Julian Edelman Counts Down To ‘December Football’ In Latest Instagram

It feels like just yesterday that the New England Patriots were wrapping up their preseason, ready to trim their roster in time for the season opener.
Alas, the defending Super Bowl champions, along with the rest of the NFL, are set to turn the page to December.

Julian Edelman is among the Patriots looking forward to playing in the winter months. The Patriots receiver took to Instagram on Friday to express his enthusiasm.
“December football: 48 hours and counting… ” he wrote in the caption.
 

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December football: 48 hours and counting…
A post shared by Julian Edelman (@edelman11) on Nov 29, 2019 at 2:03pm PST

Edelman has been hampered by a shoulder injury in recent weeks. The ailment clearly bothered him last week against the Dallas Cowboys, though the ever-reliable wideout still caught eight balls for 93 yards.
The 33-year-old is expected to play Sunday night when the Patriots visit the Houston Texans.

Reminder: Saturday Is Deadline For Rob Gronkowski To Decide On Comeback

We have no reason to believe that Rob Gronkowski will return this season.
However, if the future Hall of Fame tight end indeed wants to come back for the stretch run, he must inform the New England Patriots by 4 p.m. ET on Saturday.

Despite teasing NFL fans throughout the 2019 season, Gronkowski, when pushed, has insisted he will remain retired through the remainder of the campaign. His most definitive statement yet occurred during last week’s episode of “FOX NFL Sunday.”
Still, the Patriots couldn’t just use a player of Gronkowski’s caliber — they need him.
Be it injuries, age, lack of high-end talent or a combination of all three, the Patriots have received virtually nothing from the tight end position this season. All but gone are the game-breaking seam routes down the middle of the field, and with them the respect from opposing defenses. Above all else, the absence of Gronkowski has prevented Patriots running backs from running to the edges with any consistency.
Will a savior arrive this afternoon? We’ll find out soon enough.

Patriots Vs. Texans Preview: What To Watch For In Sunday Night Matchup

The New England Patriots will head to Houston this weekend to battle one of their most frequent non-division foes on “Sunday Night Football.”
Here’s what to watch for as the Patriots take on the Texans for the sixth time in the last five seasons:
THE DETAILS
Time: Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET
Location: NRG Stadium, Houston
TV: NBC
LAST WEEK
The Patriots took down the Dallas Cowboys 13-9 in a driving rainstorm to improve to 10-1 on the season and remain atop the AFC standings. It was the third time the Patriots have won this season without scoring 20 points, their most such victories since 2003.
The Texans rebounded from a 41-7 butt-kicking at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens to dispatch the division rival Indianapolis Colts 20-17 last Thursday night. Houston currently holds the AFC’s No. 3 seed at 7-4.
THE ODDS
The Patriots entered the weekend as 3 1/2-point road favorites over the Texans, who are 4-1 at home this season. New England is 5-1 away from Gillette Stadium.
The Texans are 1-10 all-time against the Patriots and 0-5 during Bill O’Brien’s head-coaching tenure, but they came close in 2017 and 2018, dropping a 36-33 thriller in quarterback Deshaun Watson’s second NFL start and losing 27-20 last season in Watson’s return from a torn ACL.
This will be New England’s first visit to Houston since 2015. The Patriots are 7-4 against the spread this season. The Texans are 5-6 ATS.
INJURY REPORT
A flu bug hammered the Patriots’ locker room this week, causing six starters and nine players overall to miss practice. One of those players, third-string tight end Ryan Izzo, has been ruled out for Sunday’s game, and the rest are among the 17 Patriots players officially listed as questionable — by far the highest number for any game this season.
OUT
TE Ryan Izzo, Illness
QUESTIONABLE
LB Ja’Whaun Bentley, Knee
OT Marcus Cannon, Illness
S Patrick Chung, Illness/Heel/Chest
LB Jamie Collins, Illness
DL Byron Cowart, Head
WR Phillip Dorsett, Concussion
S Nate Ebner, Ankle/Back
WR Julian Edelman, Shoulder
OL Jermaine Eluemunor, Illness
CB Stephon Gilmore, Illness
LB Dont’a Hightower, Illness
CB Jason McCourty, Groin
WR Mohamed Sanu, Ankle
WR Matthew Slater, Hamstring
LB Kyle Van Noy, Illness
CB Joejuan Williams, Illness
OT Isaiah Wynn, Illness
Izzo missed all three practices this week. Hightower, Wynn, and Williams missed two. Gilmore, Van Noy, Chung, Collins and Eluemunor missed one.
Dorsett, Sanu and McCourty were limited participants in all three sessions after sitting out last Sunday’s game. Having them back would be a big boost for the Patriots’ receiving corps and secondary.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Tom Brady, Patriots quarterback
Assuming Sanu, Dorsett and Wynn are good to go, this should be the week New England’s offense rediscovers its mojo after scoring 20, 17 and 13 points in its last three games.
The Texans, who traded away Jadeveon Clowney this summer and then lost J.J. Watt to injured reserve, have not been a good team defensively this season, ranking 17th in points allowed, 20th in total defense and 26th in defense DVOA. And they’ve been especially bad in key situations, allowing opponents to score touchdowns on 65.6 percent of their red-zone visits (worst in the NFL) and convert 47.1 percent of their third downs (second-worst).
Brady, who was better than his numbers suggested against the Cowboys, has enjoyed great success against old friend Romeo Crennel’s defense in the past, posting a passer rating above 100 in each of his last five regular-season meetings with Houston. He threw 16 touchdown passes in those games with just two interceptions.
DeAndre Hopkins, Texans wide receiver
Houston’s roster has experienced significant turnover since the last time these teams met in the 2018 season opener — just 24 players from that game currently are active for the Texans — but its two offensive pillars remain. That would be the dynamic Watson, who ranks in the top 10 in most prominent passing categories, and Hopkins, whom Bill Belichick called “elite-elite” this week.
“I think he defines an NFL receiver,” Belichick said. “If you open ‘NFL receiver’ in the dictionary, put his picture next to it. He gets open, he catches the ball. Doesn’t matter what the route is, doesn’t matter what the coverage is, doesn’t matter where the ball’s thrown or what the situation — first-and-10, fourth-and-goal — he’s very, very productive.”
Only Michael Thomas has caught more passes than Hopkins’ 81 this season, and while the longtime Texans star never has torched the Patriots’ secondary, he tends to post respectable numbers against New England, averaging seven catches and 73 yards per game over the last three meetings.
As long as he’s healthy enough to play, expect to see Gilmore, who shut out Amari Cooper last week, shadowing Hopkins throughout this ballgame.
Kai Forbath, Patriots kicker
For 23 years, from 1996 to 2018, just three players kicked in a regular-season game for the Patriots: Adam Vinatieri, Stephen Gostkowski and Shayne Graham. Forbath will be their fourth kicker this season. New England signed the 32-year-old free agent after Nick Folk — who replaced Mike Nugent, who replaced Gostkowski — underwent an emergency appendectomy on Thanksgiving morning.
Forbath worked out for the Patriots earlier this season and has plenty of NFL experience, but he appeared in just three games in 2018 and had been out of a job since the Jacksonville Jaguars cut him loose in February. It would be surprising if New England attempts any field goals beyond 40 yards in his debut.
Carlos Hyde, Texans running back
Hyde was dumped by the Cleveland Browns midway through last season, then couldn’t even crack 200 rushing yards over his eight games with the Jacksonville Jaguars. But ever since Houston traded for the 28-year-old after Lamar Miller tore his ACL in the preseason, he’s been one of the NFL’s more productive ball carriers.
Eleven games in, Hyde is on pace to set career highs in carries, rushing yards and yards per rush. He ranks 11th or better in the NFL in all three categories, forming a potent backfield trio with third-down back Duke Johnson and Watson, one of the league’s most mobile quarterbacks.
The Patriots’ defense has been dominant against the pass this season but less so against the run, ranking 23rd in yards allowed per carry. This hasn’t been a major flaw, however, as the unit still ranks ninth in both rushing yards allowed per game and run defense DVOA.
John Simon, Patriots linebacker
Simon, a former Texan and the least-heralded member of New England’s Boogeyman linebacking corps, quietly has been a valuable asset for the Patriots’ top-ranked defense this season. Given Watson’s aforementioned scrambling ability, keeping Houston’s QB in the pocket will be a priority for the Patriots this week, and Simon could play a key role in that effort, especially if Van Noy, who didn’t practice Friday, can’t go.
Simon fared better than most Patriots edge defenders against Lamar Jackson in the team’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens four weeks ago. Belichick praised the 29-year-old Friday, saying the scope of his responsibilities seems to expand each week.
“(He’s) played a lot of different roles for us defensively,” the coach said, “and those roles have expanded this year quite a bit — I’d say maybe a little bit surprisingly, because it looked like he had quite a few roles last year.”

Former Bruin Adam McQuaid Contemplating NHL Future, Dealing With Injuries

Adam McQuaid doesn’t know what his NHL future holds.
The former Boston Bruins defenseman wants to put his long-term health first, and that might mean stepping away from the game he’s loved his entire life at the age of 33.
“Ultimately it’s just all about long-term health and getting back to feeling good,” McQuaid said, per CBC News’ Shane Ross. “Sometimes you have to take a step back and think outside of just hockey itself. So that’s kind of where I’m at right now.”
McQuaid is a free agent and hasn’t skated since September when he attended Bruins practice. He spent nine seasons in Boston before being traded to the New York Rangers ahead of the 2018-19 season. McQuaid then was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets in February and played in 36 games.
But injuries and concussions have plagued him and he still is dealing with neck and head ailments. McQuaid suffered a concussion last year and missed the Blue Jackets’ playoff run. He’s unsure if his injuries are related to the concussion, but he knows he wants to be 100 percent if he’s going to lace up his skates again.
“I don’t know if it’s the end or not,” McQuaid said, per Ross. “…Of course I miss playing right now and I miss … the competing and the battling and being part of a team, and the camaraderie piece is probably the biggest part that I miss, just being around the guys on a daily basis.
“I don’t ever want, you know, people asking me like, ‘Oh are you done, are you coming back, when are you coming back?’ I don’t have those answers right now,” he added. “Ultimately it would be awesome to get to a point where I’m healthy, I feel great and I’m able to skate and not be limited in any way and get back playing.”
McQuaid has played in 512 games and never was afraid to drop the gloves. But he certainly is doing the right thing by taking care of himself and putting his long-term health above hockey.
Click here to read Ross’ full article >>>
 
 

Kyrie Irving Reunites With Former Boston Teammates After Celtics-Nets Game

There doesn’t appear to be any love lost between  Kyrie Irving and his former teammates.
The Boston Celtics traveled to Brooklyn to take on the Nets on Friday in the back half of a home-and-home series. Irving, who spent two tumultuous years in with the C’s before signing with the Nets in free agency, didn’t play in either game due to a shoulder injury. The guard didn’t make the trip to Boston, but was on the bench for Friday’s matchup.

Naturally, members of the Celtics were asked about Irving. Marcus Smart was pretty blunt about being tired of hearing about Irving because he’s no longer with the team, while Brad Stevens said he was happy for the 27-year-old. And while Boston fans likely still are mad at Irving, it was all hugs and happiness after Friday’s matinee.
Irving embraced Jayson Tatum for several seconds before hugging Smart. He then briefly caught up with his replacement, Kemba Walker. Check it out:

Respect in Brooklyn. pic.twitter.com/P4AtxDSvqW
— NBA (@NBA) November 29, 2019

The two squads meet for the third time March 3 at TD Garden.

Bruins ‘Found Ways To Win’ In Thrilling Overtime Victory Vs. Rangers

The Bruins are rolling and are the team to beat in the NHL.
The winning ways continued for Boston on Friday with a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory over the New York Rangers after a sloppy first and second period found the team playing from behind.
After the game, head coach Bruce Cassidy said the B’s “found ways to win,” but still are looking for a full team effort for 60 minutes.
To hear from Cassidy, check out the “NESN Sports Today” video above, presented by People’s United Bank.

This Stat Shows Just How Dominant Bruins Have Been To Begin 2019-20 Season

There’s no denying the Boston Bruins are the team to beat in the NHL.
Boston boasts an 18-3-5 record after winning 3-2 in overtime against the New York Rangers on Friday, good for the top spot in the Atlantic Division as well as the entire league.
David Pastrnak continues to put himself in with elite company and is on a torrid pace through the first two months of the season, while Tuukka Rask has the second-most wins (12) in the NHL. But it’s not just the individual stats that are raising eyebrows.
According to NHL Public Relations, the B’s joined the 1974-75 Buffalo Sabres and 2000-01 St. Louis Blues as the only teams to record two 10-game point streaks.

The @NHLBruins have recorded their second 10-game point streak of 2019-20 (7-0-3).
Only two other teams in NHL history have posted two point streaks of 10+ games through their first 30 GP or fewer: STL in 2000-01 (10 GP and 10 GP) and BUF in 1974-75 (10 GP and 11 GP). #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/Zx7894Ct0i
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) November 29, 2019

Boston has not lost a game in regulation on home ice, and will look to continue that trend Sunday when it comes the Montreal Canadiens to TD Garden.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens Always ‘Liked, Appreciated’ Nets’ Kyrie Irving

The home-and-home series between the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets has come and gone, but not before a plethora of questions were asked about Kyrie Irving.

Irving, as you probably know by now, ditched Boston in free agency for Brooklyn after verbally committing to re-sign with the C’s.
Fans had Nov. 27 and 29 circled on their calendars once the NBA released its schedule because of the matchup between the Celtics and Nets. But Irving didn’t play in either due to a shoulder injury. Questions still were asked, though, and Marcus Smart, for one, was tired of the questions he and his team continually received about a player who no longer is with them.
Brad Stevens knows the questions are all just part of what comes in facing a prominent athlete who no longer plays for you. Especially Irving, who had a tumultuous two years in Boston.
“We’re still answering those questions,” Stevens said, per MassLive’s Tom Westerholm. “But I get that’s part of it.
“… As we’ve talked about many times, I liked Kyrie, I appreciated Kyrie, I wished him well, and I think him coming home has been something that he wanted to do,” he added. “He was a free agent, you get to make that choice, and we can’t do anything but respect that and be happy for him.”
Stevens never fails to take the high road.
The Celtics and Nets don’t meet again until March 3 at TD Garden. And we’re willing to bet fans will be eager to see if Irving will play against his former team.

Bruins’ David Pastrnak Joins Elite Company With Second 12-Plus Goal Month

Death, taxes and David Pastrnak goals.
The Boston Bruins winger has been lethal this season and leads the NHL in goals (24) to go along with his 17 assists for 41 points. Pastrnak potted his 24th tally of the season in Boston’s 3-2 overtime win against the New York Rangers on Friday, and set David Krejci up perfectly for the OT game-winner for a two-point afternoon at TD Garden.
The 23-year-old will end the month of November on a high note with his second consecutive month of scoring at least 12 goals. And that feat put him in with some pretty elite company.
According to NHL Public Relations, Pastrnak became just the fourth player in the NHL to record 12-plus goals in back-to-back months, joining Wayne Gretzky (1981-82, 1983-84), Mike Bossy (1984-85) and Mario Lemieux (1992-93).

David Pastrnak joined elite company with his second straight 12-goal month to begin the season. #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/O1YvOIfSlG
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) November 29, 2019

Pretty impressive.
Pastrnak and the rest of the Bruins squad will look to begin December with a win against their rival Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden on Sunday.

Tacko Fall Provides Update On Knee Injury As He Travels With Celtics

He might be injured, but Tacko Fall is with the Celtics on the road this weekend.
Boston is in New York this weekend facing the Brooklyn Nets on Friday before heading to Madison Square Garden on Sunday for a matchup with the Knicks. Fall, who suffered a knee injury Monday with the Maine Red Claws, is with the team receiving treatment, per MassLive’s Tom Westerholm.

The 7-foot-5 center told Westerholm his ailment is “a little sprain” and expects to be out “another week or so.”

Tacko Fall is with the team in New York to get treatment with Celtics trainers on what he told me is “a little sprain.” He had an MRI done and expects to be out another week or so.
— Tom Westerholm (@Tom_NBA) November 29, 2019

Fall is on a two-way deal, meaning he can spend no more than 45 days with the Celtics during the season. There is an exception in this case, however.
Two-way players are allowed to rehab with the NBA club when injured without having it count toward their 45-day tally. As long as Fall doesn’t participate in team activities such as practice, film, one-on-one coach work, etc., his count will remain where it was when he was injured Monday with the Maine Red Claws.
The Celtics and Knicks tip-off Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET.