Patriots defense ready for Luck to run

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Patriots defense ready for Luck to run

FOXBORO -- Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck's numbers aren't all that eye-popping.

This year's No. 1 overall draft pick completes 57.5 percent of his passes. His touchdown-to-interception ratio is 10-to-9. He's fumbled seven times. His quarterback rating is a ho-hum 79.1.

But the Patriots know he's better than the average rookie quarterback, and the tactics they may use to rattle other first-year signal-callers won't apply this week, according to linebacker Jerod Mayo.

"He's a good player," Mayo said of Luck. "He can run, do a lot of different things. He has a lot of different weapons, and he's a good player so it'll take 11 men to stop him."

Mayo said the Colts offense does some things similarly to the Steelers offenses of the past under interim head coach (former Pittsburgh offensive coordinator) Bruce Arians. But with Luck's ability to move around in the pocket and use his speed to pick up yardage when plays break down, it's a new look for New England.

Luck averages 4.7 yards every time he tucks it and runs, and he has rushed for five touchdowns this season. The only quarterback with more touchdown runs is this year's No. 2 overall pick, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (6).

"He's a great runner," Mayo said of Luck. "You look at his combine results and things like that, you can tell he can run the ball. At the same time, he can run and throw. So it'll be a difficult time to try to slow him down."

This will be the Patriots defense's second chance to stop a rookie quarterback this season. They lost to Russell Wilson and the Seahawks in Week 6, 24-23, when the Wisconsin product threw for 293 yards and three touchdowns, including a 46-yarder to receiver Sidney Rice with less than two minutes left in the fourth-quarter.

The Patriots will face a challenge to achieve a different result this time around. Luck's mostly mediocre numbers aside, the one that sticks out is the Colts record with him under center.

They're 6-3, just like the Patriots.

Acciari notches first NHL goal in Bruins win over Predators

Acciari notches first NHL goal in Bruins win over Predators

BOSTON – It took until his 43rd game in the NHL to finally score his first goal with the Bruins, but Rhode Island native Noel Acciari said it made him appreciate it all the more when that moment finally did arrived on Tuesday night. The 25-year-old Acciari finished off a Riley Nash feed on a 3-on-1 odd-man rush that gave the Bruins an insurance goal they badly needed in a 4-1 win over the Nashville Predators at TD Garden.

Then David Pastrnak hit Acciari with a shaving cream pie to the face during the NESN broadcast as a way to commemorate his teammate’s big scoring moment, and Torey Krug immediately fished the puck out of the net to make certain that Acciari would get it.

So it was the best of both worlds with the team-oriented Acciari, who watched his Bruins win to go right along with his hallmark scoring moment that he’ll remember forever.

“Your first NHL goal is a special feeling and to finally have it, you know, like I said before I couldn’t have done it without the other guys, the other four, five guys on the ice. But it feels good,” said Acciari, who has a goal and four points in 24 games this season in Boston. “It just shows you how special it is. It’s not going to come the first game you play; it could come 10, 20, for me probably over 40, but it still feels the same.”

Clearly it’s more about providing a physical, heavy and aggressive opponent when Acciari suits up for the Black and Gold, and it’s less about providing offensive production that’s really a bonus from the fourth line. The focus on throwing hits, aggravating opponents and playing with extra energy have been a big part of Acciari’s game since his return from Providence, and that is absolutely been by design.

“I think I kind of strayed [from my strengths] when I got back from my injury – I kind of strayed away from the hitting game,” said Acciari. “Just getting in on the fore-check and, you know, just kind of getting back to that down in Providence was huge and kind of get my confidence up down there helped out a lot. So when I got the call up I was ready for anything.”

He’s certainly played like he was ready for anything while posting a goal and two points along with a plus-4 in his first four games back for the Bruins organization. Acciari did all of that while leading everybody in Tuesday night’s game with eight registered hits in the win over Nashville. So the 5-foot-10, 208-pound Acciari gave a pretty good example against the Predators of just what he can do with steady ice time and the trust of his teammates as all of the hockey clubs in the East gear up to finish strong for the playoffs.

Now all Acciari has to do is continue to play consistently, punish opposing players and chip in a little offense from time and time as he carves out a permanent role on Boston’s fourth line, and helps his team win a few along the way. 

Florio on issues NFL may face with Raiders in Las Vegas

Florio on issues NFL may face with Raiders in Las Vegas

Mike Florio joins Quick Slants to discuss the problems of the Raiders moving to Las Vegas, and the latest NFL rule changes.