Praise for Bailey continues with Patriots players

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Praise for Bailey continues with Patriots players

FOXBORO -- When you think about how long Champ Bailey has been playing football, and how he's still playing at a high level, it makes you wonder how he was ever traded in 2004.
Just ask Bill Belichick, who had towering praise for the 34-year old cornerback Friday.
"He's, to me, one of the few corners in the league that really can match up against anybody," the coach said. "He matches up against the Andre Johnson's of the world, the big, strong, physical, fast guys. And then he'll match up against quick, real good route-running quick receivers. It doesn't really make any difference."
Patriots players, getting ready to ready to face the Broncos and Bailey this weekend, echoed the accolades let loose by their coach.
"He's just a great ballplayer. I think he just gets out of bed and he's just great," said receiver Wes Welker. "He's very patient and does a good job of getting his hands on you, and plays really well. He's a smart guy, good instincts, all those things It's why he's stayed around for a while."
Bailey is playing in his 14th NFL season this year. He's an 11-time Pro Bowler (including three consecutive from 2009-2011), a six-time All Pro, and sits on the NFL's 2000s All-Decade Team.
Patriots wideout Brandon Lloyd played with Bailey in Denver from 2009 to 2011. Lloyd said he got to see the cornerback's dedication, both in film study and on the field, up close.
As in, duking-it-out-in-practice close.
"They were good battles," Lloyd smiled. "I learned a lot from him from a technique standpoint -- catching and finishing the play because Champ's one of the only cornerbacks I've gone against where the play is never over. You can even catch the ball, and if you're not bringing it in, if you're not protecting it, then he'll find a way to get it out."
Welker understands the challenge. The key, he said, is precision and variation. Patriots receivers will need to stay physical for 60 minutes to try to get open, and stay open.
There may be something else to getting the better of Bailey, but Lloyd joked that insider information was never swapped.
"I don't know. We've never really talked about the secrets," he smirked.

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.