FOXBORO -- "My heart was here all along," said Matthew Slater. "I wanted to be here."
New England's special teams captain, working out Tuesday at Gillette, was exceptionally gracious when discussing his recent contract extension. This spring marked his first experience in free agency since being drafted by the Patriots in 2008.
"I was just happy they felt the same way about me and they wanted me back," he said. "For me, it was a no-brainer. I'm just very thankful they wanted me back here and they've given me an opportunity to continue my career here, just as they did four years ago. They gave me an opportunity to keep playing football when maybe not a lot of people would have. I'm just thankful to be here."
Where signing a three-year, 5.4 million deal doesn't let him forget last year's Super Bowl loss, it helps in looking toward the future. Yes, he's watched the game -- at the urging of his three-time NFL All Pro dad Jackie Slater. He's even been haunted by dreams of XLVI, dreams where the Patriots actually win.
But it's time to move on.
"I think it's important for us as a team to understand, we're not a Super Bowl team at this point. This is a new team. This is not the 2011 team. We shouldn't come in there expecting for teams to say 'Oh, that's the Patriots. They were in the Super Bowl last year.'
"We have to re-establish an identity. There's new players; we have to create an identity for this 2012 team. We're going to have to earn everything all over again. So we're back at ground zero now. We have a lot of work to do.''
FOXBORO — It's safe to say Chris Hogan, David Andrews and Marcus Cannon won't play Sunday against the Dolphins.:
The trio was not on the field for the media portion of Friday’s practice, completing a week in which the three did not practice at all. Hogan has been out with a shoulder injury, while Andrews missed last week’s win over the Raiders due to illness and Cannon has been dealing with an ankle injury.
Martellus Bennett was also absent, making it two straight days in which he did not take the field. Bennett, who was released by Green Bay this season amid questions of whether he would undergo surgery, is listed on the injury report with shoulder and hamstring issues.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while anticpating the turkey leftovers, ready for the taking.
-- NHL referee Wes McCauley is at it again, this time going with a fun no-goal call after having some trouble with his microphone.
-- After getting humbled on Opening Night by the Bruins, the Nashville Predators are starting to get on a roll.
-- NBC Pro Hockey Talk has Kyle Turris excelling for the Predators, and Matt Duchene very much still stuck in neutral for the Ottawa Senators.
-- NHL stars go through their favorite traditions, and what they enjoy is a game that’s full of routine, superstition and tradition.
-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Ray Ferraro says “it looks rotten” with the Edmonton Oilers as they continue to struggle out of the starting gate.
-- Larry Brooks goes through an all-time ranking of the general managers for the New York Rangers, and it’s an illustrious list.
-- The Vegas Golden Knights could make the playoffs in their very first season, and are absolutely far ahead of expectations for a new expansion team.
-- For something completely different: Wild turkeys are making a major comeback in Massachusetts after being all but extinct here.