On booing Vinatieri

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On booing Vinatieri

If not for Gronks injury, yesterday would have gone down as the most inspiring win of the Patriots season. And even with the unfortunate break, Sunday still qualifies as their most complete effort since Week 1 in Tennessee.

The offense was clicking, the defense made plays and the special teams (especially the PAT blocking) were on point. If not for Gronks injury, Im not sure wed have anything to complain about. Instead, Im guessing more than a few people might have pulled out the old: You know, the Pats are one Gostkowski chip shot, one extended upright and one Russell Wilson bomb away from 10-0!

But even if Gronk had escaped with his arm in one piece, I'd say there was one other sour development during Sunday's win:

The booing of Adam Vinatieri.

I dont want to make a big deal out of it, because we all know its just a game. Literally and figuratively. We know, despite the boos, that there will come a time when Vinateris standing at the 50-yard line, accepting his induction into the Patriots Hall of Fame, and at that point no one will care about the Colts. There won't be any boos. Hell joke and well laugh, before forgiving, forgetting and collectively recognizing his place on the dynasty's Mount Rushmore.

When it comes down to it, I don't think that the fans who booed Vinatieri yesterday are disrespectful or ungrateful or have somehow forgotten everything that he did for this franchise like I said, it's just a game I guess I'm just shocked by how many people are still care enough to boo.

Sure, he pissed off a lot of people. What Vinatieri did was no better or worse than what Ray Allen pulled last summer. But seven years later, with the Pats-Colts rivalry a thing of the past and Vinatieri barely relevant on the NFL radar?

Still booing? I'm not even mad. That's amazing.

But seriously, when was the last time anyone was affected by Adam Vinatieri playing for the Colts? How many people even knew that he was still playing for the Colts? And while I'm really not trying to preach at the boo birds, I wonder how many of them realized that, given his impending free agency, recent struggles and upcoming 40th birthday, this may have been Vinatieri's last career game at Gillette, and New England's last chance to see one of the two most important players in franchise history?

Eh, it probably wouldn't have mattered. Boo birds gonna boo. It's their God-given right.

And when it comes to Vinatieri, I'm just a little surprised by how many fans still feel like exercising it.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Report: Steelers' offer for Dont'a Hightower was bigger than Patriots'

Report: Steelers' offer for Dont'a Hightower was bigger than Patriots'

Dont'a Hightower left money on the table in New York and in Pittsburgh, and instead took a smaller deal to return the New England Patriots, according to CBSSports' Jason La Canfora.

The Jets' offer was previously reported to be $12 million per year, including incentives. La Canfora reiterated that report. But he also detailed Pittsburgh's offer, as the Steelers also outbid the Patriots with over $9 million per year.

Instead, Hightower settled for $8.7 million per season with New England, and will play under Bill Belichick in a Patriots jersey for the sixth season in 2017.

Hightower traveled a great deal during free agency, and ended up garnering interest from the Steelers, Jets, Tennessee Titans and Miami Dolphins.

The 27-year-old linebacker finished the 2016 season with 65 tackles tackles, 2.5 sacks, two pass deflections and one forced fumble. He also had a game-changing strip sack on Matt Ryan in Super Bowl LI that shifted the momentum of game.

Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia spotted at Notre Dame pro day

Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia spotted at Notre Dame pro day

The Patriots were represented all over the country on Thursday at various pro days in order to scout potential draftees. They had a scout at Stanford. Bill Belichick was seen at Ohio State. And defensive coordinator Matt Patricia traveled to South Bend in order to get a closer look at some of Notre Dame's best players.

The biggest name working out was quarterback DeShone Kizer -- who threw passes to former Patriots running back Jonas Gray -- but Patricia was probably spending the majority of his energy getting a grip on what the defensive players present could do. 

He was seen spending a few extra minutes off to the side with linebacker James Onwualu, who served as a captain last season for the Fighting Irish.

Onwualu checks in at 6-foot-1, 232 pounds and projects as someone who could contribute immediately on special teams as a pro. A former receiver, he has good quickness and experts say he has an unrelenting motor, but his size makes it difficult to envision him as an NFL starter. He made 76 tackles last season, including 11.5 tackles for a loss and three sacks.

Here are a couple of the other Notre Dame defensive prospects Patricia may have had his eyes on . . . 

Jarron Jones, defensive tackle: Jones has great size (6-6, 316 pounds, 35.5-inch arms, 10.5 inch hands) and athleticism, but Lance Zierlein of NFL.com spoke to one NFC scouting director who called him a "character flag." Will he be motivated enough to capitalize on his physical gifts as a pro?

Isaac Rochell, defensive tackle: A team captain along with Onwualu last season, the 6-4, 280-pounder was close to an every-down player each of the last three years. Zierlein compares Rochell to newly-acquired Patriots defensive lineman Lawrence Guy since he's a little bit of a 'tweener but a high-energy guy who may have the ability to play multiple positions up front. Could be worthy of late-round consideration for the Patriots.