BOSTON — It may have been the first thing James White has dropped since before the Super Bowl.
The Patriots running back, who scored the game-winning touchdown Sunday, performed the ceremonial puck drop as he and 13 other members of the Super Bowl champs were honored on the ice before the Bruins game against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday at TD Garden.
The 14 Patriots, wearing Bruins jerseys with their names and football jersey number - and the coaches wearing No. 5 to represent the Pats' fifth title - walked to center ice to the delight of the crowd.
White — who scored three touchdowns and caught a Super Bowl-record 14 passes from Tom Brady in the 34-28 comeback win over the Falcons, was joined by special teams captain Matthew Slater, offensive linemen Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer, and center David Andrews, among other players. Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and safties coach Stephen Belichick, son of head coach Bill Belichick, were among the coaching staff on the ice.
The elder Belichick is participating in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament in California this weekend.
Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater has signed a two-year deal to return to the team, according to an ESPN's Mike Reiss.
Slater had made a free-agent visit to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday. The seven-time Pro Bowl special teams ace, who turns 33 in September, has spent the past 10 seasons in a New England. Slater, one of the veteran leaders in the locker room, signed a one-year, $1.8 million contract extension in 2016.
The Patriots traded with the Oakland Raiders for kick returner/wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson earlier this week to bolster their special teams.
A new catch rule is coming to the NFL.
So, controversies such as the Jesse James' touchdown reversal in the Steelers' loss to the Patriots in December and the Kelvin Benjamin call in the Bills-Pats game a week later likely would have resulted in upheld TDs under the new rule.
According to the Washington Post, Troy Vincent, the NFL VP of football operations, said competition committee members plan to propose getting rid of portions of the rule related to a receiver going to the ground while making a catch and to slight movement of the football while it’s in the receiver’s hands. Vincent also said the committee also intends to raise the bar by which an on-field ruling of a catch could be overturned via replay review.
That apparently was what was done in Super Bowl 52, when the Eagles' Corey Clement's juggling TD catch was not overturned via replay.
“We worked backward,” said Vincent told the Post. “We looked at plays and said: Do you want that to be a catch? And then we applied that to the rule.”
The rule modifications could be approved by the competition committee as early Tuesday, the Post reported, and owners will meet next week in Orlando to vote on it. Rule changes must be approved by at least 24 of the 32 franchises. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been pushing for the catch rule to be modified.