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Nate Ebner (finger), Cameron Fleming ruled out, Dominique Easley (knee) among 5 questionable

Dominique Easley

Dominique Easley

FOXBORO — Defensive back and special teamer Nate Ebner and offensive lineman Cameron Fleming have been ruled out for Sunday night’s game against the Bengals.

But the real news of the day from the injury report came in the form of the addition of rookie defensive lineman Dominique Easley, who was limited and is questionable with a knee injury.

Four other Patriots were again limited Friday, led by linebackers Dont’a Hightower (knee) and Jamie Collins (thigh). Also limited Friday was defensive end Chandler Jones (shoulder) and defensive back Alfonzo Dennard (shoulder). Hightower, Collins, Jones and Dennard are all questionable.

As for the Bengals, star linebacker Vontaze Burfict returned to practice Friday for the first time this week, but is officially listed as one of three “doubtful” Bengals for Sunday.

Burfict suffered concussions in Cincinnati’s first two games and missed their win over Tennessee. A.J. Green was added to the Bengals injury report Friday with a toe ligament injury suffered in Week 2 against Atlanta. But Green is still listed as probable.

Did Not Participate
DB Nate Ebner (finger) OUT
OL Cameron Fleming (finger) OUT

Limited Participation
DL Dominique Easley (knee) QUESTIONABLE
LB Jamie Collins (thigh) QUESTIONABLE
CB Alfonzo Dennard (shoulder) QUESTIONABLE
LB Dont’a Hightower (knee) QUESTIONABLE
DE Chandler Jones (shoulder) QUESTIONABLE

Full Participation
TE Rob Gronkowski (knee) PROBABLE

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Aaron Dobson grateful that Bill Belichick has his back: ‘It wasn’t awkward at all’


FOXBORO — Just an hour after Bill Belichick released his statement Friday that reports of a rift between receiver Aaron Dobson and offensive coordinator were “completely false,” Dobson came out and went even further.

“We actually have a great relationship, to tell you the truth,” Dobson said of his work with McDaniels. “It’s always frustrating but I’m just doing what I can do and control what I can control and take advantage of the opportunities I’m getting.”

Dobson says his frustration stems from not being able to get on the field and stay healthy to help the team as opposed to a reported flare-up between he and his coach.

“I’m feeling like I’m doing better,” said Dobson, who has been active just once in the first four games of the season, including inactive in the last two. “I’m just trying to control what I can control and just do what I can during practice, and when I get an opportunity, do what I can do.”

“It wasn’t awkward for me at all. It was a rumor. So, I mean I have no reason to feel awkward with my coaches anyway. I really didn’t realize the story got so big until after practice [Thursday]. I was at work all day so, I didn’t really realize. But I’m good, not awkward at all.”

Players can lose their cool in practice when they are in stiff competition or being yelled at by coaches. Dobson hinted Friday that he is, indeed, a competitive sort when it comes to the practice field.

“I compete, I compete, yes I do,” Dobson said.

There’s another part of this that Dobson feels is important. Dobson was asked if he feels like Belichick had his back in coming out and making a rare statement, shooting down the Boston Globe story from Thursday.

“I think he does by releasing that statement,” Dobson said of his coach. “I have no idea how it happened. It’s just a rumor. I really wasn’t worried about it. I guess it got real big but coach killed it so I’m not really worried about it.

“That’s what it is. The statement is false,” Dobson said. “I feel like I’ve been doing good, just controlling what I can control, going out there and practicing hard, staying in my playbook and doing what I can do.”

“I’m glad he stepped in and said what he said, [saying] the [story] was false. I’m just ready to move on and be focused on Cincinnati. Nothing happened. The statement was false. Coach addressed it as well. I’m just trying to focus on Cincinnati now.”

Will he be ready to go Sunday night?

“I feel like I’m good,” Dobson said.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Bill Belichick issues statement clearing Aaron Dobson: The report is ‘completely false’

FOXBORO — Bill Belichick is clearing Aaron Dobson completely of any wrongdoing with his offensive coordinator.

“In my year and a half with Aaron Dobson, he has always been respectful to me and to the rest of the coaching staff. He has never once been argumentative or confrontational. The suggestion and reporting that his playing time was in any way the result of a ‘€˜loud disagreement’€™ with a coach is completely false.”

Belichick issued the statement Friday afternoon after promising to make a comment during his Friday morning press conference when asked about the reported flare-up between Dobson and Josh McDaniels.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

David Pastrnak to make preseason debut vs. Islanders

WILMINGTON –€” David Pastrnak will make his preseason debut Friday night as the Bruins play the Islanders in Bridgeport.

Pastrnak, who suffered a shoulder injury in the second practice of training camp, skated on a line with Craig Cunningham and Daniel Paille in Friday’€™s practice.

“€œHe’€™ll be in the lineup tonight. He’€™s been cleared,” Claude Julien said. “€œHe got cleared yesterday afternoon when we spoke to our doctors, so he’€™s got the green light.”

Julien would not say whether the team’€™s plan is to play Pastrnak in Saturday’€™s preseason finale against the Red Wings as well. If the Bruins see enough out of Pastrnak prior to Wednesday, they could keep him into the regular season for up to nine games before deciding to either keep him for the season or send him back to Sweden.

For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

Bill Belichick will decide on Brandon Browner, Brian Tyms ‘in the next 48-plus hours’

Brandon Browner

Brandon Browner


FOXBORO — Bill Belichick wasn’t tipping his hand Friday on how much, or even if, returning suspended players Brandon Browner and Brian Tyms will play Sunday night when they’re eligible to return.

“We’€™ll make that decision in the next 48-plus hours,” Belichick said.

From what he’s seen in practice, does he think they look like they’€™re ready to go?

“They’€™ve worked hard,” Belichick said.

Could they handle the pace of a regular season NFL game?

“I think they’€™ve worked hard,” Belichick said. “Yeah, it’€™s just a question of them versus other guys. I think we have other guys to consider on that, too.”

“You could go out there and run laps around the field forever and do sit-ups, but until you put the other 21 guys out there on the field it’€™s different. You just can’€™t simulate football without 22 guys on the field. You just can’€™t do it. Being in condition is important, I’€™m certainly not minimizing that, but playing football is playing football. It’€™s not doing wind sprints. That’€™s part of conditioning, but it’€™s not part of playing football. Playing football is 21 other guys. So, you can’€™t simulate that unless you’€™re out there doing it. Guys that miss time, whether it’€™s a player coming back off an injury or the Tyms-Browner situation or whatever it is, there’€™s an element to football ‘€“ reactions, timing, execution ‘€“ that’€™s separate from conditioning.”

Both Browner and Tyms were given extra reps in preseason games to try and get them as ready as possible, knowing they would be missing the first four weeks of the season, in addition to missing practice time.

“Yeah, and I think they did that,” Belichick said of both working hard. “They both knew what their situation was. They knew what they were going to be dealing with and I think they both did that, all the way up to the last preseason game with the Giants. I think they got as far as they could go and then we had to put on the brakes for four weeks and now it’€™s time to start up again. So, we’€™ll just have to see where that comes to.”

With regard to Browner, the other guys could include rookie Malcolm Butler or second-year corner Logan Ryan, who struggled badly Monday night in Kansas City and was dressed down verbally on the sideline late in the first half and benched the rest of the game. Duron Harmon is another defensive back who might have to take a back seat to make room on the game day roster.

What might both players bring to the table that has been missing in their absence?

“They’€™re both good football players,” Belichick said. “They bring their strengths. The other players have their strengths. We’€™ll have to try to make the decision as to what we feel is best for this game and our situation.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Nate Ebner (finger), Cameron Fleming (finger) not spotted at Friday practice

Nate Ebner

Nate Ebner

FOXBORO — For a third straight day, Nate Ebner and Cameron Fleming were the only two players not spotted at the start of Patriots practice on Friday outside Gillette Stadium.

The two were also missing from Wednesday and Thursday practices, with each player suffering from what the team described in the injury report as a finger injury. With both missing all three days of practice, it’s likely neither would be available against Cincinnati Sunday night. The injury report (along with their chances for playing) will be released later Friday afternoon.

Also missing from the sweats and shells workout on the upper grass fields was practice squad offensive lineman Caylin Hauptmann.

Ebner, a core special teamer, has seen more and more time as a defensive back over the first four weeks of the season. Meanwhile, Fleming, a rookie offensive lineman out of Stanford, made his first NFL start last Monday against the Chiefs at right guard.

Also in attendance at practice Friday were Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya of NBC “Sunday Night Football” broadcast crew. The game will kick off at 8:30 p.m. Sunday and be seen nationally on the network.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Red Sox hitting coach Craig Colbrunn won’t return in 2015

The Red Sox announced that hitting coach Craig Colbrunn “has elected not to return to the position for the 2015 season.” One year after Colbrunn served as the hitting coach of a team that led the majors with 5.27 runs per game en route to a World Series, he oversaw a squad that managed just 3.91 runs per game, 11th in the American League. Colbrunn also spent time away from the team in June due to a brain hemorrhage that resulted in his hospitalization. Over time, upon his return to the team in July, he was able to build back to his regular duties amidst a dramatic second-half roster overhaul.

Prior to joining the Sox as the lead hitting coach of their two-coach structure (with Victor Rodriguez, a longtime Sox minor league coach and coordinator, as the assistant hitting coach), he’d spent six seasons as the hitting coach and manager of the Yankees‘ Single-A affiliate in Charleston, S.C., where Colbrunn makes his offseason home.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

Red Sox hitting coach Greg Colbrunn won’t return in 2015

Greg Colbrunn

Greg Colbrunn

The Red Sox announced that hitting coach Greg Colbrunn “has elected not to return to the position for the 2015 season.” He was offered a position in the organization, but declined.

In a text, Colbrunn said he was unsure if he wanted to work in baseball for the coming season, but if he did it would have to be close to his South Carolina home.

One year after Colbrunn served as the hitting coach of a team that led the majors with 5.27 runs per game en route to a World Series, he oversaw a squad that managed just 3.91 runs per game, 11th in the American League. Colbrunn also spent time away from the team in June due to a brain hemorrhage that resulted in his hospitalization. Over time, upon his return to the team in July, he was able to build back to his regular duties amidst a dramatic second-half roster overhaul.

Prior to joining the Sox as the lead hitting coach of their two-coach structure (with Victor Rodriguez, a longtime Sox minor league coach and coordinator, as the assistant hitting coach), he’d spent six seasons as the hitting coach and manager of the Yankees‘ Single-A affiliate in Charleston, S.C., where Colbrunn makes his offseason home.

One name to keep an eye on in regards to replacing Colbrunn is former Red Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan. Magadan has one more year on his current contract with the Rangers, but with Texas in the process of looking for another manager a reunion with the Sox might make sense. (Magadan’s wife is from New Hampshire.)

 

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford and Alex Speier

Patriots elect Matthew Slater NFLPA player rep, Darrelle Revis alternate

FOXBORO — In a move that hardly comes as a surprise, Patriots players have elected special teams captain Matthew Slater as their Players Association player rep to handle all matters between the union and the team.

Two other veterans, offensive lineman Ryan Wendell and kicker Stephen Gostkowski were elected as alternates as was cornerback Darrelle Revis.

The NFLPA made the announcement Friday morning on its Twitter page.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Rodney Harrison on D&C: Some Patriots showed ‘some lack of hustle’ in loss to Chiefs

NBC Sports NFL analyst Rodney Harrison joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday to discuss the Patriots and their upcoming game against the Bengals. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

After the Patriots’ crushing 41-14 loss on Monday night against the Chiefs, coach Bill Belichick has looked toward the Bengals and not back at the Kansas City game. Harrison offered his take on what the mentality of the locker room is behind closed doors.

“Belichick is basically saying, ‘Guys, we played the worst game of the season. Obviously we can learn a lot from this. We can sit back and we can stay negative, but we’€™re going to move forward.’ ” Harrison said. “And I had a chance to talk to Darrelle Revis, and he basically preached the same thing to me yesterday when I talked to him. He said, ‘€˜We’€™re moving forward. We have a great opportunity here. This is a really good team coming in. But this is a team we know we can beat. We just have to play better.’ ”

On Monday the Patriots fell behind in the first half 17-0 and then compounded their mistakes in the second half with multiple turnovers on offense. The defense had trouble stopping the KC ground attack led by Jamaal Charles. Harrison said many of the mistakes the Patriots made can be fixed.

“It’€™s a lot of fundamental stuff,” Harrison said. “They were close. You look at the score and you say, ‘€˜No way, they just played awful.’€™ But they were close. … One thing that really disappointed me I saw on tape, I saw some lack of hustle. That’€™s fundamental things that come from within. That’€™s something that you can’€™t coach. You have to want to get to the play and make the play as a player. But some of these things, just missed tackles, blowing coverages, letting guys run through the secondary free, those types of things are very correctable.”

Since coming to the Patriots this year, Revis has not been the lockdown corner he once was. Some have said the team has not used him effectively.

“Darrelle is a consummate pro,” Harrison said. “The one thing about him is he’€™s not trying to come in and say, ‘Hey I’€™m Darrelle Revis. This is the way I play.’€™ What he’€™s trying to do is he’€™s trying to expand his role and say, ‘€˜I’ve been used to playing a lot of man-to-man coverage, but at the same time, I want to learn how to play zone. I want to kind of complete my portfolio and make sure that I’€™m a complete cornerback.’

“As a player, I understand that’€™s probably the company line. And he’€™s excelled at man-to-man coverage from high school, to college, right on into the pros. Now that Brandon Browner is back, I think that’€™s going to give him the flexibility to be able to play more man-to-man coverage and not have to worry about protecting one side.”

Tom Brady has also been criticized for his play early this season. Despite a beleaguered offensive line, the quarterback has taken the heat for having a career-low completion percentage. Harrison said a lot of it just has to do with Brady getting older.

“I think we’€™re never going to be the same as were when were in our prime, you can say that about anybody,” Harrison said of Brady. “You can that about Derek Jeter, some of the best baseball players. You can say it about Tiger Woods. We all kind of physically decline. That’€™s pretty obvious. There’€™s no way that Brady can play at the level he played at when he was 31, 32. However, what players have the ability to do. We have the ability to adapt to certain situations.”

Continued Harrison: “It comes down to one thing with the Patriots, offensively. They’ve got to protect Tom Brady. And if it means seven, eight-man protection, they have to do whatever they have to do to get Tom back comfortable in that pocket.”

Back home at Gillette Stadium, the Patriots could run a more up-tempo offense against the Bengals.

“I was like, ‘€˜Let’€™s change it up, let’€™s get into that mode where you’€™re like Green Bay or even Philly,’ ” Harrison said. “You’€™re trying to run a play every 45 seconds, or every 35 seconds. You’€™re trying to hurry up, you’€™re to keep them off guard. It keeps their personnel off to the sideline, now that they’€™re not able to switch defensive linemen. And just pound them and keep them off balance. But a lot of pressure is on Josh McDaniels.

“Because usually when you have Tom Brady, you can sit back and relax as an offensive coordinator and run anything. Now they have issues, now you’€™ll see the true genius of Josh McDaniels, if it’€™s true genius, to be able to get this team, this offense at least, out of this rut.”

Blog Author: 
Andrew Battifarano