Patriots Injury Report: 17 (!) Players Listed As Questionable For Texans Game

A whopping 17 New England Patriots players officially are listed as questionable for Sunday’s primetime matchup with the Houston Texans — more than 30 percent of the team’s 53-man roster.
Eight of those players missed practice due to illness this week as a flu bug swept through the Patriots’ locker room. Offensive tackle Marcus Cannon practiced in a limited capacity after gutting through that same illness to play against the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday.

Third-string tight end Ryan Izzo (illness) was the lone player ruled out for New England.
Quarterback Tom Brady (elbow) was removed from the injury report after fully participating in Friday’s practice. Linebacker Kyle Van Noy (illness) and defensive lineman Byron Cowart (head) were added Friday.
Van Noy sat out Friday’s practice. Cowart was limited.
Here is the full injury report from Friday:
TE Ryan Izzo, Illness
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

Bruins’ Bruce Cassidy Shares Latest Update On Injured Patrice Bergeron

Patrice Bergeron has missed three straight games while he nurses a lower-body injury, but the Bruins still are rolling despite losing their top-line center for the foreseeable future.
Bruce Cassidy said there was “no timeline” on the injury, but is considered day-to-day. And before Boston’s thrilling overtime victory over the New York Rangers on Black Friday, the head coach shared a bit of an update on Bergeron.
“I believe it’s getting better, but at what rate is it getting better? I don’t know,” he said, per NBC Sports Boston’s Joe Haggerty “I invited him over for (Thanksgiving) and he said ‘no.’”
While we don’t know why Bergeron turned down Cassidy’s invite, it’s certainly reassuring to hear “getting better.” The B’s have done well in his absence, going 3-0-0 including an 8-1 thrashing of the Montreal Canadiens. Cassidy also confirmed the 34-year-old hasn’t skated since Boston’s overtime win over the Minnesota Wild, so it’s likely Bergeron won’t suit up for Sunday’s game against Montreal at TD Garden.
It certainly is not ideal to be without Bergeron long-term, but the B’s still find ways to win and are getting contributions from each member of the lineup.

Bruins Notes: David Krejci Bluntly Breaks Down OT Winner Vs. Rangers

The Boston Bruins are loaded with playmakers in the top six, and the New York Rangers had to learn that the hard way.
Down 2-0 in the second period on Black Friday, the Bruins erased the deficit to force overtime. David Krejci then scored the winner in the extra period to give the Bruins a 3-2 victory at TD Garden.
With a little over 1:30 elapsed, Krejci carried the puck in the neutral zone, then left it for David Pastrnak at the red line. Pastrnak gained the offensive blue line, drew some defenders and ultimately Henrik Lundqvist, getting the netminder well off his line. With Lundqvist out of position, Pastrnak fed the puck to Krejci in the slot, and the center had a wide open net with which to bury the overtime score.
After the game, Krejci was asked by NBC’s Brian Boucher to break down the goal, and his explanation was quite simple.
“Give the puck to Pasta and good things happen, and that’s what happened” Krejci said. “He drew a couple guys to him and I was all alone in the slot and I had an open net.”
The veteran pivot has played hero late in games a few times lately. His two goals in the waning moments of last Saturday’s win against the Minnesota Wild paved the way for Torey Krug’s game-winner.
Here are some other notes from Friday’s Bruins-Rangers game:
— Patrice Bergeron remained out of the lineup, so Krejci centered the top line with Pastrnak and Brad Marchand. As has been the case all season when asked to fill that role, Krejci did a fine job, adding an assist on Pastrnak’s equalizer earlier in the game.
Bergeron’s absence also allowed Jack Studnicka to draw back in. Studnicka looked fine enough, but played a team-low 9:45. The 20-year-old made his biggest impact by helping create some of the havoc in front of Lundqvist on Sean Kuraly’s second-period goal
— Charlie Coyle blocked a shot after the midway point of the second period, then didn’t skate the rest of the stanza. He did return for the third period and ultimately played 14:44 in the contest.
— There also was a scare with Marchand, who went down the tunnel early during the third period. Marchand only was gone for a few minutes, then returned without limitations.
Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy indicated that Marchand was taken out of the game by the concussion spotter, but was cleared.

Marcus Smart Has Strong Comments For Celtics Fans Focused On Kyrie Irving

The Boston Celtics fell in their second matchup in three days against the Brooklyn Nets, and of course Kyrie Irving was once again a topic of conversation.
Irving was seen exchanging pleasantries with former teammates Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, Brad Wanamaker and others after Brooklyn’s 112-107 win at Barclays Center. Smart was then asked during his postgame media availability about Celtics fans’ harsh feelings toward the All-Star point guard, which prompted a strong response.

“I’m really tired of hearing (questions) about Kyrie,” Smart said, per The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn. “Kyrie’s no longer with the Boston Celtics. It’s a slap to everybody on this team to keep hearing Kyrie’s name. Yet everybody, including the Boston fans want to talk about Kyrie.”
Smart’s point is very valid. The Celtics are 13-5 following Friday’s loss, and it’s relatively clear that Kemba Walker was a perfect replacement for Irving, and likely provides a much better fit within Boston’s system.
Will Smart’s comments get Celtics fans to lay off Irving and focus on the 2019-20 C’s? Time will tell.

Watch David Krejci Score OT Goal To Give Bruins Sixth Straight Win

The Bruins refuse to lose in regulation on home ice.
Boston took the New York Rangers into overtime Friday at TD Garden, and David Krejci sent fans home happy at the 1:40 mark of the extra period.
David Pastrnak, who scored his NHL-leading 24th goal to knot the game at two in the third, dangled through a couple New York defenders before hitting Krejci for the game-winner.

Pasta Krejci.
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) November 29, 2019

Krejci now has five goals on the season. The win extends Boston’s winning streak to six games.

Bruins Wrap: David Krejci’s OT Goal Gives Boston 3-2 Win Over Rangers

It took the Bruins a little bit of time to wake up on Black Friday, but once they did it was something else.
The B’s erased a two-goal deficit to the New York Rangers, and David Krejci’s goal in overtime gave the Bruins a 3-2 win at TD Garden.
David Pastrnak skated through the neutral zone and made a nice move to burn Henrik Lundqvist, but the winger then slipped the puck to Krejci, who buried the winner at 1:40 in the extra period.
Pavel Buchnevich and Filip Chytil had the goals for the Rangers, while Sean Kuraly and David Pastrnak scored Boston’s other tallies.
Jaroslav Halak made 26 saves for the Bruins, while Lundqvist turned away 24 shots for New York.
Here’s how it all went down:
The opening period moved quickly thanks to seemingly nonstop action, and it was the visitors that ended the first 20 minutes ahead.
Kuraly was whistled for tripping at 12:09, and just seconds after he released the Rangers potted the first goal of the game.
Tony DeAngelo got the puck along the half boards on a point pass from Jacob Trouba, and instead of firing off a shot from a bad angle, DeAngelo fed the puck to Buchnevich in the slot. Buchnevich created a little space and unloaded a shot that went through the legs of Brendan Lemieux, before beating Halak — who was playing without his stick after it was knocked away from Charlie McAvoy — far post at 14:14.

Pick that corner.
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) November 29, 2019

The Rangers would have been up by two goals if not for an impressive save earlier in the period by Halak.

The SAVE from Jaro and the CALL from Doc.
Everyone is on their A game today!
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) November 29, 2019

New York outshot Boston 11-7 in the first.
Sloppy play continued for the Bruins into the middle period, but a goal with 1:32 left in the frame sent them into the second intermission down 2-1.
After a little over six minutes of play in the period, Danton Heinen gave the puck away in the neutral zone, with Artemi Panarin intercepting Heinen’s pass attempt and quickly gaining the offensive blue line. At the last second, Panarin slipped a pass to Ryan Strome, whose one-timer was stopped by Halak but resulted in a juicy rebound. Chytil came crashing in and cleaned up the loose puck at 6:21.

Fil Szn
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) November 29, 2019

The Bruins could have ended up in some real trouble later in the period, with penalties against Matt Grzelcyk and Sean Kuraly giving the Rangers 62 seconds of 5-on-3. But the Bruins did a fine job of successfully killing those penalties, and they were rewarded later in the period.
With less than two minutes to play, Jake DeBrusk carried the puck around the boards, ultimately making his way up to the point before throwing it to the net. Both Kuraly and Jack Studnicka were just in front of the crease, and Kuraly managed to deflect the puck. Lundqvist got a piece of it, but in doing so deflected it into his own net at 18:28, which cut Boston’s deficit to one.

Boston is AWAKE.
: NBC:
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) November 29, 2019

The Bruins drew level just a few minutes into the third period, and the score remained even at two after 60 minutes, forcing overtime.
Torey Krug flipped a puck from the defensive to offensive end of the ice, and Pastrnak was first to it, but whiffed on the shooting attempt. Brady Skjei got the puck and went out wide, but DeBrusk gained possession on the forecheck, then carried the puck behind the net. DeBrusk slipped a pass to David Krejci on the doorstep, but Krejci’s one-timer was deflected out wide, where Pastrnak was waiting in his office to bury his 24th goal of the season at 4:27 to equalize.

David Pastrnak CANNOT stop scoring! #NYRvsBOS
: NBC:
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) November 29, 2019

The Bruins got their first power play opportunity of the game at 10:35, but were unable to cash in. Shortly after the penalty was released, Par Lindholm was whistled for a high-sticking double minor at 12:58. Despite heavy pressure from New York, the Bruins managed to kill the penalty, bringing the Rangers to 0-for-6 on the afternoon in power play efficiency.
The 3-on-3 overtime was plenty entertaining, and it was the Bruins that scored the dagger.
After clearing the defensive zone, Krejci left a puck at the red line for Pastrnak. The winger carried the puck deep, drawing some defenders and ultimately Lundqvist before slipping the puck to Krejci in the slot. Krejci had a wide open net, and he had no trouble finishing to give the B’s the win.

Pasta Krejci.
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) November 29, 2019

The Bruins will continue their homestand Sunday against the Montreal Canadiens. Puck drop from TD Garden is set for 7 p.m. ET

Julian Edelman Flattered By DeAndre Hopkins’ High Praise Ahead Of Patriots-Texans

FOXBORO, Mass. — Julian Edelman had one of the NFL’s top wide receivers studying his film this past offseason.
Houston Texans star DeAndre Hopkins said last week he pored over Edelman tape to find ways of improving his run-after-catch ability.
“(Edelman) always has a knack for getting the extra 4 or 5 yards,” Hopkins told ESPN’s Sarah Bishop. “He’s one of my favorite receivers in the NFL because of that. Because he keeps the chains moving.”

With the New England Patriots and Texans set to square off this Sunday night in Houston, Edelman said Friday he was honored by Hopkins’ admiration, which he shares for the two-time All-Pro.
“It’s pretty cool,” Edelman said. “He’s a hell of a football player. We’ve hung out a couple times here and there in the offseason, and I’ve seen him around. Nothing but respect for him. He’s a cool dude, and he’s an unbelievable football player. I mean, he’s not a 99 for no reason in ‘Madden.’ I’m just trying to get up on there.
“He’s a stud, and fortunately, I don’t play him. I play against the defensive backs and the defense, and that’s where my focus is on. But that’s very flattering and pretty cool.”
Edelman is in the midst of his most productive season at age 33, putting himself on pace for career highs in catches and receiving yards with a 76-809-4 line through 11 games. Hopkins ranks second in the NFL in catches and tied for second in receiving first downs.

Celtics Notes: Turnovers, 3-Pointers Kill Boston In Second Game Vs. Nets

The Boston Celtics dropped the back end of a home-and-home Friday at Barclays Center by a score of 112-107, and it wasn’t pretty.
If you’re looking for somewhere to point your finger following Boston’s fifth loss of the year, we have two directions for you, so pick your poison.

The Brooklyn Nets hit 17 3-pointers, adding to the recent trend of Boston’s struggle to defend the deep-ball. The Celtics entered Friday tied for the NBA’s third-worst 3-point defense. Opponents were shooting 36.2 percent from deep against Boston, while firing 3’s at a 41.3 percent frequency, fourth-highest in the league. Sure, that might also say something about the quality of Boston’s interior effort, but it doesn’t bode all that well for the rest of its game.
Marcus Smart is often lauded for his ability to guard every position, and rightfully so. At 6-foot-3, he presents the impressive ability to guard big men on nearly every NBA roster. That’s a huge defensive advantage when the Celtics want to run small, but it means the rest of Boston’s perimeter defenders need to step up when he moves inside.
Even more prevalent than Brooklyn’s outside shooting was Boston’s sloppy play. The Celtics coughed up a season-high 19 turnovers, which ultimately prevented them from being able to complete the full comeback. The giveaways were a problem from the jump, and head coach Brad Stevens noted this after the game.
“Turnovers killed us,” Stevens said, per NBC Sports Boston’s postgame coverage. “I don’t want to take away from Brooklyn, though. They did a really good job … The start of the game really hurt us,” Stevens added. “I thought they were probably more ready than us, and they punched us in the mouth.”
Here are some other notes from Friday’s Celtics-Nets game:
— The Celtics bench has provided a nice spark of late, and it did so once again Friday.
The bench unit, led by Brad Wanamaker, posted 39 points in the loss and kept Boston in this one when Brooklyn looked to pull away. Wanamaker had 11 points, eight rebounds and three assists in 18 minutes for his fifth double-figure effort in the Celtics’ last six games.
In Gordon Hayward’s absence, Wanamaker has provided quality minutes for Stevens as a reliable primary ball-handler, while showing off some scoring too. He’s been extremely important for Boston, and you can be sure his minutes won’t disappear when Hayward returns.
— Enes Kanter had another solid game off the bench with 10 points and six rebounds on 5-of-10 shooting in 20 minutes. He was a plus-10 over that span.
Kanter’s defense is still an issue, but he’s been relatively good since returning from injury on Nov. 11. His offensive rating of 114 was second to only Jayson Tatum (115) for Boston on Friday, while his defensive rating of 95.1 was the Celtics’ second-best value for players with a minimum of 15 minutes.
— Kemba Walker struggled to get going in Brooklyn, going 1-for-8 from deep and just 6-of-19 from the floor. He finished with 17 points, just two days after dropping 39 on the same Nets squad.
It’s worth noting that Walker was taken off the floor in a stretcher one week ago Friday, so we’ll cut him some slack, and you probably should too.
— Boston will stay in New York after the loss and head to Madison Square Garden on Sunday for an afternoon matchup with the Knicks. Tip-off is set for 3:30 p.m. ET.

Tom Brady Explains Why He’s Throwing Ball Away At Higher Rate This Season

Sacks are an imperfect gauge for the quality of a quarterback’s pass protection. Because some QBs, like Tom Brady, are smart enough to get rid of the ball before a negative play occurs.
Brady only has been sacked 18 times this season despite an offensive line that has, at times, been ravaged by injuries and a turnstile receiving corps. His 3.9 percent sack rate ranks sixth-lowest in 18 seasons despite the offense’s limitations.

But Brady has already thrown the ball away 33 times in 11 games. That’s his highest mark since Pro Football Focus began tracking the stat in 2006. Brady is throwing the ball away on 7.5 percent of passing attempts, also a high mark since 2006.
Brady started throwing the ball away more later in his career, as you can see in the year-by-year rates below.
2019: 33/439 = 7.5%
2018: 30/570 = 5.3%
2017: 22/581 = 3.8%
2016: 30/432 = 6.9%
2015: 29/624 = 4.6%
2014: 21/582 = 3.6%
2013: 13/628 = 2.1%
2012: 19/637 = 3%
2011: 11/611 = 1.8%
2010: 10/492 = 2%
2009: 12/565 = 2.1%
2007: 19/578 = 3.3%
2006: 16/516 = 3.1%
He says it’s not about self-preservation.
“I don’t think I’m throwing it away for that,” Brady said Friday. “I’m throwing it away because I don’t want to take a sack. I think part of it is just you feel like you have an opportunity on the play, and if you don’t have that, then I think negative plays actually have a big impact on the game. Turnovers and negative plays I think really keep you from winning games.
“So, if you’re a dropback passer — because I’m not really a scrambler. I mean, I have scrambled in the past. It’s not like I’ve never scrambled. I’m not really much a scrambler. But if I’m going to hold it back there, then usually good things aren’t going to happen. So, try to throw the ball away to a safe place and live for the next down.”
Brady has a completion percentage of 62.2 percent this season. That’s his lowest rate since 2013. But if he had eaten 20 more sacks rather than throwing the ball away on those dropbacks, then his completion percentage would be above his career average.
Throwing the ball away doesn’t look great on Brady’s stat sheet, but it’s allowed the Patriots to stand at 10-1 on the season.

Julian Edelman Serving As ‘Yoda’ To Patriots’ Young Wide Receivers

FOXBORO, Mass. — Julian Edelman had “Star Wars” on the brain when he met the media after Friday’s New England Patriots practice.
Edelman, the elder statesman in a Patriots receiving corps that’s been forced to rely on several young wideouts this season, channeled his inner Jedi master when asked about his leadership style within that position group.
“I don’t think Yoda would go out there and tell his secrets of how he trains Jedis,” Edelman said. “So I’m not saying anything, buddy.”

Padawans like N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers have needed to step up in recent weeks for the Patriots, who were without Nos. 2 and 3 receivers Mohamed Sanu (ankle) and Phillip Dorsett (concussion) during last week’s matchup with the Dallas Cowboys.
Meyers, an undrafted rookie, caught four passes for a career-high 74 yards in that game, and Harry, a first-round draft pick with just two games of regular-season NFL experience, caught the game’s only touchdown in a 13-9 win Patriots victory. Converted Division II cornerback Gunner Olszewski also played meaningful snaps on offense and special teams before landing on injured reserve earlier this month.
Sanu and Dorsett both were present at every Patriots practice this week, so this unit could be in better shape for Sunday’s primetime matchup with the Houston Texans.
The 33-year-old Edelman is on pace to set career highs in catches and receiving yards this season. He had 76 for 809 and four touchdowns through 11 games despite playing through chest and shoulder injuries.
The force is strong in this one.