Patriots

Panthers trading Ealy, signing Peppers worked better for them than for Patriots

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Panthers trading Ealy, signing Peppers worked better for them than for Patriots

FOXBORO -- In hindsight, know who would have been a bomb-ass signing for the Patriots during the offseason? Julius Peppers. 

That’s not exactly an earth-shattering take, as the Patriots are no strangers to signing stars at the end of their careers and Peppers is still a damn good player. With the Patriots’ questions on defense, the failed Kony Ealy experiment -- which is directly tied to Peppers -- and Cassius Marsh still finding his way, the 37-year-old Peppers would look pretty good on the roster right about now. Oh well. 

After three years in Green, Peppers returned home to Carolina on a one-year, $3.5 million deal. It was a move that reunited the North Carolina native with the team that drafted him second overall in 2002, an organization with which the future Hall of Famer went to a Super Bowl and was a multiple-time All-Pro. 

Through three games back with the Panthers, Peppers has 2.5 sacks. He’s averaged 10 sacks a season since 2008 and hasn’t had fewer than seven in that span. The Pats will see him Sunday.

“He’s been very productive for Carolina, then up in the NFC North and then back in Carolina again,” Bill Belichick said Friday. “They’ve used him a little bit inside, but he’s not only good defensively, he’s very good at blocking kicks, he’s a great field goal rusher."

Added Belichick: “He’s long, he’s very athletic. In some schemes, I’m sure he could play linebacker, could play outside linebacker. You talk about that kind of athlete, for as big as he is, as athletic as he is.”

The Panthers had Ealy and chose to discard him in favor of signing the aging Peppers. Carolina traded the 25-year-old Ealy, whom they chose 60th overall in 2014, to the Pats in a trade that moved the Panthers up eight spots from the early third round to the late second. Ealy didn’t make it through training camp with the Pats, as he was released and picked up by the Jets. Safe to say the Panthers' decision to sign Peppers and deal Ealy has worked better for them than it has for the Pats. 

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: 'Incomprehensible' to expect same greatness from Patriots?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: 'Incomprehensible' to expect same greatness from Patriots?

0:43 - Tom Curran, Kayce Smith, and Michael Holley talk about Bill Belichick saying it’s “incomprehensible” that people expect the Patriots to be on the same level as last year at this point in the season.

11:55 - Tom Giles, Kayce Smith, and Michael Holley discuss J.R. Smith’s comments about the Celtics not being a threat to the Cavaliers.

15:38 - Abby Chin, Chris Mannix, and A. Sherrod Blakely join BST from Cleveland to talk about Marcus Smart and the Celtics failing to agree to a contract extension, making him a restricted free agent in July. They also preview Tuesday’s Celtics-Cavaliers season opener.

19:25 - Reports say Alex Cora is the frontrunner for the Red Sox managerial position, but Brad Ausmus interviewed for the position on Monday. Who is the right man for the job? Tom Giles and Michael Holley discuss.

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Titans end 11-game skid to Colts with 36-22 win

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MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Titans end 11-game skid to Colts with 36-22 win

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Marcus Mariota threw a 53-yard touchdown pass to Taywan Taylor with 5:29 left , and the Tennessee Titans beat the Indianapolis Colts 36-22 on Monday night to snap an 11-game skid tied for the NFL's longest active losing streak against one team.

Mariota didn't move around much on a cool night after missing a game with a strained left hamstring, but still managed to throw for a season-high 306 yards. He completed each of his three passes on the drive that ended with Taylor's tiebreaking score.

The Titans (3-3) also snapped a two-game skid with the win.

Jacoby Brissett tried to rally the Colts (2-4) to a second straight overtime. But Titans linebacker Wesley Woodyard forced Brissett out of bounds shy of the first down marker on fourth-and-inches with 2:19 left. Coach Chuck Pagano lost his challenge.

Derrick Henry then clinched the win for Tennessee with a 72-yard TD run with 47 seconds left. Henry, the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner, finished with a career-high 131 yards on 19 carries. DeMarco Murray also scored.

The Titans looked like the NFL's worst scoring defense in the first half instead of Indianapolis, with Brissett directing the Colts to a 13-9 halftime lead. John Simon then intercepted Mariota's first pass of the third quarter and returned it 26 yards for a TD.

But the Titans forced the Colts to go three-and-out on three of their first four drives of the second half, and Avery Williamson stripped tight end Jack Doyle of the ball after a catch.

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