Collinsworth on the Pats: 'They'll bounce back'

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Collinsworth on the Pats: 'They'll bounce back'

The Patriots' two consecutive losses have the locals in a panic . . . but not Cris Collinsworth.

The ex-Bengals receiver, who now serves as the analyst on NBC's 'Sunday Night Football', calls the Pats' recent struggles "a little bump in the road" and reminds everyone there's one big reason "it's hard to imagine this team not bouncing back".

"This is a league where you still pick the quarterback, and when you still pick the quarterback you still pick Tom Brady," Collinsworth said Tuesday on 'The Dan Patrick Show', while admitting that "maybe Brady's second now to Aaron Rodgers . . . "

He also thinks there's another reason New England lost two in a row.

"But I think the other thing we have to remember is who they played the last two weeks," said Collinwsworth. "Watching the Giants in that game, their pass rush is devastating now that they have all their injured players back. They were hitting Tom Brady about the time his back foot was hitting the ground, and that offensive line for the Patriots is not that bad. I mean, they are okay. So I think we have to give the Giants a little credit.

"Obviously, the Steelers surprised them. The Steelers came out and went completely out of character, played the bump-and-run coverage. The Patriots did not adjust very fast, which I thought was stunning in and of itself . . . We're talking about the great Bill Belichick, the great Tom Brady, and yet you could tell it took several quarters for them to figure out that this was what the Steelers were going to do to them."

But for all the happy talk, Collinsworth still has a warning:

"Now they get the Jets, and I thought the Jets played more like the Jets than I've seen them all season this past weekend against Buffalo."

AL East picture through April: Red Sox better than expected

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AL East picture through April: Red Sox better than expected

BOSTON -- With the first month of the season at coming to a close, Boston finds itself half a game behind Baltimore for first place and 2.5 games ahead of the third place Rays.

With the question marks surrounding the pitching staff behind David Price entering the season, among other issues, the Red Sox are in a much better position than initially expected.

John Farrell credits much of the early success to his potent offense.

“[We] finished better than we started I think the biggest thing is that guys in our lineup have developed that trust in one another,” he said. “There [are] some elements to our offense that’ve been very encouraging. The all-field approach and the way we’ve run the bases [have] been very consistent.”

It’s undeniable that the newfound consistency to the pitching staff has been a huge help -- although Farrell did note Clay Buchholz needs to get the ball rolling.

“The last two turns through the rotation has been more consistent. We’ve been able to give our guys in the bullpen a little bit more regular rest,” Farrell said. “I like the fact that we’ve added to the depth of power arms in our bullpen. We still have room for improvement we know that.

Entering the final game of the opening series against New York, the Red Sox and the Orioles are the only AL East teams with winning records against their inter-division rivals.

Even though they’ve performed better than anticipated, a case can be made that the Red Sox should sit in first place.

Tampa Bay shut them out in the opener, and won the final game of the series that was powered by a rare David Price implosion.

Toronto won the final two games of the second season series by the skin of its teeth, narrowly avoiding Red Sox comebacks in the ninth inning of each game.

Baltimore won the first game of its opening series in Boston thanks to a ninth inning home run.

New York has one game left before both teams leave town and, weather permitting, Boston has a chance to start May off properly -- by disposing of the only team in the AL East stuck with single digit wins.

With the ups and downs for the five AL East teams, Farrell doesn’t expect there will be disparity in the division.

“Every team has got their strengths,” he said. “We don’t expect this to be a huge separation among any of the five teams here. We’re all probably searching to sure up areas that we’re in need of. That first starts with making the necessary adjustments with the guys that are on our roster right now. Not that we’re going to make wholesale changes.”

Carson Smith (forearm) to be activated for road trip

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Carson Smith (forearm) to be activated for road trip

Reliever Carson Smith is set to be activated for the start of the upcoming road trip Tuesday in Chicago, and his arrival will be welcomed by the Red Sox.

Smith, a big off-season acquisition from Seattle last December, has missed the first month after suffering a strained flexor muscle in his forearm late in March.

His return can only boost a bullpen that has performed better in recent weeks.

But his return could force the Sox into a tough roster decision. It had been assumed that Smith would return at the expense of two other young relievers on the staff -- Matt Barnes or Heath Hembree -- but manager John Farrell hinted otherwise Sunday.

"Because we've leaned on our bullpen so much,'' said Farrell, "I think we've got to be careful that we don't fall back into a similar situation that we've just been able to survive and come out of, where we've given some ample rest. To prioritize an extra pitcher versus a bench player, that's an internal discussion that's ongoing right now.

"And we've got to be mindful that Carson comes back to us with a limited rehab so we've got to be careful on his frequency of use, so it's not being ruled out that we might go with an extra pitcher for the short-term.''

That would suggest that the Sox could send out Marco Hernandez, who returned to the team Saturday to once again give them four bench players.

Barnes has appeared in 10 games and compiled a 2.92 ERA with 13 strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings while Hembree is unscored upon in four appearances, covering nine innings.

Both players have options remaining that would allow the Sox to send them to Triple A without first exposing them to waivers.

But for the time being, it would seem that the two will remain, giving the Red Sox 13 pitchers and eight-man bullpen.