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Thinking Out Loud: Losing Dion Lewis hurts, but O-line injuries more concerning to Patriots

11.13.15 at 5:17 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering how John Farrell is coming along with his cancer recovery.

— Dion Lewis’ injury is tough to take, no doubt. Lewis has been a great story for the Patriots this year — an ongoing personal reclamation project that has won him many admirers in and out of the locker room. His on-field play has been spectacular at times, and gave the offense a dimension that made it almost indefensible.

— But there’s a reason why the Patriots are who they are — and why they do the things they do. This too, shall pass.

— Right now, for my money the offensive line injuries may be of greater concern. The mixing, matching and patching of players on the line is a credit to coach Dave DeGuglielmo and the offensive staff’s ability to create depth. This is precisely why having versatility is the No. 1 reason for keeping some players on the roster, as opposed to possibly letting them go elsewhere.

— I got the impression that the Patriots pretty much sleepwalked through the Washington Redskins to reach 8-0. Also got the impression that after losing Dion Lewis for the year, and getting Sebastian Vollmer and Duron Harmon hurt, that the Patriots’ scorched-earth tour just had a dose of cold-water reality tossed onto the train.

— It’s the first time in NFL history for three teams to be 8-0. Who will be the first of the three (Patriots, Bengals, Panthers) to lose? Looking over the schedules, I’ll take Cincinnati at Arizona in Week 11 as the most likely candidate for a pratfall. Next most likely defeats? Carolina at Dallas on Thanksgiving, New England at Denver three days later.

— Tweet of the Week, from @AdamSchefter: A little primer for Sunday’s Patriots-Giants game: Since start of 2008 calendar year, Giants are ONLY NFL team the Patriots have NOT beaten.

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Friday’s Morning Mashup: Dez Bryant explodes at ‘dirty’ reporters in Cowboys locker room

11.13.15 at 7:47 am ET
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Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

FRIDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA: Hawks at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. (CSNNE)
NBA: Cavaliers at Knicks, 7:30 p.m. (NBATV)
NBA: Nets at Kings, 10 p.m. (NBATV)
College basketball: Colorado vs. Iowa State, 5 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Wagner at St. John’s, 6 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Pittsburgh vs. Gonzaga, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Siena at Duke, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: North Carolina vs. Temple, 7 pm. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Florida at Navy, 7:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: McNeese State at LSU, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Texas vs. Washington, 10 p.m. (ESPN)
College football: USC at Colorado, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College hockey: Boston University at Providence, 6 p.m. (NESN)
College hockey: Michigan State at Boston College, 7 p.m. (WEEI-AM)
Soccer: World Cup qualifier, St. Vincent & The Grenadines at United States, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
Soccer: UEFA Euro qualifier, Ireland at Bosnia-Herzegovina, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

AROUND THE WEB:

Dez Bryant went off on the media again, as the Cowboys receiver embarked on a profanity-laced tirade toward reporters in the locker room Thursday.

According to multiple reports out of Dallas, Bryant had been asking for days about ESPN’s Jean-Jacques Taylor, who wrote a piece last week about how Bryant needed to produce more. Bryant saw Taylor and exchanged words with him, then went on a lengthy rant.

Meanwhile, fellow receiver Devin Street stepped in and accused Taylor, who is black, of using a racial epithet — although other reporters in the room denied hearing it.

After another reporter, MMQB’s Robert Klemko, tweeted about Bryant’s behavior, the receiver exploded again, shouting at Klemko and repeatedly calling the reporters in the locker room “dirty.”

Bryant said the media has been “disrespecting this team” — a team that had lost six straight games and has been embroiled in one controversy after another.

He later went on Twitter and complained the media has been misrepresenting his behavior.

Wrote Bryant: Yeah, I blew up on the media but report why I blew up on ya’ll … Saying I don’t give f— about me and calling players n—– is not professional.

Added Bryant: If you going to tell something tell the whole thing…I’m done with the situation… I hope everyone is having a great day.

After taking some heat, Bryant out out another tweet in his defense, writing: Now I guess I’m the bad person??? The media comes in our locker room with no restrictions… I guess they can say whatever and it’s cool…let me remind all of you… WE ARE HUMANS AS WELL..WITH FAMILIES..we have to live with a lot of false talk about us…. I chose to stand up for me and what I represent….. I’m so sorry if a lot of you can’t handle being talked to direct.

— The Bills beat the Jets on Thursday night, but Rex Ryan didn’t come out looking like a winner to everyone.

Bill Cowher was note pleased with Ryan’s handling of his captains — the Bills boss tabbed IK Enemkpali to represent Buffalo before the game, despite Enemkpali having been released by the Jets after punching then-teammate Geno Smith. When the Jets played the Dolphins, Ryan sent out Richie Incognito, who was at the center of Miami’s bullying scandal two years ago.

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Read More: Bill Cowher, Dez Bryant, Katina Powell, Rex Ryan

Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Cowboys legend Roger Staubach wouldn’t want Greg Hardy on his team

11.12.15 at 8:15 am ET
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Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

THURSDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NHL: Avalanche at Bruins, 7 p.m. (NESN)
College hockey: Northeastern at Notre Dame, 7:30 p.m. (NESN Plus)
NFL: Bills at Jets, 8:25 p.m. (NFL Network; WEEI-FM)
College football: Louisiana-Lafayette at South Alabama, 7:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
College football: Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Warriors at Timberwolves, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: Clippers at Suns, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
Soccer: Euro 2016 qualifier, Hungary at Norway, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

Greg Hardy

Greg Hardy

— Cowboys legend Roger Staubach joined the chorus of criticism of his former team for employing Greg Hardy.

“I’m rooting for the Cowboys, I don’t root for him,” Staubach told USA Today. “I’m still rooting for the Cowboys. I’m not a Hardy fan.”

The Hall of Fame quarterback called domestic violence “almost like a disease” said he hopes Hardy is getting help. But the two-time Super Bowl winner took particular offense to Hardy’s recent sideline confrontation with an assistant coach and a couple of teammates.

“I just feel that the reactions that he had on the field, losing his cool with the coach,” Staubach said. “I’m a big Jason Garrett fan, so maybe there’s more that I don’t know about. But what was seen there was not — as a player, you don’t do that. Therefore, it seems like his temper is not under control yet.”

While Hardy tweeted out a comment Wednesday suggesting his innocence and implying discrimination, Staubach continued his stance in an interview on NFL Network’s “NFLHQ,” saying: “I don’t know him and I haven’t dealt with him. As far as how I feel about it, I wouldn’t particularly want someone on my team that had the issues that he has.”

Added Staubach: “People can overcome mistakes. It’s just that domestic violence is a very serious issue, It also, the evidence is you just don’t overcome it without getting help.”

— Kings coach George Karl reportedly is on the hot seat in Sacramento, just nine games into the season.

Mercurial forward DeMarcus Cousins reportedly directed a profanity-laced outburst at Karl after Monday’s loss to the Spurs, and general manager Vlade Divac is said to have asked the players if he should fire Karl after just 39 games at the helm.

The Sacramento Bee reported that Karl wanted Cousins suspended two games for his insubordination, but Divac vetoed the punishment. Instead, Cousins issued an apology Wednesday.

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Read More: DeMarcus Cousins, George Karl, Greg Hardy, Lou Brock

Greg Hardy tweets ‘Innocent until proven guilty’ before changing account following talk with Cowboys

11.11.15 at 1:22 pm ET
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Greg Hardy

Greg Hardy

Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy finally responded to the avalanche of criticism, implying that he was a victim of discrimination despite overwhelming evidence of his despicable behavior related to his 2014 domestic violence incident and his reaction to it.

Wrote Hardy on his Twitter account Wednesday morning — after changing the account’s name to “Perfection”: Innocent until proven guilty-lack of knowledge & information is just ignorance-the unjust/prejudicial treatment of diff categories of people is discrimination.

Hardy later took down his profile and changed his account name to “Machiavelli Kraken,” apparently after being contacted by the Cowboys.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett acknowledged that the team discussed the issue with Hardy on Wednesday morning, although he wouldn’t say if that’s why Hardy changed his account.

Asked if he felt Hardy was not buying in to the team’s message, Garrett said: “I think the biggest thing we try to do with any player is just address things when they come up, and we address them in-house and we deal with things inside these walls and then we move forward.”

Added Garrett: “I think a big part of coaching is shaping a mentality and mindset and shaping behavior. We do that every day with 53 guys on our rosters, 10 guys on our practice staff and all of our coaches and staff.”

Hardy’s response Wednesday was in stark contrast to what he tweeted Saturday night, one day after Deadspin released photos of his former girlfriend’s bruises on the night of the incident.

Tweeted Hardy on Saturday: Just had to say I express my regret 4 what happened in past and I’m  Dedicated to being the best person & teammate that I can be.

Read More: Greg Hardy, Jason Garrett,

Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Jets not thrilled with Rex Ryan’s ‘disrespectful’ move

11.11.15 at 8:09 am ET
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Welcome to Wednesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

WEDNESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA: Pacers at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. (CSNNE)
NBA: Clippers at Mavericks, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Spurs at Trail Blazers, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL: Canadiens at Penguins, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
College football: Bowling Green at Western Michigan, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
College football: Northern Illinois at Buffalo, 8 p.m. (ESPNU)

AROUND THE WEB:

Rex Ryan‘s decision to name former Jet IK Enemkpali as a captain for Thursday’s Bills-Jets game, as expected, did not sit well with everyone in New York.

Second-year Jets safety Calvin Pryor called Ryan a “good defensive coach,” but when asked if Ryan is a good head coach, he replied, “Ah … no comment on that.”

Said Pryor of Ryan’s decision to honor the player who broke Geno Smith’s jaw: “It was definitely kind of disrespectful, but at the same time, he has his reasons.”

Pryor, who was benched by Ryan last season for being late to meetings and weigh-ins, said Ryan “does anything for attention,” adding of the Enemkpali decision, “You don’t have to announce it on Monday for the whole world to know.”

Ryan didn’t dispute Pryor’s assertion.

“He’s right,” the Bills coach said. “What else am I going to do? Just stand up here?”

Pryor isn’t the first of Ryan’s former players to criticize the coach, but Ryan dismisses the talk.

“Who gives a rat’s …” he said. “That thing’s in my rearview mirror. That thing’s behind us. People are always going to question the guy going out. I respect every one of those guys. They played their butts off for me. If they didn’t play well, I wouldn’t have been given this opportunity [with the Bills]. I’ll appreciate that.”

Gerald Green offered a public apology after being suspended two games by the Heat, apparently related to last Wednesday’s incident in which Green was taken to a hospital after acting strangely outside his condominium.

In a statement released through the team’s Twitter account Tuesday night, the former Celtic said, “I want to apologize to my family, fans and the Heat organization. I accept the suspension and look forward to rejoining my teammates this weekend.”

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Read More: Calvin Pryor, Gerald Green, IM Enemkpali, Rex Ryan

Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Bills coach Rex Ryan names Jets villain IK Enemkpali captain against former team

11.10.15 at 8:00 am ET
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Welcome to Tuesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

TUESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA: Celtics at Bucks, 8 p.m. (CSNNE)
NBA: Thunder at Wizards, 7 p.m. (NBATV)
NHL: Sabres at Lightning, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
College football: Ken State at Ohio, 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
College football: Toledo at Central Michigan, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)

AROUND THE WEB:

— Thursday marks the return of former Jets coach Rex Ryan to the Meadowlands, and the Bills boss is doing his part to make sure it will be memorable.

Ryan announced Monday that one of Buffalo’s captains for the game would be linebacker IK Enemkpali, who was released by the Jets in August after he punched quarterback Geno Smith and broke his jaw.

Ryan noted that he frequently selects captains based on their connection to the opposing team, such as sending out offensive lineman Richie Incognito before the game against the Dolphins, and that Enemkpali would not be the only captain, but he understood the kind of reaction the move would get.

“Yeah, I’ll get ripped,” Ryan said.

At least one Jet didn’t seem to mind the gesture.

“Love it,” a smiling Jets receiver Brandon Marshall told reporters. “That’s a Rex Ryan move. I mean, are you guys surprised?”

Jets coach Todd Bowles took the Bill Belichick approach.

“We just worry about us,” Bowles said. “We don’t worry about anybody else.”

Regardless of this move, Ryan said he expects his reception at the Meadowlands to be unkind.

“Oh, I think we all know. There’s going to be a lot of waving out there. … One-fingered and all that stuff. That much is a given.”

— Finally something good has come out of the Greg Hardy controversy. Following Friday’s release of photos of the victim in Hardy’s domestic violence incident, and prior to Sunday’s Eagles-Cowboys game, a Philadelphia radio station created a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for a women’s shelter in Dallas.

The goal set by 94WIP’s Josh Innes was to raise $3,000. He and co-host Hollis Thomas — a former Eagles defensive lineman — got things rolling by donating $500. By Monday night the fund’s total had eclipsed $31,000.

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Read More: IK Enemkpali, Rex Ryan,

Eagles criticize Greg Hardy after beating Cowboys: ‘It’s a joke a guy like that is able to play this quickly’

11.09.15 at 8:16 am ET
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Greg Hardy

Greg Hardy

Tom Brady might not want to wade into the Greg Hardy controversy, but members of the Eagles weren’t shy about offering their opinion after Sunday night’s game.

Following Friday’s release of photos of the victim in Hardy’s 2014 domestic violence incident, a new round of criticism has fallen upon Hardy — and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, for signing him.

After the Eagles finished off their 33-27 overtime victory over the struggling Cowboys, offensive tackle Lane Johnson said he had some extra motivation.

“Any time I had a chance to put a little extra mustard on a block, I tried,” Johnson said (via the Philadelphia Daily News). “He wasn’t all that emotional in the game. I guess he is in other games. I don’t know if the stuff got to him on the news, but he kind of seemed out of it a little bit.”

Added Johnson: “I felt like I faced better than him. He’s a guy who, when things are going good, he’s great. When things aren’t going good, he’ll shut it down.”

Hardy had one sack but otherwise was not a significant factor. He committed two penalties, including one for unsportsmanlike conduct for pushing an Eagles player to the ground after the whistle.

“I’m glad he didn’t have a good day,” center Jason Kelce said. “It’s a joke a guy like that is able to play this quickly.”

Added Kelce: “Three people I have zero respect for in this world: People who hit women, who molest children, and rapists.”

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Read More: Greg Hardy, Jerry Jones,

Monday’s Morning Mashup: Broncos CB Aqib Talib says eye-gouging ‘an honest mistake’

11.09.15 at 7:45 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MONDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NFL: Bears at Chargers, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN; WEEI-FM)
NBA: Bulls at 76ers, 7 p.m. (NBATV)

AROUND THE WEB:

— Sunday was a rough day for two former Patriots cornerbacks. In Indianapolis, Denver’s Aqib Talib committed a costly and odd penalty — stepping up to an opponent and jabbing him in the eye — that helped the Colts hand the Broncos their first loss.

And in New Orleans, Brandon Browner became irate at a reporter in the locker room after the Saints’ overtime loss to the Titans — to the point where he had to be restrained by his teammates.

Talib’s offense occurred in the closing minutes of the game, with the Colts protecting a three-point lead. Teammate Von Miller and Indianapolis’ Dwayne Allen were arguing face to face when Talib stepped in and poked two fingers through Allen’s facemask into Allen’s right eye. He immediately was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.

“I don’t even remember, man,” Talib said when asked about the incident. “Just mad. I can’t even remember, man. I don’t know.”

Taleb denied the eye-gouging was intentional, despite how it appeared on video.

“It was an honest mistake,” he said. “I tried to poke his head, then he kind of went back or something. [Expletive] happens fast. I don’t know.”

Talib received a second penalty a short time later after he did something to draw the ire of the official.

“I was just clapping my hands,” Talib claimed. “Everybody in the stadium was clapping their hands, so I was just clapping my hands. I was 10 yards away from the guy. I was clapping my hands. He ain’t like it. He threw a flag.”

Meanwhile, Browner became upset in the locker room after he heard a reporter ask a teammate about a play on which the Saints tipped the ball into the hands of Tennessee’s Delanie Walker, who ran it in for a touchdown.

Tweeted Katherine Terrell: Browner just went nuts on a reporter in the locker room, screaming about how the game went to OT and they wanted to ask about one play.

According to Terrell, Browner “screamed expletives at the reporter, called him a punk, among other things.”

Added Terrell: At least three teammates told him to stop and one pushed him into the shower area, told him to chill out before he calmed down.

As he did in New England last season, Browner has frequently run afoul of the officials, amassing 16 penalties in just nine games. The Saints fell to 4-5 with Sunday’s loss.

The Packers‘ frustration boiled over during Sunday’s loss to the Panthers, as linebacker Julius Peppers and safeties Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Morgan Burnett exchanged harsh words on the sideline. Nose tackle B.J. Raji separated the players, pushing Clinton-Dix after apparently becoming upset at a comment.

“Sometimes it’s an emotional game, sometimes things are said, things are done. But ultimately we’re a family, and we stick together,” Raji said. “We’ll discuss it and move forward. It’s an in-house thing, it’s a family issue and we’ll take care of it.”

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Read More: Aqib Talib, B.J. Raji, Brandon Browner, Julius Peppers

Thinking Out Loud: Jeremy Kapstein would be good fit with PawSox

11.06.15 at 4:47 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to John McDonald?

— Our friend Nick Cafardo at The Boston Globe mentioned last week that another friend, Jeremy Kapstein, recently was told his contract would not be renewed with the Boston Red Sox after 14 years as a senior adviser. Kapstein was a Larry Lucchino confidant, so the move isn’t a huge surprise, even though it is disappointing.

— Kapstein has had a marvelous career — from Chris Clark’s on-air statistician years ago on Providence Friars radio broadcasts, to super-agent, to baseball executive and one-time political candidate. It will be different not seeing him sit behind home plate at Fenway with his radio headsets on, but I’ll wager someone with foresight will recognize Kapstein still has much to offer — in management, scouting or otherwise.

— Based on Kapstein’s relationship with Lucchino and his deep ties to Rhode Island as a native son, isn’t there a spot somewhere in the new PawSox hierarchy for him? On Monday the team officially will introduce Dr. Charles Steinberg as the new president, Dan Rea III (formerly special assistant to the Red Sox) as new GM, replacing Lou Schweichheimer, and Jeff White as the new treasurer. Mike Tamburro has agreed to remain with the new management team as vice chairman.

— Steinberg led much of the public discussion in the pitch for the new Providence stadium project, which has fallen flatter than a pancake. Not exactly a great start, Dr. Charles.

— In case you didn’t notice, the Red Sox reported this week that pitchers and catchers will begin workouts in Fort Myers, Florida, on Feb. 18. The countdown to “truck day” (Feb. 10) has begun. Will we need a spring respite in the middle of winter again?

— Now’s the time, Trader Dave Dombrowski. If you’re serious about the Sox competing again — and you should be with the payroll you’ll have — let’s see what you can do about finding some pitching. Right now, every option should be open and (almost) every player should be available.

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Read More: Jeremy Kapstein, John McDonald, Kris Dunn,

Cowboys DE Greg Hardy under further scrutiny following release of domestic violence photos

11.06.15 at 2:36 pm ET
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Greg Hardy

Greg Hardy

Greg Hardy’s domestic violence case was thrown out of court in February, but the Cowboys defensive end is facing a new round of criticism after Deadspin published photos and other records from his domestic violence incident at his apartment.

The photos show Hardy’s then-girlfriend, Nicole Holder, with bruises all over her body, and some of Hardy with marks on his face.

Holder accused Hardy of slamming her against a wall, throwing her on a bed that had guns on it, and choking her. Hardy called police and claimed that he was the victim, while his assistant restrained Holder, who eventually crawled out of the apartment before being found by police.

She later refused to cooperate with prosecutors, who said they believe she reached a civil settlement with the player.

Although he missed a year of his career, Hardy has no criminal record related to the matter, as a North Carolina judge agreed to clear the slate after Hardy’s request.

After being released by the Panthers, Hardy signed a one-year, $11.3 million deal with the Cowboys on March 19. His 10-game suspension was cut to four games by an arbitrator in July. His first game with Dallas was against the Patriots on Oct. 11. He since made news for an outburst on the sideline in a game against the Giants, when he broke into the special teams huddle, smacked a coach’s clipboard and exchanged words with a couple of teammates.

The Cowboys declined to comment but acknowledged being aware of the Deadspin story.

Read More: Greg Hardy,