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Patriots finally preparing for cold weather

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Patriots finally preparing for cold weather

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Bill Belichick doesn't masquerade as a meteorologist.

However, the New England coach once again has his team acclimated for whatever inclement weather may swoop in Sunday for the season finale against Miami.

Rather than shifting practice indoors as they have before, the Patriots practiced outside Thursday despite cold, driving rain, and again Friday in chilly temperatures in anticipation of a winter storm expected to dump a few inches of snow late Saturday.

Temperatures are expected to hover in the mid-to-low 20s for kickoff Sunday afternoon.

``Whatever we get Sunday, we get. We're not trying to forecast it,'' Belichick said. ``We'll just practice in whatever comes. I'm sure sooner or later we'll get something similar.''

For the second straight year, though, the region has endured a tepid winter in the month of December, a far cry from some of the more memorable games played in the snow at Gillette Stadium.

And that might be just fine with the Dolphins (7-8). But some members of the Patriots (11-4) are welcoming this long overdue cold front.

``It doesn't bother us,'' linebacker Jerod Mayo said. ``You don't see a lot of us out there in sleeves. When you see other teams coming from other places, they're kind of sleeved up a little bit.''

Yet whether rain, snow or sunshine, Miami has had its share of difficulties traveling to Foxborough since quarterback Tom Brady took the reigns of New England's offense in 2001.

The Patriots are 9-2 at home against the Dolphins since then, and the two losses didn't occur on Brady's watch, either. Brady was already sidelined for the season when New England and backup quarterback Matt Cassel lost to Miami in September 2008, and the three-time Super Bowl MVP played just one quarter before resting for the playoffs in a 28-26 setback on New Year's Day in 2005.

It only gets worse for the Dolphins in the winter, too. Miami is 1-6 in Foxborough in either December or January over the past 11 seasons.

Call it a home-field advantage.

``I wouldn't say that it's advantageous, but I definitely feel like I can play in the snow,'' said rookie defensive end Chandler Jones. ``I like playing in the snow, to be honest with you. The cold weather doesn't affect me at all.''

The Patriots defense is well aware that the unpredictable climate could play a pivotal role in ball security. Members of the secondary are on high alert for turnovers.

Considering New England is second in the league with 39 takeaways, though, that's nothing new.

``I think you've got to have a heightened awareness when you get in these games because no matter how mentally strong guys are, it does change things - your hands get cold and different things like that,'' safety Devin McCourty said. ``Defensively, we definitely try to have more of an awareness to try to attack the ball.''

Just because the Dolphins typically play half of their games under the warm southern sun doesn't mean they're going to freeze at the first sight of snow.

In fact, another warm-weather team - the San Francisco 49ers - traveled to New England on a cold, rainy night two weeks ago and overpowered the Patriots, handing them their lone loss over their past nine games.

``They're a professional football team, they'll be ready to go,'' McCourty said. ``I don't think it's nothing new for them They've done it before, they did it last year, so I'm sure they'll be ready to go.''

And after already playing a pair of December games in Florida, the Patriots are embracing whatever weather rolls their way.

``We've had a very fortunate December around here. It's been good,'' Mayo said. ``Our other games we had were in Miami and in Jacksonville. The weather won't be a problem at all. We enjoy the rain.''

Mayo then shifted his focus to the true opponent.

``We're not playing the weather,'' he added, ``we're playing the Dolphins.''

5.19.18: Rick Horrow The Sports Professor talks with IndyCar icon Lynn St. James

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USA TODAY Sports

5.19.18: Rick Horrow The Sports Professor talks with IndyCar icon Lynn St. James

Rick Horrow The Sports Professor sits down for an exclusive interview with Lynn St James and more from the $1 trillion dollar business of sports in this week's 'Beyond The Scoreboard with Rick Horrow'

By Rick Horrow

Podcast Producer: Tanner Simkins

LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST HERE

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Wizards' first pre-draft workout to feature Diallo of Kentucky, local star from UMBC

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards' first pre-draft workout to feature Diallo of Kentucky, local star from UMBC

The Washington Wizards will hold their first pre-draft workout on Tuesday at Capital One Arena and the group of six players features some familiar names. 

Included in the mix is guard Jairus Lyles, who starred for the Unversity of Maryland-Baltimore County and helped lead them as a 16-seed over top-ranked Virginia in the NCAA Tournament. It was the first 16-over-a-1 upset in the tournament's history.

Here are the six players with some notes on each one...

Chris Chiozza, guard, Florida (6-0, 175)

Chiozza played four years at Florida and finished as the school's all-time assists leader. He averaged 11.1 points, 6.1 assists and 1.9 steals per game as a senior.

Hamidou Diallo, guard, Kentucky (6-5, 198)

Diallo redshirted in 2016-17 and played one season for the Wildcats. He averaged 10.0 points and 3.6 rebounds while shooting 45.8 percent from the field. Diallo measured 6-foot-6 with shoes at the combine and boasts a 7-foot wingspan.

Tiwian Kendley, guard, Morgan State (6-5, 190)

Kendly was a big-time scorer at Morgan St., averaging 21.0 points as a redshirt junior and 26.1 points as a senior. He took a lot of shots, however, averaging 18.2 field goal attempts on 45.3 percent from the field this past season. Kendley starred at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Maryland before joining the college ranks, first at Lamar Community College.

Jairus Lyles, guard, UMBC (6-2, 175)

Lyles was the leading scorer for the Retrievers this past season as they became the biggest underdog Cinderella in NCAA history. He averaged 20.2 points and shot 39.0 percent from three on 6.1 attempts. Lyles began his college career at VCU and played high school ball at nearby DeMatha.

Doral Moore, center, Wake Forest (7-1, 280)

A three-year player at Wake Forest, Moore had a breakout season as a junior with averages of 11.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. Moore played with Sixers star Ben Simmons in high school.

Ray Spalding, forward, Louisville (6-10, 215)

Spalding played three years at Louisville and averaged 12.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.5 steals per game as a junior. He posted a 7-5 wingspan at the NBA Combine. Spalding played with Jazz star Donovan Mitchell in college. 

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