Curran: Wilfork talks about a ton of fun

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Curran: Wilfork talks about a ton of fun

INDIANAPOLIS - When he first went to a Super Bowl back in 2004, Vince Wilfork was a rookie surrounded by teammates seeking their third ring.

Now he's the elder statesman and he looked back Monday at the chemistry magic those teams had.

"Richard (Seymour), Willie McGinest and those guys were a fun bunch," Wilfork said during a media session at the JW Marriott. "When you build a football team and you talk about character and you talk about leadership, those guys always come to my mind.

"They played the game the way that it needed to be played. When it was time for business, it was time for business. When it was time for fun, it was time for fun. I think everybody rallied from that. I learned a lot from those guys. Some was good, some was bad. Ive tried to forget the bad."

Wilfork fills the same role McGinest did for this team. He's played bad cop some days, a big brother on others.Early in the season, when the defense was horrific, he was often too disgusted to stick around after games and share his feelings.

But as the Patriots slowly improved, he came to appreciate the diligence and attitude of the players he's been surrounded with.

"We have fun," said Wilfork. "You have to have fun playing this game. The guys I have in this locker room all think they're the best at whatever. I think I can throw the ball better than Tom (Brady).Tom think he can beat me in the 40. We have a lot of fun."

There's been an unmistakeable bounce in the verbal step of Bill Belichick this week. Asked about that on Monday, Wilfork said, "All year hes been like that. Its been kind of a relaxing year for all of us, just not knowing how much pressure he could put on us physically. Everything hes asked us to do, weve responded. Its been a fun season just seeing guys come to work each day.

"I think he appreciates that, and I appreciate that as a teammate," Wilfork added. "Trust me, at times Bill can be difficult to deal with. But I think he sees a difference in this team. I think he knows that he has a pretty tough football team, a smart football team and a team thats never going to let him down. We have one more game to go. Hopefully we wont let him down.

McAdam: Poor homestand puts Red Sox on tough road

McAdam: Poor homestand puts Red Sox on tough road

The Red Sox had their chance.

They could have beefed up during the just-completed homestand and taken advantage of the worst team in the American League (Minnesota) and another that was only three games over .500 when it came to town (Detroit).

Instead, the Red Sox were just 2-5 in the last seven games at Fenway, losing ground in the standings to the Orioles and Blue Jays rather than making the race tighter.

That's not to suggest the Red Sox played their way out of contention in the last week. There are better than two months remaining in the season and the schedule isn't yet two-thirds complete.

Moreover, there is no dominant team in the East, and, thus, no one capable of pulling away and leaving the rest of the teams in their wake.

Baltimore and Toronto are flawed, too, as the first 100 or so games of the season have demonstrated.

But what the disappointing homestand means is this: Because they didn't win as much as they should at Fenway in the last week, the Sox will have to make up for that on the road.

As has been talked about ad nauseum in the last week, the schedule is about to become more demanding for the Red Sox. It's bad enough that they're in the middle of a stretch that will see them enjoy one (1) day off in the span of 44 days. Making matters worse is that 41 of the final 63 games are away from home -- including the next 11.

Put another way: The Red Sox have not yet had a three-city road trip this season, but all four of their remaining trips are of the three-city variety, including two that include travel to the West Coast.

The Red Sox have played fairly well on the road (21-19) -- they're one of just four teams in the American League with a winning road record -- but the simple fact remains: It's harder to win on the road than it is at home. And that's before you take into consideration the toll that lengthy road trips can take.

Of the next three road opponents, one has a losing record, and another is just two games over .500. Only the Los Angeles Dodgers, next weekend's interleauge road opponent, are playoff contenders from among that group.

Then again, the Red Sox thought they could roll over the Twins last weekend and came away with a four-game split, so it's difficult to handicap these things.

It should help, too, that the Red Sox are getting healthier.

Junichi Tazawa returned this week, and Craig Kimbrel could be back as early as Monday in Seattle. Chris Young and Josh Rutledge could rejoin them before they head out on their next road swing in mid-August.

With all the talk of the daunting schedule and demanding travel ahead, Dustin Pedroia was having none of it.

"We can play just as well on the road as we have at home,'' said Pedroia. "That stuff (the schedule) is irrelevant.''

Maybe. But one way or another, we're about to find out.

Garoppolo: Make the best of this opportunity as starting quarterback

Garoppolo: Make the best of this opportunity as starting quarterback

Jimmy Garoppolo, who will start the first four weeks, talks to the media today about trying to take advantage of the opportunity of being the Patriots' quarterback.

OFFSEASON

Boston Celtics announce 2016 preseason schedule

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Boston Celtics announce 2016 preseason schedule

New England fans will get their first glimpse at the 2016-2017 Boston Celtics when they kick off their preseason schedule on October 4 against the Philadelphia 76ers at UMass-Amherst’s Mullins Center.

That game will feature two of the top three picks in last month’s draft as Ben Simmons, the top overall pick, will face Jaylen Brown, who was drafted by the Celtics with the third overall pick.

Boston’s 7-game schedule features no back-to-back games, but they do face the Charlotte Hornets in their second and third preseason games on Oct. 6 (in Greensboro, N.C.) and Oct. 8 at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Here’s a look at Boston’s full preseason schedule:

DATE               OPPONENT                  LOCATION                                                        TIME
Oct. 4               Philadelphia 76ers         UMass-Amherst Mullins Center (Amherst, MA)     7:00 p.m. ET
Oct. 6               Charlotte Hornets          Greensboro Coliseum (Greensboro, NC)             7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 8               Charlotte Hornets          Mohegan Sun Arena (Uncasville, CT)                  3:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 13             Brooklyn Nets               Barclays Center (Brooklyn, NY)                          7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 15             New York Knicks           Madison Square Garden (New York, NY)             7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 17             Brooklyn Nets               TD Garden (Boston, MA)                                   7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 19             New York Knicks           TD Garden (Boston, MA)                                   7:30 p.m. ET