Patriots

Campbell still playing through pain

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Campbell still playing through pain

GLENDALE, AZ. The doctors told Gregory Campbell hed be in pain for at least a month after suffering a fracture in his left foot blocking a shot against the Columbus Blue Jackets in mid-December.

The doctors were right, as they usually are, but it took Campbell only eight days and three games before he could wedge his foot into a boot that had been blown out to encase his swollen size 11. The gritty center insisted on taking shifts through pain in wins over the Canadiens and Panthers prior to the Christmas break, and has now played in three straight games with a fracture in his foot.

The fourth-line center played over 15 minutes in the blowout win over Florida and scored a goal with his left foot throbbing, and thats more than a little meaningful. While Campbell isnt always the biggest talker inside the Bs dressing room, its that kind of leading by example and gritting through pain that sets the bar for the rest of the team to follow.

Besides, it could have been worse.

Ive been hit in the head a couple of times with shots, said Campbell. Its gonna take probably four weeks before I wont feel it any more. But I felt a big difference after we came back from the break. It wasnt really great against Montreal and the week of practice was a battle, but its just stops and starts with quick turns where its really affecting me.

I was told it would be four weeks by the doctors and thats really the norm for any broken bone. I can still feel it when I jam my foot into a shoe. But hopefully after four weeks itll be a non-issue. Its really not even an issue now.

A few days off helped the foot prior to the Phoenix win, but Campbell said its still hurting him when he walks around or does anything weight-bearing on the left foot. Itll be like that for at least a couple more weeks with an injury that would have shelved other pro athletes on the injured list if it were any sport aside from the NHL. But its hockey and players grit their teeth through anything short of lopped-off limbs or a concussion.

Hes playing through pain, I think thats what you have to give him credit for said coach Claude Julien. Hes playing through probably a little bit of pain thats still there, but hes sucking it up. The one thing thats great with Soupy Campbell is he doesnt change his style.

He goes out and plays the same way night in, night out, no matter what the situation is. He doesnt know any other way and I think that makes him the player he is.

So Campbell keeps playing and will suit up against mortal enemy Steve Ott on Saturday night in Dallas. Ott took a run at Campbell while he was still a member of the Panthers two years ago, and the scrappy pivots had it out when the Bruins and Stars met last season in Boston.

Theres no doubt the left foot isnt going to stop Campbell from playing now that hes back in the flow of things, and it wont stop him from going after the motor-mouthed Ott if the chance presents itself again this season. That would be altering his game, and thats something Campbell doesnt do for injuries.

Five quick thoughts: Patriots put it all together against Falcons

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Five quick thoughts: Patriots put it all together against Falcons

FOXBORO -- Here are some quick-hitting thoughts on the Patriots' 23-7 victory over the Falcons on Sunday night.

1) If the Patriots attacked this game believing that the best defense is a good offense . . . they were right. 

They controlled the ball for more than 18 minutes in the first half and ran for 92 yards on 18 carries (a 5.1 yards per attempt average) with four backs sharing the load. Rex Burkhead gave the team a spark with his speed and vision in his first game back since suffering a rib injury in Week 2. The success the Patriots had running the ball had the added benefit of opening up the play-action pass game and it helped protect Tom Brady. After taking two sacks in the first quarter and a monster hit (penalized for roughing the passer) from Adrian Clayborn in the second, Brady was fairly well-protected. 

PATRIOTS 23, FALCONS 3

2) Tom Brady lamented the fact that he hadn't been more accurate in the red zone of late, but he was better in that area to help the Patriots pad their early lead. 

The Patriots went 2-for-3 in the red zone through the first half, with Brady hitting on touchdown passes to Brandin Cooks (which looked more like an end-around hand-off) and James White. Brady still had moments of inaccuracy. The pass he lofted before being croaked by Clayborn was a bad one that was intercepted. (The pick was wiped after the penalty was enforced.) He threw behind Chris Hogan on multiple occasions. He also had an odd throw float well out of bounds that was intended for Rob Gronkowski. But for the most part he was on point, completing 21 of his first 29 throws for 241 yards. 

3) The Patriots defense showed up in critical moments time and time again in this one. 

They stopped the Falcons twice on fourth down, and they allowed Matt Ryan and his offense to convert on just two of their first nine third-down plays. The Falcons coaching staff deserves plenty of criticism for going for it when they did, but with a banged-up secondary, going against the reigning MVP and one of the best receivers in the league, the Patriots responded.

4) Bill Belichick's run defense was particularly impressive in the first half on Sunday night, helping keep the Falcons from getting anything going until it was too late. 

They allowed just 30 yards on nine attempts in the first two quarters (a 3.3 yards per attempt average), with Malcom Brown, Trey Flowers, Kyle Van Noy, Lawrence Guy and Deatrich Wise all making impressive stops at, near or behind the line of scrimmage. 

5) The Patriots suffered a handful of injuries to key players that will be worth keeping an eye on moving forward. 

Malcom Brown left the game in the second half with an ankle injury. Their top defensive tackle this season, Brown's absence may be one reason for why the Falcons were able to pump up their rushing yardage to triple digits by midway through the fourth quarter. Dont'a Hightower also left the game and was announced as questionable to return with a shoulder injury. Hightower has had a history of shoulder issues and so perhaps this is an older injury that was re-aggravated. Chris Hogan also left the game briefly and was evaluated for a concussion, according to NBC's television broadcast. He later returned.

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