Boston Red Sox

Felger: Talib made great plays like Ty Law


Felger: Talib made great plays like Ty Law

There probably wasn't a single Patriots fan out there that wasn't interested in seeing what Aqib Talib could bring to the team's secondary.

After the first game, there's a better idea. Talib was sketchy on a couple plays, but that's not a shock considering it's his first game. He did, though, intercept a pass that he then returned for a touchdown.

"Big plays -- you know, that's who Aqib Talib is," Mike Felger said on CSNNE's Patriots Postgame Live. "He had three interception returns for touchdowns heading into this game. Now he's got four in his career. So he's a little bit like the man to my left here Ty Law that if you make a mistake in his area, he can take advantage of it and then take it back to the house. And I thought that's exactly why they brought him in; that big play.

Whoa, Felgy. Talib in the same sentence as THE Ty Law? Let's hear from the man himself on how Talib looked:

"I thought he played OK for what it's worth," Law said. "He didn't have a great game and I don't think anybody expected him to have a great game when he got left in one-on-one situations. I think those are just coming with the repetitions because he was there on the touchdown pass. he just went in and tried to get it with the wrong arm ... those are the things that are going to come back and that's all muscle memory as far as I'm concerned. He'll be a lot better and he's going to be a definite asset to this secondary."

Eduardo Rodriguez's delivery wasn't the same after knee injury, until recently


Eduardo Rodriguez's delivery wasn't the same after knee injury, until recently

BALTIMORE — If you suspected Eduardo Rodriguez’s knee created a residual effect with his mechanics as he struggled in the second half, you were correct. 

It was here in Baltimore on June 1 that Eduardo Rodriguez hurt his right knee, suffering another subluxation, which he’s prone to. Once he came back — a month and a half later, after the All-Star Break — his performances didn’t match the competency he’d shown pre-injury.

Through the first nine starts back, Rodriguez had a 5.47 ERA. He appeared clearly outside of the playoff rotation picture.

The last three outings have left a different impression, and are a product of improved mechanics. The Red Sox feel Rodriguez is lifting  right leg, his lead leg, higher now.

“I think Eddy’s regained more confidence physically over his last three starts,” pitching coach Carl Willis said. “We’ve seen a better delivery. Really since he had come back the injury here, a little bit of abbreviated leg lift. He finally got a little more confidence in picking that knee up and getting a little more drive from his lower half. I think that’s made a huge difference. He’s using his changeup more which is also a huge difference, but I think that lower half has allowed him to do that.”

Rodriguez has a 2.55 September ERA. He has strikeout ability that could be appealing in a postseason setting, but he’s young and inexperienced compared to Rick Porcello and Doug Fister. The fact he’s had confidence issues with his delivery could factor into how the Sox decide their playoff rotation, but his upside and strikeout potential are undeniable.

Rodriguez had a knee subluxation in 2016 that affected his mechanics for a time as well.

Branch on reduced role vs. Saints: "Ask Bill"


Branch on reduced role vs. Saints: "Ask Bill"

FOXBORO - If Alan Branch is worried about his spot with the Patriots, he isn’t acting that way. A notorious slow starter, Branch played just six snaps in Sunday’s win at New Orleans. And to hear him talk, it’s business as usual.

“It’s not like you can practice 3 technique on a store clerk,” said Branch late Wednesday afternoon. When informed that he probably could if he wanted, Branch smiled and noted “you’d probably get arrested for that.”

All kidding aside, it was stark to see Branch’s ample behind stapled to the bench. He earned a two-year contract this offseason, and his presence on the interior has been critical to the defense’s success. But after getting pushed around a bit too often in that opening night loss to the Chiefs, Branch spent a lot more time watching then playing. Did he know that he wasn’t a big part of the plan?

“That’s another question you gotta ask Bill, man” said Branch. “That’s not something I can talk about.”

Branch has - at times - come off as nonchalant about the game. Wins, losses, big plays, no plays, none of it seems to change his demeanor. Knowing that, I asked him if he was frustrated by his lack of playing time.

“I mean every player wants to be on the field so it is what it is,” he responded. 

Does he think that he’ll be more involved Sunday against the Texans?

“I don’t know what they plan to do with me,” he said. “i just need to go in there and keep my head to the grindstone and work.”

That may be Bill Belichick’s plan: sitting the player to motivate him. It would also seem to be potentially the last resort, and with someone who clearly marches to the beat of his own drum, it’s unclear how he’ll respond.