Free agency is two weeks away. In my experience, the Patriots are habitually (and maniacally) secretive about what their plans are. But that won't slow speculation, which morphs to rumor and then metastasizes to fact. In anticipation of that reality, let's take a look at Mario Williams. In a blog entry by ESPN's Mike Sando on Tuesday, the possibility of the Patriots making a play for Williams was broached. Matt Williamson, who works for Scouts, Inc., said with an air of certainty that, when it comes to suitors for Mario Williams, "Jacksonville has a chance and New England will be really involved."I can't call BS on that because I don't know that it definitively is. But I do know the number of folksable to tell Williamson that with assuredness would fit in a sedan. Where does it make sense for the Patriots to make a run at Williams? He's a 27-year-old that checks in at 6-6, 285 pounds. He's a 4-3 defensive end that played outside linebacker for the Texans when they made the switch to 3-4. He's got 53 sacks in 82 career games. He's a solid character guy. When Julius Peppers -- the closest comp to Williams in the league -- was available as a free agent, New England got in on Peppers with a tepid offer that eventually got blown away by the Bears. Still, they did make inquiries. The Patriots' most impactful defender on their front is Vince Wilfork. He is closer to the end of his career than the beginning and -- while there's still a lot of good football left -- Williams would be a strong complement. Williams should help the entire defense which, in turn, would take pressure off the Patriots offense which has been their bread-and-butter for too long. It would reduce pressure on Tom Brady having to be so fine and change the identity of their team. Possibly. And why might the Patriots not be down with the idea of Mario Williams? Since the Patriots got burned with the Adalius Thomas signing they've been skittish about going in deep for free agents. Can't imagine Leigh Bodden's performance after getting paid makes them that much more anxious either. Williams has been hurt each of the past two seasons playing a total of 18 games. Given he will command a contract approaching the most lucrative in NFL history, is that something the Patriots want to risk? A big play for Williams in which they outbid everyone goes against their principals. Again, back to AD. The Patriots went off the board in signing him in 2007 and it worked out as poorly as it possibly could. Unless Williams is interested in signing for less, it's hard to imagine the Patriots being "really involved" as Williamson predicted.
The injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Dolphins game:
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
C David Andrews (illness)
OT Marcus Cannon (ankle)
WR Chris Hogan (shoulder)
TE Martellus Bennett (shoulder/hamstring)
WR Danny Amendola (knee)
DT Malcom Brown (ankle)
S Patrick Chung (ankle)
CB Eric Rowe (groin)
WR Matthew Slater (hamstring)
OFF INJURY LIST
QB Tom Brady (Achilles)
TE Rob Gronkowski (illness)
G Jermon Bushrod (foot)
DE William Hayes (back)
QB Jay Cutler (concussion)
T Laremy Tunsill (illness)
LB Stephone Anthony (quadriceps)
S Maurice Smith (illness)
OFF INJURY LIST
RB Senorise Perry (knee)
S Michael Thomas (knee)
DT Ndamukong Suh (not injury related)
BOSTON – The Bruins always hope to give their fans something good in their annual matinee on the day after Thanksgiving, and that was the case Friday.
They got off on the right foot with a great first period, then finished with an electric breakaway from David Pastrnak in the third period, and posted an entertaining, solid 4-3 win over the back-to-back Stanley Cup champ Pittsburgh Penguins at TD Garden.
Pastrnak’s 11th goal of the season was the game-winner. The Penguins had battled back from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits and tied the score, then Pastrnak was freed up by a brilliant neutral-zone pass from Riley Nash. He sped in all alone and flipped the puck over Matt Murray’s glove hand at 5:06 of the third.
David Krejci and Sean Kuraly had opened things up with goals in the first period, as the B's outshot the Penguins by a 14-4 margin. But Sidney Crosby and the Pens answered back in the second with three goals of their own, including a controversial game-tying score from Sid the Kid after Boston had moved ahead 3-1 on a goal from Charlestown native Matt Grzelcyk.
The Crosby goal came after it appeared the refs had called play dead with a whistle as the puck sat on Anton Khudobin’s waist in the crease. It also appeared to have been goalie interference, as Crosby’s stick had made contact with Khudobin while the puck was in mid-air. But on replay the officials overturned the call of no-goal on the ice, and the score was tied 3-3 after two.
That set things up for Pastrnak, who snapped a five-game goal-scoring stretch, and handed the red-hot Bruins their season-high fourth win in a row.