Everyone has a favorite hockey player.
From Wayne Gretzky to Bobby Orr, hockey fans always will have a favorite — whether it’s a retired or active player.
NESN’s Courtney Cox had the opportunity to chat with some B’s fans at McGann’s Irish Pub in Boston to find out who their favorite hockey players are. To hear what they had to say, check out the above video from the “Ultimate Bruins Show,” presented by Bud Light.
ATLANTA — When running backs Sony Michel, Jeremy Hill and Rex Burkhead all were both down with injuries midway through the 2018 season, the New England Patriots took a creative approach to fill out their depth.
Rather than signing a running back, they simply moved Cordarrelle Patterson from wide receiver. He received 21 carries for 99 yards between Week 8 and 9 in wins over the Buffalo Bills and Green Bay Packers.
He had 42 carries for 228 yards with one touchdown overall during the 2018 season. He led Patriots ball carriers in yards after contact per attempt. He might have even been better as a running back than he was as a receiver, where he caught 21 passes for 247 yards with three touchdowns.
So, that raises the question: Could he do it full time?
“I’m sure he could,” running backs coach Ivan Fears said Thursday. “I’m sure he could. It’s a pounding. That’s hard. I don’t know how much he’s used to that on a long-term basis. But, hey, why not? In some of these offenses, why not? That’s the way I look at it. I know one thing: He’s a talented son of a gun. You get the ball in his hands, he can make some plays, and that’s what he’s all about.”
Patterson’s willing to do it in the Super Bowl, but he seemed a little hesitant about making a permanent switch.
“If Ivan needs me to take 30 carries Sunday, I can take 30 carries,” Patterson said. “If that’s what he wants, I can do it for him. Just for him.
“All season, I have to prepare myself for that. That’s a lot of big boys down there, and you get hit every play, so if I prepared myself for it, I think I can do it.”
He said he’d just need to shift around some of his weight and add some muscle.
“Then I can handle it,” Patterson said.
Patterson is a free agent after the season. He’s probably best utilized the way the Patriots used him this season as a versatile chess piece. But he showed promise as a running back with limited experience in the role.
ATLANTA—The Patriots held a walkthrough practice Thursday afternoon at Georgia Tech’s indoor practice facility, focusing on situational plays during the one-hour, 20-minute session. Every player was a full participant, except for starting linebacker Dont’a Hightower, who did not attend the workout due to an illness.
“We’ll evaluate him tomorrow,” head coach Bill Belichick said when asked about Hightower’s prognosis.
Defensive tackle Malcom Brown, who was limited on Wednesday with a calf injury, did everything in Thursday’s session. Belichick expects him to practice Friday and be available moving forward.
“If something happens (Friday), that will be a different story, but I’d say he looks alright,” Belichick said.
Players were dressed in sweats or workout clothes (no jerseys) and did not wear helmets, except for the quarterbacks and defensive players who have the coach-to-player communication systems. Most players wore sneakers, though Tom Brady was in his cleats. Belichick noted that the team has already gotten in five practices since the AFC Championship Game and will have another full-speed session on Friday, so he opted for the walkthrough today.
“We got a lot out of the walkthrough today and were able to run more plays at a slower tempo,” Belichick said. “So that’s the advantage. Practicing (at full speed), you get better tempo, you just get fewer plays.”
The starting offense and defense worked at opposite ends of the field against the scout team, focusing on third-down, red-zone and goal-line situations, in addition to some review. The team was relaxed but also focused, with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels rattling off play calls and Brady calling out adjustments to his receivers’ splits and routes. The Patriots also reviewed all the kicking situations — field goal, kickoff and punt — in between the periods when the offense and defense were working. The specialists did not kick in the walkthrough; they kicked Wednesday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where Super Bowl LIII will be played, and will do so Friday as well.
Right guard Shaq Mason was wearing a long-sleeve dri-fit shirt with the logo of Georgia Tech, his alma mater. Georgia Tech hung a “Welcome Back, Shaq” sign outside the locker room at their facilities, and Belichick also had Mason give the team a welcome message on Monday, similar to what linebacker Elandon Roberts did when the team practiced at Roberts’ alma mater, the University of Houston, before Super Bowl LI.
“The Georgia guys are not thrilled being at Georgia Tech,” Belichick quipped, referring to starting center David Andrews and running back Sony Michel, who both played for the University of Georgia. “But that’s alright. They’ll get over it
Jason Whitlock may think Tom Brady is the “Muhammad Ali of his era,” but he’s not convinced the New England Patriots quarterback has anything in common with arguably the NBA’s best player.
Earlier this week, FOX Sports 1’s Colin Cowherd listed three similarities between Brady and LeBron James. But despite what he pointed out, Whitlock isn’t buying it. During Thursday’s edition of FS1’s “Speak For Yourself,” Whitlock said the two sports greats “have virtually nothing in common.”
Have a listen:
Whitlock: Tom Brady and LeBron James have virtually nothing in common. LeBron wants to be "More than an Athlete" whereas Brady wants to be the greatest athlete. pic.twitter.com/4zYBWwmBwa
— Speak For Yourself (@SFY) January 31, 2019
Whitlock seemed to be reaching when comparing Brady and James’ personal life rather than how they perform in their respective sports, but whatever helps fuel his fire.
Brady admitted this week LeBron James is a “much better athlete” than he is, but Whitlock noted their differences doesn’t make one athlete “better than the other.” While there are plenty of differences with how each came into the NBA and NFL, there’s still plenty of reason to admit the two are indeed similar when it comes to performing for their teams and what they’ve accomplished over the course of their careers to date.
Jamal Adams’ recent attempt to liven a crowd didn’t go according to plan.
Adams drew the ire of some New England Patriots fans last week when he tackled the team’s mascot, Pat the Patriot, during the NFL’s Pro Bowl festivities in Orlando, Fla., resulting in real injuries to the man inside the suit.
The New York Jets safety explained himself Wednesday on Stephen A. Smith’s ESPN Radio show, claiming the mascot was made aware of his plan and that he didn’t intend to inflict actual harm.
“Honestly, man, it was definitely planned in a way. I just wanted to put on a little show for the fans and the kids,” Adams said. “We were out there at the skills challenge for probably about three and a half hours and it seemed like they were kind of dying down as far as the energy. The sun was beating down on them. The Pats mascot was running around and he was getting booed by the fan bases all in the stands, so I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to take it in my hands, man.’
“The first thing I did was make sure — a guy who works for the NFL went over there and made sure it wasn’t a girl. I didn’t want to hit a young lady, you know what I mean? But it was a guy. And he told him, ‘Hey, by the end of the day, you might get tackled by Jamal.’ And apparently he kind of forgot that I was going to tackle him, which I just leaped on him, didn’t really tackle him. But what people didn’t see is (the mascot) getting up, chasing after me and tackling me. There’s a video out there, but maybe he got injured when he tackled me. So I’m trying to figure that one out.”
Adams, the sixth overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, is coming off an excellent sophomore season with the Jets, explaining his Pro Bowl nod. He’ll want to put this incident behind him, though. The Jets have enough problems to worry about after a third consecutive last-place finish in the AFC East.
The Patriots, meanwhile, will face the Los Angeles Rams this Sunday in Super Bowl LIII. And Pat The Patriot seems to be doing just fine based on his Twitter activity from Atlanta.
ATLANTA — All of these retirement questions are cracking Rob Gronkowski up.
The New England Patriots have met with the media each of the last four days as part of the annual pre-Super Bowl festivities, and each day, Gronkowski has been pelted with question after question about whether Sunday’s matchup with the Los Angeles Rams will be his final game in an NFL uniform.
Unsurprisingly, the four-time All-Pro tight end hasn’t given a straight answer.
On Wednesday, he replied: “Yes. No. Maybe so.”
On Thursday, he went with “Today’s a maybe,” then erupted into a fit of laughter.
Rob Gronkowski retirement update:
“Today’s a maybe.” (wild laughter) pic.twitter.com/P0d8NpnfiG
— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) January 31, 2019
Gronkowski, who considered retiring after Super Bowl LII last year before opting to return for a ninth season in New England, estimated he’s received “like 30” questions this week about the topic.
“All right, 50,” he added.
Having to answer the same question 50-plus times can be a grind, but Gronkowski seems to be enjoying himself. He’s sported a wide smile and an upbeat demeanor throughout the week as he prepares to play in his fourth Super Bowl.
The annual Beanpot Tournament is on the horizon, and Boston College senior Casey Fitzgerald took time to reflect on his past experiences in the tournament.
And for the North Reading, Mass., native, the tournament is a little extra special.
Fitzgerald — who first watched the tournament at eight-years-old — and his Boston College teammates will be one of four teams vying for the chance to get their school’s name on the trophy once again. The Eagles won the tournament back in 2016, defeating Boston University 1-0 in overtime.
Fitzgerald’s brother, Ryan, helped the Eagles hoist the trophy that year. Now, Casey has his sights on helping the team win the Beanpot once again — three years later.
The Beanpot semifinals will take place Monday, Feb. 4., with the Eagles taking on Harvard in the first game of the tournament.
The Los Angeles Rams’ defense will be running into a red-hot offense when they take the field Sunday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
While Tom Brady and Co. struggled with inconsistency throughout the regular season, the unit managed to flip a switch and then some in the playoffs. The New England Patriots hung a combined 78 points in wins over the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs, and they’ll be looking to keep things rolling in Super Bowl LIII.
Given their versatile defensive personnel, the Rams certainly have the ability to show different looks in hopes of combatting whatever the Patriots throw at them. But when it comes to slowing down New England’s bread and butter, Phil Simms isn’t sure if the NFC champions will be able to rise to the challenge for a full 60 minutes.
“I look it at it this way: can the Rams play man-to-man defense against the New England offense? That’s one,” Simms said Tuesday on Showtime’s “Inside the NFL.” “If you play zone, you’re gonna get picked apart, he’s (Brady) gonna get rid of the football quick. So if I’m Wade Phillips, you’re gonna play man-to-man, and are you gonna stop the over-the-middle throws to Julian Edelman? Put an extra defender in there, high-low the safeties. If they do that it gives them a chance. I don’t think they’ll do all that. I’m gonna take the New England Patriots 31-20.”
Picking the Patriots to win is one thing, but predicting a two-score victory is quite the take by Simms. Los Angeles’ offense is more than capable of going toe-to-toe with New England’s in a shootout, and Super Bowls involving the Pats historically have come down to the bitter end.
And if that ends up being the case, Jared Goff will have his work cut out for him in trying to match the typical clutchness of Brady.
The Los Angeles Lakers appear to be hellbent on getting Anthony Davis in Gold and Purple, and if the intent is to do that this season or next, then they’ll likely have to say so long to Lonzo Ball.
Earlier in the week, Davis made clear he won’t sign an extension with the New Orleans Pelicans after the 2019-20 season, and as a result teams are lighting up Pels general manager Dell Demps’ phone with trade offers.
For quite some time, the Lakers have been a rumored destination for Davis. And if a trade between the two sides is reached, then Ball all but certainly will have to be in the return. If that’s the case though, Ball’s “camp” (which, reading between the lines, means his dad, LaVar) would prefer he be moved to a team like the Chicago Bulls or New York Knicks.
Here’s what the L.A. Times’ Tania Ganguli wrote about the situation.
“Although Lonzo Ball has no say in where he lands in a trade, his preference would be for the Lakers to find a third team such as Chicago or New York as a landing spot for the second-year point guard if he were part of a deal for New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis, according to sources not authorized to speak publicly.
“Ball’s camp has concerns about how crowded the Pelicans’ backcourt is. The problem for Ball is that he’s a key part of what the Pelicans want in a deal for Davis.”
As Ganguli mentioned, Ball has no say in a deal. And given the finagling that would have to happen in order to execute a three-team deal of that magnitude, it seems unlikely at this point Ball will get his wish.
Boston sports got off to a very solid start in 2019.
NESN.com’s Rachel Holt brings you the “Month In A Minute” for January 2019. She recaps the 2019 NHL Winter Classic, Kyrie Irving and LeBron James’ phone call and of course the New England Patriots postseason run to Super Bowl LIII.
Watch the video above for the full recap.