Kuechly sounding like a pro already


Kuechly sounding like a pro already

It would be interesting to see Luke Kuechly rattled. As of now, it's tough to imagine.

The former Boston College linebacker, a projected first-round NFL Draft pick, changes direction in interviews as smoothly as he does on the field. Kuechly held court for over 10 minutes during Wednesday's Pro Day. Reporters set questions up and Kuechly felled them, with an efficiency more resembling a machine gun than an axe.

In certain instances the 21-year old sounded like he was schooling veteran media members on the Combine and Pro Day processes.

"Each room's kind of different," Kuechly said of February's interviews in Indianapolis. "But they can only meet with you for 15 minutes so they can't get a whole bunch of stuff done. It's a lot of quick background stuff -- where you're from, who your family is -- some teams watch a little bit of film with you. But it's 15 minutes at the end of the day it's snapsnapsnapsnap and you're out the door."

Was New England one of the 18-20 teams he met with at the Combine?


Who from the Patriots did he talk with?

"Everything kind of washes together."

So that interview just melted right into a chitchat with, let's say, Tampa Bay? Sure.

To think about it, Kuechly's cold calm in handling interrogation suits him. He doesn't waste a minute during workouts. Kuechly answered questions about his speed by posting a 4.58 40-yard dash at the Combine.

On Pro Day he worked head-and-shoulders above the rest: cleaner direction changes with a quicker burst, smooth through the hips coming out of breaks. A textbook tackler showing how it's done.

Philadelphia Eagles linebackers coach Mike Caldwell, who directed the group of four linebackers at Alumni Stadium, was likely pleased. Kuechly has been linked to the Eagles for weeks and said Caldwell called him last week to say he'd be in Boston.

But has the flirtation been tempered by the Eagles' recent signing of DeMeco Ryans? Kuechly appeared unbothered by the idea.

"One of my buddies told me about the Ryans deal," Kuechly smiled. "He's a good player."
Completely unfazed. No rambling declaration of why he's still worthy of Philly's Number 9 pick. Just a grin.

Kuechly similarly dismissed a question regarding Pro Day injury concern. Why risk tweaking a knee when you're a first-round lock, anyway?

"When you're playing it's the last thing you think about," he said. "You've got to go out there and do what you've been doing forever and let your body take care of itself. It's not something that goes across my mind really.

"You just got to get out there and do it. Just another opportunity for people to see you."
So it's back to what Kuechly calls "The Waiting Game." To Carolina, to Cincinnati, and back to IMG Training Academy in Florida. He doesn't have many visits planned yet but "that will pick up," he assured.

"That's the weird part right now is you don't really know what your schedule's going to be. I just found out today that I'm going to be going back to Cincinnati on Saturday.

"You live it day by day and kind of see what they throw at you and go from there."

One would expect nothing less.

Game notes: Patriots vs. Steelers


Game notes: Patriots vs. Steelers

A quick look at the information you need to know about today's Patriots-Steelers game:

TEAM RECORDS: Patriots 5-1, Steelers 4- 2

GAME TIME: 4:25 p.m. EST


TV ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms and Tracy Wolfson


NATIONAL RADIO ANNOUNCERS: Larry Kahn, Mark Carrier and Troy West

LOCAL RADIO NETWORK: Anchored by WBZ-FM (98.5 The Sports Hub)

LOCAL RADIO ANNOUNCERS: Bob Socci and Scott Zolak


LAST MEETING: Patriots 28, Steelers 21 on Sept. 10, 2015 at Gillette Stadium

* * * *
-- The Patriots are 8-11 against the Steelers in Pittsburgh in their history, but are 4-2 at Heinz Field. Included in those four Heinz Field victories are two in AFC Championship Games (in the 2001 and 2004 seasons).

-- Tom Brady is 8-2 against the Steelers in his career.

-- The last time Brady played the Steelers, in 2015, he set a Patriots franchise record with 19 consecutive pass completions.

-- The Patriots are 108-70 (.607) in road games since 1994, the best record in the NFL over that span. The Steelers (97- 82, .542) are second.

-- The Patriots have yet to throw an interception in 2016, setting a team record for consecutive games without an interception at the start of a season (6). The NFL record for consecutive games at the start of a season without a pick is 9, set by the 1960 Browns. The Patriots' franchise record for overall consecutive games with no interceptions is 8, set in 2010.

* * * *
-- Rob Gronkowski has 67 overall touchdowns and needs one to tie Stanley Morgan (68) for the franchise record.

-- Gronkowski has 66 receiving touchdowns and needs one to tie Morgan (67) for the franchise record.

-- Gronkowski has 22 100-yard receiving games, including two in 2016, and is tied with Jackie Smith for the third-most among all NFL tight ends. The only TEs who have more are Kellen Winslow (24) and Tony Gonzalez (31).

Haggerty: Bruins continue to stumble against Canadiens at home

Haggerty: Bruins continue to stumble against Canadiens at home

BOSTON -- One of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Much like Charlie Brown was never going to actually kick the football before Lucy pulled it away, it feels like the Bruins are never again going to beat the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden. They failed again Saturday night, never holding a lead at any point as they dropped their ninth straight home game to the Habs, 4-2.

Bruins-Canadiens games in Boston have become the hockey version of 'Groundhog Day', as the same patterns emerge over and over again: Montreal's speed forces the Bruins into mistakes with the puck; Habs players draw the B’s into taking bad penalties; Carey Price dominates in goal. It's been that way ever since the last Bruin victory over Montreal at the Garden, on Jan. 12, 2012. To put it perspective, Tim Thomas and Tyler Seguin were still Bruins back then.

Saturday night's loss, though, had a little added twist: The B's second-period woes, such a problem last year, reared its ugly head again.

“[The second period was] terrible, and that’s where it really hurt us," said Claude Julien. "I thought we played well (in the first period) . . . But the second period came back to haunt us. We were flat coming out. We didn’t make good outlet passes, and we spent way too much time in our own end, and because of that, it gave them some momentum. And by the end of it, we cheated ourselves a little bit, and pucks ended up in the back of our net . . .

"[When] you give up four goals to Montreal, and you have Price at the other end, it’s pretty hard to beat that team. So we needed to be better . . . [We] shot ourselves in the foot with some real poor mistakes, and we can’t afford to do that against the Montreal Canadiens."

The Bruins were essentially done for after a couple of very typical Boston-Montreal plays went against them in the middle 20 minutes.

The first was a defensive coverage breakdown in the D-zone that allowed both Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher to operate with time and space. Five B’s players simply watched as Gallagher smoked a one-timer from the outside of the left circle that eluded Anton Khudobin.

Then, later in the period, John-Michael Liles misread a play where he pinched deep in the offensive zone and couldn’t control the puck. As a result, Alexander Radulov worked a 2-on-1 with Phillip Danault to skilled perfection on a typical Habs transition play.

"I think our second period has got to be better overall," said Patrice Bergeron. "We talked about them having a good forecheck . . . [but] we didn’t make the easy plays too many times. When you do that, it creates turnovers and you spend more time in your zone than you’d like to."

From there, it was just more of the same. Playing with the lead, Montreal was able to neutralize Bergeron and Brad Marchand; Bergeron never got a shot on goal. Price came up big when he had to, shutting down a couple of Ryan Spooner chances.

And Bruin weaknesses were exposed, things Julien and the coaching staff may have to address. It looks like it’s time to move on from the Joe Morrow/Torey Krug defense pairing; it's simply not working. (Krug, in particular, was a minus-3 and made mistakes all over the ice.) They also may need to switch things up with the forwards, as they're getting zippo offensively from their second and third lines.

To their credit, the Bruins never packed it in. They hung in and made plays in the third period to keep the game close, right up to the 6-on-3 advantage they had at the end. But there are no consolation prizes or moral victories in the Boston-Montreal rivalry, especially when the Habs have made it so one-sided.

To be a true rivalry, you need equal rivals. And the Bruins, especially at home, aren’t holding up their end of the bargain.