Ihedigbo proving worth in many ways

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Ihedigbo proving worth in many ways

FOXBORO - In three previous NFL seasons with the New York Jets, James Ihedigbo rolled up 49 tackles. Total.

In 15 games with the Patriots, the 28-year-old safety has been in on 69 stops.

The revolving door at the back of the Patriots defense has given opportunities to many. We can debate whether the door ushered out some good players. We can debate the merits of many who walked through it.

But we can generally agree that Ihedigbo has been a mostly decent addition. Not without flaw, certainly, but with significant upside as well.

"Very professional, smart guy, very professional," Bill Belichick raved Friday morning. "Did a real good job for us in the kicking game, well prepared on defense even though he didnt have a lot of defensive playing time early but hes one of those guys that always paid attention, knew what to do. You put him in there, he was on top of it. As hes gotten more of an opportunity to play, hes really shown that he communicates well, he makes quick decisions, I think he has good football instincts and understands the game whether its in the kicking game or defensively."

There are times Ihedigbo looks like a bumper car desperately in search of a bumpee.An injury timeoutbrought on by No. 44 propelling himself over, into or through a pile is a weekly occurrence. But he does have a grip on what he's doing, said Belichick.

"The kind of guy that you tell him once and he understands it or hell ask a question that's kind of one step ahead of your explanation," Belichick recounted. "Youre explaining something and then hes like, So if this happens, then would you want me to do this? Yeah, exactly, that would be the next thing to go to. Hes kind of thinking one step ahead like that. Hes been a real good addition to this team."

In addition to growing on the field in the regular defense and perhaps carving out a long-term future, Ihedigbo's simply a solid, likeable, communicative, honest guy.

Players reared in the Patriots' system have a leeriness of being candid. Probably because they've seen the stray nail that sticks up too high get pounded down by Belichick's hammer.

Ihedigbo didn't get the memo when he got to town. Interestingly, Belichick doesn't seem to care.

"I would say along the lines of Brian Waters, Andre Carter, Ihedigbo, are guys that have come onto this team from other teams that have showed a high degree of leadership as well as just being able to do their job, have some flexibility, throw different things at them but they can handle it, they can process it, it doesnt phase them, theyre able to make adjustments either quickly or in their role whatever it happens to be and approach the game with very professional and attitude," Belichick pointed out.

Interestingly, all three have been excellent at articulating the game and team's mindset to reporters in the locker room all year. Maybe it has something to do with their being brought up in other systems. Some of the most candid players in years gone by - Rodney Harrison and Mike Vrabel, for instance - started their careers elsewhere. Why that would be, I don't know. But they all exude confidence.

"Theyre well prepared, theyre calm under pressure," Belichick said of the Carter, Waters, Ihedigbo troika. "They can handle things flying around in a game that are different or a little bit unsettling but theyre able to handle those . . . When youve been through a year with a player, going through all the situations that you go through, you really appreciate that. I would say similar things about all three of those guys that we didnt know that we now know and I have a real appreciation for it."

Rondo says he will not play tonight

Rondo says he will not play tonight

Rajon Rondo, out with a fractured right thumb, will not play for the Chicago Bulls against the Celtics tonight in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series at TD Garden, according to multiple reports.

The series is tied at 2.

Rondo, the Bulls point guard who played the first two game of the series, was reportedly going to try and test the thumb tonight but told reporters Wednesday morning he couldn’t play. 

Game 6 is Friday in Chicago. Game 7, if necessary, is Sunday in Boston.  Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg called Rondo's return a "longshot."

More to come. 
 

POLITICO sees Epstein as potential savior for Democrats

POLITICO sees Epstein as potential savior for Democrats

A piece that ran on POLITICO Wednesday morning explored an interesting possibility: A potential political career for longtime baseball executive Theo Epstein. 

The piece, titled “Could Theo Epstein Perform a Miracle for the Democrats?” comes a month after Fortune magazine ranked the Cubs president of baseball operations No. 1 on its annual ranking of the world’s greatest leaders. In the POLITICO article, Ben Strauss, in addition to noting the 43-year-old’s accomplishments with the Red Sox and Cubs, hits on several instances in which Epstein’s leadership has been mentioned in relation to politics. 

Strauss then goes on to interview CNN senior political commentator (and Cubs fan) David Axelrod about whether Epstein could be a saving grace with “Democrats on the lookout for a new generation of talent.”

The interview sees both POLITICO and Axelrod compare Epstein to Barack Obama. Says Axelrod: 

They both have two kinds of intelligence: emotional intelligence and a more linear intelligence. They both have the self-confidence to surround themselves with very smart people. Theo’s had a core group around him (general manager Jed Hoyer and head of amateur scouting Jason McLeod) since the beginning in Boston. It’s striking how much he relishes smart people around him and has the confidence to be challenged...Obama had it, too. I would add that Epstein has learned on the job. In Boston he was a pioneer [in using statistical analysis]...He’s told me that he used to be dismissive of the touchy-feely stuff [in evaluating baseball players], but now his scouts write five-page essays about the guys they’re going to draft. In the same way, Obama would tell you he was a better president at the end of eight years than at the beginning. He was smart enough to learn on the job, too.

Asked whether Epstein could win a statewide race for governor or Senate in Illinois, Axelrod replied, “Yeah, he could,” but questions whether Epstein has “the desire to hold public office.”

“I think Theo would be frustrated in public office because of the situation he’s in now,” Axelrod said. “He basically has free rein to do what he needs to do for the success of the organization. That is not the case in politics—you’re seeing that with the governor in Illinois (Bruce Rauner) right now. You have to deal with legislatures and all kinds of public stakeholders. And if you’re used to making things happen, I’m not sure the Senate would be a particularly satisfying job for you. When I talked to him on my podcast...about what he might want to do next...he allowed that he might want to own a team sometime and use that team or use that platform to try to impact on a community. He clearly cares about the larger world and wants to make an impact...But there are many, many reasons I think Cubs fans can relax and enjoy the benefits of his leadership for many years to come.”