Patriots Practice Report: Trey Flowers, Patrick Chung Still Out With Concussions

FOXBORO, Mass. — Defensive end Trey Flowers and safety Patrick Chung both were not present for the start of New England Patriots practice Thursday.
Flowers and Chung both are recovering from concussions suffered during Sunday’s 31-20 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. They also missed Wednesday’s practice, and at this point, it appears unlikely either will play this Sunday night against the Detroit Lions.
Chung appeared to be doing conditioning work on a separate field as practice began. Flowers was not spotted.

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Wide receiver Corey Coleman, whom the Patriots reportedly re-signed to their practice squad Wednesday, practiced Thursday, wearing No. 14. Running back Kenneth Farrow appears to have been released from the practice squad to make room for Coleman, as Farrow was not present at practice.
Receiver Josh Gordon, who signed with the Patriots earlier this week, practiced for the second consecutive day. He was limited Wednesday with a hamstring injury.

Red Sox Are Officially Slumping At The Plate; Is It Time To Be Concerned?

The biggest concern the Boston Red Sox have entering the playoffs is obvious: It’s the bullpen, and anything else is a distant second.
And for much of the season, the Red Sox offense would have been nowhere near the list of concerns. It’s been a different story lately, though.
The Red Sox are now 0-for-2 in their attempts to clinch the American League East, a showing that would be right at home in the Boston batting order right now. The Sox are now “only” 6-5 in its last 11 games after a lopsided 10-1 loss to the New York Yankees in the Bronx.
It’s the eighth time in that 11-game stretch Boston has scored four runs or fewer, and the Red Sox are averaging just 3.3 runs per game in that time. That’s obviously a far cry from the offensive production up until that point in the season when the Sox were averaging 5.4 runs per game.
Boston also had a team OPS of .793 until this slump; in the last 11 games, it’s just .660. There’s been a major power outage, too, with the Red Sox averaging a home run every other game after hitting more than one per game until this point.
Unsurprisingly, there have been some unsightly batting lines for members of the Red Sox lineup of late.
–Mitch Moreland is hitting .116 (5-for-43) with one extra-base hit and one RBI in his last 16 games.
–Rafael Devers is hitting .146 (6-for-41) with a home run and two RBIs in his last 14 games.

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–Andrew Benintendi is hitting .221 (27-for-122) with a home run and 11 RBIs in his last 31 games.
Or think of it this way: How bad would this stretch be without Brock Holt? He’s hitting .400 over the club’s last 11 games with a pair of big home runs and seven RBIs.
So what do all the numbers mean? Probably not much. As has been the case with a lot of the most impressive Red Sox plaudits, it’s hard to know how much these recent struggles with affect Boston when it gets to the playoffs.
At this point, we’re all just kind of waiting for the postseason, and who knows, maybe so are the Red Sox. They’re still professionals and no one ever wants to give away an at-bat, but the baseball season is a grind, especially when it’s all but a formality you’re going to win the division.
They’ve also had their work cut out for them lately, facing five All-Star pitchers (Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton, Jake deGrom, J.A. Happ and Luis Severino) in that 11-game stretch. In addition, they’ve faced two other former All-Stars (Noah Syndergaard, Aaron Sanchez) as well as a former Cy Young Award winner (Dallas Keuchel).
But the Red Sox better get used to top-flight pitching. Elite hurlers have stymied them in the last two postseasons, and it won’t be any easier this October.
All of that being said, the Red Sox offense has earned the benefit of the doubt. We should judge them on the bigger sample size while understanding slumps are an inevitable part of the sport.
The bullpen remains a bigger problem, but if the vaunted Red Sox offense is still nowhere to be found in a couple of weeks, it’s going to be another early autumn exit.

Cristiano Ronaldo Red Card: Juventus Star Reportedly To Serve This Ban

UEFA is unlikely to throw the book at Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Juventus superstar will receive only a one-game UEFA Champions League ban for the red card he received Wednesday in his team’s win over Valencia, according to The Guardian’s Jamie Jackson. The reported punishment means Ronaldo will miss Juventus’ home game against Young Boys on Oct. 2 but will be available to face former club Manchester United on Oct. 23 at Old Trafford.
Referee Felix Brych dismissed Ronaldo in the 29th minute of Valencia vs. Juventus after he collided with Jeison Murillo in an off-the-ball incident. Ronaldo and Juventus protested vehemently, albeit in vain.

The moment that saw Cristiano Ronaldo see red
[: U.S. only] pic.twitter.com/IB3ffZweXw
— B/R Football (@brfootball) September 19, 2018

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Ronaldo left the Mestalla Stadium field in tears.

It all gets too much for Cristiano. pic.twitter.com/ok1VkSvCXd
— B/R Football (@brfootball) September 19, 2018

Afterward, Ronaldo’s sister, Katia Aveiro, used Instagram to blast the referee and UEFA officials in her brother’s defense.
“Shame on football,” she wrote. “Justice will be done. Want to destroy my brother. Shameful”.
The furor surrounding Ronaldo’s red card likely will blow over by next month when he returns to Manchester United’s stadium, Old Trafford, for the first time as a Juventus player. Ronaldo played for Manchester United between 2003 and 2009 and became a club legend by helping it win three Premier League titles, as well as one FA Cup, two League Cups one UEFA Champions League and one FIFA Club World Cup. He left the Red Devils for Real Madrid in 2009 for a then world-record transfer fee.

No Reason To Worry About David Price’s Last Start? Here’s A Compelling Case

David Price just can’t solve the Yankees in New York.
The Boston Red Sox left-hander allowed six runs (four earned) over 5 1/3 innings Wednesday night while giving up three home runs in a 10-1 loss to the Yankees. He now has a career 4.83 ERA at Yankee Stadium and is 0-6 with a whopping 9.79 ERA in the Bronx since joining the Red Sox.
That’s really bad.
But MLB Network’s Eduardo Perez presented an intriguing argument Thursday morning for why the Red Sox shouldn’t panic over Price, who’s been pitching well everywhere outside New York.

David Price's continued struggles against the Yankees are reason to worry for the #DirtyWater #RedSox…right? @PerezEd : Not so fast. pic.twitter.com/Fa3JZpYqNX
— MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (@MLBNetworkRadio) September 20, 2018

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“The bottom line is this: He’s going to pitch Game 2 (of the American League Division Series), and it’s going to be at Fenway (Park),” Perez said of Price on SiriusXM’s “MLB Network Radio.” “And he gives up a lot of fly balls to right field. Usually a lot of guys are late. It’s a higher percentage with right-handed hitters that they hit fly balls, can of corn to Mookie Betts in right field when David Price is on the mound.”
Yankee Stadium has an unusually short right field porch, though, measuring just 314 feet down the right field line. Of the three homers Price allowed Wednesday night — two to Luke Voit, one to Miguel Andujar — none traveled farther than 341 feet.
All three would have been fly ball outs at Fenway Park. Take out those three homers, and Price allowed just two hits Wednesday night.
“We saw Voit, two pitches away, those are routine fly balls anywhere else, or warning track shots,” Perez said. “What do you get (in New York)? You get home runs.”
To be clear: Price allowing 300-plus-foot fly balls in any ballpark still isn’t a healthy trend. He also could do a lot of things better — he walked four batters Wednesday night — and will need to locate his pitches better if he wants to have success in the postseason.
But it does seem like the 33-year-old’s pitching style is particularly ill-suited for Yankee Stadium. And Boston and New York meet in the ALDS (which seems likely), the Red Sox can avoid that scenario by pitching Price at home in Game 2 of the five-game set.

Remembering Josh Gordon’s ‘Monster’ Performance Vs. Patriots In 2013

FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots matched up against Josh Gordon just once during his six-plus years with the Cleveland Browns, but the wide receiver put on a performance to remember in that game.
In Week 14 of the 2013 season, Gordon’s 4-8 Browns visited Gillette Stadium for a matchup with the 9-3 Patriots, who were well on their way to yet another AFC Championship Game appearance. New England was favored by 9 1/2 points, but Cleveland very nearly pulled off an upset, thanks in large part to their electrifying second-year wideout.
With journeyman Jason Campbell as his quarterback and Pro Bowl cornerback Aqib Talib as his primary matchup, Gordon went off for seven catches on 10 targets for 151 yards and a touchdown. The Browns led by 12 with just over a minute remaining before the Patriots scored two touchdowns in the final 61 seconds to secure an improbable 27-26 victory.
After the Patriots completed a trade for Gordon this week, several of those who were tasked with defending him in 2013 shared their memories of that day.
“He was a monster then,” linebacker Dont’a Hightower said. “And he’s still a monster now.”
“He had a lot of yards,” safety Duron Harmon added. “I do remember that. He had a breakaway slant against Talib that showed the speed and athleticism. He had a lot of good catches with Talib all on him.”
That breakaway slant resulted in an 80-yard touchdown that Matt Patricia, the Patriots’ defensive coordinator at the time, remembers well. Gordon caught the pass against Talib, hit the cornerback with a stiff-arm to the chest at Cleveland’s 37-yard line and galloped untouched into the end zone.

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“Unfortunately, the last time I saw him, he caught a slant that he’s probably still running,” said Patricia, now the head coach of the Detroit Lions. “Just a really huge play for them when he was in Cleveland.”
That game against the Patriots capped one of the best four-game stretches ever by an NFL receiver.
Despite having Campbell and the immortal Brandon Weeden throwing him passes, Gordon racked up an incredible 774 receiving yards on 36 catches between Weeks 11 and 14. He caught five touchdown passes during that span — including 74-, 80- and 95-yarders — and surpassed 230 receiving yards in back-to-back games. For context, all NFL wideouts have combined for just five 230-plus-yard games since the start of the 2014 season.
Talib held Gordon in check early but began to falter late in the second quarter. Gordon caught passes of 20 and 18 yards in the final minutes before halftime, then added a 19-yard grab, a 34-yard run on a reverse and his long touchdown during the second half. He also drew a defensive holding call on Talib and dropped what should have been another easy reception.
“He’s a hell of a player, man,” Talib told reporters after the game, via ESPN.com. “… He’s going to make some noise in this league.”
Unfortunately for Gordon, his career went off the rails following that spectacular 2013 season as he battled mental health and substance abuse problems. He’s played in just 11 of a possible 66 games since, the result of multiple suspensions handed down by the NFL and the Browns.
The Patriots now hope Gordon can get back on track in a new setting. After making his Patriots practice debut Wednesday, the 27-year-old is expected to be active Sunday against Patricia’s Lions.

Patriots’ Jason McCourty Continuing To Improve, Could See Big Role Week 3

FOXBORO, Mass. — It didn’t take long for Jason McCourty to receive a significant share of defensive snaps after spending the summer on the New England Patriots’ roster bubble.
McCourty played 74.6 percent of defensive snaps in Week 2, filling in for benched starting cornerback Eric Rowe. It was assumed Rowe was benched for his performance since he allowed a touchdown and was promptly removed from the game, but the corner hit the injury report Thursday, limited with a groin injury.
Regardless of the reason for Rowe’s benching, McCourty could wind up playing a big role in Week 3 against the Detroit Lions. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick could elect to sit Rowe and start McCourty at cornerback. McCourty also has experience playing safety with the Patriots and starting strong safety Patrick Chung didn’t practice Wednesday because of a concussion.
Belichick continues to see improvement out of McCourty.
“Yeah, absolutely,” Belichick said. “Yeah, he had a good amount of playing time last week. I thought he did a really solid job for us. He’s been able to fulfill a number of roles, both defensively and in the kicking game. He has good versatility, he’s a smart guy, has a lot of experience, so those are all positives.”

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It seems more likely McCourty will play cornerback, whether Chung plays Sunday or not. The Patriots likely will run their nickel defense with three cornerbacks and two safeties rather than their typical base defense of three safeties and two cornerbacks. McCourty is ready to take on either role at any time.
“I feel comfortable getting reps at corner,” McCourty said. “I’ve gotten — you guys have seen through my time here — gotten reps at safety, as well. Just trying to do any and everything to help the team win, whichever manner that they need me, so if somebody’s banged up a little bit, I gotta go in there at corner. If somebody’s banged up at safety, I have to go in there at safety. Just being able to do whatever’s asked of me is very important.”
McCourty is comfortable in the Patriots’ defense, which explains the Patriots’ trust in having him learn two much different roles in his first season with the team. His time at safety has even strengthened his understanding of playing cornerback in New England’s defense.
“The safeties have to know a lot of different things,” McCourty said. “You need to know what your corner’s doing, what your linebacker’s doing. So, at corner, by the time I was doing both, I knew everything I had to know as far as corner, and when I got to safety, I was like, ‘Ooh, gotta pump my brakes a little bit. Some things I have to learn.’
“So, (Devin McCourty) and (Duron Harmon), they’ve been big for me just throughout the meeting, they yell over to me, ‘Hey, on that, it’s sometimes just a small thing, but make sure you see this or see that.’ It’s definitely enhanced my ability just to learn, and I think now when you go back at corner, you know exactly what the safety has.”

Markelle Fultz Knows 76ers Could Be Playing Celtics ‘A Lot’ En Route To NBA Finals

The Philadelphia 76ers have championship aspirations, and they know that to reach the NBA Finals over the next few years, the Boston Celtics probably will be standing in their way.
Second-year guard Markelle Fultz is well aware of this situation.
“We’re going to be playing against Boston a lot,” Fultz said in a Players’ Tribune video hosted by former Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas. ”

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The Celtics and 76ers fought through an exciting five-game second-round playoff series in May, with the C’s emerging victorious despite not having an injured Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.
Fultz did not play in that series. He had returned from a lengthy injury absence just a weeks before, and given the debate surrounding the controversial trade with the Celtics that sent the No. 1 pick to the 76ers so they could take Fultz, perhaps Philly didn’t want to expose him to that environment in Boston, especially when Jayson Tatum was averaging 20-plus points in the series.
Now that Irving and Hayward both are healthy, the 76ers have plenty of work to do to reach Boston’s level, and the return of a healthy Fultz with a new-and-improved shot is what could make or break Philly’s chances. The Sixers didn’t land any of their superstar targets via trade or free agency, so Fultz’s improvement is going to be a huge x-factor for them in 2018-19.

Are Patriots In On Colin Kaepernick? His Attorney Maybe, Sort Of Suggested As Much

Never mind a grain of salt, you’re going to want to back up the whole salt truck (is that a thing?) for this latest tidbit about Colin Kaepernick and (perhaps) the New England Patriots.
Kaepernick remains unsigned and hasn’t played a game of football since the 2016 season after he started sitting — and then kneeling — during the national anthem as his way of protesting racial inequality in America.
Talks of collusion led Kaepernick to sue the NFL, and there are plenty who believe the league has black-balled the QB. If Kaepernick’s attorney is be believed, however, he might be back on an NFL roster soon.
I would just say stay tuned, that next week there may be some news,” Kaepernick’s attorney, Mark Geragos, told TMZSports.com. “That’s as far as I’m gonna go.”
Geragos then tried to end the conversation, but the TMZ reporter pressed him some more. Geragos mentioned Kaepernick has been watching the Dolphins a lot this season, leading the TMZ reporter to inquire about the possibility of Kaepernick heading to South Beach.
“I wouldn’t say join the Dolphins. I’ve got two other teams that will remain nameless,” Geragos teased.
Those two teams, one might infer, are the Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots. Immediately after saying there were two teams, Geragos name-dropped former Raiders owner Al Davis.
Then, a few moments later, when the TMZ reporter mentioned a forthcoming Meek Mill “anthem” about Kaepernick, Geragos perked up again.
“Do you know who Meek Mill was visited by when he was in custody?” he asked, prompting someone off-camera to provide the correct answer: Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

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That came with a sly smile that might lead some to think the Raiders and Patriots are the two teams who might be flirting with Kaepernick at the moment.
See it all in the video below.

It’s possible, of course, all of this means nothing.
And even as Geragos himself pointed out, he doesn’t have the greatest track record when it comes to predictions.
Less than a year ago, Geragos boldly proclaimed Kaepernick was close to finding work.
“I think within the next 10 days somebody will sign him,” Geragos said last fall. “I think somebody’s gonna sign him. I think the NFL has come to their senses and realize every day that goes by just proves the collusion case even more.”
We shall see. Kaepernick on the Patriots would make some sense. He’s better than backup quarterback Brian Hoyer, and given his past performances, he could be a long-term replacement for Tom Brady — if everything fell into place.
But given the Patriots’ high-profile addition of Josh Gordon, it’s worth questioning whether New England would want to add even more hoopla by bringing in Kaepernick.

NFL Rumors: Tom Brady’s Family Was ‘Miffed’ At Bill Belichick, Robert Kraft During Deflategate

Once upon a time, Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft were personas-non-grata in Tom Brady’s inner circle.
This was among the bombshells contained in ESPN’s Ian O’Connor’s new book, “Belichick: The Making of the Greatest Football Coach of All Time,” in which he reports, citing a source close to Brady, both the New England Patriots head coach and owner angered the family of their longtime starting quarterback by not doing more to protect him from criticism in January 2015 at the outset of the Deflategate saga.
From the ESPN.com article about the book’s content:

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One person close to Brady said his entire family was “miffed” at Belichick for telling reporters to ask the quarterback about his preferences on game balls and “very miffed” at Kraft for reluctantly announcing in 2015 that he wouldn’t fight Brady’s four-game ban. Of the notion that Belichick had initially dumped Deflategate in his quarterback’s lap, one close friend of Brady’s said, “I thought Bill handled it terribly, especially when it involved a guy who’d done everything to help your career as a coach, and you hung him out to dry.”
Brady denied any involvement in Deflategate and fought a lengthy legal battle against the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell to clear his name. Yet, Brady ultimately lost that fight and served a four-game suspension to start the 2016 season.
We’ll never know how Kraft’s and Belichick’s reluctance to back Brady forcefully affected public perception of the franchise quarterback. However, Brady’s family likely has firm opinions on how the organization should have handled that pivotal moment in history.

Ravens Fined $200K For (Another) NFL Rule Violation Involving Communication

The Baltimore Ravens have a rocky relationship with the NFL rulebook, and Wednesday’s developments certainly won’t mend any fences.
The NFL has fined the Ravens $200,000 for “violations of the coach-to-player communications policy” during this year’s preseason games, according to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport.
Per Rapoport, Baltimore had multiple players on the field at the same time who were wearing helmets with coach-to-player communication systems in them. League rules allow for just one player on either side of the ball — usually a quarterback on offense and linebacker or safety on defense — to be on the field with the special helmets, which are marked with a green sticker.
The Ravens released a statement claiming they were unaware of their infraction.

Team statement regarding NFL fine. pic.twitter.com/t1yRKfqJlh

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— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) September 19, 2018

It’s unclear which two players were on the field at the same time, and these were preseason games, so the violation ultimately didn’t matter much. But this certainly isn’t Baltimore’s first run-in with NFL law.
The team was forced to cancel organized team activities in 2016 after it allowed rookies to wear full pads in minicamp, which violates the league’s collective bargaining agreement. It broke the rules again this summer, incurring a total of $150,000 in fines for reportedly allowing too much contact during OTAs.
Ironically, the Ravens also have griped about other teams violating rules on several occasions, twice singling out the New England Patriots. But head coach John Harbaugh’s club finds itself on the wrong side of the rulebook again, and as a repeat offender, it’s paying a heavy price.