Bruins

Ventrone talks about roster yo-yoing

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Ventrone talks about roster yo-yoing

FOXBORO -- Death, taxes, and Ross Ventrone transactions.

The Patriots' safety has been involved in 21 transactions since signing with the Patriots as a rookie free agent. He's been cut by the team six times since August. Each time has been soon followed up with his activation to the practice squad.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick said on Friday that he is proud of the way Ventrone has responded each and every time he's cut and then brought right back on board.

"He's handled it great," said Belichick. "We've had other guys along with him that have been on or off the practice squad, or from the practice squad to the roster. But probably none more than him. He might lead the league in transactions. He's got to be right up there.

"But he's handled it great. We have a good line of communication and understanding."

As for how Ventrone feels? Well, he's just happy to always be called back.

"To be bounced around like that, it is pretty unique," said Ventrone on Friday. "But week-to-week, I just look at it as hopefully I'm going to play. I'm going to prepare like I'm going to play."

Ventrone has appeared in five games this season and has recorded one tackle. In order to keep him on his toes, and make sure he's ready to be activated to the 53-man roster when needed, Belichick surprises him sometimes at practice.

"Look, in the end, either you play in a game or don't," said Belichick. "That's what it comes down to. So you get prepared to play every week. If the coaches give you the opportunity to play, you play. If the coaches don't, then as a player, you can take what you learned that week, and get ready for this week. And he's don't a great job of that, outstanding.

"He's been ready when we've called him up a couple times. Sometimes, we had a feeling that we were going to be doing that. But other times, it's really been kind of a last-minute thing. And he's always been well-prepared and ready to go. We throw him in there when he kind of least expects it in practice, and he's prepared."

He's prepared because, regardless of how many times he's been cut and then brought back in, Ventrone prepares just as much as anyone else on the team.

"Every week, whatever my role is that week, I have to plan like I'm going to be playing the whole game," said Ventrone. "One injury away from going in. So I just plan and prepare like I'm going to be playing the whole game. I get into the game plan and everything, and study up just as much as anybody else."

Of course, whenever Ventrone is cut, there's no guarantee that he'll be available to the Patriots. He has to clear waivers first.

It's a risk that Belichick continues to take, knowing full well that someone could claim him. It just hasn't happened yet.

And as the weeks go by, and the transactions continue to include his name, Ventrone continues to become more and more of a Patriot, as evident on Friday in front of his locker, when asked if he ever thinks of what his football career would be like if he was claimed by another team.

"I'm just worried about the Chiefs right now," said Ventrone.

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."