Stallworth disappointed high ankle sprain ended his season

961051.jpg

Stallworth disappointed high ankle sprain ended his season

FOXBORO -- Donte' Stallworth's season lasted just twenty plays, the last one an electrifying one-handed catch-and-run that resulted in a 63-yard touchdown to help the Patriots beat the Texans on Monday night, 42-14.

It was a proud moment for him. After being released at the end of Patriots training camp, he spent three months waiting for a chance to join an NFL team. When the Patriots finally brought him back, he worked around the clock with hope that he would make an impact against Houston, and he did.

His adrenaline was pumping after the score. He was excited to make such a grand entrance back into NFL relevance.

Then he got to the Patriots sideline.

"When I sat down it felt like somebody lit a blow torch on my foot," he said. "That's when I realized something wasn't right."

Stallworth suffered what he says is a high-ankle sprain when he was tackled going into the end zone. He was told the normal recovery time for that type of injury would be about 3-4 weeks, and he knew, at this point in the year, the team would likely place him on injured reserve. That's exactly what they did on Tuesday, ending his season.

"Bill Belichick does a great job of communicating. He brought me in his office well before that happened and he explained to me, you know, the situation moving forward," Stallworth said. "I completely agreed with his decision.

"Later in the season once you hit December and the end of November, that window kind of closes a little bit. I completely understand why he did it . . . I wasn't disappointed to be going on IR because I knew that was coming for the most part. But I was disappointed for it to happen after preparing for so hard and sitting at home for three months and coming here and getting an opportunity. But you know, I'm definitely grateful for just being here, during that week and being able to participate and play in that game. It's the season I had. I hadn't played all season. It's bittersweet being here, playing in a game, and then leaving the game and not coming back."

The Patriots re-signed receiver Deion Branch this week to help fill out their receiver group.

Stallworth, who had a noticeable limp as he walked around the Patriots locker room on Thursday, said he asked for Belichick's permission to stay around the team and rehab his ankle using its facilities.

Part of the reason he wanted to stay in New England and not return to his home in Miami was because the Patriots offer him an opportunity to receive treatment multiple times a day. The other reason was because if he had left, he would have missed the locker room atmosphere that he worked so hard to get back to this season.

"Just being able to be around the team," Stallworth said. "It's one of the things, whenever guys retire or when they're no longer in the game, that's one of the things they say they miss the most is the camaraderie and the continuity of being on a team and in a locker room. You come to become really good friends with the guys and it's similar to being family."

Stallworth said he hopes to stay on track with his rehab but he's in no rush for it to heal. Though he's disappointed at how he was hurled back to earth after the most uplifting moment of his season, he was grateful that the injury wasn't worse.

Someone sent him a picture online of how his ankle was bent awkwardly on the touchdown.

"It could have been horrible," Stallworth said. "I think that's one of the things that's helping me not be so disappointed. It definitely could've been worse, really bad, just by looking at the picture. So I just try to maintain an air of positivity around here. I don't wanna be walking around depressed or anything like that. Just try to stay positive around everyone."

This week is especially difficult for Stallworth since he grew up in Sacramento as a San Francisco 49ers fan.  

"I have a lot of family and friends who are 49er fans, calling me from back home, talking trash," he said with a smile. "So you know, I'd definitely like to shut them up personally."

But he can't. It's a fact that's difficult to accept, but one from which he's trying to move on.

"You just keep moving," he said. "There's been a lot of things that have happened to a lot of good people, a lot of worse things that have happened to a lot of people. There's kids who can't eat everyday, or who aren't healthy, or don't have all their limbs. I don't look at it like I'm snake-bitten, but more so it's an unfortunate situation and try to take the positive and continue moving forward from there."

Hayward scheduled to meet with C's, Jazz, Heat when free agency begins

Hayward scheduled to meet with C's, Jazz, Heat when free agency begins

Coveted free agent Gordon Hayward reportedly has three teams he is interested in signing with this summer. The Celtics, as you might expect, are one of them.

The other two are the Heat and his team for the last seven years, the Jazz.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Hayward is scheduled to meet with all three teams when free agency begins, starting with the Heat on Saturday and then the Jazz on Monday. His day to meet with the Celtics has yet to be announced.

All three teams are expected to offer Hayward max contracts, but expect the C's to push extra hard to land Hayward as they attempt to "sequence acquistions" for both him and Pacers star Paul George.

Bean: The (incorrect) case for the Bruins signing Kevin Shattenkirk

Bean: The (incorrect) case for the Bruins signing Kevin Shattenkirk

The Bruins should not sign Kevin Shattenkirk. They really shouldn’t. 

Yet they might. Pierre McGuire said on TSN Radio Tuesday that his guess is that Shattenkirk, arguably the best free agent defenseman on the market, will end up in Boston.

It is remarkable how universally against a Shattenkirk megadeal B’s fans have seemingly been. A Twitter poll with over 3,600 votes this month had Bruins fans preferring Boston sign 40-year-old Zdeno Chara to a two-year, $8 million extension than the 28-year-old  Shattenkirk to a seven-year, $45.5 million deal. 

That is obviously the correct conclusion, but considering how hard the false “Chara is old and bad” garbage is pushed in this town, it’s telling that 64 percent would rather he stick around than the team build the defense around Shattenkirk. 

Of course, Shattenkirk is not a bad player just because he’s been overrated in recent seasons. He’s a decent second-pairing defender and strong power play asset who can be penciled in for 40 points a year. The Bruins already have that in Torey Krug, and he makes less than Shattenkirk figures to command. Shattenkirk is also a righty who plays on the right, which is not a need for the Bruins, whereas Krug is a left shot who plays both sides. 

Add in the Bruins’ cap situation due to some bad contracts and they why of Shattenkirk would be a bad signing doesn’t need to be re-hashed. By this point, the explanation’s been given a few times in a few different places. 

So what would the Bruins’ actual case for signing Shattenkirk be? 

TO KEEP IT MOVING 

Last season was encouraging for Bruins fans because it saw them reach the playoffs for the first time in three years while also seeing young talent emerge. Yet they still only made the playoffs by two points, something of which Don Sweeney and Cam Neely are undoubtedly aware. 

So for all the good signs, this could be a fringe playoff team again if more improvements aren’t made, and missing the playoffs for the second time in three years would mark a step back in the eyes of ownership, perhaps putting jobs in danger. It would be a shame if money were spent irresponsibly for the sake of saving jobs, but Shattenkirk would definitely make the Bruins better next season, even if it crippled them financially down the road. 

TO PULL A CHIARELLIAN FREE AGENT SWITCHEROO

With McAvoy set to be a top-pairing player and Brandon Carlo a good second-pairing option, the Bruins do not have a need for a highly paid right-shot defender. That doesn’t mean they don’t have needs elsewhere. 

Last offseason, Peter Chiarelli made the controversial move of trading Taylor Hall, one of the best left wings on the planet. He did it to get Adam Larsson to help build Edmonton’s blue line up, then he went out and signed Milan Lucic in free agency to replace Hall. 

If the Bruins truly have designs on adding Shattenkirk, perhaps they could have something similar in mind: Trade someone like Carlo for either a left-shot defenseman or a left wing, then replace Carlo with Shattenkirk. 

This would still not be financially palatable, however. When the Oilers traded Hall for Larsson, they swapped a player with a $6 million cap hit for a player with a $4.16 million cap hit and replaced the original player (Hall) with a player in Lucic who carried a $6 million cap hit. So essentially they netted one player for an additional $4.16 million. 

Carlo is on his entry level contract, so unless the Bruins traded him for a player on an entry-level deal, they’d be spending a lot of money in any maneuver that involved replacing him with Shattenkirk. 

TO GO ALL-IN ON POST-CLAUDE LIFE

Claude Julien’s detractors lamented his affinity for responsibility. They loved it when Bruce Cassidy was more open to trading chances. 

Well, you like trading chances? Shattenkirk’s your guy. He’s a good skater, a good offensive player and a sub-par defender. You put Krug, Shattenkirk and McAvoy as three of your four top-four defenseman and you’ll be a long way from the days of Chara, Seidenberg and Boychuk, for better or worse. 

BUT, KEEP IN MIND . . . 

They for sure should not sign Kevin Shattenkirk.