FOXBORO -- I've been complaining about Bill Belichick telling the media that day is night, up is down and the Colts were a talented team. So I am not going to whine that he shot it straight on Rex Grossman Wednesday afternoon. Asked about the Redskins quarterback that Belichick's Patriots will face this weekend, Belichick gave a clinic in "damning with faint praise.""Rex first of all, has a lot of confidence," said Belichick. "And I think his team has confidence in him. So that's a good starting point. That's the feeling you want from your offense when you go out on the field, 'We're gonna be able to move the ball and be successful,' and I think he brings that."The ball will move when Grossman's throwing, no doubt about that. This season, the now 31-year-old has thrown 10 touchdowns and 15 picks in nine starts. His decision-making, said Belichick (in so many words), is risk-embracing. "In his aggressiveness there's probably some throws that he'd like to have back but I think that's part of what makes him good is that he is aggressive," Belichick explained. "Just because you have good coverage on a player, that doesn't mean he won't try to stick it in there. Sometimes he makes plays and sometimes (the ball) doesn't get into that spot. But he's definitely not afraid to be aggressive and I think defensively you've got to respect that."Or at least be conscious of it. Because, as a defensive back, Grossman may throw it to you on any given play. For two weeks in September, Grossman was the quarterbacking flavor of the week. He threw fortwo touchdowns and 305 yards in a season-opening win over the Giants. He threw two more scores and had two picks ina 22-21 win over Arizona. Then the bottom dropped out. Over the next four games,Grossman threwtwo touchdowns and nine picks. After the three losses in four games, Grossman was benched in favor of John Beck. That didn't work either. When Grossman got his job back in November, he completed nearly 70 percent of his passes. But last week, Grossman reverted even more, going 19 for 46 with a pick against the Jets. I thought Rex probably did not play as good as he has played over the last few games, Redskins coach Mike Shanhan told the Washington media on Monday. I think as he looks at the film, hell be somewhat disappointed in his play.Shanahan must be tearing his stubbornly well-parted hair out. For his offense to work successfully, it needs a back that threatens the edges and can be a one-cut runner in the stretch play they run. And he needs a quarterback who is mobile but also able to throw on the move with accuracy. Back to Belichick's dim praise. "He can be accurate," the coach said of Grossman. "He's got some mobility in the pocket. He's a tough kid. He'll stand in there and get hit and throw the ball. He's made some real good throws down the field on play-action. He's hit a lot of big plays."For both teams.
BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins are getting closer to a healthier lineup, but it won’t be in time for the Thanksgiving Eve road tilt against the upstart New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center.
Brad Marchand (upper body), Torey Krug (upper body) and David Backes (colon surgery) all skated in red no-contact jerseys at practice Tuesday at Warrior Ice Arena, so none of those three banged-up B’s will be making the trip to Jersey. Anders Bjork (upper body) didn’t practice and is obviously out vs. the Devils as well, but Ryan Spooner might be a possibility after making it through his first full practice since tearing his groin almost six weeks ago.
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If he can make it through Wednesday's morning skate without any problems, Spooner will likely be a game-time decision against the Devils after missing the past 14 games.
The Bruins have continued to indicate that Marchand is in the concussion protocol, though it appears the Bruins agitator is dealing with both upper body and lower body issues. Marchand was encouraged by the progress he’s making while returning to practice, so perhaps the B’s could get back one of their leading scorers sooner rather than later.
“I feel pretty good. It’s good to be back with the guys and feel like you’re a part of the team,” said Marchand, who has missed five of the past seven games after returning for the home-and-home against the Maple Leafs. “It’s frustrating whenever you miss games and you miss time away from the team, but they had a great road trip and they’re playing well. It would be nice to be back in the lineup consistently and be back with the team...it’ll come.”
Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings vs. the Devils based on practice Tuesday:
Brad Stevens likes the fact that the Celtics have shown an unusually strong resolve this season by consistently finding ways to win on nights when they don’t play their best.
It’s to the point now where fans, as well as the players, feel no deficit is too steep to overcome.
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That said, there’s a level of expectations on this team now that you would think would bring about a heightened level of pressure, right?
They’ve won 16 in a row, the fourth-longest winning streak in franchise history.
Not according to Stevens.
“Coaching basketball is not pressure,” Stevens told reporters after Monday night’s win. “Playing basketball is not real pressure. Sometimes we overdo this stuff. We’re just trying to prepare well for the next game. That’s all we’ve done, that’s all we’ll continue to do. The streak doesn’t mean anything to me; maybe it does to the guys in the room. But it’s about finding ways to get better and finding ways to get the job done.”
Here are five other takeaways from the 110-102 overtime win at Dallas that extended Boston’s winning streak to 16:
There may not be a player on this team – maybe in the NBA – that’s more difficult to get a read on, than Marcus Smart. He has been a historically bad shooter throughout his career in Boston. And yet when you look at their 16-game winning streak, he’s one of the main reasons for it. He plays with an edge; he’s gritty and defends at a level that few can match. He makes big plays in big moments. But he's having his worst season ever shooting the ball yet his impact when he’s on the floor has never been greater. So, what do you do if you’re Stevens? You keep playing him. Because as much as his poor shooting hurts the team’s overall scoring, he makes so many clutch plays whether it’s facilitating, defending or – wait for it – making shots. He adds tremendous value to winning, even if his shooting numbers might suggest otherwise.
KYRIE FOR MVP?
When you’re getting “M-V-P! M-V-P!” chants on the road, you know you’re ballin’ hard. Kyrie Irving wowed the Dallas crowd with 47 points, 10 of which came in overtime as Boston rallied after facing a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter. If the numbers continue to climb along with the win total, Irving will continue to cement himself as a top-five MVP candidate.
One of the few constants in Boston’s string of success has been their rebounding. Against the Mavericks, the Celtics once again won the battle on the boards, 53-45. And it hasn’t been one or two players, either. Against Dallas, the Celtics had five players grab at least four rebounds with no one securing more than nine. That kind of rebounding balance makes Boston an extremely difficult team to out-work on the glass.
The scoring punch we’ve come to expect lately from Horford just wasn’t there against Dallas. Instead, he seemed more consumed with getting others (mainly Irving) involved offensively. He missed four of his five shots from the field and scored just three points. But he almost had a double-double in rebounds (eight) and assists (seven) along with blocking a couple of shots. And as always, his plus/minus was among the best on the team with the Celtics being +7 when he was on the floor.
While Irving was delivering one big shot after another down the stretch, one of his running partners in late-game situations this season has been Jayson Tatum. He ranks among the league’s best shooters in the fourth quarter and Monday’s victory only solidified his status. Against the Mavericks, Tatum had six points and was a perfect 3-for-3 from the field. According to NBA.com/stats, Tatum is shooting 64.1 percent in the fourth quarter, which ranks eighth in the NBA among players who take at least two field goal attempts per game in the fourth. Right ahead of him is teammate Marcus Morris (65 percent).