Patriots

Wakeup Call: Red Sox seeking relief from Hanrahan?

966763.jpg

Wakeup Call: Red Sox seeking relief from Hanrahan?

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Thursday, December 20:

BASEBALL
Joel Hanrahan to Boston? Guess a failed attempt with one small-market closer hasn't scared off the Red Sox from pursuing another. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

Mark Schlereth's son Daniel is now an Oriole. (CSN Baltimore)

And Kendry Morales is now a Mariner. (AP)

Steve Sax is back, as an Arizona coach. (AP)

Someone really ought to explain to Gregg Zaun that a) he's 41 years old, so b) women young enough to be his daughter probably aren't going to dazzled by his bar banter. (CSN Baltimore)

BOXING
Justin Bieber may have closed out the Philippine market for himself by mocking Manny Pacquiao for his loss to Juan Manuel Marquez. (NBC's Off The Bench)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
I can't imagine the news that the Big East is reaching out to Fresno State and UNLV prompted any "Gee, maybe we ought to rethink this leaving thing" musings from the Catholic 7. (NBC's College Football Talk)

Rick Barnes won't comment about it, so there's probably fire behind that the-NCAA-is-about-to-suspend-Myck Kabongo smoke. (AP)

The first coaching matchup between Rick Pitino and his son, Richard, ended up in a 24-point victory for Papa. (AP)

Would you believe Duke led Cornell by just 28-26 late in the first half? Not if you only saw the 88-47 final, you wouldn't. (AP)

Things were a lot quieter this year as Cincinnati beat Xavier. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Hmm. Now the Chip Kelly-might-leave-Oregon whispers start to make some sense. (NBC's College Football Talk)

But Browns running back Trent Richardson -- who played for Nick Saban at Alabama -- says the Saban-to-Cleveland whispers don't. Make sense, that is. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

Notre Dame's undefeated season earned Brian Kelly some hardware. (AP)

New Boston College coach Steve Addazio chooses his coordinators. (College Football Talk)

Two of the accused plead out in the assault case against Wisconsin running back Montee Ball, and avoid jail time as a result. (AP)

GOLF
Colin Montgomerie and Ken Schofield are the newest members of the World Golf Hall of Fame. (AP)

HOCKEY
Donald Fehr says the players would love to be negotiating, but the owners don't want to. (AP)

But despite the fact that his side seems to have no interest in ever going back to the table, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly thinks there'll still be a season. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

How's that supposed to happen, Bill, if the two sides aren't talking to each other? (CSN Chicago)

So we're with you, Chuck Gormley, when you say you just don't get it. (CSN Washington)

Meanwhile, Evander Kane is the latest NHLPA member to make an idiot of himself on Twitter, as the players do all they can to melt whatever public support they have. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

PRO BASKETBALL
Big Baby hurts his shoulder in the Magic's win over the Wizards. They'll find out today how bad it is, but J.J. Redick said Davis looked "worried" as he left the locker room. (AP)

'Melo and the Knicks show the Nets who's boss. (AP)

When a team struggles people tend to heap blame on the star, under the "He's supposed to be so good but we're still losing, so he must not be that good" justification. But is Kobe Bryant really the Lakers' problem? (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

The winning continues in Oklahoma City -- actually in Atlanta, which is where they played last night -- as the Thunder made it 12 in a row. (AP)

And in Los Angeles, where the Clippers' 11th straight victory actually prompted a "Hip, hip hooray!" chant in the locker room from owner Donald Sterling. (AP)

Dirk Nowitzki participated in his first full practice since undergoing knee surgery and hopes to return to the Mavs "after Christmas". (AP)

PRO FOOTBALL
Now that the Jets have decided to bench Mark Sanchez, what do they do with him? Well, they're not quite sure. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

And what to do with Tim Tebow, who says he's "disappointed" that Rex Ryan turned to Greg McElroy instead of him as Sanchez' replacement? (AP)

Their NFC West showdown is still days away, but old antagonists Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll are at it again. (CSN Bay Area)

Hey, at least they're both saving a stamp this holiday season. (CSN Bay Area)

RGIII's back at practice . . (CSN Washington)

. . . but he's 10,000 lighter, thanks to his postgame attire last Sunday. (CSN Washington)

Looking for someone to blame for the Ravens' recent slide? Joe Flacco points to himself. (CSN Baltimore)

But Bernard Pollard's not buying it. He thinks everyone's at fault. (CSN Baltimore)

Still, Ray Rice thinks the 2011 version of the team the Ravens are playing Sunday -- the Giants -- should serve as their inspiration here in 2012. (CSN Baltimore)

Brandon Marshall's the latest to play the "What I meant was . . . " game. (CSN Chicago)

Ben Roethlisberger, meanwhile, is playing the "If I didn't have anything nice to say, I shouldn't have said anything at all" version. (AP)

Arian Foster says "thank you" to the offensive linemen who block for him by giving each of them a Segway. (CSN Houston)

Patrick Peterson gives himself a pretty good scouting report. (Pro Football Talk)

The Colts hope to have Chuck Pagano back on the sideline for their Dec. 30 season finale against the Texans. (AP)

And the Saints -- or at least Drew Brees -- are confident they'll have Sean Payton back on the sidelines next year, even though the Cowboys may come calling. (AP)

No one expects Norv Turner to be back on the Chargers' sidelines in 2013, and he says he'll be content to be some someone's coordinator if he gets the axe. (AP)

Eric Wood speaks for many of the Bills when he calls their "home" games in Toronto "a joke" . . . though there was nothing funny about Buffalo's 50-17 loss to the Seahawks last Sunday at the Rogers Centre. (AP)

Vikings hold off Lions 30-23 to extend win streak to 7

minnesota-vikings-case-keenum-112317.jpg

Vikings hold off Lions 30-23 to extend win streak to 7

DETROIT = Case Keenum threw for two touchdowns and ran for a score in the first half to give the Minnesota Vikings a double-digit lead and they went on to win a seventh straight game, 30-23 over the Lions in the traditional Thanksgiving Day game in Detroit. Click here to read more. 

Pats can find reasons for thanks everywhere

Pats can find reasons for thanks everywhere

The Patriots hit Thanksgiving with an 8-2 record, a stranglehold on first place in the AFC East, and a rest-of-the-season schedule -- save for the much-anticipated meeting with the Steelers on Dec. 17 -- almost bereft of quality opponents. So they have a lot to be thankful for.

But here are some things you may not be aware of . . . 

SURGICAL-GRADE DIPPED LATEX TUBING

Whoever came up with the stuff Tom Brady's resistance bands are made out of -- it's actually "surgical-grade dipped latex tubing sheathed in ballistic nylon," according to the TB12 website -- probably deserves a tip of the cap from the entire region. The 40-year-old uses the bands extensively as part of his training regimen, and he currently leads the league in passing yards, yards per attempt, quarterback rating, rating under pressure and touchdown-to-interception ratio. 

SUSAN SCARNECCHIA

Offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia was retired just a couple of years ago. He traveled. He spent time with his grandchildren. Then the Patriots called. After some time to think about it -- and after talking it over with his wife Susan -- Scarnecchia opted to come back after two years away from the game. At 69 years old, he's helped this year's unit overcome some early-season struggles, and he still seems to be on top of his game. Think the Patriots are happy he had his wife's blessing to jump back in? 

ELECTRONIC TABLETS

You weren't expecting this, were you? Bill Belichick has said he's not a fan . . . but that's on game days. "I’m done with the tablets," he said last year. "I’ve given them as much time as I can give them. They’re just too undependable for me." But when it comes to players using tablets on their own time? They're incredibly useful. Whereas years ago players would have to come into the facility early or stay late in order to watch extra film, now they can study from the comfort of their own homes, on a team flight, or while riding in a car (as long as they aren't driving). For teams that have players who want to be over-prepared, having access to all-22 video at any time can be an advantage. 

DR. ROBERT WATKINS

Who's this, you ask? He's the Los Angeles-based back specialist who operated on Rob Gronkowski's back last year. He operated on the big tight end in 2009 and 2013, and his latest procedure seems to be holding up as well as possible. Gronkowski quickly regained his strength and athleticism, and he continues to be his team's most dynamic offensive weapon. He has 41 catches for 619 yards and five scores this season, and he's been used extensively as a blocker in the running game and in pass protection. Gronkowski deserves credit -- as does the Patriots medical, training and nutrition staffs -- for being so effective in his return to the field, but the Patriots are probably thankful that last year's back surgery went as well as it did.  

FLOWERS CONSTRUCTION COMPANY

Trey Flowers has been arguably his team's most dependable defender this season. According to Pro Football Focus, he's been on the field for 606 snaps, which is fourth among edge defenders. His 338 pass-rush snaps are second among 4-3 defensive ends, per PFF. He's played through injury at times, and he's remained productive. Against the Raiders he had three quarterback hits and three hurries. So why would the Patriots be thankful for Flowers Construction Co.? That's the Huntsville, Alabama company run by Flowers' father, Robert, who put Trey to work when he was growing up. The work ethic he learned on-site has helped him go from a fourth-round pick who lost most of his rookie season to injury into a playing-time iron man and one of the team's most reliable defenders.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE