The outward reaction from former Penn State players and alumni to the hiring of Bill O'Brien has not been good. O'Brien, introduced Saturday morning as the man taking over the embattled program stained by the Jerry Sandusky child rape scandal, said his hiring was "unbelievable." Some in the Penn State community felt the same way.And Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, in a statement that seemed designed to meet those criticisms, had this to say, "Over the course of his long coaching career, Bill OBrien has met every personal and professional challenge head on with great passion and competitiveness."I expect Bill to draw on his deep background in college football and the NFL to continue attracting and developing top players. "For five years, Bills outstanding work with our quarterbacks and entire offense has led to record-setting performances. His presence and command before our team has grown into that of a inspirational leader. This is a great match between a storied program and a old-school football coach. Bill will be up to the task and I couldnt be happier for him, Colleen and the OBrien family."A few interesting takeaways from that. 1) Belichick giving a nod to his ability to recruit and develop. 2) His praise of O'Brien as a leader, important as he steps in Joe Paterno's spot. 3) The uncharacteristic noting of "record-setting performances". 4) Describing O'Brien as an "old-school football coach" knowing that would be an embraceable image for Penn State.
FOXBORO -- The Patriots listed nine players on their injury report after Friday's practice, deeming them all "questionable" for Sunday's game against the Steelers.
The most notable names on the list are those of tight end Martellus Bennett, linebacker Jamie Collins and receiver Julian Edelman.
Bennett and Collins have been listed on the injury report since before last weekend's win over the Bengals. Bennett was able to play through his ankle issue, whereas Collins dealt with a hip injury that kept him out. Edelman, meanwhile, has been on the injury report since prior to New England's Week 5 win over Cleveland, but he has played in 81 percent of his team's offensive snaps over the last two weeks.
Patriots rookie linebacker Elandon Roberts, who has opened some eyes with his play over the course of the last two weeks, is also listed as questionable due to an ankle issue. Bill Belichick's club could be left thin at the linebacker level should both Roberts and Collins be at all limited, potentially leaving Barkevious Mingo, Rob Ninkovich and Shea McClellin to see more time next to Dont'a Hightower as off-the-line 'backers.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
TE Martellus Bennett (ankle)
RB Brandon Bolden (knee)
LB Jamie Collins (hip)
WR Julian Edelman (foot)
DL Woodrow Hamilton (shoulder)
LB Shea McClellin (concussion)
WR Malcolm Mitchell (hamstring)
LB Elandon Roberts (ankle)
DL Vincent Valentine (back)
T Marcus Gilbert (ankle)
DE Cameron Heyward (hamstring)
QB Ben Roethlisberger (left knee)
S Shamarko Thomas (groin)
C Cody Wallace (knee)
WR Markus Wheaton (shoulder)
RB DeAngelo Williams (knee)
WALTHAM, Mass. – Marcus Smart remains out with a left ankle sprain injury sustained earlier this week, but has yet to be ruled out for the season opener against Brooklyn next week.
An MRI came back negative on Smart’s ankle, which was good news.
But there’s still a high level of uncertainty as to whether Smart will heal in time for the team’s opener at home against Brooklyn on Wednesday night.
He sprained the left ankle in the second quarter of a 121-96 loss to the New York Knicks on Wednesday when he stepped on the foot of Knicks guard Justin Holiday.
Smart fell to the floor and was helped to his feet by teammates Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas in addition to the team’s head trainer Ed Lacerte.
The Celtics are indeed hopeful he will heal in time to play next week, but league sources indicate it’s doubtful due to the nature of the injury and Smart’s history with left ankle sprains.
He sustained one in his rookie season and it kept him out for several weeks and he has had a few minor ankle sprains since then.
Even if he shows signs of being healthy enough to play prior to the opener, the Celtics are likely to be overly cautious to best insure that when he does return he does not re-aggravate the ankle.
Smart appeared in all seven preseason games for the Celtics this season, averaging 8.1 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game. Smart shot 42 percent from the field, but struggled mightily from 3-point range while connecting on just 13.6 percent of his 3-point shot attempts.
If Smart is unable to play in the opener or potentially longer, look for the Celtics to lean heavily on Terry Rozier who has been the breakout performer for Boston in the summer and in camp.
“I’m just trying to do whatever they need me to do, to help us win games,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “I’m feeling good, real good about where my game’s at now. Obviously we’re a better team in every way, with Marcus out there. But if he’s not ready to go, the next man up has to get the job done. If that’s me, it’s me. I’ll be ready.”