INDIANAPOLIS - I wonder if James Sanders fits in the Patriots "we'd like to have that one back" category.
Released last August by the Patriots, was missed. Now, if people want to shrug and say "alls well that ends well" that's fine.
The Patriots made the Super Bowl and were the No. 1 seed in the AFC. What was the price exacted by not having Sanders at the back of their defense? So what if the Patriots cycled through a long line of try-hard guys who were pretty bad at times? They still had a very good 2011.
The fact Sanders was carrying a 2.8 million salary and had been limited through camp (just four practices) must have made it seem OK for the Patriots to decide Josh Barrett and Sergio Brown were the answers. They weren't and it took a while before James Ihedigbo did emerge as the capable successor to Sanders. The Falcons grabbed Sanders and on Saturday at the NFL Combine, Atlanta head coach Mike Smith said Sanders was "a very good addition."
"We got him late, he was a guy who joined our football team right before the season started, so there was an acclimation period but when he got the opportunity to play, he played well," said Smith. "He was a stabilizing factor in our secondary. I really like his makeup, his skill set as a guy that can play strong and free safety."
Sanders, just 28, goes about his business very professionally. He's no superstar but he's steady.
And the Patriots still have question marks at the safety spot next to Patrick Chung. Ihedigbo is a free agent, Barrett's coming back from injury and Brown is a core special teamer but the Pats don't seem to have much faith in him on their regular defense.
What the Patriots do this offseason at that strong safety spot may be the best indication of whether they do regret letting go of Sanders.
Ben Simmons has reportedly fractured the fifth metatarsal in his right foot.
A timetable has not been established for when the first overall pick of the 2016 NBA Draft should return.
The Celtics may have dodged a major bullet in not trading up to pick Simmons — at least in the short term.
More details to come . . .
BRIGHTON, Mass. -- Brandon Carlo enjoyed about as good a game as one could possibly hope for in his preseason debut earlier this week.
The 19-year-old was smooth and poised with the puck on his stick, and picked up an assist when Danton Heinen redirected his point blast to the back of the net. He was also a little dirty, mean and nasty in his own end throwing bodies around in front of the net, and at one point taking a penalty call when he was a little overzealous throwing an opponent down in the crease.
So the 6-foot-5 prospect gave a pretty good glimpse into what he can offer at his best, but the youngster also knows it will keep getting more and more difficult as the games get closer to the end of the preseason.
“In that first game I felt like I was doing a lot of really good things. I was moving the puck well, playing well and doing all of the things that I wanted to do. So I’m really excited to build on that opportunity. I feel like I started myself off well, but it’s about building throughout the camp to reach your main goal at the end,” said Carlo, who may be in line for top pair duties again on Friday night after skating in that role in his first game. “Throughout camp I got three games last year, and I noticed that with each game the action got harder and faster. So I’m ready for that. I feel like it’s going to be a lot of fun out there. I’m ready for the speed, and I’m ready for the physicality. I’m ready for everything.”
Carlo will again team with veteran puck-mover John-Michael Liles on Friday night in a road exhibition game against the Detroit Red Wings, and both he and the Bruins will be looking for him to build on that first outing’s promise. If the youngster can keep it up then the Bruins will have a really difficult choice on their hands with seven D-men already signed to NHL contracts ahead of the young prospect types, so Carlo would have to displace somebody.
But that’s another problem for another day, and will require young Carlo to keep impressing on people , and being extremely hard to play against, when the Bruins take the ice against the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena on Friday night.