Patriots happy to return to work


Patriots happy to return to work

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Patriots got back to work Monday after two days off. The team worked in full pads and worked late, arriving to a media session almost a full hour later than expected.

Patrick Chung sighed as he sat down before reporters. He wore the navy blue sweats seen weekly at Gillette stadium. He looked tired but content.

"It feels awesome," he said of being in Indianapolis. "It feels awesome. We're still here on a business trip, though. We're still here to work hard. But it feels good. It feels good to be here. A lot of guys don't get this opportunity, so we've got to take the best of it and play a good game."

Focus is a question. There are loud, colorful, insistent distractions everywhere the Patriots turn. Just the size of the media hoard, multiplied exponentially this week, reminds them of the hype.

It's a wonder how the players manage emotions and expectations.

"You don't want it to feel like a vacation," said Devin McCourty. "Waking up this morning, going to meetings, going over to the facility, going to practice, guys starting to go through the natural routine of the week is better for us. We're guys, we get in a routine and that's what we're in. Once we get in it, we don't know anything else.

"The biggest thing now, since we are in a hotel, guys are coming back, getting together, grabbing something to eat. We're all here so let's go down and watch some extra film. It kind of helps in a way, especially if we can kind of stick together and stay in our little bubble rather than getting outside and being entertained by the circus of everything going on with the media, fans and everything."

Football is the fix.

When New England turns its attention to study, preparation, preparation, execution, the surroundings fade away. Not even Monday practice threw them off. Normally, it's the day after a game -- either they rest on a victory or return for meetings.

So practicing in full pads? It actually feels natural when your sense of time is based on what you do, not when you do it.

"For us, we don't see it as a Monday," McCourty explained. "Today was a Wednesday. For football players, it's kind of like, as soon as you say it's a Wednesday we don't remember the days of the week we just know it in terms of our football schedule."

The Patriots are relieved to return to work. Considering this week business as usual, finding normalcy amid the chaos, is crucial to setting the tone and finding success. Yes, even before a Super Bowl. Especially before a Super Bowl.

ESPN’s Mortensen: Deflategate coverage led to death threats


ESPN’s Mortensen: Deflategate coverage led to death threats

In an expansive profile on The, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen says he and his wife were subjected to death threats because of Mortensen’s Deflategate coverage.

After the Patriots’ AFC Championship Game victory in January 2015, Mortensen tweeted information he said he received from a source that has long since been proven incorrect. The info - that 11 of 12 Patriots footballs in the game were underinflated by 2 pounds - remained uncorrected on Twitter and in an story for more than six months.  

The controversy over Mortensen’s reporting drew the ire of Patriots fans, many of whom blamed the tweet and his story for fanning the flames of what eventually led to a four-game suspension for Tom Brady and a $1 million fine and loss of draft picks for the Patriots. 

Mortensen, who has subsequently undergone treatment for cancer, told The Ringer’s Bryan Curtis that the threats led him to tell his wife Micki that he didn’t want her traveling with him from their home in Arkansas to Bristol, Connecticut when he did studio work for ESPN. 

“What bothered me is we’re in an era where if your wife goes onto social media, she basically reads that they want you to die,” Mortensen said. “Even after I got cancer, I got some death wishes.”

More from the Ringer story:

“My job is to protect her,” he said. When Mort himself came to Bristol, he behaved like someone who was living under a public threat. He went straight from the ESPN studio to his home, avoiding restaurants and rarely appearing in public.

Mortensen said after his initial tweet, a second source, with whom he had a better relationship, told him to used a broader description of the footballs, i.e. call them “significantly underinflated.”  Mortensen now acknowledges that information should have given him pause.

“That should have raised the journalist in me to a higher level,” he told the Ringer. “I’ve got to ask some more questions here. What are we talking about, 2 pounds under? But, no, I got to get on TV.”

Pregame Number: Perimeter pain for the Bulls


Pregame Number: Perimeter pain for the Bulls

Tonight’s pregame number is 133. That’s the total number of made 3-point field goals made last season by the players starting for the Bulls tonight. Whatever the Bulls reasons for signing Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade were this offseason, floor spacing was not one of them.

Wade’s career mark of 28.4 percent from distance is the third-worst percentage among active players with 600+ career attempts, while Rondo’s 28.9 career 3-pt FG% is seventh worst. And, for what it’s worth, the new-look Bulls shot 31.8 percent from beyond the arc (21st in the NBA) this preseason, while hitting 7.7 3-pointers per game. 

Despite allowing 15 3’s last night vs the Nets, perimeter defense should once again be a strength for the Celtics. Last season, the Celtics were fourth in the NBA with an opponent 3-pt FG% of 33.6. They were 38-15 when holding opponents to eight or fewer 3’s. 

With the NBA continuing to trend towards more 3-point shooting, it will be interesting to see how Fred Hoiberg’s offense looks this season, and especially tonight vs the Celtics.