come in and it seems like they just fall right into the group. And I don't think there's a group that has more fun than us, in the secondary, just being around each other in the locker room, cracking jokes and doing things like that. He's fit in well."
Lloyd has had to prove himself in an offense that has plenty of weapons, or at least, a lot more than other teams.
On Thursday, Lloyd said his on-field success with Tom Brady is still a "work in progress," as he's said all season long. But he also filled everyone in on just how different it is playing with someone like Brady, during a game, as opposed to some of the other quarterbacks he's played and prepared with.
"It's been different than the past, just because of the organization," said Lloyd. "It's been different than the past because of Tom Brady and his style of preparation. But it's been similar in the sense that, you have to put the work in during the week, in all the weeks, and during the camps. And then we go into the game, and that's when we really find out about one another. That's what makes it similar.
"In playing with the less experienced quarterbacks, like in St. Louis I was playing with Kellen Clemons, it would be different. When he was thrown into the starting lineup, it was more of a situation where I was like, 'Where do you want me to be? I'm not going to tell you where I'm going to be. You tell me where you want me to be, and then I'll do my best to get there.'
"And with Tom, we have a little bit of give and take," added Lloyd. "Some plays I have that freedom, and then there are some plays where I can say, 'Hey, I'm going to be here.' And then he'll work it out. And then other plays he'll say, 'You need to be here.' And then that's the way the plays go. So it's similar and it's different. But it's equally rewarding."
Lloyd believes the presence of offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has certainly helped the process move forward.
"I think the bridge with Tom is Josh, because Josh gives me credibility," said Lloyd. "Being with Josh the last three seasons, that's what gave me the credibility to come here and be accepted as a productive member of this team."
Both Lloyd and Talib have been productive in their own separate ways at different times of the season. Now, they'll both need to be productive at the same time. Because both share the same goal.
Get to New Orleans.

Stars, studs and duds: Stevens shows confidence in Brown


Stars, studs and duds: Stevens shows confidence in Brown

Jaylen Brown made a costly turnover in the final minute that contributed to Boston’s 105-99 loss to the Chicago Bulls.

The fact that he was even in the game at that point speaks to not just his potential, but the level of confidence the rookie has already garnered from the Boston Celtics coaching staff.

Brown, who had nine points on 4-for-7 shooting on Thursday, turned the ball over with less than a minute to play and the Celtics trailing 101-99 at the time.

Moments after the turnover, Chicago’s Dwyane Wade drained a step-back 3-pointer that sealed the Bulls’ victory.

Disappointed with the game’s outcome, Brown acknowledged that it meant a lot to him for Stevens to have enough confidence in him to keep him on the floor down the stretch.

But with that faith comes added pressure for Brown to come through and deliver.

“It means I have to do better and try and execute for my team and earn everything I get,” Brown told reporters after the game. “I don’t want anything given to me just because I’m the number three pick in the draft.”

Stevens was asked about having Brown on the floor in the game’s closing seconds.

“He (Brown) was playing pretty well and I thought we were better off playing small,” Stevens said. “I wanted to keep Jaylen in there. I thought he did a lot of good things tonight.”

“Obviously that play didn’t go his way,” Stevens said.

On the play in question, Brown was matched up with Chicago’s Nikola Mirotic. Brown began to make a move, and eventually spun away from Mirotic and left his feet.

Brown was called for the turnover when he left his feet to make a pass, but didn’t release the ball until after he had landed – a traveling violation.

“I was looking for an outlet,” said Brown in explaining his late-game miscue. “I should have just shot the ball but I was thinking it was a bad shot. I probably should have just shot it. I just saw Mirotic on me, slower feet. Coach (Stevens) told me to drive him so I tried to be aggressive. I should have made a play.”

Brown added, “Just have to come out and execute, and play the game the right way. I want to make coach feel like he has a reason to put me out on the floor.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Thursday night’s game.



Dwyane Wade

The Chicago native gave his family and friends plenty to cheer about on Thursday. In his first game playing for his hometown Chicago Bulls, Wade had 22 points which included a back-breaking 3-pointer with 26 seconds to play that pretty much sealed the Bulls victory. Consider this: He made a total of seven 3-pointers all last season. He had four on Thursday.

Isaiah Thomas

For the second straight game, Thomas tallied 25 points and continued to shoot the ball extremely well. His 25 points on Thursday came on 10-for-15 shooting. He also had four assists and three rebounds.

Jimmy Butler

Butler was among the Chicago players who shot the ball much, much better from 3-point range than they usually do. He finished with a team-high 24 points which included him knocking down four of his six 3-point attempts.



Avery Bradley

Bradley provided a nice offensive complement to Thomas’ high scoring night, finishing with 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting. Bradley also made his presence felt on the boards and as a distributor with six rebounds and five assists.

Nikola Mirotic

He may have lost out on a starting job to Taj Gibson, but Mirotic’s value to the Bulls is clear. Mirotic had 15 points off the bench, shooting 6-for-11 from the field in addition to nine rebounds.



Second-chance points

Boston’s only two games into the season, but second-chance points looks to be an issue with no clear-cut solution. For the second straight game, Boston was outscored by double digits in second-chance points. On Thursday, Chicago had an 18-5 advantage in second-chance points.