Donnie Fletcher not dwelling on Combine snub

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Donnie Fletcher not dwelling on Combine snub

In the summer of 2011, the NFL lockout forced many eyes onto scouting the college crop earlier than usual. Boston College senior Donnie Fletcher ended up on multiple must-watch lists, citing his size (6-0, 199-pounds), fluidity, and ability to stop the run as reasons to pick him up in the 2012 Draft. The kid was on top of his game with a year left to play.

Fletcher suffered a back injury before the season even began.

He sat out just one game, BC's opener against Norwestern, before returning as a starter. But Fletcher didn't seem the same. His senior season stats -- 35 tackles, two interceptions, five pass breakups -- pale in comparison to those posted in an impressive junior campaign (58, five, three).

"Last year was a real humbling experience for me. I had to take kind of a back seat," Fletcher said Wednesday at BC Pro Day. "I was always the starter from freshman year, but once I got hurt I was on the sideline more, watching, not being able to play. I had to take more of a coaching to the younger guys in front of me."

Still, an invite to the Senior Bowl arrived in January. It was invite to the NFL Scouting Combine that never came. Fletcher doesn't deny the snub stung, but said he's using it as fuel.

"I was a little disappointed," he said. "Every year I look on NFL Network and see those DBs working out and end up seeing them go in the Draft. But when I didn't get the invite I was just like, 'I can only control what I can control,' and that's my Pro Day. I just took it as it came. I just worked a little harder; it gave me a little bit more motivation. I just try to take the positive out of what was given to me."

Fletcher spent time training at Fischer Sports Institute in Arizona. Three days a week he punched the clock, working out three times a day from 9-5. He got his 40-yard dash time down from 4.5 at his junior Pro Day, to a blazing 4.38 this year. The 17 reps he did on the 225-pound bench press are another point of pride.

At least one team has noticed his effort; Seattle will host Fletcher for a workout on April 9.

The cornerback hopes more phone calls will fill out the five weeks between now and the Draft. He hopes teams will watch film of his freshman and sophomore year coverage against guys like Hakeem Nicks, Golden Tate, and Torrey Smith.

Until then he'll continue to "work hard, stay humble." Just check his Twitter feed, you'll see the phrase repeated over and over as though determination and discipline will push him through.

Wednesday, a weary Fletcher smiled at the thought.

"That's my little motto. In this game it's easy for you to not be humble when you're given all these blessings. So I just try to work as hard as I can, but also stay as humble as I can throughout the whole process."

Red Sox recall Sam Travis, send Velázquez back to Pawtucket

Red Sox recall Sam Travis, send Velázquez back to Pawtucket

BOSTON -- On the list of Red Sox problems, finding a platoon partner for Mitch Moreland at first base isn't high on the list. But the others -- third base, fifth starter -- aren't solvable at the moment, so the Sox turned to one they think they can solve.

Today they recalled Sam Travis from Pawtucket, most likely to provide relief for Moreland against left-handed pitching. Travis' path to the majors was delayed by a knee injury that cost him a good chunk of the 2016 season -- otherwise, odds are good he'd have been here by now -- but he signaled his readiness by recovering from a 5-for-36 start with a sizzling .344 average in 90 at-bats since April 22 that includes six doubles and three home runs. His OPS in that span is .909.

Most importantly, Travis crushes left-handed pitching. He's hit .358 (93-for-260) against them in his professional career, and is .414 (12-for-29) against them this year. 

Hector Velázquez was sent back to the PawSox to make room for Travis, ensuring another roster move later this week. After Kyle Kendrick's failed attempt to take control of the fifth spot in the starting rotation, Velázquez was called up and given a shot in Oakland last Thursday night. He allowed six earned runs over five innings, failing the test. And thus the search for a fifth starter -- at least until David Price returns -- continues.

Price will make a rehab start in Pawtucket tomorrow and could return to Boston after that, but the Sox will need a pitcher for Saturday's game against Seattle. Even if Price is cleared to return to Boston, he won't be able to pitch Saturday on two days' rest.

Now-and-again Fun League? NFL lightens up on touchdown celebrations

Now-and-again Fun League? NFL lightens up on touchdown celebrations

Roger Goodell announced on Tuesday that the NFL would ease off its restrictions on touchdown celebrations going forward. 

"Just as NFL teams use the offseason to get better, at the league we use this time to listen to players, coaches, officials and fans about how we can continue to improve our great game.," he said in a statement. " . . . Today, we are excited to tell you about another change that comes after conversations with more than 80 current and former players: we are relaxing our rules on celebrations to allow players more room to have fun after they make big plays."

Using the football as a prop, celebrating on the ground and group celebrations will all be allowed after scores under the new policy.

"Offensive demonstrations, celebrations that are prolonged and delay the game, and those directed at an opponent, will still be penalized," Goodell explained.