NFL players balking on recertifying union

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NFL players balking on recertifying union

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
ATLANTA -- And this is the part of the show where the players get painted into a corner. By late Thursday afternoon, the NFL owners will have shown beyond all reasonable doubt that they are all for the return of professional football. They will have either voted for the negotiated CBA or they will have declared an intention to vote in favor of it pending the players remove collective head from collective anus and vote. The players? Basically, their executive director DeMaurice Smith walked out on a Washington sidewalk and said, "Ohhhh, this is so harrrrrd to decide" back in the 3 o'clock hour. He then said he was going to take a walk "around the corner."The problem is this. The players don't want to re-form their union. Without it, they have greater latitude to bring litigation against the NFL and charge it with antitrust violations. With the union, that leverage vanishes. So now that the players know the owners' urgency is at an all-time, they are trying to drag their feet. Hence, Kevin Mawae saying on Wednesday the players would take their time. And Chester Pitts saying it may take two weeks. And Smith saying the decision to re-form is a difficult one. Meanwhile, the players are trying to make the actual process of voting to recertify their "trade association" seem like a Herculean chore. Again, their interest is in making the owners sweat the return of football. Maybe they can gain some concessions in the overall deal. Instead, the owners will blissfully cast their votes then cast the players as the villiains. "We're ready to go," will be their claim. "Not sure what the holdup with the players is."Public opinion will turn against the players. The owners -- who started the lockout to begin with -- will sit back and be seen as the sane ones. So that's where we are. On day 127 of the NFL Lockout. 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.