Watt, Foster only part of Houston 'problem'

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Watt, Foster only part of Houston 'problem'

There are two players people always mention when jawing about the Texans.
One, on defense, is J.J. Watt.
Nobody in the NFL had more sacks in the regular season than Watt's 20.5. Throw in 16 passes defensed, four forced fumbles, and 42 quarterback hits, and you've got a guy who can really disrupt offenses.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick knows it as well as anyone else. He also knows it takes more than one player to make a Top 10 defense.
"Hes a great player, dont get me wrong. Hes made more big plays than probably anybody defensively this year in the league," he said. "But Antonio Smith, Brooks Reed, Connor Barwin, Whitney Mercilus, they have a lot of other good players too. Watt is a focal point on that defense no question, but you cant ignore the other guys either, theyre all part of the problem."
On the other side of the ball is Arian Foster.
The Texans running back led the AFC in carries (351) and touchdowns (15), and was second in yards (1,424) during the 2012 regular season.Another tremendously talented player for Houston; another "problem." But again, to Belichick, Foster is important as a key cog within the larger machine.
"Not only the yards that he gains but how the running game controls the game for them, how it sets up their play-action passes, how it puts them in third-and-short situations. Theres no question that hes the key guy for Houston and their offense, but his production also complements the other players as well and the other parts of the game.
"Hes playing behind three Pro Bowl guys on the offensive line with Chris Myers, Wade Smith and Duane Brown. I think he also does a good job of making yards on his own and hes got good blockers in front of him. There are a number of problems they present offensively: the quarterback, the tight ends, big receivers, a great receiver in Andre Johnson, strong running game, good offensive line, theyre well coached theyre very good in all those areas."
Belichick got specific when spreading the love around.
Tight end Garrett Graham, out with a concussion in Week 14, is another body Houston will have at its disposal on Sunday. His numbers (28 catches for 263 yards and three touchdowns) aren't impressive on their own, but just having him on the field multiplies the Texans offense.
"I think one thing is it gives them the opportunity to put three offensive weapons on the field at once. Thats something they really werent able to do in our game. The difference between Graham and fullback James Casey tight end Owen Daniels is out there most of the time but Graham and Casey, theyre both good players and they complement each other too. They can have all of them out of there together or they can pick one or the other and use their strengths.
"It gives them more weapons and theyre able to change up some of their looks or change up their personnel groupings and get them all out there together. Theyre all good players so its a different matchup, one we prepared for in our first game, we just didnt get it."
Preparing for every possibility is truly the problem.

Bradley, Green and Jackson to miss Celtics' game Tuesday against Wizards

Bradley, Green and Jackson to miss Celtics' game Tuesday against Wizards

WALTHAM -- The team flight to Washington for tomorrow night's game against the Wizards will be a little lighter than the Celtics would like. 
 
Boston continues to be cautious with Avery Bradley and his right Achilles strain injury. Coach Brad Stevens confirmed that the 6-foot-2 guard won't travel and will sit out for the seventh time in the last eight games. 

Stevens added he didn't anticipate Bradley returning to the court anytime this week, which means he's likely not to return until next week's game against Detroit on Jan. 30. 
 
Bradley won’t be the only Celtic not making the trip for health-related reasons. Gerald Green and Demetrius Jackson are both not traveling due to sickness. 
 
However, the Celtics did get a bit of good news on the health front. Jonas Jerebko and Tyler Zeller, both having missed games with sickness, will take the trip to D.C. with the rest of their teammates.

Super Bowl appearances aren't old hat to all the Patriots

Super Bowl appearances aren't old hat to all the Patriots

FOXBORO -- It’s old hat to plenty of the Patriot, but certainly not all of them. A whole lot of players who joined the team since 2015 haven’t been to a Super Bowl. That says an awful lot about the personnel department headed by Nick Caserio with Dave Ziegler heading up pro personnel and Monti Ossenfort doing college personnel. 

Two of them -- cornerback Eric Rowe and linebacker Kyle Van Noy -- figured in the two Steelers turnovers in Sunday night’s AFC Championship Game. Both joined the team via in-season trades. 

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So in the afterglow of the Patriots postgame locker room, we asked a few of them what their emotions were upon realizing they were going to the Super Bowl

Eric Rowe (acquired via trade with Eagles, September 6): "It’s been a long road. Everyone has their own journey and how they got here but just for me, it’s been a long road. During OTAs and training camp down in Philadelphia, it was frustrating. I didn’t understand why I was sliding down the depth chart but I just kept my head down and kept working and once I got traded here I had to learn a whole new culture and defense and then I got hurt. Through those ups and downs it’s been all worth it. My parents, my girlfriend, my agent, all through training camp with the Eagles kept telling me, ‘Just keep your head up, there’s always something greater on the other side. Don’t stop working, keep working because you never know when you’ll get your chance and, ‘Boom’ I got traded so that was the way around that obstacle. And now I know what’s on the other side. 

Kyle Van Noy (acquired via trade with Lions, October 26): “I took a lot of heat [in Detroit]. I wasn’t living up to what I was capable of doing, even for myself. I had high expectations and I just wasn’t fitting in right away and it was great to get a fresh start and I’m really blessed to have them trust in me to come in and contribute. I don’t know if you ever get comfortable here. You better learn or they’re gonna pass up on you. I’m just grateful for the opportunity. Eric and I are holding it down for the Utah schools (Rowe went to Utah; Van Noy to BYU). We’re here to represent. It hasn’t sunk in yet. I am truly blessed and the man upstairs is looking out.”

Chris Long (signed in March as free agent): "I honestly didn't know they did the confetti thing after. Because I'm usually at the bar with these games are going on. And maybe it's a little later at night. I've turned it off. I didn't know they did the confetti thing after the AFC Championship. That was a real plus . . . because I love confetti. There's no bad situation where there's confetti. I can't think of one. I certainly feel like I’m in the right place at the right time. I’m on a helluva football team and lucky to be a part of it and we’ve earned the right for one more opportunity. It means something different to everybody. We come from different backgrounds, we come from different teams but we’ve all earned this together. It’s a melting pot in that way."

David Andrews (signed as undrafted free agent, 2015) whose great uncle is former Atlanta coach Dan Reeves: "When the Falcons went [in 1998], my parents couldn't take me, but they went." (Is he still sore about that?) "Not anymore. Not at this moment."

Joe Thuney (drafted in third round in May): "It's just a great opportunity. You've got people like Marty [Bennett] and Chris Long that have played so long and just don't get the opportunity. You just got to take advantage of it, and soak upevery minute, and just prepare as best you can, I think. Just go out there and do the best you can."

Malcolm Mitchell (drafted in fourth round in May): "I have no idea [what to expect]. I'm pretty sure I'll be debriefed. And guys will tell me everything I need to know walking into it."

Jabaal Sheard (signed as free agent, 2015): “Great feeling. Unreal. Just an awesome feeling. We gotta get this ring, man and go finish this thing off. It’s exciting, obviously. I’ve heard the stories from the guys who’ve been here. It’s huge. We have to go out there and take care of business.” 

Phil Perry contributed to this report.