Spikes looks to improve upon 'worst game' vs. Ravens

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Spikes looks to improve upon 'worst game' vs. Ravens

FOXBORO - Brandon Spikes tried to own up to his self-proclaimed poor performance against the Ravens in Week 3.

But it was hard to speak over his fellow linebacker Jerod Mayo, who was doing his best to get Spikes to crack on camera.

"Honestly, me personally, I felt like I had played my worst game of the season, and I definitely want to come out-"

"True!" Mayo yelled from his locker, as the corner of the room erupted in laughter, Spikes included.

"-I definitely want to come out and do a lot better than I did in Week 3," Spikes finished saying.

The light moment was a representation of the overall feel of New England's locker room on Thursday. There was a kind of easiness to it, a comfortableness that you might not expect from a team on the verge of either going to the Super Bowl, or going home.

Deion Branch joked with Aaron Hernandez. Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty were getting into it as usual with teammates who walked by their lockers over on the secondary's side of the room.

And it appeared that just about every player left the facility with a brand new pair of Beats by Dre headphones and portable speakers.

Must be nice.

"Last year really don't matter," Spikes said. "It's a whole new year, whole new team, different chemistry and stuff like that. We just want to come out and play to our strengths. Whatever the Ravens have, I'm pretty sure we'll be prepared all the way around."

That type of confidence - not cockiness - seems to ooze out of the Patriots this week as they look to return to the Super Bowl for the sixth time since 2002.

"Honestly I feel like we're a whole different defense than Week 3," Spikes said.

But that certainly isn't to say that Spikes and the Patriots aren't taking Baltimore seriously. Like anybody else who's watched the Ravens over the last two weeks, and really, throughout many games over the regular season, Spikes sees what they're doing well on offense.

"From just watching film they look pretty good," he said. "They definitely demand the physical presence up front, and I just think that they get off on that front five. If they're firing off the ball and Ray Rice is doing what he does, we'll have a big problem if we don't come out do our job just all the way around the board, everybody has got to be hitting on all cylinders."

With the Ravens' deep ball on display against the Broncos, it appears as though Ray Rice, the team's biggest offensive threat, has gone through the radar somewhat. Spikes is the team's best run stuffer, and will play a big role in limiting Rice, who ranks second in the NFL this postseason in rush yards at 199.

"I think he's just an all-around player," Spikes said of Rice. "He can catch it in the backfield, make plays - explosive plays - and we got to do whatever we can to contain a guy like that. And I have the utmost respect for a guy like that. He's been in the league doing it, playing at a high level, very productive, and we got to just key him and try to do what we can to contain him."

Rice rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown, and caught five balls for 49 yards in Week 3. Spikes had just four tackles on the day.

"I just don't think I wasn't prepared and I just made mistakes that I normally don't make, and stuff like that," he said of his Week 3 performance. "I watched the game, and it wasn't the Brandon Spikes that I know. I definitely want to come out and capitalize off of a game like that and do whatever I can and get whatever edge I can get to try to better myself."

Farrell defends Sox' shoulder program, but he first raised the issue

Farrell defends Sox' shoulder program, but he first raised the issue

Red Sox manager John Farrell didn’t scream “fake news" on Tuesday,  but he might as well have.

The only problem is he seems to be forgetting his own words, and his reliever’s.

Righty Tyler Thornburg is starting his Red Sox career on the disabled list because of a shoulder impingement. 

Another Dave Dombrowski pitching acquisition, another trip to the disabled list. Ho hum.

But the reason Thornburg is hurt, Farrell said, has nothing to do with the Red Sox’ shoulder program -- the same program Farrell referenced when talking about Thornburg earlier this month.

“There’s been a lot written targeting our shoulder program here,” Farrell told reporters on Tuesday, including the Providence Journal’s Tim Britton. “I would discount that completely. He came into camp, he was throwing the ball extremely well, makes two appearances. They were two lengthy innings in which inflammation flared up to the point of shutting him down. But in the early work in spring training, he was throwing the ball outstanding. So to suggest that his situation or his symptoms are now the result of our shoulder program, that’s false.”

Let’s go back to March 10, when Farrell was asked in his usual pregame session with reporters about Thornburg’s status.

"He is throwing long-toss out to 120 feet today," Farrell said that day. “He’s also been going through a strength and conditioning phase, arm-wise. What we encounter with guys coming from other organizations, and whether it's Rick [Porcello], David [Price], guys that come in, and they go through our shoulder maintenance program, there's a period of adaptation they go through, and Tyler’s going through that right now. We're also going to get him on the mound and get some fundamental work with his delivery and just timing, and that's soon to come in the coming days. Right now it's long toss out to 120 feet.”

So Farrell volunteered, after Thornburg was taken out of game action, that the shoulder program appeared involved. 

Maybe that turned out not to be the case. But Farrell's the one who put this idea out there.

On March 11, Farrell was asked to elaborate about other pitchers who needed adjusting to how the Red Sox do their shoulder program.

“Rick Porcello is an example of that. Joe Kelly,” Farrell said. “And that's not to say that our program is the end-all, be-all, or the model for which everyone should be compared. That's just to say that what we do here might be a little more in-depth based on a conversation with the pitchers, that what they've experienced and what we ask them to do here. And large in part, it's with manual resistance movements on the training table. These are things that are not maybe administered elsewhere, so the body goes through some adaptation to get to that point. 

“So, in other words, a pitcher that might come in here previously, he pitched, he’s got recovery time and he goes and pitches again. There's a lot of work and exercise in between the outings that they may feel a little fatigued early on. But once they get those patterns, and that consistent work, the body adapts to it and their recovery times become much shorter. And it's one of the reasons we've had so much success keeping pitchers healthy and on the field.”

Except that Kelly has had a shoulder impingement in his time with the Red Sox, last April, and so too now does Thornburg.

In quotes that appeared in a March 12 story, Thornburg himself told the Herald’s Michael Silverman that he didn’t understand the Red Sox throwing program.

Thornburg said that after the December trade, he was sent a list of exercises from the training staff. The message he did not receive was that all of the exercises were to be performed daily.

“I kind of figured that this is a list of the exercises they incorporated, I didn’t think this is what they do all in one day,” said Thornburg. “I thought, ‘here’s a list of exercises, learn them, pick five or six of them,’ because that was pretty much what we did in Milwaukee.”

But according to Farrell, Thornburg’s current state has nothing to do with the program -- the same one Farrell himself cited when directly asked about Thornburg before.

Maybe the program was the wrong thing to point to originally. But Farrell did point to it.

"This is all still in line with the shoulder fatigue, the shoudler impingement and the subsequent inflammation that he's dealing with. That’s the best I can tell you at this point," Farrell said Tuesday. "Anytime a player, and we've had a number of players come in, when you come into a new organization, there's a period where guys adapt. Could it have been different from what he's done in the past? Sure. But to say it's the root cause, that’s a little false. That’s a lot false, and very short-sighted."

Hey, he started it.

Thornburg is not to throw for a week before a re-evaluation.

Bruins recall McIntyre on emergency basis, but perhaps not for Rask

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Bruins recall McIntyre on emergency basis, but perhaps not for Rask

UPDATE: The Boston Herald reports McIntyre is with the team as a replacement for Anton Khudobin, who is said to be suffering from a minor injury, and not Tuukka Rask, and that Rask will start as scheduled against Nashville.

BOSTON -- Even though he's been proclaiming himself healthy and able for the last two days, Tuukka Rask may not be as ready to go as everybody thought.

The Bruins announced a couple of hours prior to Tuesday night’s game against the Nashville Predators that rookie goalie Zane McIntyre had been recalled on an emergency basis. He spent the weekend with the team in the same capacity, filling in for Rask while Rask battled a lower body injury.

So the logical assumption is that something has recurred that will prevent Rask -- who on Tuesday night told interim coach Bruce Cassidy he was ready -- from playing tonight.

Rask is 8-8 with a 2.91 goals against average and an .892 save percentage since the NHL All-Star break, and gave up five goals in a loss to Tampa Bay on Thursday night. He missed Saturday's big game vs. the Islanders with a lower body issue that just “popped up.”

We’ll find out for sure during pregame warm-ups, but the only way an emergency recall can be made is if a player is injured or suffering from an illness. Anton Khudobin looked fit as a fiddle while practicing with the Bruins on Tuesday morning at Warrior Ice Arena, so stay tuned for the latest.