Red Sox

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Never been to England. And, as someone who's spoken English for most of my 44-plus years (with intervals of infancy, French classes and inebriation being the main exceptions), I look forward to witnessing first-hand the condescension of snaggle-toothed Brits. Wrong attitude going in? Yeah. I'll work on that.

Devin McCourty's got safety skills. And while he may be the team's best corner, he's average (and too often below average out there) at the position and the gap between he and the guys behind him is small enough to make it a negligible difference.

Additionally, he's also the team's best safety - ball skills when the play is in front of him, excellent range, good size and a willingness to hit. He's wasted on the perimeter while the team is trying to find someone to button down the downfield support.

After the Patriots' first fourth quarter drive went south on Sunday, you could hear the boos at Gillette. Which is fine since an ongoing issue had returned and fans spoke directly to players and coaches that it was unacceptable.

So far, I'd say the addition of Brandon Lloyd has been a positive relative to the production the position got before he came. But he insists on leaving his feet to make catches that he could just as easily run through and part of that may be that he appears completely terrified of contact.

While on the topic of contact, I'll be surprised if Brandon Spikes gets fined for his thunderous hit on Shonn Greene on Sunday. Greene had turned, taken a step and was lowering his helmet himself at Spikes' chest more to initiate contact than defend himself.

As Cam Newton slogs awkwardly through his first true stretch of professional adversity, it's worth pointing out the predraft assessment of Pro Football Weekly expert Nolan Nawrocki that foretold Newton's maturity issues. We're not saying we should throw out the good Newton has done as a player and personality and conclude he is an egomaniacal fraud, but Nawrocki did theorize he might have issues like this and was scorned.

Nick McDonald, Ryan Wendell and Donald Thomas deserve credit for the way they played Sunday against the Jets and Wendell deserves it for his work all year. Very underrated.

I love that Pete Carroll pointed out the hypocrisy of Niners coach Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh was mad that the Seahawks were rough with his wideouts and complained to the league about it; a week earlier, Harbaugh was mad that the Giants had called attention to the grabbiness of defensive lineman Justin Smith.

The conversation about whether or not Tom Brady is aging or declining is incessant. Is he closer to the end of his career than the beginning? Certainly. But can someone show me the plays where he truly looks like a quarterback whose age is getting to him? The ones where he looks old, frail, unable to throw with velocity and afraid to stand in and take a hit while delivering the ball? Show me his unsettledness. Then turn on Aaron Rodgers film and see how often he and every other quarterback in the league gets active in the feet trying to buy time and keep a play alive. The anticipatory dodging of rushers from his blind side? Celebrated when he did it successfully a few years back.

Cheerio!

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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