Red Sox

Ihedigbo proving worth in many ways

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Ihedigbo proving worth in many ways

FOXBORO - In three previous NFL seasons with the New York Jets, James Ihedigbo rolled up 49 tackles. Total.

In 15 games with the Patriots, the 28-year-old safety has been in on 69 stops.

The revolving door at the back of the Patriots defense has given opportunities to many. We can debate whether the door ushered out some good players. We can debate the merits of many who walked through it.

But we can generally agree that Ihedigbo has been a mostly decent addition. Not without flaw, certainly, but with significant upside as well.

"Very professional, smart guy, very professional," Bill Belichick raved Friday morning. "Did a real good job for us in the kicking game, well prepared on defense even though he didnt have a lot of defensive playing time early but hes one of those guys that always paid attention, knew what to do. You put him in there, he was on top of it. As hes gotten more of an opportunity to play, hes really shown that he communicates well, he makes quick decisions, I think he has good football instincts and understands the game whether its in the kicking game or defensively."

There are times Ihedigbo looks like a bumper car desperately in search of a bumpee.An injury timeoutbrought on by No. 44 propelling himself over, into or through a pile is a weekly occurrence. But he does have a grip on what he's doing, said Belichick.

"The kind of guy that you tell him once and he understands it or hell ask a question that's kind of one step ahead of your explanation," Belichick recounted. "Youre explaining something and then hes like, So if this happens, then would you want me to do this? Yeah, exactly, that would be the next thing to go to. Hes kind of thinking one step ahead like that. Hes been a real good addition to this team."

In addition to growing on the field in the regular defense and perhaps carving out a long-term future, Ihedigbo's simply a solid, likeable, communicative, honest guy.

Players reared in the Patriots' system have a leeriness of being candid. Probably because they've seen the stray nail that sticks up too high get pounded down by Belichick's hammer.

Ihedigbo didn't get the memo when he got to town. Interestingly, Belichick doesn't seem to care.

"I would say along the lines of Brian Waters, Andre Carter, Ihedigbo, are guys that have come onto this team from other teams that have showed a high degree of leadership as well as just being able to do their job, have some flexibility, throw different things at them but they can handle it, they can process it, it doesnt phase them, theyre able to make adjustments either quickly or in their role whatever it happens to be and approach the game with very professional and attitude," Belichick pointed out.

Interestingly, all three have been excellent at articulating the game and team's mindset to reporters in the locker room all year. Maybe it has something to do with their being brought up in other systems. Some of the most candid players in years gone by - Rodney Harrison and Mike Vrabel, for instance - started their careers elsewhere. Why that would be, I don't know. But they all exude confidence.

"Theyre well prepared, theyre calm under pressure," Belichick said of the Carter, Waters, Ihedigbo troika. "They can handle things flying around in a game that are different or a little bit unsettling but theyre able to handle those . . . When youve been through a year with a player, going through all the situations that you go through, you really appreciate that. I would say similar things about all three of those guys that we didnt know that we now know and I have a real appreciation for it."

Tyler Thornburg wants a normal spring, but don't be surprised if it's bumpy

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Tyler Thornburg wants a normal spring, but don't be surprised if it's bumpy

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Don’t confuse the goal of a normal spring training with the likelihood one will follow.

Tyler Thornburg’s time with the Red Sox has been an ordeal. He’s optimistic he can have a regular spring training after undergoing surgery to treat thoracic outlet syndrome in June, a surgery that included the removal of a rib which is now on display at his parents’ house. 

He said Saturday, in fact, there’s a “very good chance” of a normal spring. But there’s also a chance his build up to regular-season form runs unevenly. And that would be OK.

“I started throwing Oct. 2, that’s when they kind of gave me the go-ahead to go tossing,” Thornburg said Saturday at Winter Weekend. “So I’ve been building up slowly since then, just trying to make sure we don’t have any setbacks or things like that, and ramp it up at a good pace. I’m throwing at 120-140 feet, so it’s about the pace I’d normally be on, granted I’d know 100 percent before where I was [under normal circumstances]. So things could be a little different."

Consider a few other things Thornburg said Saturday at Foxwoods.

“I don’t really think any of us really know how quick I’m going to bounce back necessarily as far as how quickly the recovery’s going to go in spring training after an outing,” Thornburg said. “But hopefully I mean it’s fantastic, and we can kind of just keep going.”

A bit of natural uncertainty. He missed an entire season, and the reason he missed an entire season is had a lot going on medically. 

What appeared to be a shoulder injury was far from your usual, say, rotator cuff matter. His was a nerve issue.

“Two of the neck muscles were incredibly hypertrophied, like overgrown, and they just started squeezing on the brachial plexus, where all the nerves run down,” Thornburg said. “I’d be sitting there watching a game and just a nerve thing would hit me and I’d almost get knocked over by it. As well as the first rib was getting pulled up and my hand would just turn red some days if I was just standing there, cutting off the blood circulation. Then all the scar tissue and buildup along the nerves they had to go and dissect all that off there.”

So the injury wasn’t simple, and now, the recovery process is really a whole body matter. 

"There’s a lot off things your arm has to get used to between using different muscles, as well as my arm was kind of working through a scenario where it was trying to overcompensate for this and [trying] to relieve that,” Thornburg said. “So just worked a different way. Now your body has to remember how to actually properly work again. It’s a lot of neuromuscular stuff.”

Thornburg noted the possibility too he could be ready to go to start the season but not really ready to go back to back yet. Would the Sox then carry him on the big league roster, or continue to build him up elsewhere? 

Velocity won’t be there right away for Thornburg, he said: “But I mean that’s what spring training is for for most guys anyway.”

There’s a lot of optimism, but naturally, there’s a lot to be seen. 

“The rehab process, it's been a massive rollercoaster,” Thornburg said. “It really has. But I mean, I've been trying to take it week to week which has been a lot easier. There's the good days and bad days, just different kinds.”

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Former Patriot Mike Vrabel named head coach of the Tennessee Titans

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Former Patriot Mike Vrabel named head coach of the Tennessee Titans

The Titans job was rumored to be the first pick of Josh McDaniels, but as details have come to light, that is not the case.

The Tennessee Titans have agreed to hire former Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel as their Head Coach tonight.

The team publicly announced the hire tonight across all of their social media platforms.

Vrabel won the Super Bowl with the Patriots three times in the early years of the New England dynasty. 

Despite having limited experience as a coach, he has attracted much attention in this past offseason for openings across the NFL. He has just one season's experience as a coordinator. 

Vrabel steps in to fill the role of Mike Mularkey, who was fired just one night after many believed he was receiving an extension. Despite the rumor of the extension, Mularkey and the Titans agreed to part ways just one day later.

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