Curran's 34 lines on 17 Patriots issues

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Curran's 34 lines on 17 Patriots issues

Sit down, because this will rock you to your core. Over the final seven games of the 2011 season, Aaron Hernandez was targeted more than eight times per game: Sunday, he saw six passes.

I think we know whats afoot. A phase out for Hernandez and an example of the Patriots evil genius where they sign a player to a huge contract or guarantee him nearly 10 million (in the case of Wes Welker) and then dont use him.

After watching the debacle authored by the Raiders backup long snapper Travis Goethel Monday night -- a ground ball on which the punt by Shane Lechler was aborted, a slow wobbler leading to a blocked punt and another ground ball leading to another aborted punt -- you can be sure of this: Its good to be an out-of-work linebacker with actual long-snapping abilities this week.

On the Ras-I Dowling pass interference in the first quarter, one of the contributing factors was at the snap. Dowling was still looking into the backfield when the ball was snapped and Kendall Wright was on Dowling and nearly past him by the time Dowling reacted.

The two biggest assets Stevan Ridley has as a running back are superior balance and the ability to make the first tackler miss more often than not. BenJarvus Green-Ellis ball control was enviable but Ridleys got far more explosiveness.

The new Nike pants being worn around the league? The players arent fans of them, saying they bunch up around the crotch and come down too easily in the back.

Josh McDaniels did a terrific job of throwing different formations, personnel and quick throws in during the opener. The Cardinals will have a ton to prepare for this week.

Jason McCourty didnt have friendly things to say to Aaron Hernandez when McCourty drove Hernandez out on the sideline in the second half. Ill (screw) you up all day (friend), was what the sideline mics picked up.

Went to the Mayo Bowl on Monday night at Kings in Dedham and saw Patriots guard Dan Connolly up and about, which is a good sign that the concussion he suffered Sunday was mild.

Also seen at the event, defensive tackle Gerard Warren who raised his eyebrows and smiled when asked if he might be back with the team. Tom Brady and wife Giselle Bundchen were there, too.

Their presence can cause chaos and, as a result, Brady says he sometimes takes a pass on public events to avoid detracting from the mission of them. That he showed up for Mayos event for the first time (I believe, not dead positive) was a nice gesture.

When I walked past Brady, he and wide receiver Brandon Lloyd were locked in football-related discussion. It just doesnt stop with Brady.

When you realize that the most times Chad Ochocinco was targeted last season was five (against the Giants in October) and then realize that Lloyd had eight balls thrown to him, the notion of a Welker freeze-out takes another hit. If one spot is getting more passes and the ball is thrown less (31 times) it stands to reason the target numbers will drop.

Lloyd wasnt too happy with me after Sundays game when I asked him if he slowed down on the first quarter deep ball from Brady. It was an incomplete pass, dont read too much into it, he said icily. When I told him its my job to read into things and then check if theyre right, he stared hard at me then asked for the next question. Weve since straightened it out. I share this because it helps readers understand the dynamic that players and reporters are in when a question that critiques performance arises. The player isn't going to like being second-guessed; the reporter isn't going to like having a legitimate question dismissed. It's a fine balance.

Is Richard Seymour a possible Hall of Fame player? Discuss.

Kevin Kolb will get the start Sunday for the Cardinals when they visit the Patriots, it appears. He was 6-of-8 for 66 yards directing the game-winning drive for the Cards against the Seahawks after John Skelton injured his ankle.

The pursuit speed of Chandler Jones continues to be the most impressive aspect of his game. On the strip sack that led to the Donta Hightower touchdown, Jones turned the corner on Michael Roos then accelerated in two huge steps to get to Jake Lockervery impressive.

Celtics are living by the 3-pointer at a historic level

Celtics are living by the 3-pointer at a historic level

BOSTON – It has been well-established that the Celtics are a three-point shooting, bombs away kind of team and nothing seems like it’ll deter them from continuing along that path.
 
But as we prepare for the second half of the season, beginning tonight against the New York Knicks, we come to realize Boston’s launching of 3-pointers isn’t just unusually high.
 
This group of Celtics rank among the league's all-time leaders in 3-point attempts by the halfway mark of the season.

And when you look at the company they’re keeping when it comes to 3-point shooting, it speaks to how important it has become in this NBA to have as many long-range shooting threats on the floor as possible if you're trying to win at a high level.
 
Boston’s 494 3-point attempts thus far this season ranks fourth all-time by the halfway point of a season. But this season, that’s just good enough to be third behind Houston and Golden State with 617 and 505 three-point attempts, respectively.
 
The other team in the top four all-time is last season's Golden State squad, which took 519 three-pointers by the midway point of the season.
 
And all those 3’s by the Celtics have included an NBA-record six straight games in which they made at least 15 3-pointers.
 
That has allowed the Celtics to score at least 100 points in 15 consecutive games, the franchise’s longest such streak since they reached the 100-point plateau in 19 straight games in 1991.
 
Of course Isaiah Thomas’ 3-point shooting stands out, particularly when you see how dominant he has been this season in the fourth quarter with a league-best 10.1 points per game.
 
But his offense, while potent, is aided heavily by the shot-making snipers coach Brad Stevens surrounds him with on a nightly basis.
 
That’s why you didn’t see Stevens or president of basketball operations Danny Ainge freak out earlier this season when the Celtics were struggling.
 
Kelly Olynyk, who shot better than 40 percent on 3’s a year ago, was still on the mend after offseason shoulder surgery.
 
Jae Crowder, whose 3-point shooting has steadily improved throughout his career, had some minor injuries that set him back and maybe more important, didn’t allow him to get into the kind of shooting rhythm we see now which has allowed him to shoot a team-best 42.6 percent on 3’s.
 
Al Horford, Thomas, Amir Johnson … they all missed some time due to injuries this season, which has impacted the team’s chemistry and timing.
 
But the past couple of weeks have seen the Celtics healthier than they’ve been most of this season, and it has allowed them to play with the kind of space they want which has allowed Thomas and his cohorts to take lots of lightly contested to open 3’s most of this season.
 
“We’ve got pretty good shooters on this team where you’ve got to pick your poison,” Thomas said. “We’re shooting at a high level, and I got to say, you just have to pick your poison who you want to stop and my job is just to make the right play each and every time down.”
 

Mitchell (knee) 'feeling well' as he prepares for AFC title game

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Mitchell (knee) 'feeling well' as he prepares for AFC title game

FOXBORO -- Malcolm Mitchell indicated before Wednesday's practice that he's feeling pretty good despite missing last weekend's Divisional Round matchup with the Texans due to a knee injury. 

"I'm feeling well," he said. "Just taking it day by day. Preparing. I just go from there."

Mitchell suffered the injury in a Week 16 win over the Jets at Gillette Stadium. He missed the regular-season finale and has been limited in practice in recent weeks. 

Mitchell was present for Wednesday's fully-padded practice outdoors, and he said it was crucial for him to prepare as though he will play even if he's unsure as to whether or not he'll be called upon. 

"That's the most important thing," he said. "Be ready for any opportunities that could come about."

He added: "As a competitor, no one wants to miss a game. What's important is the team going out theere and competing whether I was out there or not."

Should Mitchell be at all limited moving forward, the Patriots would likely continue to lean upon Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan as their top options. Both Danny Amendola and Michael Floyd were in uniform for last weekend's playoff matchup with Houston as well. 

Hogan suffered a thigh injury that knocked him from the Texans game, but he said on Tuesday that he was progressing well, and he was also on the field for Wednesday's practice. 

Mitchell said there is a sense of confidence in the receivers room that because of their depth, they'll be good to go as a group even if one or two members of the unit are at less than 100 percent. 

"We know there's some things we can't control," he said, "but our coach does a good job of getting everybody ready."