Bruins

Vinatieri booed: 'That's what they're supposed to do'

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Vinatieri booed: 'That's what they're supposed to do'

FOXBORO -- After the Colts scored their first touchdown in the first quarter of a 59-24 loss to the Patriots, Adam Vinatieri jogged on to the field and lined up the subsequent extra-point try.

A camera showed Vinatieri's face on the Gillette Stadium's big screen and boos rained down on the kicker.

That's right. The former Patriots kicker who won three Super Bowls in New England and made the game-winning kick in two, was booed by the fans who used to cheer him.

"They love to boo me," Vinatieri said with a smile. "It's good though. I get it, though. It's a fun gamesmanship type of thing. And then they say a lot of nice stuff as we're leaving, and the score's in their favor. I don't know if they'd be saying the same thing if the score was the other way around, but I respect that."

Vinatieri said that for the many fans who boo him, there are still plenty who praise him whenever he's within earshot.

"Same ones that were booing at the very end were saying 'Hey, still love you man!' " he said. "So it's all good."

Vinatieri handled the boos, and the questions about them, with class.

"I understand the deal," he said. "That's home-field advantage, that's what you're supposed to do. Get loud and get rowdy and try to make it hard on the other team. Put your blinders on and just keep going forward."

When Vinatieri returns to New England, there's another, more pleasant, interaction he looks forward to. He was seen exchanging pleasantries with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady before the game, the lone remaining player on the Patriots when Vinatieri left for Indianapolis as a free agent in 2006.

"I got a lot of love for guys like Brady and all my buddies that we played together for a bunch of years and accomplished a lot of neat things with the Patriots," Vinatieri said. "Whenever I get the opportunity to shake their hand and say 'How's the wife?' -- I hear they're pregnant again so that's awesome. I don't talk to him often enough so it's nice to catch up with him when I can."

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."