Patriots Notes: Monday

Patriots Notes: Monday

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO -- The Patriots had an earlier-than-usual practice on Monday at Gillette Stadium. Here are a few things that stuck out, as the team prepares for the New Orleans Saints, who arrive in New England tomorrow for a joint practice and Thursday night's preseason game:

The annual rookie initiation took place Monday with veterans using a hose and rookies wallowing around on the ground in the mud. Not too diabolical but in our "What about the children?!?!?!" age, one could imagine this being construed as hazing by people with too much time on their hands. Hopefully, there will be no demonstrations.

ESPN's Linda Cohn was at camp on Monday, though it didn't appear to be in a professional capacity. ESPN's AFC East blogger James Walker concluded his cruise through the division in Foxboro.

--Safety Sergio Brown made one of the better defensive plays of the day, sticking with the speedy Julian Edelman on a deep slant route, and getting his hand extended enough to knock down a sure-thing Tom Brady touchdown pass, had he not been there to break it up.

--Monday wasn't as bad an offensive day for the top unit as Sunday, but the second unit was sloppy at times. One of the sloppiest moments was an Eric Kettani drop on a screen pass to the right side. Kettani was wide open on the play. No drop is a good drop. For a player like Kettani fighting for a roster spot, it's especially bad.

--Defensive back Malcolm Williams created the biggest "wow" moment in the team's 1-on-1 battle drills between defensive backs and receiversbacks. In complete WWE fashion, Williams took tight end Tyler Urban at the mid-section, picked him up, spun around, and slammed him to the ground, causing quite the reaction at the Gillette Stadium practice fields.

--Ryan Wendell took most of the snaps at center with the Patriots' top offensive unit on Monday, as Dan Koppen was mainly with the second group. The rest of the offensive line's top unit remained the same, with Donald Thomas still at left guard, in pace of the retired Robert Gallery.

There was a palpably different vibe to camp on Monday. More businesslike as opposed to emotional and intense.

Kyle Love was back out at practice after getting eye-poked on Sunday.

There was a rare drop by wide receiver Brandon Lloyd in 7-on-7. He merely lost concentration on a perfectly thrown deep ball by Tom Brady.

Brady seemed extremely dialed-in and accurate on Monday.

Blakely: This could be the start of something big for Celtics

Blakely: This could be the start of something big for Celtics

BOSTON -- Prior to this year, the Celtics hadn't been to the Eastern Conference finals since 2012. That trip served as a curtain call of sorts for the last great C's dynasty.
 
But this one, which ended with Cleveland's emphatic 135-102 Game 5 victory Thursday at TD Garden, is very different.
 
Rather than closing another chapter in the Celtics' longstanding legacy of greatness, it could serve as the beginning of a new narrative in the franchise's steady growth.
 
"For us to be in the Eastern Conference finals after the first year of this team really being together, adding additions like Al Horford and Gerald Green . . . I can go down the list of guys that we needed to learn to play with, and for us to talk about where we wanted to be and actually make it, it's a big-time accomplishment," said Avery Bradley.
 
Boston has been among the younger teams in the NBA, with the 31-year-old Green being the oldest player on the roster.
 
But what the Celtics lacked in experience, they made up for with great effort.
 
"The great thing about this is the experience," Bradley said. "We were able to go to the Eastern Conference finals, learned a lot about being in this position, and I feel like it's going to help us for next year."
 
But as we all know, the Celtics will look to strengthen themsevles this offseason, which means there's a very good chance they'll have a different look when they gather again in the fall.
 
How different is anyone's guess.
 
"It's difficult every year whenever you don't have guys back," said coach Brad Stevens. "I think you share a bond (over the course of a season)."
 
Stevens and this group have been together for eight months. Eight months of struggles, successes, frustrating defeats and euphoric victories that brought them to the conference finals, which is where their season came to an end.
 
But as disappointed as the players and coaches are inow, there's definite excitement about this franchise in the very near future.
 
Boston has the No. 1 overall pick in next month's draft, with all indications -- for now -- pointing to Washington's Markelle Fultz as their choice.
 
And their top first-round pick from a year ago, Jaylen Brown, seemed to steadily improve as the season progressed. It was one of the few times in his life where minutes weren't just handed to him, which he admits was a learning experience unlike anything he had ever had, yet he adjusted and played better as the year went along.

"I've had ups, I've had downs, I've had opportunities, I've had mistakes," said Brown. "So I've been learning and growing and improving all year and I'm going to continue growing and improving and prove people wrong, prove doubters wrong."
 
Having the season end the way it did has indeed left a bad taste in the mouths of many Celtics.
 
"I can use it as fuel," Brown said, adding: "I want to get back to the same place I'm at now."
 
Bradley, who was on the 2012 team that lost to the Miami Heat in the conference finals, knows the Celtics are going to do whatever they feel is necessary to give them the best chance at competing for a title.
 
"It's out of our control as players," Bradley said. "We had a great year together. If guys are here, if guys aren't, we all wish the best for each other.

"But I do feel this is a special group. We all gave our heart every single night, played as hard as we could. I respect all my teammates, and I really appreciated playing with all the guys I had a chance to play with this year; a special group."