First half notes: Patriots 6, Cardinals 6

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First half notes: Patriots 6, Cardinals 6

FOXBORO -- The primary halftime story here in a 6-6 tie between the Patriots and Cardinals is the relative sloppiness of both offenses. The Patriots have 129 yards of offense and the Cardinals have 111. Tom Brady's been sacked three times and he threw a pick on the first offensive play for New England, a tipped pass that was hauled in acrobatically by Cardinals corner Patrick Peterson. There are two developing stories as well: 1) what looks likea fairly serious ankle injury for Aaron Hernandez and 2) an even bigger role this week for Julian Edelman in place of Wes Welker. Hernandez went down while blocking for Edelman in the first quarter. Hernandez's right ankle was rolled over and it bent under the weight of the tacklers and Edelman. It could be a high ankle sprain which normally takes more than a month to recover from. As for the wideout reps, Edelman started in place of Welker and was on the field ahead of Welker in two wideout sets prior to the Hernandez injury. Last week, Welker had 43 snaps to Edelman's 23, leading to speculation Welker was being supplanted. That was a little premature based on the number of snaps, but this week's developments put the situation in a new light. One interesting tidbit that gains traction was pointed out to me by someone close to the team during training camp. Edelman and Brady spent a ton of time together in the offseason, time that in years past Welker was spending. A comfort level may have been reached and necessary improvement on Edelman's part may have been attained. Edelman's work during training camp was remarkably good. This could be a pro-Edelman move as opposed to an anti-Welker move. Still, with Welker making 9.5 million and having been targeted 173 times last season, it's too early after six quarters of football to conclude it's a freeze-out.

Beyond the numbers: Kings offense will test Celtics defense

Beyond the numbers: Kings offense will test Celtics defense

BOSTON – When it comes to defense, the Celtics are quick to claim that it is indeed the foundation for which their team is built upon. 
 
Still, far too often this season, we have seen cracks in their usually Teflon-tough defense, the kind that ultimately means the difference between winning and losing.
 
The Celtics’ defense will once again need to step up and play well tonight against a Sacramento squad that has shown it can fill it up offensively of late. 
 
Sacramento (7-11) has scored 100 or more points in eight of their past 10 games. In that span, their 107.2 points per game ranks ninth in the league. 
 
In that same span, the Celtics have allowed opponents to score 100.3 points per game, which ranks 10th in the NBA in fewest points allowed.
 
And when it comes to winning, limiting teams to less than 100 points has been huge in Boston’s win total. 
 
The Celtics have held eight opponents to 100 points or less this season. 
 
Their record in those games? 8-0.
 
Within that limited scoring, Boston must also make sure teams don’t get into a nice groove shooting the ball. 
 
Boston is 0-5 this season when an opponent shoots 48 percent or better from the field. 
 
While there are several things Boston must do to be successful, having the right kind of defensive disposition ranks at or near the top of that list in their efforts to play with the kind of defensive success that gave so many hope that this would the year Boston would hold court among the top teams in the Eastern Conference.

“We have to get a little more nastier on the defensive end and not let a team come in and get comfortable,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder.
 

Brady, Bennett, Edelman questionable for Sunday vs. Rams

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Brady, Bennett, Edelman questionable for Sunday vs. Rams

FOXBORO -- The Patriots injury report for Sunday's game with the Rams is out. While they'll be without one big name, but their others are still very much in play. 

Rob Gronkowski, who was scheduled to undergo back surgery on Friday, has been ruled out. Jordan Richards, who is dealing with a knee issue and has not practiced this week, will also be held out of action on Sunday. 

Tom Brady (knee), Julian Edelman (foot), Martellus Bennett (ankle/shoulder) and Chris Hogan (back) -- all of whom practiced on Friday -- have been listed as questionable for the Rams game at Gillette Stadium. Special teamer Nate Ebner (concussion) returned to practice on Friday and is also questionable, as is Trey Flowers (shin) and Elandon Roberts, who popped up on the injury report with a jaw issue Friday. 

Special teams captain Matthew Slater missed Friday's session after participating on both Wednesday and Thursday. He's been ruled as questionable. Defensive lineman Woodrow Hamilton is also questionable after missing his second straight day of practice with an illness.

If Slater and Ebner are at all limited this weekend, coupled with the loss of Richards, the Patriots kicking game would be significantly impacted. Hogan took reps as the team's personal protector on the punt team earlier this week and may fill that role should Ebner miss time.