Murmurs of progress in NFL's Nantasket talks

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Murmurs of progress in NFL's Nantasket talks

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
HULL - Since Paragon Park shut down in 1984, Nantasket hasn't been quite the same.

Until this week. Two days of meetings between players and owners at Nantasket Beach Resort wrapped up Thursday afternoon with NFLPA head De Smith and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaking together for the assembled media they'd tried to avoid. Asked if there was any symbolism to be drawn from the two men standing shoulder-to-shoulder, the two men jokingly blamed it on the rain. Still, there were murmurs of significant progress in these meetings which began Wednesday morning and went hard through Thursday. Fifteen rooms were rented at the resort for the party. Among those seen on the NFL side were Goodell, Pete Abitante, Greg Aiello, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Chargers owner Dean Spanos, Giants owner John Mara, counsel Bob Batterman and counsel Dennis Curran. From the players' side were Smith, counsel Richard Berthelsen and Tom DePaso, Chiefs running back Tony Richardson, Ravens defensive back Domonique Foxworth, former Jet Pete Kendall, Colts center Jeff Saturday. Judge Arthur Boylan presided. I didn't spot him. Groups met in all of the conference rooms at the resort. Sometimes they were meeting together; sometimes they broke off into smaller groups. Albert Breer from NFL Network reported that this was the first time in this string of "secret" meetings that the two sides broached talk of the rookie wage scale. That's an advance and likely means that enough things are buttoned down to move on to something more onerous. The comments made after they were done weren't particularly revealing. "Obviously, were all working hard, Goodell said. The players and owners were here over the last two days. De and I were here the entire meetings. And its complicated, its complex, and were working hard. We understand the fans frustration, but both of us are continuing to work hard at it.Smith went next.Someone asked me whether I was optimistic, Smith said. I think were both optimistic when we have the right people in the room. We know were talking about the right issues. And were working hard to get it done. Its extremely complicated, it requires a lot of hard work by all the people, but were going to keep working at it.They were asked about the symbolism of standing there together.Its raining outside, and his car is right there, Smith said with a smile.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

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.