Bruins

Soccer player's father abducted in Nigeria

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Soccer player's father abducted in Nigeria

From Comcast SportsNet Monday, August 15, 2011
LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) -- The father of Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel has been abducted in Nigeria's restive central region, police said Monday. Plateau state police commissioner Dipo Ayeni told The Associated Press that Michael Obi disappeared from his home on Friday. Ayeni said he had no other details about the kidnapping. "We are still searching to find his location," Ayeni said. A spokesman for Nigeria's federal police command in Abuja, the country's capital, declined to comment. London-based Sport Entertainment & Media Group, John Obi Mikel's management company, said no ransom demand had been made. It said Chelsea was looking at "security issues" after the abduction. "Mikel was informed by his manager prior to the Stoke v Chelsea match & decided to play so as not to let down his team & family," the media group said on Twitter. John Obi Mikel has played with Chelsea since 2006. He previously played for Nigerian Premier League club Plateau United and on Nigeria's Under-20 squad. "We will give Mikel and his family our full support at this most difficult time," Chelsea said on its website. Nigeria, an oil-rich country of 150 million people, is almost evenly split between Muslims in the north and the predominantly Christian south. Plateau state, in Nigeria's fertile central belt, has seen thousands die in recent years in religious and ethnic violence rooted largely on political and economic issues. Mikel's family, from the Igbo tribe, are a minority in the area. Kidnappings in Plateau state are a rarity when compared to Nigeria's oil-rich southern delta, where militants and criminal gangs often kidnap foreigners for ransom. Middle class Nigerian families also increasingly find themselves targeted in the country's east as well. The abduction comes after a Forbes magazine survey in June named Mikel as the seventh highest-paid African player in Europe. The magazine listed Mikel's salary as 5.8 million a year.

Morning Skate: Cheers for Boyle as he returns to practice with Devils

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Morning Skate: Cheers for Boyle as he returns to practice with Devils

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while determined to go see Foo Fighters at Fenway Park this time around. 
 
-- In the great news department, Hingham native Brian Boyle hears cheers at practice as he returns to work for the New Jersey Devils after his cancer diagnosis. Boyle might be wearing a Devils uniform, but he knows he has all of Boston in his corner along with many, many other corners of the hockey world. 

-- There is no panic with the Maple Leafs over the slow start for Mitch Marner, who has been dropped to the fourth line in the early going.
 
-- Wellesley native Chris Wagner is beginning to get recognized for his big hits and physical play with the Anaheim Ducks

-- Senators prospect and Massachusetts native Joey Daccord makes an unbelievable game-saving stop for his college team. 

-- For something completely different: Greg Nicotero talks about the Walking Dead premiere, and a character thought dead that might actually still be alive.
 

'Forgotten man' David Harris plays key role in win over Falcons

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'Forgotten man' David Harris plays key role in win over Falcons

For the first six weeks of the season, Patriots veteran linebacker David Harris was little more than an insurance policy.

At $1.25 million guaranteed this season, he was one of the pricer policies on the team, but his playing time told the story of where he stood on Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia's depth chart. His seven total defensive snaps slotted him in behind Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts and Dont'a Hightower among off-the-ball 'backers. 

So when Harris saw 19 snaps -- making three tackles in the process -- against the Falcons and their speedy offensive weapons on Sunday night, it caught our attention. Here are a few of the elements that came into play, leading to Harris' increase in playing time. 

1) Injuries to other Patriots linebackers created an opening for Harris. Roberts was announced as inactive prior to kickoff due to an ankle injury. Later in the night, Hightower suffered a shoulder injury that knocked him from action. That left Van Noy, Harris and Marquis Flowers as the team's linebackers in uniform. Harris got the nod over Flowers, who's primarily a special-teamer.

2) Falcons personnel called for the Patriots to use their base defense at times. The game opened with the Falcons going with a two-back set, encouraging Belichick to go with bigger personnel. The Patriots didn't have to stick with their regular group because the Falcons used primarily one-back sets over the course of the night, But even with Hightower healthy and available, what happened early in the game proved that there were certain packages that called for Harris to be on the field. He saw one early, picking up his first start as a member of the Patriots. 

3) The work Harris has put in during practices and off the field allowed the Patriots coaching staff to trust him when he was called upon. Belichick has lauded Harris all season for his professionalism, and on Monday morning he continued to heap praise on the 33-year-old. "As always, I think David works hard and is very well prepared and did all of the right things that we would want him to do from an assignment standpoint," Belichick said. "He gave us some good plays, was in on a few plays. Again, handled the communication in the front well. We’ll see if we can build on it. We’ve got a lot of good play from a number of guys and he’s certainly part of that group."