Ben Roethlisberger Believes He’s ‘Earned The Right’ To Critique Teammates

The Steelers are first in the AFC North and have had a strong season despite some in-house drama, but that won’t stop Ben Roethlisberger from calling out his teammates.
Pittsburgh holds a 7-3-1 record and is coming off a tough 24-17 loss to Denver Broncos on Sunday that saw the Steelers surrender the No. 2 seed in the AFC to the New England Patriots. Roethlisberger threw a late interception that ultimately sealed the win for Denver.
Although it was Roethlisberger’s throw that helped hand Pittsburgh its third loss of the season, the signal-caller criticized rookie wide receiver James Washington, who dropped a crucial pass he dove for rather than running through it. But Roethlisberger said it’s his way of motivating his teammates.

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“Being around for a long time, being with a lot of different players, you have to know how to motivate guys in different ways,” he said, via ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. “That’s part of being a leader and a captain — just understanding players. Sometimes you just grab them off to the side, sometimes you have to be honest with them. And so, I think I’ve earned the right to be able to do that, as long as I’ve been here. And I’ll be just as critical on myself in front of you guys as well.”
Aside from Washington, Roethlisberger also had tough assessments of Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner. But the Steelers will need to put that all behind them as they prepare for their Week 13 matchup against the Oakland Raiders.

PawSox Losing Plenty Of Familiar Faces With Retiring Of Dan Butler

PawSox Losing Plenty Of Familiar Faces With Retiring Of Dan Butler And The Departure Of Kevin Boles
The Pawtucket Red Sox off seasons are typically quiet with most of the action being decided by the big club in Boston, but this off-season has been a tad different. For starters this off season started with Manager Kevin Boles announcing he was not going to return to the triple-a ball-club.
Losing the highly respected Boles is a huge loss for the organization and as of the writing of this article he has yet to be replaced with the organization looking from both within and outside the organization for candidates. But Boles isn’t the only friendly face that won’t be around for Pawtucket’s first full season after announcing their departure to Worcester.
Player departures are a certain in baseball especially at the minor league level. A few of the names that are taking their talents elsewhere are Justin Haley and William Cuevas, both pitchers are heading to Korea to play baseball. Nothing major there but there is a departure that will certainly shake up the chemistry in the Bolesless clubhouse.
32-year-old long-time minor league catcher Dan Butler decided to hang up his mask earlier this week and announced he was retiring from baseball and is taking a job as a bullpen catcher out in Arizona for former Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo. Butler, an Arizona resident has been a highly respected catcher in the minor leagues and ultimately an important figure in developing Red Sox pitching prospects ever since he signed as a free agent with the organization back in 2009.
With Boles and Butler gone, the very makeup of the PawSox clubhouse is essentially gone. It will be very interesting on what the ballclub will look like come Spring.
PawSox Hosting 4th Annual Holiday Party Saturday At McCoy
The PawSox will be hosting their annual holiday this Saturday at McCoy Stadium which will be free to the public and open from 11 am to 2 pm. It will be the first openly public event for the ballclub since the end of the past season and a chance for fans to buy tickets and meet former players Dennis “Oil Can Boyd” and Lenny Dinardo while taking in fun activities such as Red Sox VR, buy memorabilia, and meet the mascots and take photos with the family.
The post PawSox Losing Plenty Of Familiar Faces With Retiring Of Dan Butler appeared first on Trifecta Sports.

Rob Gronkowski ‘Feels Good’ Heading Into Patriots’ Matchup Vs. Vikings

Rob Gronkowski hasn’t had a fully healthy season thus far for the New England Patriots, but he has made an impact since his return to the field in Week 12 after missing nearly a month.
The New England Patriots tight end will play in his second straight game Sunday when his team welcomes the Minnesota Vikings to Gillette Stadium. The Pats are coming off a 27-13 win over the New York Jets where Gronk had a touchdown in the victory.

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On Wednesday, the tight end addressed the media about his health and how he feels heading into Week 13. To hear from Gronkowski, check out the “NESN Sports Today” video above, presented by People’s United Bank.

Klay Thompson (Kind Of) Predicts Who Will Win Eastern Conference

It’s a near certainty we won’t see a fifth straight NBA Finals featuring the same two teams.
While the Golden State Warriors are a virtual lock to reach the championship stage this season, the LeBron James-less Cleveland Cavaliers have little to no chance of competing for the 2019 title.
As such, the door is wide open for a new club to stake claim of the Eastern Conference. While the Boston Celtics were on the radar of most heading into the season, Klay Thompson has his eyes set on a different team.
Speaking ahead of the Warriors’ Thursday night matchup with the Raptors, Thompson offered some high praise to Toronto.

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“They’re going to be a great test for us,” Thompson said, per The Mercury News. “Who knows? It might be a preview of June. They got something really special up there in Canada right now.”
It’s tough to blame Thompson for entertaining the idea. The Raptors currently are a league-best 18-4 and Kawhi Leonard has played as advertised for his new team. It certainly won’t be a cakewalk to the Finals for Toronto, though, as the Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks and Indiana Pacers will make things interesting.
The bigger question is, can any of those teams take down the Warriors in a seven-game series?

Bruins Return To TD Garden Thursday As Betting Favorites Vs. Islanders

The Boston Bruins will have their sights set on a fourth straight home victory when they host the New York islanders on Thursday as -180 favorites on the NHL odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
Boston returns home on the heels of Saturday’s 4-2 defeat in Toronto that marked the team’s fourth loss in seven outings ahead of Thursday night’s Islanders vs. Bruins betting matchup at TD Garden.
The Bruins have played six contests on the road during their middling 3-2-2 run, averaging just two goals per game in those contests. However, the team has been dominant on home ice this season, allowing just three total goals during its current three-game win streak, and surrendering two or fewer goals on seven occasions while compiling an 8-2-0 record.
That stingy defense has produced steady results for the UNDER in totals betting, which has prevailed in six of nine home dates since the 6-3 win over Ottawa as -270 chalk opening night, and is a reliable 14-3-1 in the Bruins’ past 18 overall contests, according to the OddsShark NHL Database.
The Bruins come out of their recent lengthy stretch of away games in solid shape in the standings. Boston enters Thursday’s date with the Islanders in control of a wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, and just six points back of the Atlantic Division-leading Buffalo Sabres with a game in hand.

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The team, though, continues to be plagued by injuries, with Kevan Miller becoming the latest to visit the clinic with a throat injury that is expected to sideline the veteran rearguard for up to five weeks. In addition to Miller, defensemen Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy and center Patrice Bergeron remain on the shelf.
The Islanders arrive in Boston as +145 underdogs after dropping a 4-1 decision to the visiting Washington Capitals as a +100 wager Monday night. The loss put the brakes on New York’s brief two-game win streak, and extended a run of inconsistency that leaves the Islanders with a 4-5-1 record in their past 10 outings.
New York also has struggled to generate offense on the road this season, scoring two or fewer goals in eight of 12 outings, and has suffered defeats in three of four contests away from Barclays Center.
That is a trend the Islanders will have to overcome if they are to halt a four-game losing streak against Boston. The Bruins have allowed just four total goals in their recent dominance over New York, but have also fallen to defeat in two of their past three meetings with the Islanders at TD Garden.

Bruins’ Zdeno Chara Posts Positive Message About Injury On Instagram

Zdeno Chara still is a few weeks away from being reevaluated for an MCL injury he suffered Nov. 14 against the Colorado Avalanche, but he’s making sure Bruins fans stay updated throughout his recovery.
The Boston defenseman and captain is just one of many injured Bruin players, including Patrice Bergeron, Charlie McAvoy and Kevan Miller. Chara, as you probably know, takes his health and fitness very seriously and he closely documents it on his personal Instagram account.
Despite doing all he could to keep his 41-year-old body in tip-top shape, he still was bitten by the injury bug. However, Chara posted a positive update about his recovery Wednesday on Instagram.

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“Back in the gym.
Step by step towards the progress.
Focus.Patience.Healing,” the caption read.
While there was no video or details about what Chara’s workout consisted of, it’s certainly a good sign that he’s back to strengthening his knee. Hopefully we see him back to his beast-mode workouts soon enough.

Patriots Talk: Team Is Back In The Driver Seat

Tough Win Against A Division Rival

Patriots 27, Jets 13 (final): Sony Michel and running game proves critical as Patriots grind it out, with Julian Edelman's 21-yard catch-and-run TD the spark they needed to finish strong. Improve to 8-3 and expect to welcome back RB Rex Burkhead, as more pieces fall into place.
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) November 25, 2018

The Patriots got a much needed win this week after coming off the bye. Their previous loss to the Tennessee Titans was brutal but this win over a AFC East rival puts the Patriots at 3-0 for the year in their division. Many sports pundits were already once more on the Brady is declining bandwagon, but this win has calmed the waters for now. Is Brady getting worse? Compared to his MVP season last year, we can all agree there is a decline, but he is still a Top 10 QB in this league. (If the Patriots maintain their current projection for the season, they will be 12-4)
The Patriots had many penalties in this game in the first half totaling over 75+ negative yards (the most in a single game since last season for the team). The team did have quite a few positives to take away from their 27-13 victory over the New York Jets.
Offense Remained on The Ground

Story: Running back Sony Michel shows that he is one of the critical players for the Patriots' offense down the homestretch, as right guard Shaq Mason says, "He finds it and hits it hard; he’s fun to block for.” https://t.co/ur5XuvBsB8
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) November 25, 2018

The Patriots main positive was on the running game. Sony Michel had a career game where he rushed for over 133 yards, and a TD. Combined with him and James Whites, they both got over 200+ yards rushing. While this pushed Brady’s numbers down, it’s quite understandable why Belichick drafted Michel so high. He plans to make him the cow bell RB for the foreseeable future, the one who takes work load. While James White is having a Pro Bowl season, Michel is a great compliment to his game as well. In addition, Rex Burkhead has been rumored to return from IR which will help greatly in a depleted backfield. (White and Michel are effectively the only players left since Barber is likely to be reduced to practice squad by December)
Brady’s numbers have remained steady for his career average, but it’s a year where Patrick Mahomes, Drew Brees, Jared Goff are all have MVP years (and that’s not even including difference makers like Todd Gurley). Brady is more or less, stuck in the middle now as far franchise QBs are for this season.
Defense Did It’s Job

D notes:
* Plan geared to stopping run (base personnel), force them to throw
* Positives: Forcing turnover, run D, aggressiveness in pass rush, QB hits
* Negatives: 2 penalties, third-and-1 breakdown, a few other third downs
* Jason McCourty/Deatrich Wise among interviews. pic.twitter.com/1O5A9ilZCv
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) November 26, 2018

The Patriots defense came up this week, but not without seeing more glaring flaws. The team’s pass rush is still ranked 30th in the NFL. While Trey Flowers is having a monster season, the rest of the team is seemingly not able to generate pressure which is important especially going into the playoffs. They had several turnovers (including an INT by CB Stephon Gilmore) that helped greatly with the team’s success.
The Patriots run defense is still very solid and was able to contain Jets RB Isaiah Crowell (formerly of the Cleveland Browns). The team’s secondary did what was necessary to keep the Jets at bay but the reality is painful but true: They lack severely in physical talent. The team in terms of sheer speed, especially during the Kansas City game where they got massively burned almost the entire game. Hopefully, in the 2019 NFL Draft they focus on continuing to improve the defense as the offense will be set at every position except for either TE (Rob Gronkowski this season has shown a big dip in production and its painfully obvious that his back surgeries have sapped him but he is still a top TE in this league).
Right now, the Patriots will be moving forward as they will be back at Gillette Stadium for their game this Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.
The post Patriots Talk: Team Is Back In The Driver Seat appeared first on Trifecta Sports.

Who Brad Stevens Believes Has Been Celtics’ Most Consistent Player This Season

The 2018-19 NBA season hasn’t exactly started the way most expected for the Boston Celtics.
The Celtics own a mediocre 11-10 record at the unofficial quarter mark of the campaign and still are looking to get in a groove as they battle through their early-season woes.
Aside from the overall expectations for the team, several Celtics players have yet to live up to their respective hype this season, most notably Gordon Hayward and Jaylen Brown. But one player who’s exceeded expectations is Marcus Morris, who garnered high praise from head coach Brad Stevens on Wednesday.

Brad Stevens with a one-word answer on whether Marcus Morris has been the Celtics’ most consistent player: “Yes.”

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— Jay King (@ByJayKing) November 28, 2018

Stevens isn’t wrong. Morris seemingly has made an impact in every game this season, and the veteran forward certainly has made the most of his time on the court, averaging 13.9 points and 6.7 rebounds over 26.4 minutes per game. Stevens also has shifted Morris from the bench to the starting role on more than one occasions this season, and the ninth-year pro has been able to seamlessly transition.
All things considered, Morris has provided a major boost to a Celtics team that’s frequently needed one in the early goings.

Sony Michel Reacts To Increase In Explosive Plays In Patriots Offense

FOXBORO, Mass. — New England Patriots running back Sony Michel had his best performance of the season Sunday thanks in large part to an increase in explosive plays.
Michel had runs of 33 and 31 yards in the Patriots’ 27-13 win over the New York Jets. They were two of Michel’s three longest runs of the season and among four runs of over 20 yards in his rookie campaign.
Michel registered, in total, 21 carries for 133 yards with a touchdown. He also added two catches for 12 yards.
Michel said he’s working on creating more big plays, one of his specialties from his college career at Georgia.
“Trying to. That’s the goal, trying to get better each and every week,” Michel said Wednesday. “Because sometimes there are good performances, sometimes they’re bad. Sometimes you just have to be consistent at it, try to have more good than bad.”

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Michel also acknowledged he was able to play more free Sunday.
“Yeah, because I know my assignment,” Michel said. “When I’m confident in what I’m doing, I can go out there and just play.”
Michel looked to be feeling good coming off the Patriots’ Week 11 bye. He was removed from the Patriots’ injury report Wednesday. The rookie has only been off the injury report three weeks this season. He has 57 carries for 260 yards with two touchdowns in those three games.
Michel has 127 carries for 586 yards with five touchdowns this season. The 2018 first-round pick must average just 83 yards per game over the last five weeks to be the Patriots’ sixth 1,000-yard rusher of the Bill Belichick-era. The Patriots have had three rookie 1,000-yard rushers in the franchise’s history: John Stephens in 1988, Curtis Martin in 1995 and Robert Edwards in 1998.

Patriots Appreciate Chance To Raise Awareness Through ‘My Cause, My Cleats’

FOXBORO, Mass. — Jacob Hollister held a cleat in each hands as he addressed reporters in front of his locker Wednesday afternoon.
One was light blue and had words like “love” and “happy” and “beautiful” printed on it. The other was thundercloud gray and covered with words like “hate” and “lonely” and “dark.”
Each word on the second cleat had a bright red line through it, driving home the point Hollister plans to make this weekend.
The second-year tight end is one of 19 New England Patriots players, plus head coach Bill Belichick, who will be participating in the “My Cause, My Cleats” initiative during Sunday’s matchup with the Minnesota Vikings at Gillette Stadium.
The one-week event, which debuted in 2016, relaxes the NFL’s usually strict uniform guidelines, allowing players to wear specially designed cleats aimed at raising awareness for a charitable cause.
Hollister chose the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
“I just think it’s something I’m really passionate about when it comes to people who feel like they don’t have any worth in this world,” he explained. “You see an epidemic of that going on in today’s world. I think it’s just something that really needs to be focused on. …
“I just wanted one cleat that had negative words and what — in my mind — lies would be that either the world someone tries to tell you is wrong with you. Then the other one has a bunch of words that are actually the truth. And then I put John 3:16 on there too, which is a verse I love.”

Jacob Hollister had a creative idea for his #MyCauseMyCleats. One cleat has positive words on it, and the other has negative words crossed out. He’s promoting the America Society for Suicide Prevention. pic.twitter.com/kBc4pxgamm
— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) November 28, 2018

Several other Patriots players also discussed the causes they’ll be promoting. To see every cleat design, click here.
Running back Sony Michel, Haiti relief
“It’s a unique opportunity to be able to shed light on whatever you care about. I chose to do Haiti just to shed light on something that’s close and dear to me, my culture, and just to shed light on what people are going through around this world. Some people may not know what’s going on in Haiti, and I hope when they see me wearing (the cleats), they may be like, ‘Dang, why’s he wearing a Haitian flag on his cleats?’ It’s just reflecting back on what those people are going through, and they need help.”
Cornerback Stephon Gilmore: mental health awareness, anti-bullying
“One of my best friend’s sisters — I grew up with him; we played college ball together — his sister killed herself because of bullying two years ago, so I wanted to honor her with my cleats.”

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Center David Andrews, Warrior Dog Foundation
“It’s the second year I’ve done it. It’s the Warrior Dog Foundation. I was able to go out there this spring and spend a little bit of a weekend out there, hearing some of the dogs’ stories and seeing it hands-on. To me, it’s a really cool organization. A lot of military dogs come home and they have a lot of effects from the war, and this foundation takes them in and tries to rehabilitate them so they can maybe go back into the police force or SWAT team, things like that. And if they can’t, they get to live out their life and have the retirement they deserve for all they’ve done. So it’s a really cool organization for me. It’s one that supports animals, which I love, but also the military. So I think it’s pretty cool.”
Running back Rex Burkhead, Team Jack Foundation

At @UNLincoln, @RBrex34 was inspired by Jack Hoffman – a young boy battling brain cancer.
Joining his fight & honoring his courage, Rex will lace them up for Team Jack: https://t.co/EVvCAJ5BAW#MyCauseMyCleats pic.twitter.com/lTF0ANP80K
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) November 28, 2018

Linebacker Dont’a Hightower, One Family

This Sunday, it's all for Momma [email protected] grew up in a single-parent home & saw the daily sacrifices first hand. His #MyCauseMyCleats honor @onefamilyinc: https://t.co/GS8EfKhfPx pic.twitter.com/oA8GETDOFG
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) November 28, 2018

Special teamer Matthew Slater, International Justice Mission

"I hope when people see my cleats, they see @IJM."
Joining the mission to end slavery, Matthew Slater will represent the International Justice Mission on Sunday: https://t.co/nHyQaBJrdi#MyCauseMyCleats pic.twitter.com/I4XHB526xj
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) November 28, 2018