Belichick says bye provided Patriots 'relief'


Belichick says bye provided Patriots 'relief'

FOXBORO -- There is a Sisyphean feel to an NFL season. Every day, you push the rock up the mountain. Thirty-one teams see the rock roll back over them before they reach the summit. The team that wins the Super Bowl, gets a few months peace while the rock is perched at the peak and then they too start again.

Last week's respite provided the Patriots a chance to spit on their hands, reset their feet and, this week, to resume pushing.

"I think there definitely was a sense of relief from all of us, coaches and players, of just not having to game plan last week," Bill Belichick acknowledged Tuesday. "Not having the whole mental pressure of coming up with a game plan of each day, thinking of game plans and adjustments and red area game plans and adjustments and third down and two-minute and goal line and just the weight of studying for a final exam, if you will."

It also, of course, affords players the chance to get some work done around the house before the snow flies. Like, clean the gutters?

"I tried that because my gutters were overflowing," said linebacker Rob Ninkovich. "Then I decided, 'I'm renting this place, I shouldn't be falling off the roof of the house right now.' So I stopped what I was doing. The first time, I got on the roof, I was like, 'I'm not doing this.' The day before it was raining and I was like, 'Man, I gotta clean those gutters out.' (After I got up there) I called the landlord and said, 'Hey, bring somebody out here, please.' "

With the Patriots' tough logistical stretch leading into the bye -- at Seattle, home with the Jets, in London for the Rams game -- the mental break was vital, Belichick said.

"Youre grinding through a week of preparation and then you go for the final exam and after youve had eight of those, its nice to have a week where just one week you dont have to study, you dont have to game plan, you dont have a final exam, you dont have all the mental adjustments you have to go through," Belichick admitted. "This week were back into it and hopefully we have a little bit of a freshness or a better approach to it than after eight weeks of doing. Well see."

Ninkovich, down from the ladder, indicates he's refreshed and ready.

"When you're a little bit banged up it's tough to mentally stay strong so when you get that bye week to get your body back, you just have more confidence knowing that, 'Hey, I'm good, I'm fresh, I'm ready to roll.' It works both ways."

Mother Nature gets between Belichick and his Patriots-Falcons film study


Mother Nature gets between Belichick and his Patriots-Falcons film study

If your team makes a goal-line stop in the fourth quarter, but you can't see it on the All-22 tape, did it even happen? 

Bill Belichick said the fog that hovered above the Gillette Stadium turf on Sunday night didn't impact the play on the field, but it did make its imprint on the game in other ways. First of all, spotters and coaches up at the press level had some difficulty relaying information to coaches on the sidelines. Video on the hand-held tablets for sideline use -- as well as the old-school still-frame pictures Belichick prefers -- was also obstructed. 

Then on Monday, as coaches tried to digest the film, the fog butted in on the process again. 

"It affected us a lot this morning because it’s hard to see the game," Belichick said during a conference call. "The fourth quarter is – I don’t know – pretty close to a white-out on the sideline film. The sideline cameras are at the top of the stadium, so that’s a tough shot.

"The end zone cameras are a little bit lower and they get a little tighter shot, so the picture is a little bit clearer. But, on that shot, a lot of times you’re not able to see all the guys on the perimeter. It’s kind of an in-line shot.

"Yeah, the first half, start of the third quarter, it’s all right. As they get into the middle of the third quarter and on, for those of us with aging eyes, it’s a little strained to see it, and then there’s a point where you can’t really see it at all, especially from the sideline. So, yeah, it affected us."

Belichick re-iterated that the fog didn't do much to the product on the field (other than maybe making life difficult for kick and punt-returners), refuting Julio Jones' claim from late Sunday night. When it came to digesting the film, though, that was another story.

"It was more, I’d say, just tougher for, whether it be our video camera or the fans that were sitting in the upper deck. It’s just there was too much interference there," Belichick said. "It was probably hard to see the game. I know when we tried to look at the pictures in between series – you know, I don’t look at the tablets, so I won’t get into that – but the pictures, it was kind of the same thing. It was hard to really be able to make out exactly what you were seeing."

Marcus Morris targeting Oct. 30 game vs. Spurs as date for Celtics debut


Marcus Morris targeting Oct. 30 game vs. Spurs as date for Celtics debut

WALTHAM -- It appears Marcus Morris’ debut for the Celtics will be when they host the San Antonio Spurs on Oct. 30.
The 6-foot-9 forward confirmed to reporters on Monday that, for now, that’s the target date.
Morris spent time after practice playing some one-one-one against rookie Jayson Tatum.
“I’m trying to push on it a little more,” he said. “Felt pretty good beating the rook’s ass one-on-one.”
The addition of Morris to the lineup can’t come soon enough for the Celtics (1-2).  They have already lost Gordon Hayward (ankle) for the season, and Marcus Smart (ankle) missed Friday’s win over Philadelphia. Smart said he would probably be in uniform for Tuesday’s game against the New York Knicks. 
Those injuries have forced the Celtics to dig deeper into their roster, resulting in several first-year players seeing action. 
Having a veteran like Morris on the floor would bode well for the Celts in their quest to remain among the better teams in the East this season. 
Morris, who went through the non-contact portion of practice on Monday, joined the Celtics on Oct. 5, shortly after he and his brother Markieff (who plays for Washington) were acquitted of assault charges involving an incident in Phoenix in January of 2015. He appeared in one preseason game, scoring seven points on 3-for-6 shooting from the field.

Coach Brad Stevens said Morris was having some knee discomfort when he showed up for training camp. That, combined with showing up late to training camp because of his court case in Phoenix, resulted in him not having the level of conditioning he’s used to at the start of training camp. 
“It’s not that I’m in bad shape,” he told NBC Sports Boston earlier. “It’s just that I’m not where I expect myself to be conditioning-wise, right now.”
Morris echoed similar sentiments on Monday. 
“I’m in great condition,” he said. “I just want to be a little better. My conditioning has never been the problem. It’s the soreness in my [left] knee. It’s gotten a lot better over the past 10 days, so I feel I can play now. But be cautious because it’s a long season.”
Morris was acquired in the summer by Boston from Detroit, in exchange for Avery Bradley. The move was done to not only ensure there was enough salary cap space to sign then-free agent Gordon Hayward, but also for the Celtics to add a versatile player who can play both forward positions.