Bills expect Jackson to play against Patriots

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Bills expect Jackson to play against Patriots

Buffalo's top running back has been sidelines since hurting his knee in the season opener against the Jets.

Stevens: Celtics shootaround resembled 'typical day'

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Stevens: Celtics shootaround resembled 'typical day'

BOSTON - Hours before the biggest game of their careers, the Boston Celtics walked into the TD Garden and took part in the team's walkthrough like they have done before any old game.

This is far from any old game. The team's playoff lives are on the line after a no-show in Atlanta. The Celtics have every reason to be jacked up headed into this one - and they most likely will get to that level right around pregame introductions - but following the lead of their level-headed coach has gotten them this far, and that isn't about to change.

"When the guys walk in, they came in, we went through our shootaround. Typical day," Stevens said. "The focus is always pretty good. It was good again today. Just ready to compete and excited to play in this building."

The Celtics should be excited to play in this building. They've played exceptionally well here as of late, beating the Hawks in both of their home playoff games. The fans brought their "A" game in those two games, and it's a foregone conclusion they'll bring it for Game 6.

When asked if players really can feed off the fans, Stevens answered by saying that without question they can.

"I've said this many times, I've been so impressed ever since I've been here with the Celtics fans," Stevens said. "You can clearly feel the energy levels increasing as the months go by and as the days go by with this group. And certainly the last few months with the way our guys have played in here and the amount of energy in here. It's been incredible. It's been fun to be a part of. Hopefully we can continue."

Here’s a switch: Red Sox last in A.L. in HRs, but first in steals

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Here’s a switch: Red Sox last in A.L. in HRs, but first in steals

BOSTON - It's an admittedly small sample size, but somehow, after the first 21 games of the season, the Red Sox' offense is going against type.
     
The Sox are somehow last in the American League in homers, but first in stolen bases.
     
The Red Sox have successfully stolen 20 of 22 bases, for a 90.9 percent success rate. The 20 steals are the most through the first 21 games of a season for a Red Sox team since 1995, when they had 21.
     
By contrast, the Sox needed 51 games last season to steal their 20th base.
     
"We spend quite a bit of time studying our opposition,'' said John Farrell, "and if there are certain things that might present opportunities for us, we'll look to take advantage of those as best possible. I think it speaks to the attention to detail. The success rate of stolen bases is not just a function of speed - it's clearly our guys being aware of certain things and paying close attention and staying focused to capitalize.''
     
Farrell wouldn't detail who has the "green light'' to run on their own, but pointed out that there are triggers of sorts for players to run.
     
"Guys are trusting the information being provided and exposed to,'' he said. "They take it upon themselves at that point.''
     
In 2013, when the Sox won the World Series, they were similarly aggressive and took advantage of chances to run and take extra bases.
     
"You try to create a characteristic of your team,'' Farrell offered. "Certainly, a lot is going to be dependent on the talent of your team, depending on your roster. We can't create speed for guys [where] it just isn't there. But in combination with that, there's the mental side  of it, paying attention and playing smart baseball. I think that's  what we're saying.''
     
Farrell also recalls the downside of that same aggressiveness when, in 2014, just one year removed, the Sox ran into a lot of early outs on the bases.
     
"Stolen bases are valuable, but giving away outs is not, obviously,'' said Farrell, who recalled reining in some baserunners who weren't successful. "As long as guys are trusting [of the program] and understand what's acceptable - there are certain game situations where the runner, in his mind, has got to be 100 percent sure he's going to get that extra 90 feet.''
     
Beyond the extra bases, Farrell likes the idea of putting pressure on the defense and distracting the pitcher on the mound.''
     
Of the two caught stealing the Red Sox have had, one was Tuesday night in Atlanta when a planned hit-and-run backfired as Brock Holt swung and missed and Travis Shaw was cut down at third. That means, incredibly, that the Sox have been thrown out just once in a true steal attempt.
     
As far as homers, the Sox have hit just 17 homers, ranking them 15th in the American League. Only two other teams Texas (19) and Cleveland (18) have fewer than 20 homers.
     
"I don't know what to make of that,'' Farrell noted. "I do know this: our offense is working well as a unit [leading the league in runs scored]. We've used the whole field. We play in a ballpark that's a really good doubles ballpark (the Sox are far and away the leaders there with 59; next best in the A.L. is Houston with 46) and hopefully that's playing to our advantage.
     
"But the overall approach - the situational hitting, that's been really good. I think our guys have a pretty good vibe about themselves offensively.''
     
In the Red Sox lineup, only two hitters -- Mookie Betts (four) and David Ortiz (three) -- have more than two homers.