With trade deadline ahead, what will C's do?

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With trade deadline ahead, what will C's do?

DALLAS This is the predicament the Boston Celtics find themselves in now.

They have lost three ina row, six of the last seven, and are officially a below-.500 team.

There is no doubt there's a need - a strong need - to shake things up a bit.

But that desire has to be framed in the reality that the C's have had an unusually high number of injuries. That has been the biggest factor in the team's falling below .500, which happened in Monday's loss to the Dallas Mavericks.

While it remains to be seen what the Celtics will do between now and the March 15 deadline, coach Doc Rivers is pretty clear on where he stands on the matter.

"We're losing, number one, because we're not playing well; number two, because we are injured," Rivers said. "So, why shake things up if guys are injured? You've got to let them get healthy, if they can."

And with the players Boston has been missing due to injuries, most appear to not be suffering from potential season-ending injuries.

Jermaine O'Neal had to leave in the third quarter on Monday because of a left wrist injury. The 6-foot-10 veteran has been bothered by a lengthy list of injuries throughout his time with the Celtics. It is unclear if he'll be able to play Wednesday against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Brandon Bass (left knee) and Chris Wilcox (groin) are also players dealing with injuries that aren't expected to keep them out too long. Bass is expected back in the lineup after the All-Star break. And Wilcox, who left the game in the third quarter on Monday because of a groin injury, isn't sure if he'll play against the Thunder.

If you see Rivers look the other way when crossing the path of the Celtics' team trainer, well, you can understand why.

Eye contact usually means talking will follow.

Talking generates conversation.

Conversation, at least these days when it comes to the Celtics, involves injury updates.

And the news on that front, especially this year, hasn't been very good.

That's why Rivers had no intention of approaching them following Boston's 89-73 loss at Dallas on Monday night, to inquire about the injuries to O'Neal and Wilcox.

"I'm scared to talk to the medical staff," Rivers said. "Because they don't really give you good news. So, I make them search me out for the most part."

O'Neal and Wilcox have both missed games earlier this year because of injuries. This latest round of injuries comes at a time when the C's roster continues to be decimated by one player after another, having to miss time due to an injury, a personal matter (Kevin Garnett) or a suspension (Rajon Rondo).

And the mounting injuries have certainly played a major role in the team's struggles this year.

While it's clear that a healthy Celtics team would in all likelihood do better than the squad we're seeing right now, don't think for a minute that that will stop C's president of basketball operations Danny Ainge from trying to make a blockbuster trade.

"Danny is always going to look for trades," Rivers said. "You know who Danny is. But having said that, I don't think Danny is going to do anything crazy."

Garoppolo: Get the little things corrected, or they'll bite us in the butt

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Garoppolo: Get the little things corrected, or they'll bite us in the butt

 

This felt like a step backward for Jimmy Garoppolo. 

The preseason had been shaping up so nicely for him, too. He'd be able to ride the wave of momentum following his strong performance last week against the Bears, and carry that into Carolina, where he would take on a very good defense on the road. What better way to simulate what he'll see in Week 1 of the regular season in Arizona?

Then something happened. Garoppolo, who looked cool last week at Gillette Stadium, seemed rattled by the Panthers defense. The quarterback who hadn't turned the ball over all preseason very nearly gave it away twice. Whereas he made calculated risks in the red zone last week, this week there were head-scratchers in the same area. 

"Ups and downs," said Garoppolo, who beat the Panthers, 19-17, and finished the game 9-for-15 for 57 yards. "Just little things here and there we need to get corrected. We’ll take care of it."

Garoppolo's first third-down throw foreshadowed what was to come for the Patriots on third down Friday night. He threw what should have been an easy interception for linebacker Luke Kuechly when there was a miscommunication between him and receiver Julian Edelman. 

Edelman stopped and turned for a pass a few yards off the line of scrimmage. Garoppolo targeted him as though he was still moving, hitting Kuechly between the numbers at the Carolina 12-yard line.

The team started the night 0-for-7 on third down.

"It’s my fault. I can’t put it in the linebacker’s hands like that," said Garoppolo, who insisted splitting reps in practice wasn't to his detriment. "It’s just bottom line. Just got to be smart. It’s tight windows, tight throws. Just got to finish with touchdowns."

Later in the game, Garoppolo didn't recognize a Panthers pressure, he took a glancing blow from a defender and escaped the pocket. Rather than throw the football away, he tried to make a positive play and was stripped from behind by linebacker Thomas Davis. 

Patriots running back James White was there to pounce on the ball, and Garoppolo was fortunate to escape with his turnover column clean.  

Still, Garoppolo knows there are adjustments to make. In order to give the Patriots a chance to beat the Cardinals in Week 1, he'll probably have to play better than he did on Friday. 

“We’ll do our best to get in there,” Garoppolo said. “We have two weeks until then and we’ll work. There’s little things here and there. Overall, there’s some good things that we did tonight. 

"We just have to get the little things corrected or they’re going to bite us in the butt. We’re going to work our tails off to get to that point. We’ll get there.”

Running back D.J. Foster making a late push for Patriots roster spot

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Running back D.J. Foster making a late push for Patriots roster spot

CHARLOTTE – D.J. Foster began making his case to stick on the Patriots’ 53-man roster Friday night against the Panthers.

An undrafted pass-catching back from Arizona State who’d missed almost all of training camp with an unknown injury was pretty persuasive. He caught three passes for 33 yards, showing nice burst, carried twice for 9 and returned a punt for 16. He saw his action late in the third with fellow rookie Jacoby Brissett in at quarterback.

Foster punctuated his first reception – an 11-yard screen that Brissett (9-for-9 for 85 yards and a touchdown) – by lowering his shoulder and delivering a blow that Foster said he wanted to “get that adrenaline going.”

“It felt great,” said Foster. “It had been a long time. I was telling some guys, that was the first time I’d gotten hit since college. It felt good to get back out there. The coaches gave me a chance to get out there and show what I could do.”

James White will be the Patriots sub-back (or third down back or pass-catching back or whatever you want to call him) until Dion Lewis returns from his knee malady. But Foster showed the acceleration and quickness that made him such a productive player for the Sun Devils. With 222 receptions for 2,458 yards and another 2,355 on the ground, Foster would fit nicely in an offense like the Patriots that uses the short and intermediate passing game so well.  

He hasn’t had much chance to make a case to stick and the Patriots – with White, LeGarrette Blount, Tyler Gaffney, Brandon Bolden and Joey Iosefa all in the mix – may have to take their chances with releasing Foster and hoping he goes unclaimed so New England can bring him back for their practice squad. It’s a risk, but other teams are encountering the same issues at cutdown time. Do they pluck a player they passed on in the draft and put him on their roster ahead of players they’ve been working with since the spring?

Bill Belichick wasn’t effusive in his praise for Foster but did indicate it was a good opportunity to at least see him in game action.

“We played a couple of guys that haven’t gotten much playing time so we got a chance to look at them,” he explained. “D.J. is one of those so we wanted to give him a few opportunities to handle the ball because he hasn’t done it this year. I thought he did some good things. There are a couple of things that he could do a little better but we’ll look at the film and see how it goes. He did a couple of things with his chances out there.”

To make the most of those chances, Foster said he avoided getting too hyped before getting on the field.  
 
“Just keeping my calm and hearing the playcall and just doing the mechanics and all the fundamentals of being in the backfield (was the focus),” said Foster. "Coach Ivan (Fears, running backs coach) did a great job of keeping me mellow. I felt healthy, I felt really good. I got some punt returns, some kick returns, some special teams. I was seeking contact to get that adrenaline going.

“It’s a long process,” he acknowledged. “Talking to the veteran guys, they said it’s a long process. I knew battling my injury and come back healthy, I came back strong and I felt ready.”

We’ll see if it’s enough to carve out a niche on the roster. The cutdown to 75 players comes Tuesday.