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Devin McCourty

Next up in the five part series of most important Patriots heading into training camp is freshly-extended free safety Devin McCourty.  Number three is likely to post on Sunday, stay tuned…

After signing a long term extension in March, Devin McCourty then saw Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, and Kyle Arrington all leave the secondary. Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, and Patrick Chung are back and rookie Darryl Roberts could be a sleeper to get some playing time. But there is no doubt that this is now McCourty’s secondary and he will have to lead both in play and character.

McCourty shouldn’t have much trouble doing either, he has established himself as an elite free safety and a great locker room guy. However, due to the reduction in talent around him McCourty will have more on his shoulders than ever. He had the luxury of Revis last season and could play a ranging, center field type safety. He will likely be forced into more coverage this year and even when he can play center field, he will have to more cautious than he would be if he had his former teammates with him. He will also have to compensate for when younger, less talented corners get beat deep and it’s a strong possibility McCourty’s pass break ups down the field will go up.

McCourty will have to be a stabilizing force for a Patriots secondary that could take half a season to figure out. Even at that point, that won’t necessarily mean they will be very good. If McCourty sees a dip in his play, it could prove disastrous for the Patriots defense. If he, however, can play up to his usual level, it will make the loss of Revis and Browner hurt less than it would on most teams.

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Pedro Martinez (SI Cover)

1. Red Sox:

* Miley five walks in six innings – unacceptable

* Mike Napoli three extra base hits – you just assured your trade

* Love the third base coach yelling at Hanley Ramirez to stop jogging home on Napoli 8th inning double

* Six games since All Star game going into Thursday night: Hitting .192 / 1 HR / 0 Stolen Bases / 9 runs / 44 K to 10 BB / ERA 5.36

2. Patriot All Pro’s by position:

(not one running back during Belichick or Parcells era)

QB – Brady (2) / Parilli

RB – Nance (2) Continue reading Connelly’s Top Ten: Russians Are Coming, Pedro Facts, Hamburger, Hamburger… »

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John Wilcox/Boston Globe

After seeking a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews, Clay Buchholz’s original diagnosis of a flexor strain in the right elbow was confirmed. During the visit, it was recommended that the right-hander also get a Platelet-Rich Plasma injection. This injection contains a higher proportion of platelets than normal blood and it’s thought to facilitate reduction of inflammation and healing in the elbow.

This injection will shut Buchholz down once again, possibly for a few weeks, and push the timetable for his return back. Prior to the injection the Sox ace had played light toss the past few days, and with the injection this will come to a halt. Continue reading Clay Buchholz Receives Elbow Injection, Will Extend Time on DL »

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Alex Brandon/ Associated Press

‘The Truth’ and other NBA stars from around the league told the world and, most importantly, the media, what they believe to be the truth about awards handed down for NBA players. In the first annual NBA Players Association (NBPA) Players Awards hosted in Las Vegas, taped on Sunday and aired Tuesday night, players were given the opportunity to vote on who they thought should receive various league awards normally voted on by members of the media. Players have been pushing to have a say in the accolades that get handed out at the end of each season for some time and now the NBPA has come up with a way to give them just that. An awards ceremony where the players, who assert they know the league and their fellow players better than the media, get to cast votes and have their voices heard.

Paul Pierce, now teammates with Chris Paul, President of the NBA players union, made an appearance on stage to accept the player’s choice award for Defensive Player of the Year DeAndre Jordan after presenter Gary Payton joked that his new teammate Dirk Nowitzki would accept in his place. Continue reading Paul Pierce Participates in the First Annual NBA Players Association Players Awards »

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sweeney_don_0913

Don Sweeney is not done making moves yet.

“There are a couple free agents that we’re still having conversations with that we feel might improve our club. If the financial component works, we’re not going to stop having those conversations because it might be the right thing to do,” Sweeney said recently. Continue reading Don Sweeney Still Looking for ‘D’ Help for Bruins »

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Over the next week I will be posting a series on the five most important Patriots heading into training camp. First up is number five, rookie guard Tre Jackson.

 

As this writer highlighted previously (http://sportsofboston.com/2015/06/17/why-tre-jackson-could-be-patriots-most-important-rookie/), Tre Jackson has one of the most important opportunities heading in to camp. With the retirement of Dan Connolly, at least one guard spot is wide open and there could be another one open as well depending on how well Ryan Wendell performs in August.

Everyone saw how problematic it was for the Patriots last September when their offensive line failed to play well. If that happens again this season, even more damage could be done. The Patriots play one the NFL’s best defensive lines in week two (Bills) and will likely be in a high scoring game in week five against Dallas’ high flying offense. Although the Pittsburgh defense has declined over the past several years, they still have a formidable pass rush that will provide the Patriots with a week one test.

If Jackson can win a starting spot and play well, the Patriots will not have to worry about Tom Brady’s protection. If he cannot, there is a strong chance Brady will spend a lot more time on his back in 2015 than any season before. Another name to watch at the guard spot is Shaq Mason, but Jackson is ahead of him in development and already has a rapport with starting center Bryan Stork, as the two were teammates at Florida State. All in all, Jackson is a player who essential but under the radar to the Patriots offense in 2015.

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Highly-Touted Prospect Brian Johnson

As the Red Sox start the unofficial second half of the MLB season the team finds itself with a lack starting pitching. The injury to Clay Buccholz’ elbow and his subsequent placement on the 15-day DL is a devastating loss, especially with Joe Kelly still trying to find himself in AAA and Masterson having assumed a spot in the bullpen.

The starting rotation currently features Wade Miley, Eduardo Rodriguez and Rick Porcello. Clearly, starting pitching is scarce, and management has attempted to combat this dilemma by calling up a Brian Johnson from Pawtucket. Continue reading Introducing Red Sox Prospect Brian Johnson »