INDIANAPOLIS - Nick Caserio is gifted in the art of filibustering. The Patriots personnel man is a "just-the-facts" kind of orator who can explain a process without tipping any details. So it was Thursday at the NFL Combine where Caserio, the Patriots' main personnel man, met with the media. Asked about the most pressing personnel decision among players with the team - Wes Welker - Caserio said, "We're going through the process. We've had conversations with our free agents at different points, whether it was in the fall. We'll continue that dialogue."We have until March 13 until free agency begins. So we'll do our due diligence, we'll go through the process and see where we end up."Welker, who will hit free agency unless the Patriots opt to franchise him (the window to do so opened this week and ends March 5), is seeking a deal that will put him among the highest-paid receivers in the league. The Patriots have made offers that Welker's agent, David Dunn, has not yet agreed to. Because Welker's a slot receiver who'll be 31 this year, his value may not be as high as younger, down-the-field threats on the open market. I asked Caserio if the Patriots anticipate Welker maintaining his explosiveness into his mid-30s. "Wes has been a productive player since he's been here. His body of work speaks for itself," Caserio said. "Really, any player, it's year to year. One of the things we try to do is we always look forward, don't live in the past, and really we just see how the player performs at that particular time."
The Jets’ quarterback situation took a comically typical turn Monday, as Ryan Fitzpatrick will be under center after an MRI revealed that Geno Smith has a torn ACL.
After starting New York’s first six games of the season, Fitzpatrick was demoted to backup for Sunday’s game against the Ravens. Smith was injured on a sack by Baltimore’s Matt Judon, forcing Fitzpatrick back into action.
After leading the Jets to a 24-16 win, Fitzpatrick made his dissatisfaction with being benched known.
“The biggest thing in this game in order to last, is to have belief in yourself,” Fitzpatrick said in his postgame press conference. “Because when the owner stops believing in you and the GM stops believing in you and the coaches stop believing in you, sometimes all you have is yourself. That’s something that I’ve had to deal with before. That’s something I’m dealing with now.”
On the season, Fitzpatrick has completed 136 of 237 passes for 1,561 yards with six touchdowns and a league-leading 11 interceptions.
BRIGHTON, Mass. -- It was a bitter pill for Adam McQuaid to sit out the first five games of this season, but it looks like the veteran Bruins stay-at-home defenseman is nearing a return to the lineup. McQuaid was cleared to potentially play in Saturday’s loss to the Montreal Canadiens after an upper body injury kept him shelved for the team’s first four games, and could be approaching a return in the next few days as Claude Julien mulls a number of possible lineup changes.
“It was obviously frustrating, but I’m where I’m at now and trying to move on from it. Looking forward to getting back into the lineup hopefully as soon as possible here,” said the 30-year-old McQuaid, who had a goal and nine points in 64 games for the Black and Gold last season. “The excitement level is high for me, and it is for everybody after a loss when you’re looking forward to getting back out there.
“It would have been nice to have started the season with the guys, but you can’t change that now. I’ve had some good practices, and I’m just trying to my game as simple as possible, and take it as it comes. Obviously guys have played some games and it’s been a couple of weeks for me, so I’ll just have to keep my game simple.”
The B’s bench boss indicated it was only a matter of time before McQuaid makes his 2016-17 regular season debut, but that he’s got plenty of things to decide prior to dropping the puck against the Wild.
“[McQuaid] was cleared last game. I haven’t made any decisions based for [Tuesday night vs. Minnesota]. There’s a lot of things that are up in the air, and I’ve just go to juggle those things,” said Julien. “Who knows? Hopefully tomorrow morning I’ve got a better picture [of injury situation], and if not then it will be game-time decisions. I wish I could have a better answer [on if McQuaid will play], but I’ve got no answers right now.”
With Colin Miller (minus-4), Joe Morrow, Torey Krug (a rough minus-3 against Montreal) and John-Michael Liles all minus players after the first five games of the season, there are ample options for Julien on which potential blueliner to bump up to the press box. McQuaid is just happy he’s getting closer to a return while skating with 23-year-old Rob O’Gara at practice, and he can get back to helping a B’s team that’s smack dab in the middle (ranked 15th allowing 3.0 goals per game) of the NHL for team defense this season.