Ben Watson is back from suspension, but the New England Patriots will have a few extra days to decide which player he’ll be replacing on their 53-man roster.
As is standard in these situations, the NFL granted the Patriots a roster exemption for the veteran tight end as he returns from his four-game PED suspension, head coach Bill Belichick confirmed Monday on WEEI’s “Ordway, Merloni & Fauria.”
That means the team can wait until this weekend to officially add Watson to their roster, delaying the need for a corresponding roster move. In order to be eligible to play Sunday against the Washington Redskins, Watson must be activated by 4 p.m. ET on Saturday.
The most obvious cut candidate is third-string quarterback Cody Kessler, who signed with the team last week and was inactive for Sunday’s 16-10 win over the Buffalo Bills. If the Patriots choose to keep Kessler, an offensive lineman like Caleb Benenoch or Korey Cunningham could be on the chopping block.
“We’ll just have to see how it goes,” Belichick said when asked about Watson’s return on “OMF.” “Right now, we have a roster exemption for him, so we’ll just evaluate it. We haven’t been on the field yet, so we will evaluate it and see how it goes.”
Watson played six seasons in New England from 2004 to 2009, then returned to the team a decade later, ending his short-lived retirement to sign a one-year, $3 million contract with the Patriots in May. The 38-year-old played 42 offensive snaps over three preseason games this summer, catching two passes on three targets for 24 yards.
The Patriots have gotten little production from the tight end position this season, with Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse combining for just four catches for 77 yards through four games. LaCosse also has missed two games and been limited in another with an ankle injury.
It’s been less than 36 hours since Joe Maddon and the Chicago Cubs, and rumors already are swirling about where the famed manager will land next.
Count the Angels in as one of his potential bidders.
Los Angeles reportedly has some interest in picking up the 65-year-old, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, after firing Brad Ausmus on Monday. Ausmus spent just one year managing the Angels, leading his All-Star cast to a dismal 72-90 record in 2019.
Sources: Angels will be in on Maddon. No word of official contact, but they are interested. Theo is right: Could be bidding war for Joe.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) September 30, 2019
2019 wasn’t Maddon’s best year, either. But he certainly has quite the résumé.
After joining the club in 2015, Maddon helped lead the Cubs to their first World Series victory in 2016 before the team steadily declined over the last three seasons. The Cubs were staring down a 2019 postseason run at the beginning of September, but had their hopes dashed by a late-season collapse.
Should he get the job, however, this would not be Maddon’s first time coaching the Angels. He previously served as a coach for Los Angeles between 1994 to 2005 (during which he filled multiple roles including first base coach, bench coach and even interim manager) before taking the job as the Tampa Bay Rays manager heading into the 2006 season.
CANTON, Mass. — Over the last few years, the Boston Celtics have had at least one big man take a major step forward in their perimeter shooting.
During the 2017-18 campaign, it was Al Horford, who became so consistent from deep that he couldn’t be left alone. Last season, it was Aron Baynes. And though Baynes didn’t exactly become Ray Allen, he showed enough shooting ability that teams had to pay attention to him when he was beyond the arc.
So, who will step forward this year? It might be Daniel Theis.
In his second year of NBA action, Theis showed an improved ability from deep, shooting 38.8 percent on 67 attempts. He’s hoping to increase volume in the upcoming campaign while also keeping the accuracy the same.
“I worked a lot this summer on my shot to get deep range,” Theis said Monday at Celtics media day. “So hopefully the percentage stays the same even when I take more shots. Ultimately my goal is to just be consistent from 3-point and just also be able to take attack off the dribble.”
With so many undefined roles in the frontcourt, Theis being a perimeter shooting threat only will earn him more minutes. The promise is there, so now the thing to watch is the consistency with increased volume.
The Boston Celtics have plenty of big men, but what pretty much none of them have is defined roles.
With Daniel Theis and Robert Williams already in the fold, the Celtics brought in Enes Kanter and Vincent Poirier to help fill the voids left by Al Horford and Aron Baynes’ departures.
Kanter is a great rebounder and scorer, but a defensive liability. Poirier is a nice rim protector and shot blocker, but doesn’t contribute much offensively. Theis is a good energy player who can do a little bit of everything, while Williams could become one of the top shot blockers in the game over the years.
Each player can be used situationally, but it nonetheless will be a battle for minutes.
Some of the big men defined their skill sets at media day Monday, and how they see themselves contributing this season.
“Our style of play is going to change a little bit,” Theis said, “especially because Al left, he was like a power forward and bringing the ball up. And now we have bigs who can really run the floor, with Enes, with me, Vince, Rob, we can really run the floor and play on the offensive end and defensive end.
“For us bigs, everybody has a strength. For me it’s going to be able to stretch the floor. My shot over the last two years has gotten more consistent, now I want to be able to be even more consistent to stretch the floor and just run the floor. Whenever I play the five bigger and smaller people will guard me, so I’ve just got to outrun them and use my quickness and speed.”
Williams had a pretty straightforward answer.
“I feel like I can contribute a great deal of effort and a great defensive presence.”
Of the four players, Poirier is the only one without NBA experience. The French center gave a scouting report on himself Monday though, and he does have the makings of a fan favorite.
“I’m a team player, I like to play for the team,” Poirier said. “I like to put good screens for sure … I like to do the dirty jobs. Take some rebounds, block shots, run the floor, put good screens for everybody. That’s my contributions for this team.”
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens already addressed how the team likely will tackle the shortcomings of Kanter (as well as Kemba Walker), but as far as his bigs are concerned, he’ll have no shortage of variety.
CANTON, Mass. — Marcus Smart has been called the “spiritual leader” of the Boston Celtics, and rightfully so.
The guard seemingly makes an impact on every teammate he plays with, and such is the case with second-round pick Tremont Waters. Smart has yet to play a game with the LSU product, but he managed to affect Waters at one of his most vulnerable moments.
Waters father died suddenly at the age of 49 in early July, which caused Smart to immediately reach out.
“My teammates have done a great job of being there for me,” Waters said Monday at media day. “I didn’t have a face-to-face conversation with Marcus Smart, but he texted me, and immediately I knew that it was a place I could call home with the Boston Celtics, because of that one reason. … They’ve done a great job of welcoming me and also helping me through my situation.”
As for honoring his father throughout his rookie season, Waters says he’ll find ways to do so.
“I’m relatively creative, so I’ll find a way to incorporate him into everything that’s going on.”
CANTON, Mass. — Recent months have been a little bumpy for Marcus Smart.
While playing for Team USA this summer, the Boston Celtics guard dealt with a calf strain and left quad strain, forcing him to miss time. It was abundantly clear both he and Team USA were going to proceed with caution, and going into C’s training camp it appears he’s good to go.
But with those recent injuries came a slight change of mindset for Smart.
Over the years, Smart has hung his hat on being a gritty player. That’s not only because of his penchant for playing with energy and diving for balls left and right, but also his willingness to gut things out and play when not necessarily 100 percent. However, that might change now, and Smart shared why during Celtics media day Monday.
“Yeah, I’m getting older, I’m getting old” Smart said. “Your body takes a little bit longer to recover now as you get older, back probably when I was a little bit younger I probably would’ve tried to play through the calf injury and probably would have caused even more pain and probably something else worse. For me, this year is really just being that veteran player and understanding when to push it and when not.
“Everybody knows how hard I am, how tough I am, and sometime I feel like that gets the best of me where I feel like I’m hurt and could probably still play through it, and I’m probably risking it by going out there and trying instead of just giving myself that time to recover and get back 100 percent.”
The Celtics, plain and simple, are a different team when Smart isn’t around. So though him taking things slow when he’s banged up might be a change of pace, it likely will be a prudent long-term move.
It’s common to see young players entering any professional sports league gravitating toward a particular role model or mentor.
For Lonzo Ball, that man was LeBron James. Now, the 21-year-old hopes he can be that person for Zion Williamson.
Both Ball and Williamson are entering their first year with the Pelicans, but for very different reasons. New Orleans selected Williamson No. 1 overall in the 2019 NBA Draft, and acquired Ball from the Lakers in a blockbuster trade that sent Anthony Davis to Los Angeles shortly after.
Now that the two have had some time to settle into their new surroundings, it’s clear Ball and Williamson have struck a special friendship. And Ball hopes to continue building their relationship throughout the 2019-20 season.
“I just tell him I’m here for him,” Ball told reporters Monday at Pelicans’ Media Day. “Whatever he’s going through, I’ve been there. I just want to be a big brother to him.”
Lonzo on Zion: I just tell him I'm here for him. Whatever he's going through, I've been there. I just want to be a big brother to him.
— Will Guillory (@WillGuillory) September 30, 2019
What a duo.
There will be one less winless team in the NFL by Monday night’s end.
The Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers, both of whom are off to 0-3 starts to the 2019 season, will square off in a primetime clash at Heinz Field. While neither side has looked overly impressive in the early goings, AFC North battles rarely disappoint.
Here’s how to watch Bengals vs. Steelers online:
When: Monday, Sept. 30 at 8:15 p.m. ET
Live Stream: WatchESPN
CANTON, Mass. — If you aren’t already, we’d suggest getting familiar with Vincent Poirier.
The Boston Celtics, in a somewhat under-the-radar signing, brought in the French big man this offseason to join a frontcourt that has few defined roles.
During his time overseas, the 25-year-old has earned the reputation of a tremendous rim protector and shot blocker that plays hard. He also stands a head-turning 7-feet, 255 pounds.
He spoke Monday at Celtics media day, and was asked how he sees himself fitting in. His response all but certainly will endear him to Boston fans.
“I’m a team player, I like to play for the team,” Poirier said in his thick French accent. “I like to put good screens for sure … I like to do the dirty jobs. Take some rebounds, block shots, run the floor, put good screens for everybody. That’s my contributions for this team.”
Between Enes Kanter, Robert Williams, Daniel Theis and Poirier, there are plenty of opportunities to get minutes. If Poirier finds a way to contribute in the way he expects, Brad Stevens likely will find a way to keep him busy.
Rafael Devers was one of the Red Sox’s brightest spots in what was a dull season for Boston.
The third baseman showed plenty of power at the plate in 2019, as improved his defense greatly, making him a dominant player at his position.
Devers etched his name in Red Sox history a few times this year, becoming the franchise’s youngest player to collect 200 hits in a season, set a new team record for doubles and owns the most home runs in a year by a Sox third baseman.
And it doesn’t stop there.
The 22-year-old joined some elite company in racking up 90 extra-base hits this year before turning 23. Check out who he’s alongside:
Most XBH in a season before turning 23:
1. Joe DiMaggio – 96 (1937)2. Alex Rodriguez – 91 (1996)3. Rafael Devers – 90 (2019)
— Red Sox Notes (@SoxNotes) September 29, 2019
Devers also put his name in good company with his 32 home runs, .311 batting average, 115 RBIs and 129 runs scored, becoming the first player to do so since Miguel Cabrera did it in 2005.
Check out who else is on the exclusive list:
Players with .300 AVG/30 HR/100 RBI/100 R in a season before turning 23:
Rafael Devers (2019)Miguel Cabrera (2005)Albert Pujols (2001-02)Alex Rodriguez (1996)Eddie Mathews (1953)Ted Williams (1939)Joe DiMaggio (1937)Hal Trosky (1934)Jimmie Foxx (1929-30)Mel Ott (1929)
— Red Sox Notes (@SoxNotes) September 30, 2019
If Devers continues to work and improve upon a solid season, we only can assume he will be an offensive and defensive threat for years to come.