Patriots

Hasselbeck: 'A surprise' if Luck doesn't start vs. Patriots

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Hasselbeck: 'A surprise' if Luck doesn't start vs. Patriots

Quarterback controversy? In Indianapolis? With the Colts? Don’t be ridiculous. Despite the Colts thriving under the guidance of 40-year old Matt Hasselbeck the last two games, the organization will turn back to the franchise, Andrew Luck, the moment he shows he’s capable of shrugging off the shoulder injury that’s kept him on the sidelines.

“If he’s (Luck) ready to go, we’ll put him out there,” said head coach Chuck Pagano. “That’s as far as I’ll say on that. He’s a great communicator. We’ve got great docs and great trainers working with him. When he’s ready, we’re going to put him out there.”

Luck practiced on Wednesday on a limited basis. At least limited according to the Colts injury report. But not to Hasselbeck.

“He seemed great. he seemed himself," said the backup quarterback. "As far as I know, he was a full participant. I think, It'd would be a surprise if he didn’t start.”

Reminded that he said the same thing last week, Hasselbeck, the former Boston College star, smiled at his questioner before responding, “I did say that last week, but the first thing I said is I’m not an expert in this field, it’s not my job to evaluate him. Just giving you an amateur opinion.”

In the brief time the Colts media was allowed to watch Luck, they saw him throw up to 30 yards but there was never a “wow, look at that ball sizzle” moment. Maybe that was saved for after the press made it’s way back inside.

“(I) certainly took the next step,” said Luck after the session. “Absolutely. Did more and more and felt better and better. I think I’m on track and so, yes, happy with how it responded.”

“You know, I’m not catching it, so I’d ask the other guys,” said Pagano when questioned about Luck’s overall velocity. “It looks like it’s coming out of his hand good. It’s spinning well, tight spiral and looks good.”

If Luck can’t fight through this shoulder injury, Hasselbeck will be at the ready again. He’s almost fully recovered from the bacterial infection that sent him to a hospital last Tuesday night, just 48 hours before he not only started the game against the Texans, but sliced and diced that defense up for 213 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Hasselbeck is on antibiotics that he’s not enjoying, but unlike last week, his preparation hasn’t been affected.

“Just going to prepare like I always do,” he said. “It was a challenge that (Quarterbacks coach) Clyde Christensen gave us at the beginning of the year, or maybe it was just to me, you should prepare in such a way that if you’re number is called, you really don’t have to do anything extra. It was just great advice.”

Ex-Patriot Chris Long donating his salary to educational equality program

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Ex-Patriot Chris Long donating his salary to educational equality program

PHILADELPHIA - Chris Long is donating the rest of his year's salary to increase educational equality.

The Philadelphia Eagles' defensive end already gave up his first six game checks to provide two scholarships for students in Charlottesville, Virginia. Now, he's using the next 10 to launch the Pledge 10 for Tomorrow campaign.

"My wife and I have been passionate about education being a gateway for upward mobility and equality," Long told The Associated Press. "I think we can all agree that equity in education can help affect change that we all want to see in this country."

Long signed a two-year, $4.5 million contract with the Eagles, including a $500,000 signing bonus and $1.5 million guaranteed. His base salary in 2017 is $1 million.

The charitable initiative encourages people to make donations to improve equal education opportunities. Long began his career in St. Louis in 2008 and played for the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots last season. Long's foundation has selected four organizations whose missions focus on making education easily accessible to underserved youth while also providing students the support they need to develop strong social and emotional character.

The four organizations are based in the three communities in which Long has played during his NFL career. The city that raises the most money during the season will receive an additional $50,000 donation.

"There's a lot of opportunities to help out and they're wonderful organizations," Long said. "We have such a great platform as football players and hopefully fans get behind it."

Long grew up in Charlottesville and starred in high school at St. Anne's-Belfield before going to the University of Virginia. He was moved to start the scholarship program following the violent protests in Charlottesville in August.

"Our hometown is a wonderful place and I feel like people got the wrong idea about what the residents of Charlottesville are all about," he said.

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Gronkowski advises Hayward to treat rehab like anything else -- dominate

Gronkowski advises Hayward to treat rehab like anything else -- dominate

FOXBORO -- Rob Gronkowski's never suffered a break like the one Gordon Hayward did on Tuesday night, but he has been through enough to know what lies ahead as the Celtics forward stares at a lengthy recovery period.

"I saw it. I mean, I wish him nothing but wellness," Gronkowski said on Wednesday. "Hopefully he heals ASAP. You never want to see that with a player in any sport. When my friend showed me that last night, you get that feeling in your body, like, your heart drops. I wish him well.

"I can't wait to see him back. I know he's going to bounce back. Being here in Boston, he's going to be a hard worker it feels like. I can't wait to see him back."

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Multiple back surgeries, a plate in his arm, a surgically-repaired ACL . . . Gronkowski has put in his share of rehabilitation work. Asked if he'd give Hayward any advice as he embarks on his road back to normalcy, Gronkowski's message was simple.

"Just go into rehab just like you go into anything else. Dominate it," Gronkowski said. "Come back when you feel ready. Come back when you're 100 percent . . . He wouldn't be where he is now if he wasn't a hard worker. I don't know the guy. Never met him. But it's not something you want to see as an athlete happen to anyone else."

Gronkowski acknowledged that in his experience, one of the biggest hurdles following an injury like that is the mental one. You quickly go from being a powerful athlete to a patient in need of help with even the smallest of tasks. 

"There is a big mental challenge, definitely, with that," Gronkowski explained. "It's not just not being able to be with your teammates and all that. It's outside of football, too. Because it takes away your whole life, going out like that . . . You can't do anything. You can't walk. You gotta have people do [things for you]. You get really frustrated. You just want the people around you to help you out and keep you in the best mindset throughout the whole process."

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