Patriots

Chiarelli: McQuaid will be ready to start season

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Chiarelli: McQuaid will be ready to start season

BOSTON -- There was some question as to whether rugged Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid would be ready to start the NHL season after undergoing blood clot surgery four months ago. But general manager Peter Chiarelli said Sunday morning that McQuaid should play, provided the Bruins training staff doesnt raise any warning flags.

It was originally thought McQuaid might not be ready for full-time duty and could be pushed back until February. But that doesnt seem to be the case.

McQuaid wasnt on the ice until Dec. 19 after getting a blood thinner regimen that doctors had prescribed for him after surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, and its clear the rangy 6-foot-3 defenseman has some weight and muscle to gain back. McQuaid couldnt really work out or skate until he was taken off the blood thinners, but hes been steadily improving over the last month.

So in Chiarellis mind it will be simply come down to McQuaids performance during the week-long camp rather than the medical staff holding him back.

Hes been cleared to play now. I dont what level of contact he can take, but I think hes been cleared to play, said Chiarelli, who indicated McQuaid should be in the opening night lineup on Jan. 19 unless he stinks out there during training camp.

That leaves 19-year-old rookie Dougie Hamilton and incoming free agent signee Aaron Johnson competing for the sixth defenseman spot, along with Providence Bruins camp invites Matt Bartkowski and David Warsofsky.

It remains to be seen if a slimmer, leaner McQuaid will be a little hesitant to drop the gloves after gaining a reputation as a tough customer over the last couple of seasons. The 26-year-old McQuaid finished with 10 points (2 goals, 8 assists) in 72 games with a plus-16 rating.

Patriots hit heights in altitude of Mexico City against Raiders

Patriots hit heights in altitude of Mexico City against Raiders

In a conference call last week, Raiders coach Jack Del Rio wondered if Sunday's game in Mexico City with the Patriots might show how two contrasting approaches to handling the altitude could impact the outcome. 

Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels and Tom Brady made sure of it. 

The Patriots utilized a hurry-up attack during their first drive -- a 16-play sequence -- that tested Oakland's conditioning early. Who would handle it better? The team that spent the week training at altitude in Colorado Springs? Or the team that wanted to beat the effects of the altitude by training at sea level and traveling to Mexico City the day before the game?

PATRIOTS 33, RAIDERS 8

Judging by how Raiders rookie defensive back Obi Melifonwu asked to come out of the game, and seeing linebacker Nicholas Morrow doubled over on the sidelines during the series, the Patriots initially looked like the more well-conditioned club. 

Stephon Gilmore and Danny Amendola had to leave the game briefly because they were dehydrated, but the final score, 33-8, suggested that the Patriots were better prepared.

Brady certainly had no issues playing at Estadio Azteca. He finished the game having gone 30-for-37 for 339 yards and three touchdowns. He had a quarterback rating of 131.9. 

At various points, Brady's name was chanted at the stadium, which he said caught him by surprise. He recently watched the television copy of last year's Texans-Raiders game just to get a sense for what the crowd would be like, and he remembered hearing Raiders fans dominating the crowd.

"That was very much a surprise," Brady said of the cheers. "Especially since seeing some of last year's game; they were very pro-Raider. But it seemed like we had a lot of Patriots fans here too, so that was great to see."

Rob Gronkowski said that the interaction with the fans in Mexico -- which included walking from the locker room through the stands to the sidelines -- was one of the things that made the trip a memorable one. 

"We really didn't get to do that much, explore around or anything, but we got to interact with the fans and everything coming out of the tunnel," he said. "That was a cool experience, seeing all the fans go wild and everything, giving them high-fives, so that was super neat.

"I wasn't sure what to expect, never played down here. It was a great experience, though. The way the fans were interacting was actually unbelievable. They were super loud. They sounded proud, and it was just a great experience overall coming here. Having that type of experience definitely makes it worthwhile and awesome."

Stephen Gostkowski, who turned in one of the plays of the day with a 62-yard field goal at the end of the first half, was similarly grateful to play in such a unique environment. 

"It was just an unbelievable atmosphere," Gostkowski said. "The stadium was great. The fans were unreal. Just a fun experience. To have a hand in a win, see the excitement from all the guys, it was really cool."

"That was pretty cool," Brady added. "I've been around a long time so if you're a fan of the NFL, you've probably seen me at some point, but it's still an incredible experience to come here and play football and see the reception and hopefully there's more games here, and the game continues to grow, and other people get to see it in person and experience it because it's a game that I love and so do a lot of other people around the world."

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Mavericks

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Mavericks

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics play the Mavericks in Dallas. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview: C's need to play Smart in Dallas

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

[SHOP: Gear up, Celtics fans!]

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