Talib, Lloyd gearing up for first career playoff game

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Talib, Lloyd gearing up for first career playoff game

FOXBORO -- If they were on different teams, cornerback Aqib Talib would most likely have the duties of covering wide receiver Brandon Lloyd.
Instead, both players are Patriots. And both will be participating in their first career playoff game on Sunday.
Both Talib and Lloyd knew what they were getting into when they came to New England. They knew that they'd be getting a chance to make the playoffs.
Before then?
"I'd be at a Sundance Film Festival, on my way to the Bahamas, you know, all kind of different stuff," said Lloyd with a smile on Thursday, when asked what he usually does during the NFL playoffs.
Lloyd didn't go out of his way to watch the games he would rather be playing in.
"Unless it was on the television in the hotel lobby or something," he said.
Now, Lloyd's right where he wants to be, in position to get to a Super Bowl. Which is why he signed with New England in the first place.
"It was part of the decision," said Lloyd. "Ever since you're a kid, the ultimate goal is to play in the Super Bowl. And the only way to get to the Super Bowl is to make it to the playoffs."
Talib was traded to the Patriots during the season, so it wasn't necessarily his choice. But now that he's here and it's finally time to make his playoff debut, he believes he's ready.
"You see that intensity turned up in practice some," said Talib on Thursday. "Meetings turn up. So it definitely feels like a playoff week.
"Just prepare, man," he added. "As much as you prepared for the regular season, just prepare a little bit more for the playoffs. The game's going to speed up a little bit.
Talib said he expects the action to speed up, but that doesn't mean he's going to change what he does.
"I don't play scared," said Talib. "So I'm going to play my game. I'm going to read and react. Read my keys, and I'm going to react. I don't play scared though."
Just because Talib and Lloyd are big names, that doesn't mean their first seasons in New England were going to work out. Just ask, oh I don't know, Chad Ochocinco.
Talib and Lloyd had to fit in. The Patriots organization is run differently than any organization in the league. Players realize that the second they enter the building.
For Talib, he walked onto a Patriots defense that needed a shutdown corner. He didn't need to do too much to fit in with the team on the field. But previous off-the-field issues may have been a cause for concern for some.
Not for the Patriots.
"It's funny, as soon as he got here he was kind of just like one of the guys," said cornerback Devin McCourty. "I don't know if it's just with athletes in general, but it seems like anytime we get a new guy on this team -- even a guy like Marquis Cole that came in the offseason -- it seems like he's been here for years. There's always a lot of transition in the NFL. I think guys know each other from playing against each other, some guys know each other from college, guys come in and it seems like they just fall right into the group. And I don't think there's a group that has more fun than us, in the secondary, just being around each other in the locker room, cracking jokes and doing things like that. He's fit in well."
Lloyd has had to prove himself in an offense that has plenty of weapons, or at least, a lot more than other teams.
On Thursday, Lloyd said his on-field success with Tom Brady is still a "work in progress," as he's said all season long. But he also filled everyone in on just how different it is playing with someone like Brady, during a game, as opposed to some of the other quarterbacks he's played and prepared with.
"It's been different than the past, just because of the organization," said Lloyd. "It's been different than the past because of Tom Brady and his style of preparation. But it's been similar in the sense that, you have to put the work in during the week, in all the weeks, and during the camps. And then we go into the game, and that's when we really find out about one another. That's what makes it similar.
"In playing with the less experienced quarterbacks, like in St. Louis I was playing with Kellen Clemons, it would be different. When he was thrown into the starting lineup, it was more of a situation where I was like, 'Where do you want me to be? I'm not going to tell you where I'm going to be. You tell me where you want me to be, and then I'll do my best to get there.'
"And with Tom, we have a little bit of give and take," added Lloyd. "Some plays I have that freedom, and then there are some plays where I can say, 'Hey, I'm going to be here.' And then he'll work it out. And then other plays he'll say, 'You need to be here.' And then that's the way the plays go. So it's similar and it's different. But it's equally rewarding."
Lloyd believes the presence of offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has certainly helped the process move forward.
"I think the bridge with Tom is Josh, because Josh gives me credibility," said Lloyd. "Being with Josh the last three seasons, that's what gave me the credibility to come here and be accepted as a productive member of this team."
Both Lloyd and Talib have been productive in their own separate ways at different times of the season. Now, they'll both need to be productive at the same time. Because both share the same goal.
Get to New Orleans.

A hungry ballplayer: Ex-Sox prospect Moncada sometimes eats 85 Twinkies a week

A hungry ballplayer: Ex-Sox prospect Moncada sometimes eats 85 Twinkies a week

This isn’t your average young and hungry player on the brink of the big leagues.

Yoan Moncada, the ex-Red Sox prospect who was one of the principal pieces in the trade for Chris Sale, has sometimes eaten as many as 85 Twinkies in a week, his agent told ESPN The Magazine

He's still in great shape. Moncada had a huge spring training with the White Sox after a disappointing major-league debut with Boston in September. 

"It's fair to say that Yoan took it as a very personal rejection," his agent, David Hastings, told ESPN The Magazine.

The 21-year-old third baseman has been optioned out of big-league camp, so he’s slated to start the year in Triple-A. But he hit .317 with a .391 on-base percentage and .683 slugging percentage and 3 home runs in 41 at-bats.

Moncada took a $31.5 million signing bonus from the Red Sox, money that the Sox turned into Sale. Moncada, meanwhile, didn’t exactly invest every cent.

Twinkies weren’t his only overindulgence. Per the ESPN The Magazine story, Moncada placed a call in 2015 inquiring about 10 customized cars. 

More from the story: 

Moncada had money to spend on drones, video games, toys and clothes. He sometimes spent $1,500 or more during nights out, David says. After he purchased the second $200,000 car, Josefa [Hastings, David’s wife] tried to talk some sense into him.

"You are being an idiot, just wasting all this money," she told him. "What are you even thinking?”

"Go big or go home," he told her with a smile.

Belichick headlines big-name crowd in attendance at Ohio State pro day

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Belichick headlines big-name crowd in attendance at Ohio State pro day

Bill Belichick has counted both Urban Meyer and Greg Schiano among the list of coaches he trusts. On Thursday, the Patriots coach was in attendance at Ohio State's pro day to watch players who've been coached by both. 

Belichick has been closely tied to both Meyer and Schiano over the years, drafting multiple players from their programs when Meyer was at the University of Florida and Schiano was at Rutgers University. The Schiano connection has been particularly strong in recent years as Belichick's son, Steve, played for Schiano, and the Patriots had three key players in their secondary -- Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan -- for the last four seasons who studied under Schiano. 

Now the head coach and associate head coach/defensive coordinator, respectively, Meyer and Schiano have tutored some of this year's top draft prospects. Here's a quick breakdown of some of the top-tier talent hailing from Columbus this year . . . 

Malik Hooker, safety: The 6-foot-1, 206-pounder is expected to be the first true free safety off the board. His impressive ball skills made him a turnover waiting to happen in the Big Ten. 

Marshon Lattimore, corner: With a 38.5-inch vertical and a 4.36-second 40-yard dash time, Lattimore is one of the best draft-eligible athletes this year. He was hampered by hamstring injuries in college, but he's still projected to be one of the first defensive backs taken. 

Gareon Conley, corner: Among the draft's fastest risers after putting together a strong combine (4.44 40-yard dash, 6.68-second three-cone), Conley will give his next team good size (6-feet, 195 pounds) and length (33-inch arms). He may not be as polished as Lattimore, but still could very well be a first-round pick.

Pat Elflein, center: This smart, hard-working pivot may not have the world's best footwork, but he should be among the first players taken at his position. Elflein (6-foot-3, 300 pounds) is a former wrestler who has experience at both center and guard. 

Curtis Samuel, receiver: A true all-purpose threat in college (AP All-American, first-team All-Big Ten), he could have trouble adapting to life as a full-time receiver in the NFL. At 5-11, 196 pounds that's probably where he'll end up.

Raekwon McMillan, linebacker: At 6-2, 240 pounds McMillan was a second-team All-American and a first-team All-Big Ten choice. He's instinctive, but there's some concern as to whether or not he has the strength to hold up inside at the next level. The Patriots, as we've noted, have been looking at the linebacker position throughout the pre-draft process.