Patriots

Sean Payton hires a new def. coordinator

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Sean Payton hires a new def. coordinator

From Comcast SportsNetMETAIRIE, La. (AP) -- Saints coach Sean Payton has chosen Rob Ryan as his new defensive coordinator, hoping New Orleans can overhaul a unit that was historically bad last season.Ryan, the brother of New York Jets coach Rex Ryan, spent the past two seasons as Dallas' defensive coordinator. He was fired after last season, when his defense ranked 19th."We have experience in preparing and playing against his defenses and they've always been challenging in terms of the different looks and pressures that they feature," Payton said when Ryan's hiring was announced Saturday, one day after he interviewed for the job. "We've had the chance to visit with each other and talk about our visions for our team and I'm excited about moving forward as we prepare for the 2013 season."In 2010, Ryan was Cleveland's defensive coordinator when the Browns beat the Saints in the Superdome 30-17, intercepting passes by Drew Brees four times. One of those interceptions was made by linebacker Scott Fujita, who had been a captain of New Orleans' defense a season earlier and had helped Ryan prepare and execute the game plan against the Saints.Payton said he also has added Stan Kwan as an assistant special teams coach. Kwan has been an NFL assistant 23 years, the past three as special teams assistant in Buffalo."Stan is a veteran coach that understands all nuances of the special teams game," Payton said. "He has a wealth of knowledge and I believe he will be a good fit."Just days after returning from his season-long suspension in connection with the NFL's investigation of the Saints' cash-for-hits bounty program, Payton fired defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and said he would switch New Orleans' defensive scheme from a 4-3 alignment (four down linemen, three linebackers) to a 3-4. The Saints yielded 7,042 yards last season, the worst single-season total in NFL history.Ryan has run 3-4 schemes for years. He worked as a linebacker coach in such defenses in New England, where he was part of two Super Bowl-winning teams. He then spent five seasons as defensive coordinator in Oakland (2004-2008), followed by two seasons in Cleveland before moving to Dallas in 2011.Now the 50-year-old Ryan takes his fourth defensive coordinator job since 2004 while becoming Payton's fourth defensive coordinator since 2006."I have had the opportunity to get to know Sean Payton and his staff a bit better recently and I am excited about joining the team," Ryan said in a statement provided by the Saints. "I'm ready to get to work on all facets of the game. This is a great opportunity and we're getting started right away."When Payton took over as head coach in 2006, New Orleans had a 4-3 scheme overseen by Gary Gibbs, who was fired after the 2008 season. In 2009, Payton brought in Gregg Williams, whose hybrid scheme used a 4-3 base alignment but switched to a 3-4 in certain situations, usually on passing downs in order to help disguise which player might be blitzing.Williams left after the 2011 season, and months later was suspended along with Payton, general manager Mickey Loomis and Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in connection with the league's bounty probe.The NFL said Williams ran the bounty pool and gave him an indefinite suspension. He was reinstated this past week and hired as a top defensive coach by Tennessee.Williams has long proclaimed himself a disciple of Buddy Ryan, who was the defensive coordinator of the Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears in 1985 and later served as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals.Williams often spoke of wanting his defenses to be "nasty" and used mottos like "defenses are respected when they're feared."Now, a little more than a year after letting go of Williams, Payton has brought in the son of Williams' mentor.Rob Ryan got his start in the NFL on his father's Arizona staff in 1994. He later spent three seasons as defensive coordinator at Oklahoma State before returning to the NFL with New England, under Bill Belichick, in 2000.

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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Kenny Agostino looking forward to 'the right opportunity' with the Bruins

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Kenny Agostino looking forward to 'the right opportunity' with the Bruins

BRIGHTON, Mass – It’s been a few different stints with a few different NHL teams for 25-year-old Kenny Agostino, so he knows the drill at this point in his pro hockey career. The Bruins signed Agostino as a free agent on July 1 after he led the AHL in scoring last season, and they gave him a one-way contract as a show of proof that he’d get his chances at the NHL level.

It didn’t happen immediately out of camp as Agostino was felled by a concussion for part of the preseason, but he’ll get his chance now with injuries and ineffectiveness creating an opening for him on the Black and Gold. Agostino should get a look as the left winger on the third line after lighting it up in Providence with two goals and seven points in his first three games with the P-Bruins, and he’s looking forward to seizing another chance at the NHL level after stints with the Flames and Blues. 

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“I’ve been doing this a few years and I like to think I’ve developed my game outside of my offensive ability,” said the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Agostino, who had 24 goals and 83 points for the Chicago Wolves last season. “That’s kind of been my goal to become more of a complete player. I’m excited and looking forward to another opportunity and just want to make the most of it. I’m not looking past tonight.

“I was fortunate as a college guy to get my first pro experience at the NHL level in Calgary, but then you understand how difficult it is to establish yourself. You need a lot of different things. You need the right opportunity and you need to do well with it, so it makes you appreciate how great of an opportunity it is anytime you get to play in this league.”

Certainly, the Bruins are anxious to get a look at Agostino, and probably Peter Cehlarik at some point soon, and the lack of production from some of the NHL incumbents have fast-forwarded that process a little bit. Agostino will replace Ryan Spooner along the half-wall on the first power play unit, and perhaps he can add the kind of scoring touch in the bottom-6 that Matt Beleskey and Frank Vatrano haven’t been able to thus far.

“We know Kenny is going to start in Spooner’s power play spot, he’s done it before and he’s had some success at the lower levels when given that opportunity. Obviously he’ll play left behind [Brad] Marchand and [Jake] DeBrusk, probably on the third line spot,” said Cassidy. “He’s played with [Riley] Nash yesterday [at practice] so there’s a good chance he’ll play with him today.”

The Bruins certainly need a spark after limping out to a 2-3-0 start to the season in the first five games, so perhaps a hungry Agostino can do that while being given a legit chance to show what he can do by the Black and Gold.