Belichick on Mankins: We'll take his situation day-to-day

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Belichick on Mankins: We'll take his situation day-to-day

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com

The return of Logan Mankins was the highlight of Bill Belichicks Tuesday conference call. Unsurprisingly, the Patriots coach was happy to have his Pro-Bowl guard back.

"It's good to have him back on the team," Belichick said. "He's part of the team now; he's reported. He's been a tough, smart, dependable player. He's done all those things since he's been here and you can't have too many guys like that on your football team. So we're glad he's back."

When asked if the Patriots had a roster exemption following Mankins' return he replied that the transaction wouldnt be turned in until later in the day. "But I would expect it though, yes," the coach concluded.

As for how the team plans to proceed with playing time, Belichick said he was dealing with the situation "day to day." He made it clear that the team sees no point in dwelling on Mankinss holdout and just wants to move forward.

"I don't want to get into any of that. It doesn't matter; he's here. We're getting ready for Cleveland . . . got a big game on Sunday, so we're getting ready for that. I don't want to rehash anything that's happened in the past."

The coach was quite complimentary of the Browns. He was less focused on Cleveland's overall 2-5 record than its 30-17 win over the defending Super Bowl champion Saints on Week 7.

"Cleveland is a real physical team; tough, hard-nosed running football team," Belichick said. "They're tough on defense, good in the kicking game. Got some good young players who have stepped up. They don't give up a lot of points. Peyton Hillis has done a good job for them, running the ball, breaking tackles, keeping them in short-yard situations."

It sounds like Hillis is a running back the Patriots will have to key on in particular.

"He's a big physical runner . . . a tough kid who breaks a lot of tackles," Belichick said. "They use him on all three downs. He's in there in sub situations as well. He knows where the goal line is . . . doesn't lose a lot of yardage. He's been impressive."

Who Hillis will be getting the ball from, of course, is not certain. Browns coach Eric Mangini still hasn't picked a starter now going into Week 9. But whether his team faces rookie Colt McCoy, Seneca Wallace or Jake Delhomme, Belichick seems as unfazed about Cleveland's quarterback quandary as he was last week with Minnesotas FavreJackson toss-up.

"All the players that are on the roster and eligible to play we'll prepare for," he stated.

Game planning for tight end Benjamin Watson, who was with the Patriots until March of 2010, should be interesting. Belichick said he's definitely happy to see his former player do well with another team. With one minor caveat, of course.

"As long as it's not against us on Sunday. He's a guy who did a good job for us and he's doing a good job in Cleveland."

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Beyond the numbers: Kings offense will test Celtics defense

Beyond the numbers: Kings offense will test Celtics defense

BOSTON – When it comes to defense, the Celtics are quick to claim that it is indeed the foundation for which their team is built upon. 
 
Still, far too often this season, we have seen cracks in their usually Teflon-tough defense, the kind that ultimately means the difference between winning and losing.
 
The Celtics’ defense will once again need to step up and play well tonight against a Sacramento squad that has shown it can fill it up offensively of late. 
 
Sacramento (7-11) has scored 100 or more points in eight of their past 10 games. In that span, their 107.2 points per game ranks ninth in the league. 
 
In that same span, the Celtics have allowed opponents to score 100.3 points per game, which ranks 10th in the NBA in fewest points allowed.
 
And when it comes to winning, limiting teams to less than 100 points has been huge in Boston’s win total. 
 
The Celtics have held eight opponents to 100 points or less this season. 
 
Their record in those games? 8-0.
 
Within that limited scoring, Boston must also make sure teams don’t get into a nice groove shooting the ball. 
 
Boston is 0-5 this season when an opponent shoots 48 percent or better from the field. 
 
While there are several things Boston must do to be successful, having the right kind of defensive disposition ranks at or near the top of that list in their efforts to play with the kind of defensive success that gave so many hope that this would the year Boston would hold court among the top teams in the Eastern Conference.

“We have to get a little more nastier on the defensive end and not let a team come in and get comfortable,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder.
 

Brady, Bennett, Edelman questionable for Sunday vs. Rams

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Brady, Bennett, Edelman questionable for Sunday vs. Rams

FOXBORO -- The Patriots injury report for Sunday's game with the Rams is out. While they'll be without one big name, but their others are still very much in play. 

Rob Gronkowski, who was scheduled to undergo back surgery on Friday, has been ruled out. Jordan Richards, who is dealing with a knee issue and has not practiced this week, will also be held out of action on Sunday. 

Tom Brady (knee), Julian Edelman (foot), Martellus Bennett (ankle/shoulder) and Chris Hogan (back) -- all of whom practiced on Friday -- have been listed as questionable for the Rams game at Gillette Stadium. Special teamer Nate Ebner (concussion) returned to practice on Friday and is also questionable, as is Trey Flowers (shin) and Elandon Roberts, who popped up on the injury report with a jaw issue Friday. 

Special teams captain Matthew Slater missed Friday's session after participating on both Wednesday and Thursday. He's been ruled as questionable. Defensive lineman Woodrow Hamilton is also questionable after missing his second straight day of practice with an illness.

If Slater and Ebner are at all limited this weekend, coupled with the loss of Richards, the Patriots kicking game would be significantly impacted. Hogan took reps as the team's personal protector on the punt team earlier this week and may fill that role should Ebner miss time.