Patriots

Curran: 42 lines on 21 issues

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Curran: 42 lines on 21 issues

Forty-two lines on 21 topics: I really, really hope I'm wrong because I like Bill O'Brien a lot. But this ain't gonna be pretty at Penn State. This is not a football job. It's a renovation, reclamation, resuscitation of one of America's great programs and the restoration of self-image for the university, its alumni and a region. And Penn State turns its lonely, post-Paterno eyes to a guy they may have never even laid eyes on until O'Brien wasbeingrestrained while screaming at the greatest quarterback of his generation a month ago. Yow. O'Brien's a football coach who's never been a head coach. And he's led the cloistered, monklike existence of a Patriots' assistant in which every syllable is parsed by Bill Belichick for tone and appropriateness. O'Brien serves up organization-approved pablum and non-answers on his conference calls every week. Neither he nor Nick Caserio stray from the Patriots' talking points. This Penn State job? It's everything but football right now and if the school or O'Brien have deluded themselves otherwise (and here's proof they have) then O'Brien's about to be fed into the wood chipper. Fortunately for Penn State, O'Brien is smart as hell, genuine and a terrific communicator. He will present exceedingly well in his introductory press conference, I guarantee that. But this job needs a Tony Dungy-type right now and O'Brien is a fire-and-brimstone football guy who, inevitably, is going to lose patience with the persistence of the media. Unlike what he goes through now, this isn't going to be eight people on a Monday conference callhalf-assedly askingwhy Chad Ochocinco hasn't been a bigger factor. This is NBC, CBS, FOX, CNN, SNL, Jon Stewart, the NYT, the BBC and every other organization with air time and bandwidth to fill and a stomach-turning scandal that is going to go on and on as it moves through the judicial system. Nobody's going to care much about the route tree. And never mind recruiting in a Pennsylvania living room when file footage of Sandusky in his Nittany Lions gear pops on the screen, have you heard the reaction of the football alumni? Said former linebacker Brandon Short: I dont want to be affiliated with the university if they dont choose a Penn State guy because of our standards, our graduation, all the things that have been important . . . its no longer Penn State, so we might as well be in the SEC. They are intent on turning it into a booster culture. Ira Lubert went out and purchased a national title with wrestling and hes under the illusion that he can do that in football. Well, ask (Redskins owner) Dan Snyder about that. Penn State is a family and it is real and if they choose to get rid of Bradley and not hire a Penn State coach, then theyve turned their backs on our entire family. I don't think Bill O'Brien's going to get a fair shake there. But I hope - I really hope - I'm wrong. Meanwhile, as Bill Belichick asked in 2010, "Who's been wrong more than Charlie Casserly." Good question. I'll take the Texans over the Bengals in the first AFC Wild Card game. I'm going with the Broncos over the Steelers in a seismic upset in the second one. In the NFC, Saints rout the Lions. And the Giants take out Atlanta. I think the Saints are playing the best football of anyone right now. Their road to Indy - Detroit, at San Fran and probably at Green Bay - is so hard they won't likely get there, though. A little non-football? Marquis Daniels does curious things on the basketball court for the Celtics. Hoop game for my son's seventh-grade team on the Vineyard on Sunday. Only been over there once in my life and never been to Nantucket (landlubber). Everyone's invited to the Renaissance Patriot Place on Monday at 6:30 p.m. for Comcast SportsNet's pre-playoff party. Food, drink, a Q&A, special guests and the Patriots cheerleaders to count you down to the BCS National Championship game between LSU and Alabama. Last May, after 11 years of minivan driving, we traded that mess in for a pretty nice SUV. We miss the minivan. "She sounds hideous." Favorite commercial these days - in a rout.

Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

None of us thought Johnson Bademosi would be starting this past Sunday at MetLife Stadium against the Jets because -- well -- that’s not what we perceive the 27-year-old to be. He’s a special teamer. It’s how he’s made his mark in the NFL dating back to 2012 with Cleveland. So why would that change in mid-October for a team he’s only been with for six weeks? Because Bademosi is -- and has always been -- intent on proving he’s more than a niche player.

“I see myself as a football player,” he said, “and whatever position they put me in, I’m going to try to be the best because that’s how I operate and who I am as a person. Whether that’s as a cornerback, on special teams, if they ask me to play wildcat quarterback. Whatever…”

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Bill Belichick and his staff asked for Bademosi to go on the field and not come off. He played 73 defensive snaps in addition to his usual core four special teams duties. 

“I felt like I played a whole game,” Bademosi joked, before saying, “I love playing football so I’m going to go out there and empty myself.”

He did just that, getting targeted only two times in the 24-17 win over the Jets. It was hoped that Bademosi would return to his normal specialist role, but with Stephon Gilmore still out with a concussion, it now seems more and more likely that the sixth year pro will have to be an ironman again Sunday night in primetime against the Falcons. Historically, the Pats have defended bigger receivers. That means Bademosi may be responsible for one of the most dangerous players in the league, Julio Jones.

“He’s an amazing player," he said. “We all know what he’s capable of. As a defense, we have to be prepared for him.”

The Pats were on Super Bowl Sunday and Jones still made a couple of ridiculous plays with either Logan Ryan or Eric Rowe in coverage with safety help over the top.

“He’s fast. He’s physical. He can jump. He can run. He’s smart. He’s everything you want in a wide receiver,” said Bademosi without blinking an eye. That’s the kind of confidence you want from a player at that position and facing this type of challenge. 

“You gotta believe in yourself,” he said “ I’m confident in my abilities. I work hard and trust my preparation.”

Being an elite athlete certainly helps. Bademosi was a scholarship football player at Stanford -- “some guy named Jim Harbaugh called” -- before ending up in the NFL. But it’s Bademosi’s willingness to go all in in the film room that impressed safety Devin McCourty. 

“…I think, honestly, the most work he did was probably with just himself jumping into the film, watching more stuff to exactly see,” said McCourty Thursday. “You know, when you’re a backup more, you’re kind of trying to see everything because you don’t know what role you might be thrust upon once you’re in the game. But, I think once he knew he was starting, it was kind of like, ‘Alright, let me focus in on this.’ I thought he did an awesome job of just being ready and competing.”

Bademosi will have to compete his ass off Sunday night, even against what has been to this point a physically compromised Jones. Based on what he did several days ago, there’s no reason to believe the Pats cornerback won’t bring everything he has, trying to prove again that he’s more than just a special teams whiz.

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