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Claude Julien likes 3-on-3 (because he hates the shootout)

The Bruins didn’€™t get to practice 3-on-3 for long Tuesday night, as David Pastrnak ended the preseason overtime session just 12 seconds in.

Lack of experience aside, Claude Julien doesn’€™t need to see much to know he’€™s going to like the new overtime system more than he liked the old one. With the NHL moving to 3-on-3 for five minutes followed by a shootout, the chances are far greater that the game will be settled in overtime than in the shootout. In the old system of 4-on-4 followed by a shootout, the overtime session often did nothing but give way to the shootout. Julien wasn’€™t a fan of that, as one could say he hates the shootout.

‘€œI hate the shootout,’€ Julien said Tuesday, confirming the aforementioned suspicion.

Julien didn’€™t hate what he saw Tuesday night. With Boston’€™s preseason game against the Capitals tied at the end of regulation, the game went to overtime (it would have no matter what the score, as the NHL is having teams practice the new format three times this preseason).

Julien sent David Krejci, Pastrnak and Torey Krug out to begin the session. Krejci won the faceoff, with Krug chasing the puck into over the Boston blueline. Krug threw the puck up to Krejci, who fed Pastrnak on a 2-on-1 to set up the game-winner.

Because he hates the shootout (see above) Julien spent the majority of the last two seasons sending three forwards and one defenseman out for 4-on-4. Tuesday’€™s deployment of Krejci, Pastrnak and Krug gives the Bruins both offensive creativity and skating, two things that come in handy in next-goal-wins scenarios. Yet Julien is willing to go even farther this season in 3-on-3, as the team has practiced 3-on-3 with three forwards and no defensemen. Julien says he intends to use three forwards at times in overtime.

‘€œFor me, when you’€™re playing in the overtime, you’€™re going for the win,’€ he said. ‘€œI mean, you’€™ve got the point, you want to get that second one, so why sit back? You know, let’€™s go for it. That’€™s my approach.’€

The 3-on-3 will be a learning experience for all teams in the early months of the season, as pretty much any mistake (or line change) can end the game. Having gone 7-16 the last two seasons in shootouts, the Bruins should probably like their odds in overtime better than they like them in a shootout. With players like Pastrnak, Krejci, Krug, Ryan Spooner and others at their disposal, it pretty much has to work out better for the B’€™s than the old way.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

Closing Time: Red Sox youth has ups and downs in loss to Rays

Henry Owens pitched well, but it wasn't enough Tuesday against the Rays. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Henry Owens pitched well, but it wasn’t enough Tuesday against the Rays. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Tuesday night showcased the young talent the Red Sox have to look forward to next season, but also served as a reminder they still have some work to do.

The Rays were able to pull out a 5-2 win over the Red Sox, courtesy of a throwing error by Mookie Betts in the sixth inning. The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Sox.

With the Red Sox leading 2-1 and the bases loaded in the sixth against starter Henry Owens, Evan Longoria lifted a routine fly ball to right. Betts, making his second career Fenway Park start in right field, attempted to get the runner from third at home, but his throw airmailed everything and went into the crowd, which allowed the runner from second to also score, which proved to be the game-winning run.

Mikie Mahtook would hit a two-run home run off Owens in the eighth for two insurance runs, as the fourth time through the order proved one time too many with three of the four batters he faced picking up hits.

Owens was rolling early on as he took a perfect game into the fifth inning before allowing a leadoff double, but struggled at times after that. Owens finished going 7 1/3 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on seven hits, while walking two and striking out five.

The Rays threatened in the seventh after the bases were loaded with no outs thanks to a Shaw error at first, but Owens was able to get out of it. Shaw forced out a runner at home on a grounder and then No. 9 hitter Luke Maile ripped one back up the middle, but Owens gloved it and went home to get the force and catcher Blake Swihart fired to first for the double play to end the threat.

The Red Sox scored their only two runs in the first inning against Rays starter Matt Moore. Betts led the frame off with a double, then following back-to-back Xander Bogaerts and David Ortiz walks, with the bases loaded Travis Shaw drove in two runs with a single to right-center.

Bogaerts doubled in the third inning, which extended his hit streak to 11 games. Shaw finished the game going 3-for-3 with a walk, extending his hit streak to five games. Bogaerts did have two base running mistakes, as he misread a ball off the bat and was doubled up at second base in the third inning and tried to extend a wall-ball single into a double in the eighth and was thrown out.

Matt Barnes retired the two hitters he faced in the eighth and Craig Breslow tossed a scoreless ninth.

While there were some notable performances by a number of young players, Tuesday was a reminder there is still some fine tuning to be done to get ready for 2016.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Latest ‘It Is What It Is’ Podcast talks Week 3 matchup between Patriots, Jaguars

In the latest edition of the “It Is What It Is” podcast, Chris Price and Mike Petraglia of WEEI.com break down this week’s matchup between the Patriots and Jags, and try and figure out if there’s any way Jacksonville can pull the upset. Click here to listen.

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Blog Author: 
WEEI

WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 3: Patriots cement hold on top spot, Broncos move up to 3

Tom Brady averaged 1.99 seconds from snap-to-attempt against the Bills. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Following their takedown of the Bills on Sunday, Tom Brady and the Patriots retain their top spot in the WEEI NFL Power Rankings. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

The Bills were supposed to be a serious test for the Patriots offense. Rex Ryan typically gives Tom Brady fits. Such was not the case Sunday, as Brady and the Pats put a divisional whupping on Sexy Rexy and retained their top spot in the WEEI NFL Power Rankings. The Packers held strong at No. 2, avenging their NFC championship game loss to the Seahawks. I’€™m not quite ready to say that Peyton Manning is BACK, but he certainly looked in control during the Broncos‘€™ fourth-quarter comeback against the Chiefs.

The biggest surprise in the NFL seems to be the NFC East. No one is poised to win that division, never mind run away with it. The Cowboys have to withstand injuries to their two best players, but they can still make a run late in the season if their backup quarterback — Brandon Weeden or the newly acquired Matt Cassel — can win one out of every three. The AFC East looks better than it has in years, with the Jets and Pats starting off undefeated. The Bills will stick around, but the Dolphins’€™ loss to the Jaguars is a major cause for concern.

Drew Brees is hurt, leading many to consider the Saints’€™ 2015 campaign already over. The NFC South, then, becomes a two-team battle between the Panthers and Falcons, both of whom are 2-0. The Colts are 0-2 but still will end up winning the AFC South, because it’€™s just that bad of a division. We’€™re only two weeks into the season, but that doesn’€™t stop us from making rash generalizations that will look foolish at year’€™s end. On to the rankings!

1. (1 last week) Patriots (2-0) — Tom Brady and the Patriots marched into the Ralph and dominated Rex Ryan and the Bills. Following three touchdown passes from TB12, pundits are comparing this team to the one in 2007. A Week 3 matchup vs. Jacksonville will lead to more stat-padding from the offense.

2. (2) Packers (2-0) — After losing three straight to the Seahawks, the Pack finally got some revenge. Aaron Rodgers continues to spread the ball around, and he was masterful in the fourth quarter. The team’€™s decision to move LB Clay Matthews into the middle has worked out, as he helped limit Marshawn Lynch to 41 yards on the ground.

3. (9) Broncos (2-0) — Peyton Manning still has no velocity, but Thursday night’€™s comeback win over the Chiefs, in Kansas City, was about as gutsy of a performance you’€™ll see from the veteran QB. The defense forced five more turnovers and looks primed to carry the load week in and week out.

4. (5) Cardinals (2-0) — Bruce Arians was supposed to have a good defense, but the offensive surge has been a surprise. The Cardinals have scored 79 points in the first two weeks of the season, which is the best in the NFL. The aging Larry Fitzgerald leads his receiving corps with nearly 200 yards and three TDs.

5. (10) Bengals (2-0) — Even though they do this every year, it doesn’€™t mean we can’€™t include them in the top five. As expected, the Bengals are off to a hot start. Tyler Eifert has developed into Andy Dalton‘€™s favorite target, as teams double A.J. Green.

6. (12) Steelers (1-1) — Antonio Brown is the best pass-catcher in football with 328 yards receiving already. Ben Roethlisberger is completing 72 percent of his passes. As if these two needed any help, don’€™t forget that RB Le’€™Veon Bell returns from his suspension this week.

7. (6) Chiefs (1-1) — Hardly the first team to be victimized by a fourth-quarter Peyton Manning comeback, the Chiefs played well enough to win Thursday night but couldn’€™t close the door. Jamaal Charles needs to hold on to the ball in the final moments of regulation. That was a lazy effort.

8. (21) Panthers (2-0) — Their Week 1 victory over the Jaguars didn’€™t turn many heads. Neither should a seven-point victory over the Texans. But good teams beat bad teams when they’€™re supposed to, and Carolina has done just that. With the Saints and Bucs up next, Carolina should be 4-0 before things start to get tough.

9. (15) Falcons (2-0) — The Julio Jones deal looks brilliant, as he’€™s reeled in 22 catches for 276 yards and helped Atlanta improve to 2-0. Their next six games (Dallas, Houston, Washington, New Orleans, Tennessee, Tampa) should keep the Falcons in the top 10 for the foreseeable future.

10. (3) Seahawks (0-2) — The defending NFC champs are 0-2 to start the season, but both losses came on the road, and both were close games. OC Darrell Bevell needs to figure out how to get Jimmy Graham the ball. General manager John Schneider needs to make a phone call to Kam Chancellor’€™s agent.

11. (25) Jets (2-0) — Todd Bowles’€™ defense has forced 10 turnovers this season, including five on Monday night vs. Andrew Luck and the Colts. If this trend continues, Ryan Fitzpatrick needs only to be average for this team to sniff the wild card.

12. (8) Bills (1-1) — At 1-1, Buffalo technically is LAST in the AFC East. I won’€™t fault the Bills for running into an offensive juggernaut in Week 2, but the decisions to pop off during the week make me question their leadership.

13. (4) Cowboys (2-0) — I wanted to put them lower. Tony Romo and Dez Bryant have serious injuries. Jason Witten is nursing two ankle injuries and a sprained knee. Brandon Weeden is at the helm, and contrary to what Jerry Jones is telling the media, he’€™s awful.

14. (11) Chargers (1-1) — Philip Rivers is completing 80 percent of his passes. In two weeks, Antonio Gates returns from his suspension. This could be one of the top offenses in the league by the end of the year.

15. (20) Vikings (1-1) — Feeding the rock to Adrian Peterson helped the Vikings get a win on Sunday. He rushed for 134 yards but fumbled twice in the second half. Expect the Vikings to lean on Peterson and keep Teddy Bridgewater from having to do too much this early in his career.

16. (7) Rams (1-1) — What a difference a week makes! After narrowly escaping with a win over Seattle, the Rams laid an egg in Washington. The highly touted defensive line allowed 182 yards on the ground. St. Louis’€™ own offensive woes could be remedied with the emergence of Todd Gurley in Week 3.

17. (17) Ravens (0-2) — The loss to the Broncos in Week 1 doesn’€™t look as bad compared to the loss to the Raiders. The loss of Terrell Suggs put the defense into an adjustment period. Having to fly out West twice in a row didn’€™t do this team any favors.

18. (14) Colts (0-2) — The Colts lost two in a row to start the season last year, too. However, the fact that Andrew Luck has morphed into an absolute turnover machine has got to be unsettling in Indy. He was supposed to be the heir apparent, and now he looks like he’€™s either plateaued, or even worse, regressed.

19. (16) Dolphins (1-1) — A loss to the Jaguars hurts. The defense made a lot of mistakes, including a dropped pick-six before the half and a stupid penalty to ice the game. Ryan Tannehill did his part, but Lamar Miller ran for just 14 yards on 10 carries before leaving the game. Yikes!

20. (29) Redskins (1-1) — Coach Jay Gruden told reporters after his team’€™s 24-10 win over the Rams that the blueprint for winning with a young quarterback is to run the ball effectively. Rookie RB Matt Jones rushed for 123 yards and two scores. The Redskins D held Rams QB Nick Foles to just 150 yards passing.

21. (22) 49ers (1-1) — This was more what we expected out of a 49ers team in transition. Heading into the fourth quarter, San Francisco only scored three points against a bad Pittsburgh defense. Allowing 43 points to the Steelers isn’€™t the problem, a lot of teams will do that this year.

22. (13) Eagles (0-2) — The NFC East is up for grabs, so the Eagles have a little time to figure this thing out. Sam Bradford is in a new system with a coach unlike any he’€™s likely had before. DeMarco Murray didn’€™t forget how to run the ball. But for now, this team is underachieving, even though no one really knew what to expect.

23. (31) Browns (1-1) — Johnny Manziel’€™s style of play is not conducive to sustained success, but it’€™s fun to watch. If WR Travis Benjamin can continue to get open for Manziel, and score, coach Mike Pettine will have a hard decision to make when Josh McCown is cleared to play.

24. (28) Raiders (1-1) — Drafting a wide receiver in the first round can be risky, but Amari Cooper is paying dividends. Derek Carr had a solid game, throwing for 350 yards. The fact that TWO of his receivers (Cooper and Michael Crabtree) had over 100 yards is even more promising.

25. (19) Lions (0-2) — The Lions were beat up by the Vikings on Sunday and dropped to 0-2. To make matters worse, QB Matt Stafford might not play against the Broncos on Sunday night. If Stafford is out for any extended amount of time, the window for this Lions team will be slammed shut.

26. (24) Giants (0-2) — The G-Men could be 2-0 right now if it weren’€™t for poor clock management and fourth-quarter implosions. Jason Pierre-Paul and his 8 1/2 fingers will be welcomed back to a defense that just can’€™t close anybody out. The NFC East is wide open and will be up for grabs all season long.

27. (30) Buccaneers (1-1) — Jameis Winston won his first game, and it was on the road in a divisional matchup. His maturity seems to be on the uptick since his days at Florida State. He was composed in a Week 1 loss, then turned in a solid performance the next week.

28. (27) Titans (1-1) — Marcus Mariota and his teammates were pushed around by the Browns on Sunday. Their first home game is against the reeling Colts this week. Andrew Luck should restore order to the AFC South, starting Sunday, with a thrashing of the Titans.

29. (26) Texans (0-2) — The team without a QB soldiers on. At 0-2, things don’€™t look bright for the Texans. Ryan Mallett and the offense were held to just 93 yards in the first half. Where is Arian Foster when you need him?

30. (32) Jaguars (1-1) — Blake Bortles had a career-high passer rating (102.2) on Sunday, but it was second-year WR Allen Robinson who had a breakout game. Robinson hauled in six passes for 155 yards and two TDs. This team still is bad, but there’€™s no harm in pointing out the positives.

31. (18) Saints (0-2) — Drew Brees now has lost six straight in the Superdome. An MRI revealed he’€™s been playing with a bruised rotator cuff, and he could miss some time. Similar to the Lions, if Brees is out for a while, the Saints might want to start looking toward the future.

32. (23) Bears (0-2) — As if things weren’€™t bad enough, Jay Cutler is out with a hamstring injury. Jimmy Clausen (he’€™s still in the league?) will start in his place. Clausen’€™s first test will be against a winless Seahawks team that is playing its first home game of 2015. Good luck!

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Blog Author: 
Paul Chartier

Observations from Bruins’ preseason win over Capitals

Here are some notes from the Bruins’€™ 2-1 overtime win over the Capitals Tuesday night:

– Tuesday’€™s game was going to go to overtime no matter what the score was at the end of regulation, as the league is having every team practice 3-on-3 three times this preseason. As fate would have it, the game was tied anyway.

Claude Julien went with two forwards (David Krejci and David Pastrnak) and a defenseman (Torey Krug). The group ended the game immediately, with Krejci feeding Pastrnak for the game-winner 12 seconds into the extra period. Pastrnak also scored the Bruins’€™ only goal of regulation.

– The game featured the first glimpse of David Krejci skating between free agent signing Matt Beleskey and second-year David Pastrnak right wing in a game. The three played on a line and served on the same power play unit with Torey Krug and Alexander Khokhlachev.

The Krejci line was unremarkable for most of the game, but Pastrnak scored on a backhander down low that snuck behind Washington goalie Philipp Grubauer during a third-period 4-on-4 .

Over the first two periods, the line didn’€™t generate much offensively and was caught offsides multiple times. Krejci also struggled on draws.

– Malcolm Subban got the start for the Bruins, stopping all 17 shots he faced before giving way to Zane McIntyre. The first-year pro gave up the first goal allowed by the Bruins all preseason, with a shot from the point during a Capitals power play getting through traffic and past him shortly after the B’€™s had taken the lead.

– Tuesday brought the first fight of Boston’€™s preseason, as right wing Justin Hickman fought Washington defenseman Tyler Lewington in the second period.

– Khokhlachev, who does not want to play in Providence again, drew a penalty in the third period. Boston’€™s power play wouldn’€™t last, however, as Brian Ferlin took a holding penalty 21 seconds in Boston’€™s man advantage. That set up the 4-on-4 play in which Pastrnak scored.

– The line of Chris Kelly between Anton Blidh and Hickman was interesting to watch. Blidh drew a first-period interference penalty and was a presence in scrums, while Hickman fed Kelly in the third period for a great scoring opportunity that went denied by Grubauer.

The lineup for the game was as follows:

Beleskey-Krejci-Pastrnak
Vatrando-Czarnik-Ferlin
Blidh-Kelly-Hickman
DeFazio-Khokhlachev-Senyshyn

Krug-McQuaid
Morrow-Casto
Arnesson-Miller

Subban
McIntyre

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

Following the flags: Tracking Patriots penalties for 2015 season

The Patriots have 18 penalties (tied for seventh in the league) for 183 yards (tied for fourth in the league). Here’€™s a breakdown of the calls that went against New England after two games, not including penalties that were declined or offset.

Most penalized players, listed by total flags and with total yardage lost
Team: 3 (illegal formation, defensive holding, 12 men on the field), 20 yards
OL Nate Solder: 2 (unnecessary roughness, offensive holding), 25 yards
OL David Andrews: 2 (offensive holding, false start), 15 yards
OL Josh Kline: 2 (offensive holding, false start), 15 yards
S/ST Patrick Chung: 2 (defensive pass interference, offensive holding), 14 yards
CB Bradley Fletcher: 1 (defensive pass interference), 39 yards
CB/ST Malcolm Butler: 1 (taunting), 15 yards
WR Aaron Dobson: 1 (offensive pass interference), 10 yards
ST Matthew Slater: 1 (illegal block above the waist), 10 yards
ST/LB Eric Martin: 1 (offensive holding), 10 yards
TE Rob Gronkowski: 1 (false start), 5 yards
DL/ST Rufus Johnson: 1 (running into the kicker), 5 yards

Most penalized by position
Offensive line: 6 penalties, 55 yards
Special teams: 5 penalties, 50 yards
Team: 3 penalties, 20 yards
Cornerback: 1 penalty, 39 yards
Wide receiver: 1 penalty, 10 yards
Tight end: 1 penalty, 5 yards
Safety: 1 penalty, 4 yards

Most frequently called penalties
Offensive holding: 5
False start: 3
Defensive pass interference: 2
Unnecessary roughness: 1
Illegal formation: 1
Defensive holding: 1
Illegal block above the waist: 1
Running into the kicker: 1
Offensive pass interference: 1
Taunting: 1
12 men on the field: 1

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Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

Bill Belichick sheds light on how Tom Brady stays young: ‘He takes great care of himself’

When it comes to keeping his roster young and fresh – and productive – no one is as coldly calculating as Bill Belichick.

He admitted as much again Tuesday during a conference call when asked about what keeps 38-year-old Tom Brady at the top of his game when so many other quarterbacks – and athletes for that matter – are on the decline.

Brady is again off to a remarkable start. In the two wins, he’s completed 69.2 percent of his passes, already thrown seven touchdowns with no interceptions and has a season rating of 119.9. His TD-to-interception ratio is better than his 2007 season when he won all 16 regular season games and set a new record for touchdown passes.

“Tom works really hard, he takes great care of himself, and he works really hard physically to be ready to go,” Belichick said during a conference call. “I have great respect for the way he competes off the field in terms of his preparation physically and as far as knowing our opponent and the game plans and all of that. That’€™s a big part of it. I would just say in general, not about any specific player, this is not directed at anyone, but I think at the beginning of each year, I always try to remind myself to just go back and be objective and look at each player objectively ‘€“ not judge them on the past, but judge them on the current year.”

Belichick was in a very talkative mood with the media Tuesday when explaining that even now, no matter if it’s Tom Brady or a rookie free agent trying to make the roster, he has to put all prejudices aside in evaluating if a player can help his team going forward.

“I know you guys don’€™t like to hear that and I talk about that probably ad nauseam, but every year is its own year, and some players get better, and some players kind of stay in a fairly consistent area and other players decline for one reason or another,” Belichick continued. “I learned a long time ago that you don’€™t take that for granted, you go on what you see. The players who are on this team this year earn what they get based on their performance, as have the ones in the past ‘€“ not based on some other resume or some other year or whatever.

It’€™s what the player does or if there is an injury situation, where you project him to be, but you can’€™t dream about that, you have to be realistic and evaluate it. I’€™ve had players that honestly one year were as good of players at their position as there were in the league, they went to the Pro Bowl, they were really good players, and the following year they weren’€™t, and in some cases they were maybe a year or two from being out of the league. And vice versa, guys who don’€™t play or who have very little to no role on your team and all of a sudden they go to a very prominent role ‘€“ Tom Brady as an example.”

Belichick, of course, was referring to 2001 when he came in off the bench in the second game of the season to replace the injured Drew Bledsoe. The sixth-round pick out of Michigan took the job and ran with it, earning the starting job from the day he took it over and (with the exception of the 2008 injury season) hasn’t let it go since.

“I think you just have to constantly evaluate each individual player, you have to constantly evaluate your team, whether you were good at something last year or even at one point in the season, doesn’€™t mean that you’€™re going to always be good at it, doesn’€™t mean that when you run into a matchup and you haven’€™t made the improvements that you need to make that it’€™s going to be good enough against somebody else. A lot of times you don’€™t find that out until you get into the game, so it’€™s a week to week thing. I know this is a very long answer for a simple question about one player, but I think it all for me is the same.

“You’€™ve got to continue to evaluate each guy, your team, the different units in your team, figure out how to get better, why you are having problems, what needs to be corrected, how to maximize what are not your perceived strengths but what are your actual strengths, how to get the most out of that, or the individuals, whatever it happens to be. And it is constantly changing and constantly evolving, and I think that’€™s what I learned. But certainly there is a point in each player’€™s career where I’€™d say at the end of the year, you’€™ve got to look at that player with the idea of, well let’€™s see where he is next year, because Troy’€™s quote certainly has a lot of truth and application to it, for all of us.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Gus Bradley brings Seahawks influence to Jaguars defense

Gus Bradley has brought some elements of the Seahawks defense to the Jaguars. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Gus Bradley has brought some elements of the Seahawks defense to the Jaguars. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

The Jaguars defense certainly isn’t as skilled and as talented at the Seahawks’, but the Patriots’ coaching staff see some similarities as Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley served as their defensive coordinator from 2009-12.

The Seahawks had some of the best defenses in the league during Bradley’s tenure. In 2012 they allowed the fewest points in the league at 15.3. Seattle fell to the Falcons on the road in the divisional round of the playoffs that year.

“I definitely think that there are a lot of elements to that system that Coach Bradley is utilizing down there in Jacksonville,” Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said on a conference call Tuesday. “The first thing that jumps out to you on the film is how hard they play. They play with tremendous effort. This is a team that will outwork you if you don’t come with great work ethic and effort on every play. I mean, they’re just going to make more plays than you’re going to be able to make because they’ll just play harder than you. They stunt, move. They’re very physical. They play extremely fast. It’s not, they don’t play a thousand different things, but they play enough things where you’ve got to be on your toes at all times. There are always some scheme-elements to their pressures and blitzes that are very well researched and scouted.

“I think this is a very well coached team. They are very disciplined. They do a good job of coming downhill and being [an] aggressive, attacking type of a defense. They’re very capable of taking the ball away from the offense if you don’t protect it on every play. They’re very difficult to run the football against, and they play well in situational football.”

Jackonville’s defense is now led by Bob Babich. He’s been in that position since Bradley took over as head coach in 2013. Prior to the Jaguars he was a defensive coach with the Bears since 2004.

After Week 2, the Jaguars defense has allowed the ninth-fewest yards in the league at 324.5 per game and the ninth-fewest points with 20.

McDaniels knows his offense will have to be ready for everything with the Patriots coming off the best offensive game in the entire NFL to this point in the season, as Tom Brady threw for 465 yards in their Week 2 win over the Bills.

“This is a new team for us. We’ve got a lot to learn in a short period of time,” McDaniels said. “They’ve got a lot of good players, a lot of new players for us to study, and we need to get familiar with their defense and their scheme as quickly as we can this week.”

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Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Red Sox notes: Pablo Sandoval has ‘significant’ upper respiratory infection; Uncertainty with Brian Johnson

Pablo Sandoval has missed four out of the last five games with an illness. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Pablo Sandoval has missed four out of the last five games with an illness. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Even though the regular-season is less than two weeks away from wrapping up, it doesn’t mean the Red Sox have any shortage of injuries.

— Third baseman Pablo Sandoval has been out of the lineup eight times in the last 17 games battling a few ailments, including an illness. Tuesday it was confirmed Sandoval has a “significant” upper respiratory infection, which will keep him out a few more days, according to interim manager Torey Lovullo.

Sandoval became ill Friday in Toronto, missing Friday and Saturday before playing Sunday, but left the game early. The third baseman is not at the park Tuesday, as he is home taking medicine and resting.

— The news isn’t as good for Clay Buchholz (flexor strain), who hasn’t pitched in a game since July 10. There was a chance he could pitch an inning before the end of the season to get some confidence going into the offseason, but that isn’t looking so promising.

Buchholz threw 60-90 feet on Tuesday, but having not thrown off a mound yet and there being less than two weeks left, the possibility of him pitching in a game doesn’t look good.

“Well, we’re creeping up on him not being able to throw in a game unless something starts to move forward — quickly,” Lovullo said.

— Brian Johnson hasn’t pitched in a game since Aug. 2 in Pawtucket when he needed to leave the game due to elbow tightness. He experienced elbow irritation in the ulnar nerve area and was sent down to Fort Myers to rehab.

Lovullo said the left-hander, who made one major league start this season, would be reevaulated on Oct. 1, but was very vague with the details. He said the evaluation would give an “update on what direction he will go.”

He also wasn’t sure who would do the evaluation, whether it would be the medical team in Boston, Fort Myers, or even an outside specialist.

“He’s an injured pitcher right now, we’re trying to figure out exactly what the best situation is for him,” Lovullo said.

— The news is better for catcher Christian Vazquez who will begin playing in the Fall Instructional League in Fort Myers. Recovering from Tommy John Surgery he won’t catch any games, but will serve as a DH.

Vazquez has begun throwing program out to 120 feet and will begin catching bullpen’s soon. He will then shut it down after the league ends before getting after it again just after Jan. 1. He is expected to be ready to go once spring training opens.

“We’re looking for him to be wide open and ready to go come day one of spring training,” Lovullo said.

Lovullo even expects him to show up early, given what he’s gone through this season.

“I know Christian is very eager to get back on his feet and get in there as soon as possible,” Lovullo said. “It’s been a long year for him, one that has seen him around a lot. He’s paying attention, but I know he wants to play. It wouldn’t surprise me if he gets going early through this whole process when he can.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Afternoon Delight: ‘Pizza Rat’

By now you’ve no doubt seen this clip of Pizza Rat in the New York subway. In fact, based on a shorter Vine version that went viral, some are calling him a hero for the effort and courage on display here. But not me. This is why you need to get all the facts before you go jumping to conclusions. Whether we’re talking about criminal cases, pro football psi-related scandals or cute rat videos, it’s imperative you see the big picture before you make up your mind.

I mean, look Pizza Rat abandon that slice on the third step from the bottom. The first time he catches on that he’s being videoed he drops everything and makes a break for it. You call that effort? You call that heroism? He quit the minute things got dicey when he should have fought to the end. Not to make everything be about the Patriots, but can you imagine a Bill Belichick-coached rat give up like that? Not on your life. Nobody likes a quitter, Pizza Rat.
 

@JerryThornton1

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Blog Author: 
Jerry Thornton