Patriots cut Cam Newton, clearing way for Mac Jones to start

The Mac Jones era in New England has begun. The Patriots released Cam Newton on Tuesday, clearing the way for the rookie to open the season as New England’s quarterback. Newton’s release came hours before NFL teams had to reduce their rosters to 53 players and brings an abrupt end to his time in New England. Newton went 7-8 as the starter in the Patriots’ first season since Tom Brady departed and signed with Tampa Bay. New England finished 7-9 for the year.

From 6 a.m. texts to criticism, Pats' Jones taking it all in

One thing rookie quarterback Mac Jones has learned during his infant New England Patriots career is that no matter the situation, his coaches want to see confidence in everything he does on the field. “One of the first things we talk about is being loud and confident,” Jones said. “If you know what to do, just be loud. And, if you don’t know what to do, be loud.” It’s been a balancing act as he walks the delicate line of trying to learn at a rapid pace and improve while also avoiding mistakes.

Patriots' Newton knows he has much to prove this season

Call it a mantra. Call it a simple reminder. But Cam Newton has a note he has been reminding himself of every day since last season. “Pre-snap comfort will help post-snap results for me,” Newton said of what he repeats to himself daily. That’s because for Newton, back with the Patriots on a one-year deal, the coming season is all about him wholeheartedly embracing a second chance to make the impression he feels he was never fully equipped to make in 2020.

Analysis: Injuries wreaking more havoc than virus protocols

As teams gear up for the stretch run of the NBA regular season, it’s injuries to key players — not just their unavailability due to COVID-19 — that is having the biggest effect on the playoff race in both conferences. Still, preparing to play outside of the controlled atmosphere of last season’s Florida bubble has helped teams brace for the unexpected. When the NBA season tipped off in December, keeping players healthy as they traveled during the pandemic was the chief priority around the league. In the four months since then, virtually every team has made adjustments to their rotation because of league-wide health and safety protocols. Lately, it’s been injuries and not the virus that has dictated how the season has gone.

Analytics shifting views on 40-yard dash, other matrixes

Every year the 40-yard dash is one of the most-watched segments of the NFL combine as well as at college pro days. NFL hopefuls prepare for the moment for months and have even employed speed coaches to help ensure they post a favorable result, knowing their performance could mean the difference in draft position and millions of dollars. But after years of scrutiny and viral YouTube moments highlighting prospects’ successes and failures, the value of the 40 and other matrixes don’t hold the same cache they once did among today’s league talent evaluators. While measurable testing will always be a component of assessing players’ value, using analytics to gauge the intangible qualities of the next generation of NFL hopefuls is the new frontier.

With playoffs unlikely, fading Patriots have questions at QB

For the first time in more than a decade, the New England Patriots will head into their final three games of the season with an unsettled playoff fate. The Patriots entered the week in 10th place in the AFC and trudging through one of their worst years of Bill Belichick’s tenure. Now 6-7 following a 24-3 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday night, New England’s long-shot hopes of extending an NFL-record run of 11 consecutive playoff appearances have faded even more.

Voting focus could be legacy for latest wave of NBA activism

NBA players are building on the framework of Colin Kaepernick’s protests during the national anthem that helped raise awareness about police brutality, efforts that have permeated the league since it restarted its season in Florida last month amid the coronavirus pandemic. But where Kaepernick’s demonstrations raised awareness, NBA players want their actions to move the needle further. But transforming the widespread embrace for social justice in America from a moment into a movement requires targeting systemic barriers and changing laws, not just mindsets.

Newton embracing new challenge, fresh start with Patriots

Cam Newton is the first to admit he’s still getting used to his new life as a member of the New England Patriots. Everything feels strange, from his morning ride to the stadium, to just putting on gear with different colors and insignia for the first time in nine NFL seasons. But a week into this latest stop in his career, the 2015 league MVP says he isn’t as much concerned with replacing Tom Brady or silencing his doubters as he is with proving to himself that he’s still capable of performing at a high level.

NBA restart likely to provide TV audience new sights, sounds

During a normal NBA season, the sights and sounds of arenas serve as both a showy backdrop and home court advantage for its teams. But with no fans allowed in the stands for the upcoming restart because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the league’s Orlando-area bubble restart will have a decidedly different feel for both players and coaches, as well as the television audience watching from afar.

Hands to yourself: Complying with protocols proves difficult

From players ignoring prohibitions on handshakes, high-fives and hugs, to some sitting noticeably closer than six feet apart in dugouts during games, the recently launched baseball season has provided ample evidence old habits are hard to shake, even when the changes are meant to mitigate the risk of spreading the coronavirus. The outbreak among Miami Marlins players has highlighted the major leagues’ vulnerabilities, though teams were already reexamining approaches after the first few days of play.
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