From Comcast SportsNetEL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) -- Kobe Bryant has missed the last week of practice with an injury. His teammates still don't know their new offense. And the Los Angeles Lakers just finished the first winless preseason in franchise history.Ready or not -- and most signs point to not -- the Lakers' regular season has arrived.Bryant sat out Monday while his teammates went through a lengthy workout ahead of Tuesday night's opener against Dallas. It's the first of four games in six days for a star-studded club with championship aspirations, but plenty of work ahead."I think all of us are ready (for) the popcorn and the lights to come on tomorrow," said Dwight Howard, who played in just two preseason games while returning deliberately from back surgery. "It's not going to come overnight. We all understand that. We just have to stay patient through the whole process. We have to keep working, and we'll be fine."Bryant might not be fine for a bit longer. The fifth-leading scorer in NBA history is resting his right foot, which was bruised and strained last week, and the Lakers won't decide whether he'll play against the Mavericks until game time.He showed up at the Lakers' training complex Monday for treatment and practice, yelling at his teammates from the sideline while Jodie Meeks ran with the Los Angeles' starters."We've got to worry about that when it comes, but I can see him playing tomorrow, definitely," Metta World Peace said of Bryant. "When Kobe is hurt, whether it's the preseason or the playoffs, he plays. ... Kobe has never been afraid to be hurt and play. I think his mind is different from other people."Indeed, Bryant has played through all manner of injuries in his career, particularly in the past few seasons, so his absence from practice concerns coach Mike Brown. Bryant's leadership and court sense is particularly valuable while the Lakers integrate two new starters and a revamped bench into a new offense, but Kobe hasn't been available for significant stretches of camp."If there is one guy that's capable of sitting out and then playing in a game, it's Kobe," Brown said. "There's concern there, because you want him to be healthy, but that's why we're a team. He has bounced back from a lot of stuff. You know it had to be serious if he's been out this long."At least Brown had good news on other injuries Monday: Howard is good to go for the Lakers' season-opening back-to-back games and beyond, with no limitations on his minutes, while backup big man Jordan Hill also is expected to play after taking the day off from practice.While his players heal, the coach is still waiting for his club to grasp the intricacies of its new Princeton-inflected offense. Brown deliberately installed the new schemes slowly, but the absences of Howard and Bryant from several preseason games set back the team's development."It obviously gets in the way of our growth when we don't have a full lineup, especially two key guys," said Steve Nash, who played sparingly in his first preseason with Los Angeles. "I think in the long run, we'll get plenty of time. It's just a matter of how quickly we can get some chemistry and some success."But the losses couldn't have helped the Lakers' confidence in that offense, either. Los Angeles went 0-8 for the first time, blowing late leads and getting blown out with equal ineptitude.Brown doesn't believe the preseason reveals anything about his starting lineup's progress or the depth of a bench that hasn't played well at all in October, and he sees the offense as the biggest problem for his defense so far. With more turnovers resulting from poor execution of the offense, Los Angeles' theoretically sturdy defense in front of the dominant Howard has been giving up transition points in bunches.Yet even amid all of the losses and injuries, the Lakers know they've got the chance for a remarkable season. They've largely avoided commenting on Oklahoma City's trade of James Harden to Houston, ostensibly weakening the defending Western Conference champions and opening the door for Los Angeles a bit wider.Until the Lakers get a few wins in their own column, they won't be thinking about other teams' losses."I see it, I feel it, and I know it's going to be great for us later on," Pau Gasol said. "We just have to stay with it and be persistent."
Brandon Browner helped the Patriots win a Super Bowl with his physical play in the secondary, highlighting his one-year stint with the team by making one of the most important jams at the line of scrimmage in the history of the NFL, clearing space at the goal line for Malcolm Butler's championship-saving interception.
One season later, as a member of the Saints, he put together one of the ugliest year-long performances of any player at his position. He committed 24 penalties (most in the league), allowed 17.2 yards per catch (second-most in the league among players who played at least 75 percent of his team's snaps), and quarterbacks had a rating of 122.5 when throwing in his direction (worst in the league, according to Pro Football Focus).
Browner was released after one year in New Orleans -- though he was happy to point out to Saints fans on Instagram that he made good money for that one year -- and has been since been signed by the Seahawks, where he was a member of their vaunted Legion of Boom secondary from 2011-13.
Browner will make the league minimum in Seattle after last season's effort, and he'll be changing positions.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told ESPN that Browner will be used similarly to the way he was used at times in New England. Rather than forcing him to play on the outside in man-to-man coverage, he'll be in the box as a safety, where his physicality will be best served. He'll still be asked to cover from time to time, but those assignments will pit him primarily against tight ends -- something Patriots coach Bill Belichick liked to do in 2014 -- instead of quicker, smaller wideouts.
"He was wide open to it," Carroll said of the positional change. "I had the chance to see him play in positions like he's being asked to play now when he was in New England, and we saw some really good things we thought we could mix into our stuff, and he's very much looked the part. But I really think it's about him; we like the guy so much."
How the shift will work remains to be seen, but Browner seems to have no other choice. It would seem unlikely that any team would be willing to trot him out as a boundary corner any time in the near future so he's embracing the in-the-box challenge.
It's something he's done before with the Patriots, but now it's a full-time gig and his best opportunity to continue his career.
"Being on the outside, it’s more of a man-to-man concept: You’re a corner on an island," Browner said. "Being in that box, you’re accounted for from the linemen in the run. You’ll get some run keys from the end man on the line of scrimmage. Things are just a little different. But you’re a football player in there. Playing corner, it’s more of a one-on-one thing. We’re playing basketball out there on that island. When you’re in that box, that’s football, I think."
Tom Brady and David Ortiz have shared the spotlight in this region for more than a decade now as the faces of their respective franchises. They have a unique perspective on what it takes to the longevity that eludes most other athletes, and they know what it's like to be among the most recognizable faces in this part of the country.
There seems to be a certain level of mutual respect between the two local stars, something that Ortiz made quite clear in an interview with SI.com. Asked about Brady and Deflategate, the Red Sox slugger pulled no punches.
"I think it’s stupid, to be honest with you," Ortiz said. "Put it this way: You’re talking about the one player that everybody wants to watch play. We’re not just talking about any player. We’re talking about Tom Brady. If I turn on the TV on Sunday to watch a Patriots game and I know that Tom Brady is not playing, I would turn off the TV. I don’t want to watch that game."
Brady's four-game suspension was upheld by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this offseason, but the quarterback and the NFLPA recently filed a petition to request a rehearing. The Patriots organization submitted an amicus brief to the court last week that criticized the NFL's process and supported Brady's request to have his case heard once again.
As good as things have gone for the Red Sox so far in 2016, their 2017 prospects took a bit of a blow over the weekend.
Sam Travis -- one of the organization's top prospects, and someone who opened a lot of eyes with an impressive spring-training showing this year -- suffered a torn ACL on Sunday while playing for the Pawtucket Red Sox and will be lost for the rest of the season. He was hurt while playing first base, collapsing as he chased down an opposition baserunner during a rundown play. He had to be helped off the field, and the extent of the injury was announced on Monday.
With David Ortiz retiring at the end of this season and Hanley Ramirez expected to replace him as the full-time designated hitter, the door was open for Travis to become the Red Sox' first baseman next year. Playing at Triple-A for the first time, the 22-year-old Travis -- honored by the Red Sox as their Minor League Offensive Player of the the Year in 2015 -- was hitting .272/.332/.434 with 10 doubles, 6 home runs and 29 RBI in 47 games.
Now, however, it's almost a complete certainty Travis won't be able to start next season in Boston. And depending on what the Red Sox do in the offseason to replace Ortiz, such as a signing a free agent to a multiyear contract, Travis' path upward in the Sox organization may become less wide open . . . if not blocked.