Bears

...but lose one star player for the year

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...but lose one star player for the year

From Comcast SportsNetFOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) -- Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski needs surgery on his broken left arm, a person with knowledge of the injury told The Associated Press.Gronkowski was injured on the Patriots' eighth offensive play of Sunday's 41-28 victory over Houston. He previously missed five regular-season games and is done for these playoffs.The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not released details of the injury."I'm not sure," coach Bill Belichick said after the game when asked if Gronkowski had broken his arm.Asked if Gronkowski had been taken to a hospital, Belichick said, "Look, I just walked off the field."He also said "he wouldn't have played if he wasn't ready" and that "the doctors handle the medical decisions."The Patriots also lost running back Danny Woodhead for the game when he hurt his thumb carrying the ball on their first offensive play. The club provided no update on his condition.Rookie defensive end Chandler Jones hurt his ankle later in the game.The Patriots will be home against the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC championship game next Sunday with the winner advancing to the Super Bowl two weeks later.Gronkowski had broken his left forearm while blocking for an extra point near the end of New England's 59-24 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Nov. 18 and underwent surgery. He missed five games and returned for the regular-season finale, a 28-0 win over the Miami Dolphins.He was reinjured just 6:44 into Sunday's game on a deep pass down the right sideline from Tom Brady. Gronkowski fell out of bounds as the pass dropped incomplete.He sat on the bench, writhing in pain, while talking to team doctor Thomas Gill before heading to the locker room.Brady provided no information on the condition of one of his most important teammates."I don't know anything about that," Brady said. "I haven't heard anything."Gronkowski's teammates said that the team would miss him but that other players have to contribute."It's hard to replace a player like him because he's a freak of nature," tight end Aaron Hernandez said, "but everyone has to step up and everyone has to keep making plays so we can keep it rolling. (He) definitely helps me out because so much attention is on him."It's a big loss and you can't replace a player like him."Last season, Gronkowski's status was listed as questionable for the Super Bowl just 48 hours before the New York Giants 21-17 victory. He had suffered a high sprain to his left ankle two weeks earlier in the Patriots' 23-20 win over the Ravens in the AFC championship game. That hampered him in the Super Bowl in which he had just two catches for 26 yards after a season in which he had 105 receptions, 15 of them in the other two postseason games.After the season, he had arthroscopic surgery on the ankle.On Sunday, backup tight end Michael Hoomanawanui got more action once Gronkowski left."I just saw him a little bit ago," Hoomanawanui said. "A guy with that much talent, it stinks. There's no other way to put it. I went down with a knee injury last year that ended my season and you never want to see that for anyone, for an opponent, but let alone a guy that you spend a lot of time with each and every day."Asked if Gronkowski would miss the rest of the postseason, Hoomanawanui said, "I haven't heard yet. He looks like he was hurting. I'm sure we'll find out here soon enough."

Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

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USA Today Sports Images

Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

There’s, probably, only one position in sports that can match the you-had-one-job scrutiny of a placekicker attempting a critical field goal late in a football game. As in: If you make the kick, it was expected; if you miss it, well, you didn’t do the one thing you were brought on to do. 

The comparison here is a closer in baseball. The expectation is whoever is called upon with a one-to-three-run lead in the ninth inning will convert the save and win his team the game. 

But when a closer blows a save and is in the spotlight during baseball’s regular season, there’s always a game the next day or, at worst, in two days. The immediacy and pace of a Major League Baseball team’s schedule lends itself to closers having to “flush” a bad outing and move on to the next one, since it might be tomorrow. 

For Bears kicker Cody Parkey, though, he’s had to wait a week until he gets his next “meaningful” chance at making a field goal after missing a game-winning 53-yard attempt last weekend against the Miami Dolphins. But moving on from a critical missed kick has never, and is not, a problem for the fifth-year veteran. 

“(It takes) five minutes,” Parkey said. “You kick the ball, and if it doesn’t go in you’re not going to sit there and cry on the field, you’re going to continue to move on with your life. I don’t think there’s really much to it other than knowing you’re going to have to kick another one sometime throughout the season, next game, in the next week, you never know. You stay ready so you’ll be ready for the next week.”

Not allowing those missed kicks to fester is an important trait for a placekicker to possess. What helps Parkey quickly work through his misses is focusing on having a good week of kicking in practice, and also an even-keel mindset that’s been instilled in him since a young age. 

“I think I’ve always been pretty mellow,” Parkey said. “At a young age, my coaches told me never let the highs get to high, never let the lows get too low. And I’ve kind of taken that to heart. If I miss a game winner, make a game winner, I’m going to have the same demeanor. I’m just going to be super chill and knowing it’s a game, it’s supposed to be fun, we’re supposed to go out there and try our best. I put in a lot of work and I try my best on the field.”

That’s something, too, that special teams coach Chris Tabor sees in Parkey. 

“He's always been like that,” Tabor said. “He hit a good ball, his line was just off. In his career going in he was 7-of-8 over 50 yards. I'll be honest with you, I thought he was going to make it. And next time we have that situation, I know he will make it.” 

Age is just a number

Sunday will mark the 6th time in Tom Brady’s career that the 41-year-old has faced a head coach younger than him, but the first time it’ll be a coach other than Miami’s Adam Gase (who’s 40). Brady is 3-2 against Gase’s Dophins. 

Matt Nagy, meanwhile, is also 40. Brady just missed playing Kyle Shanahan (38) and Sean McVay (32), facing the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams in 2016, a year before both those youthful coaches were hired. 

Meanwhile, the youngest player on the Bears — 21-year-old Roquan Smith — was three years old when Brady made his unassuming NFL debut on Nov. 23, 2000. 

They said it

A couple of amusing one-liners out of Halas Hall this week…

Nagy, when it was brought to his attention that Mitch Trubisky (105.6) has a better passer rating than Brady (98.2), chuckled: “You want to say that one more time?” 

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, when asked if he’d ever heard of “Baby Gronk” Adam Shaheen: “(long pause)… Sometimes.”

Blackhawks and Blue Jackets both going through own challenges of Artemi Panarin and Brandon Saad trade

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks and Blue Jackets both going through own challenges of Artemi Panarin and Brandon Saad trade

The Blackhawks and Blue Jackets blockbuster trade from the 2017 offseason is always a hot topic in Chicago when things aren't going great. It especially is when the two teams square off against each other, like Saturday at Nationwide Arena for the first time this season.

If it wasn't already apparent in Chicago, Artemi Panarin has emerged as a real NHL superstar and is set for a giant payday when he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2019. He set a Blue Jackets record with 82 points in a single season and has nine points (three goals, six assists) through six games this season.

Brandon Saad, on the other hand, had a challenging first year back with the Blackhawks in 2017-18 after netting only 35 points in 82 games and is off to a slow start this year as well with zero goals and two assists through six games. After a demotion to the fourth line, he was close to being a healthy scratch on Thursday, which only magnifies where things are at as the two get ready to clash.

But Saad was never going to be able to replace Panarin's offensive production. Everybody knows that. Yet, the offensive comparisons will always be there as a barometer and that's something Saad doesn't think about, no matter how much fans talk about it.

"I don't think I do it," he said. "We're different players. He's a great player. Fans are going to do whatever comparisons they want, but at the end of the day you've got to be true to yourself and do what you bring to the table. He's a great player around the league. You can see his highlights and his goals, he's definitely a special player. But at the end of the day I've got confidence in my abilities too. We both bring different attributes, but they're going to make comparisons regardless."

A big reason why the Blackhawks reacquired Saad, other than his ability to play a 200-foot game, is because he carries a $6 million cap hit through 2020-21, which is two years more than Panarin at the same cap hit. (It's also important to note that the Blackhawks hoped they were getting a reliable, young backup goaltender in Anton Forsberg, but the injury to Corey Crawford thrust him into a role he wasn't exactly prepared for.)

It's not all rainbows for Columbus right now regarding where things stand with Panarin, who has made it clear he's not ready to sign a long-term extension. All signs point to the 26-year-old winger hitting the market, putting the Blue Jackets in a tricky situation ahead of the trade deadline. The Blackhawks very well could have found themselves in this position, too, had a deal not been made.

Both sides are dealing with their own challenges of the trade. Saad is still a key piece to the Blackhawks' puzzle and they're hoping to get more out of him, for no other reason than the team's overall success.

"You want to have success regardless of who you're playing for, who you're traded for, things like that," Saad said. "Naturally, just as competitors, you want to bring that excitement and you want to have success with the team and personally."