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Talib hopes to make most of opportunity with Patriots

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Talib hopes to make most of opportunity with Patriots

FOXBORO -- Aqib Talib smiled wide as he approached his new locker at Gillette Stadium. There was a hoard of media members crowded around, anticipating his arrival.

"I was waiting for it," Talib said of the attention he received. "I knew what was coming. I got the heads up."

The crowd on Sunday at Gillette Stadium will be bigger, and all eyes will be glued to the new Patriots cornerback to see if he will be able to contribute immediately to the team's pass defense, which ranks as the fourth-worst in the league in pass yards allowed per game (285.3).

For his part, Talib wouldn't say what his role will be against the Colts, only that he's ready for anything.

"Just coming in to learn quick as possible," he said. "Work hard and see what I can do to help the team. I'm just coming in and doing what's asked to be done. If that's help right away, I'll help right away. If that's help down the road, I'll help down the road. I'm just coming in, doing what's asked to be done."

One area in which it appears as though he's already up to speed: He has Patriots Speak down pat. Not bad for a player who was only able to have contact with the team starting on Monday after serving a four-game suspension for using performance enhancers.

He was traded from the Buccaneers to the Patriots just before the trade deadline two weeks ago in exchange for a New England fourth-round pick.

Talib said that when he met with coach Bill Belichick, the two did not discuss the 26-year-old's checkered past.

"We kinda just talked straight football," Talib said. "He didn't bring up the past, I didn't bring up the past. He didn't bring up the future, I didn't bring up the future. We're kinda just taking it one day at a time."

His new Patriots teammates have embraced him. Quarterback Tom Brady made a point to introduce himself and offer whatever help he could.

Brady said he's liked what he's seen from Talib in the two practices they've had together.

"Yeah, hes been competing hard out there," Brady said. "Its good work for us. Hes been fun to have out there. Ive had a few conversations with him. Well see. Hopefully he can help."

His defensive teammates hope so, too. And though Talib is still in the process of getting caught up with a new scheme, they think he's capable of chipping in soon.

"I think he'll do a real good job for us," Vince Wilfork said. "Hopefully he will. He's a hell of a player so. We brought him in for a reason and that's to help this ball club. Hopefully he can do that. We got a bunch of good guys in here that want to win and have a passion for this game. Hopefully that shows Sunday and we continue to win because that's what it's about at the end of the day."

"He's come in an he's tried to learn all the schemes," Jerod Mayo said, "and he's studied a lot of film and he's learning the Colts. And that's all you can ask for."

Talib has played a lot of man coverage in his five year career, but he says he's comfortable in zone packages as well. Again, he said whatever the team asks of him, he'll do.

"For a corner, you can almost play for any team," he said. "It's football. You gonna play one of eight coverages. I've done it all before. I'm just doing what's being called out there."

Now the Patriots just need to see if he can be an improvement over some of the other players they've tried in the secondary this season.

Talib's hopeful to make the most of his chance.

"It's a great opportunity with a great organization," he said. "Just to come in and do what I can to help win some ball games."

Rask out tonight as he recovers from practice collision

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Rask out tonight as he recovers from practice collision

BRIGHTON, Mass – The string of injuries for the Bruins continues as Tuukka Rask (upper body) is out for tonight’s game against the Vancouver Canucks at TD Garden after getting trucked by Anders Bjork in practice Wednesday.

Rask was wobbly-legged while being helped off the ice after the violent collision and the 21-year-old Bjork looked like he’d also needed a couple of stitches on his chin after bloodying his practice jersey.

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The big concern is Rask still being evaluated by Bruins medical personnel for a possible concussion. It will be Anton Khudobin stepping in place for him against the Canucks with Providence Bruins netminder Zane McIntyre serving as his backup.

“Tuukka is out tonight. He’s going to get reevaluated today and we’ll have a better idea tomorrow,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Anton will start [against the Canucks].”

Clearly, Khudobin didn’t like seeing his goaltending partner get drilled in a spirited practice, but the 32-year-old is clearly feeling confident after a strong camp and a winning season debut last week against the Arizona Coyotes.

“You don’t want to see that, but at the same time we’ve got to keep moving forward and hopefully he’s going to get better soon,” said Khudobin, who stopped 29-of-31 shots in the win over Arizona last weekend. “I feel good. Camp was good and everything is fine, and I’ve started better than last year. My role is just day-to-day. Today is a game day and hopefully, you get a good result, and then tomorrow is another new day.”

Otherwise, it looks like the Bruins will at least be getting some of their healthy bodies back with David Backes in the lineup and Patrice Bergeron a game-time decision against the Canucks. Here are the projected line combos and D-pairings based on Wednesday’s practice:

Marchand-Bergeron-Bjork
DeBrusk-Krejci-Pastrnak
Schaller-Kuraly-Backes
Beleskey-Nash-Agostino
 
Chara-McAvoy
Miller-Carlo
Krug-McQuaid

Khudobin 

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Are Red Sox playing a waiting game before naming their new manager?

Are Red Sox playing a waiting game before naming their new manager?

BOSTON — As soon as the American League Championship Series ends, the Red Sox could make a move for their manager.

Industry sources continue to expect Astros bench coach Alex Cora will be the Sox’ pick. No offer had been officially made as of midday Wednesday, one source close to the situation said. But the belief is such an offer waits out of respect to the Astros-Yankees ALCS that can end no later than Saturday if the series goes a full seven games. 

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“Not a doubt it is him,” the source said.

Sunday and Monday would both be off days ahead of the Tuesday night start of the World Series. That leads to the potential for at least a Red Sox announcement of Cora, if not a press conference, before the Fall Classic begins. (If the Astros advance to the World Series, it may be harder to have Cora in Boston for any length of time.)

All those who know Cora praise his ability to connect with players. The former Red Sox infielder is good friends with Dustin Pedroia. Cora’s previous knowledge of the Boston market works in his favor, as well, as does his mettle handling the media. Some question his readiness as a first-time manager, considering he would be taking over a team with great win-now expectations and complicated clubhouse dynamics.

Nothing takes the place of experience and there is such a thing as being too close to players. Ultimately, if the Sox do land Cora, 41, they would be adding the hottest up-and-coming managerial prospect who’s available on the market. The everybody-wants-him reputation could give Cora added cachet with players and certainly becomes a public-relations win for those fans following the search.

The Sox interviewed Ron Gardenhire on Wednesday. Gardenhire was the third candidate the Sox talked to and could well be the last. Cora met with the Sox on Sunday, followed by Brad Ausmus on Monday.