Caron struggling for P-Bruins in lead role

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Caron struggling for P-Bruins in lead role

PROVIDENCE, RI There were high hopes for Jordan Caron asthe most notable member of last years Boston Bruins team finding haven in theAHL with the P-Bruins during the NHL lockout. Caron started off strong withfour goals in his first six games including a hat trick against the ManchesterMonarchs, but its been a struggle for the 2009 first-round pick over the lastfew months.

Caron has gone scoreless in his last seven games and has onlyone goal scored in his last 19 games with Providence while routinely skatingwith AHL skill players like Chris Bourque, Ryan Spooner and Jamie Tardif. Thestruggles continued on Sunday in Providences 4-0 loss to the St. JohnsIceCaps as Caron was saddled with three minor penalties, including ahigh-sticking call in the first period that led directly to the IceCaps secondgoal.

The 22-year-old finished with three shots on net,but he didnt seem to have his best skating legs while playing his third game inthree days. Its been important to the NHL coaching staff to see Caron use his 6-foot-2,200-pound frame in front of the net and up his physical play in all zones, butthere was little of that on Sunday aside from the actions leading to elbowing,high-sticking and holding calls on the ice.

Providence head coach Bruce Cassidy admitted followingSundays loss that Caron has been struggling a bit as of late, and he certainlywants to be playing his best hockey if the NHL suddenly starts up in the nextfew weeks.

He hasnt scored a point in a while for a guy that playson the power play and plays up in the lineup, said Cassidy. Its a concernfor everybody. At some point something good has to happen for him. Hes hadnights where the puck has been following him and he hasnt been able to buryit.

Its the American Hockey League, and if you want to get outof here then you have to produce . . . unless youve got a spot waiting for you. Imnot management in Boston, so I dont know. But for most guys youve got to finda way to get it done. Hes probably in that boat along with everybody else.

Nobody is looking for Caron to become the AHLs leadingscorer or to put any dazzle into his blue collar game a game that the Bruinsappreciate for his strength on the puck and solid work along the boards but theresalso going to be some hot competition for the wing spot on the third line. RyanSpooner has shown that hes capable offensively in his first extended AHLaction, and Bourque leads all P-Bruins scorers with 20 points while showing thekind of poise necessary for the NHL.

If Caron hopes to keep a strangle-hold on that NHL job,turning on his A game at the AHL level should be a priority. Theres no doubt now is as good atime as any for Caron to snap out of the personal AHL dry spell thats beenkeeping him down.

Hightower, Branch will begin training camp on PUP list

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Hightower, Branch will begin training camp on PUP list

The Patriots will be without two of last year's defensive starters when training camp begins later this week. 

Both Dont'a Hightower and Alan Branch were placed on the physically unable to perform list on Monday. They are eligible to come off the list at any time. Once they are removed from the list, they will be eligible to practice fully. Players on PUP count against the 90-man training-camp roster.

Undrafted rookie tackle Andrew Jelks will begin camp on the active/non-football injury list. The Vanderbilt product dealt with knee injuries that kept him off the field each of the last two seasons. 

Neither Hightower, nor Branch, nor Jelks participated in spring practices at Gillette Stadium. Hightower was present for voluntary work, but during practices open to the media he typically did some conditioning off to the side. Branch skipped optional team activities (as he usually does), and though he was in Foxboro for mandatory minicamp, he did not practice during that three-day stretch.

Hightower was limited last season with knee and shoulder injuries. The MMQB.com's Albert Breer said on Sports Sunday that Hightower's health concerns made teams reticent to make him offers that would lure him away from New England. 

Report: Patriots in talks with CB Brandon Flowers

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Report: Patriots in talks with CB Brandon Flowers

In what’s been a somewhat busy offseason for their secondary, veteran cornerback Brandon Flowers is in talks with the Patriots, according to Adam Schefter. 

Flowers, who spent the first six seasons of his career with the Chiefs and last three with the Chargers, was released in March. He is set to meet with the Cardinals this week as well. 

The Pats lost cornerback Logan Ryan this offseason, but landed the top free agent corner on the market in Stephon Gilmore. A potential addition of Flowers might give them an insurance policy if second-year pro Cyrus Jones fails to improve from a dismal rookie season. 

Flowers was limited to just six games last season, as a concussion ended his season in December. He has played in at least 11 games in the rest of his NFL seasons. His lone Pro Bowl nod came in the 2013 season.