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NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (15-4)
OPEN CAMP: July 26 [url=http://www.washingtonredskinsteamonline.com/sam-huff-jersey]Sam Huff Jersey[/url] , Foxborough, Massachusetts
LAST YEAR: New England lost twice in its first four games but recovered to win 11 of its final 12 behind MVP season of quarterback Tom Brady. He impressed at age 40, throwing for 4,577 yards, 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He did so despite reported issues between himself, coach Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft following midseason trade of backup Jimmy Garoppolo to 49ers. Defensive inconsistency was ongoing issue and it caught up with Patriots in Super Bowl loss to Philadelphia. It included surprise benching of cornerback Malcolm Butler, one of several players to sign with new teams during free agency.
IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: RB Jeremy Hill, RB Sony Michel, QB Danny Etling, DE Adrian Clayborn, WR Jordan Matthews [url=http://www.washingtonredskinsteamonline.com/tress-way-jersey]Tress Way Jersey[/url] , OT Trent Brown, OL Isaiah Wynn, CB Jason McCourty, DT Danny Shelton,
IMPORTANT LOSSES: Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, WR Danny Amendola, WR Brandin Cooks, CB Malcolm Butler, CB Johnson Bademosi, RB Dion Lewis, OT Nate Solder [url=http://www.indianapoliscoltsteamonline.com/john-simon-jersey]http://www.indianapoliscoltsteamonline.com/john-simon-jersey[/url] , OT Cam Fleming.
CAMP NEEDS: Wide receiver will be hot topic. After sitting out 2017 with torn right ACL, Julian Edelman is suspended for first four games of regular season for violating NFL policy on performance enhancers. Combined with losses of Amendola and Cooks in trades to Dolphins and Rams, respectively, it leaves Chris Hogan (34 catches, 439 yards, five TDs) as top returning wide receiver. Something also must be done to solidify defense that needs more edge rushing and someone to start alongside Stephon Gilmore at cornerback.
EXPECTATIONS: Even with offseason roster changes, Patriots enter camp as team to beat in AFC East. All-Pro TE Rob Gronkowski considered retirement in offseason; he and Brady skipped voluntary offseason workouts. But both returned for mandatory minicamps and say they are focused on helping New England reach what would be its fourth Super Bowl in five seasons. One of biggest question marks will be how linebackers coach Brian Flores does in new role as defensive play caller.
Carolina is a long shot to make the playoffs. Coach Bill Peters is still looking for a strong finish for the Hurricanes.
Justin Faulk scored midway through the second period, and Carolina beat the Washington Capitals 4-1 on Friday night to remain in the postseason race.
It was the fourth win in five games for the Hurricanes, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2009. Carolina must win its final four games while Florida and New Jersey lose their remaining games in regulation to play beyond the regular season.
Asked if the playoffs were a realistic goal, Peters answered tersely: ”No.” But Peters believes there are genuine incentives for his team.
”You’ve got to play,” he said. ”These guys are pros. You’re paid to play.”
Metropolitan Division-leading Washington had won five in a row. Michal Kempny scored his first goal with the Capitals after he was acquired in a February trade with Chicago.
”We’ve been playing great the last month [url=http://www.greenbaypackersteamonline.com/marcedes-lewis-jersey]Marcedes Lewis Jersey[/url] ,” Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly said. ”I don’t want to say this was expected, but a game like this maybe was going to happen eventually. It was probably better tonight than Sunday.”
Washington visits Pittsburgh on Sunday, and the teams have a long history.
”Overall, obviously we don’t like those guys,” Smith-Pelly said. ”It’s a huge game. We’ll be back.”
Carolina goaltender Scott Darling stopped 20 shots, and Braden Holtby had 26 saves for Washington.
Capitals coach Barry Trotz thought his team was simply outplayed.
”This league is way too good if you have a little bit of an off-night or you’re not on your `A’ game, this league can humble you in a very hard way and a quick way,” Trotz said. ”We didn’t have enough invested. We didn’t have enough guys pulling on the rope.”
Kempny put the Capitals in front at 2:35 of the second, but Carolina’s Derek Ryan quickly responded. He beat Holtby for his 14th goal at 3:15.
”There’s pride on the line,” Ryan said. ”We’re not quite in the playoff race. We’re not eliminated, but we realize where we’re at. We’re just continuing to play our game. We’re not thinking about it. We have four games [url=http://www.indianapoliscoltsteamonline.com/denzelle-good-jersey]Denzelle Good Jersey[/url] , so we’re going to make those games count.”
Faulk’s eighth goal of the season put the Hurricanes ahead to stay at 11:43. It was Faulk’s first goal since he scored three times in a 7-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 13.
Sebastian Aho’s 28th goal at 14:36 of the third made it 3-1, and Brock McGinn added an empty-netter at 17:50.
NOTES: Trotz said he enjoyed the story of emergency goalie Scott Foster’s outstanding performance for Chicago on Thursday night. Trotz doesn’t know who the Capitals’ emergency goalies are. ”I just know that we have them,” Trotz said. ”Someone has a phone book with numbers. If you need a goalie, you start phoning. … I’d like to meet them, just not on our bench.” … Washington F Lars Eller played in his 600th career game. . Capitals F T.J. Oshie, who had an assist on Kempny’s goal, logged just 14 minutes of playing time, his lowest since Dec. 30. Trotz said Oshie was being checked for an injury, but wouldn’t comment on its specifics. … Carolina D Jaccob Slavin had two assists.
Hurricanes: Host New York Rangers on Saturday
Capitals: Visit Pittsburgh on Sunday
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