Rivers: Bryant getting 'craftier' as years go by

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Rivers: Bryant getting 'craftier' as years go by

LOS ANGELES Kobe Bryant is good; real good.

And the scary part?

The more you watch him play, the clearer it becomes that even after all these years, his game is still expanding.

"His low-post game has really improved," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "He's so much craftier at it."

Although Bryant has not shot the ball well from 3-point range this year (he came into the game shooting 27.9 percent on 3s this season), he's still as clutch a scorer as you'll find from anywhere on the floor.

In the fourth quarter, Bryant had 10 of his game-high 26 points which included connecting on two of his three, 3-pointers.

"His three-point shooting has always been good," Rivers said. "But when you allow him to set his feet, he's basically going to make it. He's one of the greatest offensive players or players in general to play the game."

And the even crazier part is despite this being his 16th NBA season, the 33-year-old Bryant still ranks among the NBA's leaders in minutes played.

Bryant (38.2) and his Lakers teammate Pau Gasol (37 minutes per game) are the only NBA players ranked in the top 10 minutes played, who are at least 30 years old.

"At his age, that's amazing," Rivers said of Bryant.

Patriots issue training camp weather advisory for Friday, July 29

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Patriots issue training camp weather advisory for Friday, July 29

You might want to change plans if you were hoping to attend Patriots training camp on Friday morning. The team says there's a chance practice will be moved indoors and closed to the public because of potential thunderstorms.

"The forecast for Friday, July 29 is calling for rain, heavy at times, with a chance of thunderstorms," the release said. "While the team plans on practicing as scheduled from 9:15-11:30 a.m. on the training camp practice fields behind Gillette Stadium, we would like to warn any fans planning to attend that thunderstorms could force the team to practice inside their Empower Field House at a moment’s notice."

If there are updates or changes made to the schedule, they'll be posted on Patriots.com/trainingcamp and on the training camp information line at 508-549-0001.

Good signs continue with Edelman

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Good signs continue with Edelman

Last week, Julian Edelman was fielding grounders and hitting bombs at Fenway Park. This week, even though he’s started training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, there are stronger signals that Edelman’s recuperation from April foot surgery is trending in a very good direction.

Thursday, Edelman and fellow PUP-mate Danny Amendola ran routes off to the side while their teammates practiced on a hot day at Gillette. He was moving at a good clip. And that’s positive news since – using the timeline of Dallas’ Dez Bryant who suffered the same Jones Fracture injury Edelman did in 2015 and had a second surgery in January – didn’t get back to running and cutting until five months after his surgery and didn’t take part in the Cowboys offseason program in late May.

Had Edelman been idled for the same five-month period, it would have taken until September for him to be where Bryant was in May – running on the side but not being cleared.

Here we are, three months later, and Edelman seems ahead of that timetable. That doesn’t mean his clearance to practice is looming – Edelman in September and October is a lot more important than July – but it signals that once the regular season begins Jimmy Garoppolo will probably have the Patriots’ bug-quick wideout at his disposal.

Tom E. Curran can be followed on Twitter: @tomecurran

Gronkowski: Brady practicing with same intensity despite suspension

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Gronkowski: Brady practicing with same intensity despite suspension

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady's dealing with an unfamiliar situation. For the first time since 2001, he knows he won't be the starting quarterback for the Patriots when Week 1 of the regular season arrives. Still, according to at least one teammate, he began training camp practices Thursday with his usual intensity. 

"Whatever circumstance you put Tom in," tight end Rob Gronkowski said, "he’s never going to change because he comes out to practice no matter what – if he’s suspended, if he’s not suspended, if he’s playing, if he’s not playing – no matter what the circumstances are, I’ve never seen Tom Brady come out and not give it all in practice. There’s never any change in him. Whenever he’s out on the field he’s giving it all, and he’s just such a competitor."

In many ways, it was a normal practice for Brady. Early in the session, he took the first snaps with the Patriots offense, whether he was working against no defense or working in 7-on-7 situations. During one special-teams period, he threw to Gronkowski and tight end Martellus Bennett in a side session, as he often does. 

Where things got weird was near the end of the practice, when Jimmy Garoppolo took the first reps in a competitive 11-on-11 session behind the first-team offensive line unit.

Later, after Brady got his chance, Garoppolo worked with the first-teamers again, and against the first-team defense, during a less competitive 11-on-11 hurry-up period. At the same time, on an adjacent field, Brady worked quickly behind the second-team offensive line. 

"It’s not a change at all. It's training camp, it’s not going to be any different," Gronkowski insisted after practice when asked about the quarterback situation. All three quarterbacks had a chance to work with a variety of receivers and offensive linemen, he argued. And he was right. The All-Pro tight end caught passes from both Brady and Garoppolo over the course of the day, as did Bennett and receiver Chris Hogan. 

But the end of practice was undeniably different.

Brady, a player who typically hates to relinquish practice reps, has been almost without exception the first quarterback to take snaps in team periods for the last several years. Late Thursday morning, he was not the focal point of the first-team offense for the first time in a long time. Instead, it was Garoppolo's readiness, as Bill Belichick highlighted Wednesday, that was the priority.

To Brady's credit, he looked like the same quarterback despite the change in the schedule of repetitions. He was 3-for-6 in 11-on-11 work, 5-for-8 in 7-on-7 work in the red zone, and 4-for-6 in a half-field 4-on-3 period. After having one pass batted down by a racquet held by a team staffer at the line of scrimmage, Brady completed seven of his next nine throws. 

When Day 1 was over, Brady exited off of the back end of the practice fields, taking a route back to the locker room that would allow him to avoid cameras and microphones.

All-out as Brady's practice demeanor may have felt to his teammates, his departure from what must have felt like an unusual practice was equally quiet.