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Watt, Foster only part of Houston 'problem'

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Watt, Foster only part of Houston 'problem'

There are two players people always mention when jawing about the Texans.
One, on defense, is J.J. Watt.
Nobody in the NFL had more sacks in the regular season than Watt's 20.5. Throw in 16 passes defensed, four forced fumbles, and 42 quarterback hits, and you've got a guy who can really disrupt offenses.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick knows it as well as anyone else. He also knows it takes more than one player to make a Top 10 defense.
"Hes a great player, dont get me wrong. Hes made more big plays than probably anybody defensively this year in the league," he said. "But Antonio Smith, Brooks Reed, Connor Barwin, Whitney Mercilus, they have a lot of other good players too. Watt is a focal point on that defense no question, but you cant ignore the other guys either, theyre all part of the problem."
On the other side of the ball is Arian Foster.
The Texans running back led the AFC in carries (351) and touchdowns (15), and was second in yards (1,424) during the 2012 regular season.Another tremendously talented player for Houston; another "problem." But again, to Belichick, Foster is important as a key cog within the larger machine.
"Not only the yards that he gains but how the running game controls the game for them, how it sets up their play-action passes, how it puts them in third-and-short situations. Theres no question that hes the key guy for Houston and their offense, but his production also complements the other players as well and the other parts of the game.
"Hes playing behind three Pro Bowl guys on the offensive line with Chris Myers, Wade Smith and Duane Brown. I think he also does a good job of making yards on his own and hes got good blockers in front of him. There are a number of problems they present offensively: the quarterback, the tight ends, big receivers, a great receiver in Andre Johnson, strong running game, good offensive line, theyre well coached theyre very good in all those areas."
Belichick got specific when spreading the love around.
Tight end Garrett Graham, out with a concussion in Week 14, is another body Houston will have at its disposal on Sunday. His numbers (28 catches for 263 yards and three touchdowns) aren't impressive on their own, but just having him on the field multiplies the Texans offense.
"I think one thing is it gives them the opportunity to put three offensive weapons on the field at once. Thats something they really werent able to do in our game. The difference between Graham and fullback James Casey tight end Owen Daniels is out there most of the time but Graham and Casey, theyre both good players and they complement each other too. They can have all of them out of there together or they can pick one or the other and use their strengths.
"It gives them more weapons and theyre able to change up some of their looks or change up their personnel groupings and get them all out there together. Theyre all good players so its a different matchup, one we prepared for in our first game, we just didnt get it."
Preparing for every possibility is truly the problem.

Morning Skate: Golden Knights happy to get Malcolm Subban back

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Morning Skate: Golden Knights happy to get Malcolm Subban back

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while watching old Super Friends episodes with my 4-year-old on a Saturday morning.

*Has anybody ever been as excited to get a healthy Malcolm Subban back in the lineup as the Vegas Golden Knights are this weekend? Pro Hockey Talk is asking the question, and I think I can honestly answer with a resounding “No.” We’ll see if he’s actually worth all the excitement, but obviously, he’s better than what the injury-plagued Golden Knights had in the interim.

*The Buffalo Sabres continue to get very little return for any of the investments they’ve made in the team over the last couple of years.

*Ryan Suter knows what it takes to remain among the NHL defenseman workhorses in the NHL, and he is consistently there year in and year out.

*Dustin Brown has been a resurgent performer for the Los Angeles Kings this season and is one of the big storylines behind their turnaround.

*The Detroit Red Wings are beginning to more openly adopt Jeff Blashill’s speed game, but the question is how much that will pay dividends for them.

*For something completely different: Good piece in the Boston Globe about Danny Ainge’s relationship with recently passed Red Sox great Bobby Doerr.

 

Kyrie goes back to the mask tonight

Kyrie goes back to the mask tonight

The mask will be back tonight in Atlanta for Kyrie Irving.

The Celtics guard told reporters at the team's shootaround Saturday in preparation for Saturday night's game against the Hawks - where Boston will try and win its 15th in a row - that he'll grudgingly go back to wearing the clear plastic facemask he had been using to protect a facial fracture he suffered last week. 

Irving wore the mask against Brooklyn for a full game earlier in the week then ditched it in the second half of the victory over the Golden State Warriors on Thursday. He shot just 4-for-16 from the field (1-for-5 on 3's) against the Warriors and has made no secret of his disdain for wearing it.  

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