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Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Steelers’ Ryan Clark predicts problems for Patriots, Tom Brady

05.07.13 at 8:01 am ET

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NBA playoffs: Pacers at Knicks, 7 p.m. (TNT)
NBA playoffs: Grizzlies at Thunder, 9:30 p.m. (TNT)
NHL playoffs: Canadiens at Senators, 7 p.m. (CNBC)
NHL playoffs: Penguins at Islanders, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL playoffs: Canadiens at Senators, 7 p.m. (CNBC)
NHL playoffs: Blackhawks at Wild, 9:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL playoffs: Canucks at Sharks, 10 p.m. (CNBC)
Hockey World Championships: United States vs. Russia, 1 p.m. (NBCSN)
MLB: Twins at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Tigers at Nationals, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Cardinals at Cubs, 8 p.m. (WGN)


‘™¦ Steelers safety Ryan Clark, no stranger to Patriots bulletin boards, offered his analysis of the New England offense during an appearance on ESPN’s “NFL Live” Monday and said Tom Brady‘s job got a lot more difficult this offseason.

“I think what’€™s really underestimated is Wes Welker‘€™s importance to not only the New England Patriots, but Tom Brady,” Clark said. “A lot of what they do is timing. A lot of what they do is option reads, when you’€™re working inside against that nickel back or against those linebackers. Losing him is huge.

“I know they think Danny Amendola can come in and have the same type of numbers he had with the Rams, but we also have to remember, he’€™s fragile. He’€™s not a guy who has completed a whole season, especially playing inside in what can be a physical AFC East. You also think about [Rob] Gronkowski and the injury; that is going to be bigger than anything for the New England Patriots coming in this year. Also Aaron Hernandez.”

Clark also took a shot at Brady, insisting that the veteran QB can be rattled by pressure.

‘€œIn 2010, we saw it start with the Jets in the playoffs. When Tom Brady gets pressure and when you’€™re man-to-man and bumping those guys and making it hard for him to throw, he sees ghosts,” Clark said. “Even when guys aren’€™t around him, even when he’€™s not about to be sacked, when his clock goes off in his head that the ball should be out, we’€™ll see him duck, we’€™ll see him flinch. When you get Tom Brady doing that, the whole New England Patriots mystique goes away.”

The Patriots host the Steelers on Nov. 3.

‘™¦ Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez returned to the field Monday for the first time since having surgery on his left hip Jan. 16, working out at the team’s minor league complex in Tampa, Fla.

“It feels good to be back out in uniform,” Rodriguez said. “It’s been a rough stretch with the rehab, obviously. It’s small bites at a time.”

Rodriguez said he’s focused on getting back and redeeming himself for the embarrassing finish to last season, when he was benched during the Yankees‘ four-game sweep at the hands of the Tigers in the ALCS.

“I have a lot of unfinished business,” Rodriguez said. “I’m really looking forward to getting back on the field close to 100 percent and being who I am.”

As for the latest controversy — A-Rod reportedly had ties to a since-closed clinic in South Florida that allegedly was dispensing performance-enhancing drugs — Rodriguez offered no insight.

“I can only control what I can control,” Rodriguez said. “I’m really focusing on all the great things that have happened in the game. I’m really focused on getting healthy, and just getting back and helping the Yankees win a championship.”

‘™¦ Forbes magazine released its list of America’s most influential athletes, and Tim Tebow ranks No. 1. The free agent quarterback, who has 2.2 million Twitter followers, was judged as influential by 29 percent of poll respondents.

Tebow is followed on the list by swimmer Michael Phelps, sprinter Usain Bolt, injured Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. The second five consists of Saints quarterback Drew Brees, gymnast Gabby Douglas, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, NBA MVP LeBron James and soccer icon David Beckham.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On May 7, 1997, which Red Sox catcher — who would go on to greater fame as a member of the Athletics’ “Moneyball” team in 2002 — hit his first career home run (along with his second) in an 11-3 rout of the Twins?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I think, as a team, we played a good road game. Maybe we didn’t have as many chances in Game 1, but I think it was a perfect road game and I’m pretty happy about that.” — Bruins forward David Krejci, after the Bruins’ 5-2 victory over the Maple Leafs in Game 3 on Monday night in Toronto

STAT OF THE DAY: 10 — Consecutive points scored by the Bulls to end their 93-86 victory over the Heat in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series Monday night in Miami

‘NET RESULTS (mobile users, check the website to see the videos): Spurs guard Manu Ginobili gets open on an inbounds play and hits a 3-pointer at the end of the second overtime to beat the Warriors in Game 1 of their series Monday night.

Normally terse Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is “hurt” by no second question from TNT sideline reporter David Aldridge between the third and fourth quarters.

Boubacar Copa Barry, a goalie for the Belgian soccer team Lokeren, apparently gets knocked unconscious after hitting his head on the goalpost while diving for the ball during Sunday’s game.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Scott Hatteberg

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Johnny Maestro, who died in 2010, was born on this day in 1939.

Read More: alex rodriguez, Ryan Clark, Tim Tebow, Tom Brady