Patriots

Green-Ellis bound for free agency

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Green-Ellis bound for free agency

Patriots running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis isn't going to win any rushing titles before he retires, but his dependability figures to make him a desirable free agent when the new league year begins Tuesday at 4 p.m.There has been "dialogue" between Green-Ellis' camp and the Patriots but an agreeable offer for the fifth-year running back out of Ole Miss hasn't emerged. A source indicated that Green-Ellis would be a "coveted" prospect when he does hit the market. After running for 1,008 yards in 2010 and getting 4.4 yards per carry, Green-Ellis' numbers dropped considerably in 2011 with 667 yards on 181 carries (3.7 YPA). One thing that hasn't dropped? The ball when Green-Ellis is carrying it. He's never fumbled in his NFL career. He's also scored 24 touchdowns in the past two seasons. Green-Ellis' hands as a receiver are pretty average and his blitz-pickup is good. The main attributes are durability, consistency and ball security. The kinds of things you don't miss until they're gone. Green-Ellis turns 27 in July. He's made the most of his career after being undrafted. Given the Patriots have gotten excellent running game production from overlooked players like Green-Ellis, they may be reluctant to get in a bidding war for a player who is good but not irreplaceable.

Backes and Bergeron return to Bruins practice, may be back in action soon

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Backes and Bergeron return to Bruins practice, may be back in action soon

BRIGHTON -- It was good news when word first filtered out that David Backes had resumed skating last weekend while the Bruins were on the West Coast, and even better news Tuesday when he returned to practice. Backes skated without any restrictions in a spot on the third line with Riley Nash and Tim Schaller, and appeared to be recovering nicely from his bout of diverticulitis.

Backes was initially diagnosed with the inflammatory colon ailment in the first few days of October, with the team estimating a three- to four-week recovery period. If he'd needed surgery rather than the  prescribed rest and medication, he could have been facing a lot more missed games.

Patrice Bergeron was also back skating on Tuesday morning while centering Brad Marchand and Anders Bjork, still sporting a maroon no-contact jersey while taking some light contact during the practice session.

Backes and Bergeron look like they’ could be returning to the lineup soon.

But the injury news wasn't all good, as Ryan Spooner, Austin Czarnik, Danton Heinen and Adam McQuaid were all missing from practice.

Spooner (lower body) and McQuaid (lower body) were both injured in Sunday night’s loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, and Czarnik and/or Heinen might be ticketed back to Providence soon if the Bruins have to make roster space for Bergeron and/or Backes ahead of Thursday night’s home game against the Vancouver Canucks.

Here are the line combos and D-pairings from Tuesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena with a whole different look to things with some of the different bodies taking part in the skate:

Marchand-Bergeron-Bjork
DeBrusk-Krejci-Pasta
Schaller-Nash-Backes
Beleskey-Kuraly-Vatrano
White

Chara-Carlo
Miller-McAvoy
Krug-Postma

Rask
Khudobin