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Aaron Hernandez lets Chad Ochocinco off easy

07.30.11 at 5:06 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Aaron Hernandez ‘€” even though he’s just entering his second season in the NFL ‘€” knew full well that the first question he was going to get asked Saturday wasn’t about the health of his hip or what he’s doing to avoid a sophomore jinx.

As Hernandez came off the field it was about a particular uniform number he wore in 2010 and won’t be in 2011.

The No. 85 now belongs to Chad Ochocinco, and Hernandez did not even hold Ocho over a barrel for it. But he joked that perhaps he had a little remorse after handing it over just to be a good teammate.

“I don’€™t know, we’€™re playing at a high level, so all of us have a decent amount of money, but I definitely should have, but I didn’€™t and it was just a welcome to the team,” Hernandez said. “I’€™m glad to have him. Hopefully we can get some big things out of him this year, like everybody else. And I thought he may look better and play better in 85 since that’€™s his last name, so why not give it to him.

“As soon as he came in, I saw him smiling. I knew he was going to talk to me about the number. I already knew as soon as they took him that there was a chance he would to want the number. I obviously could have been like, ‘€˜No, I don’€™t want to give it up,’€™ but I’€™m not that type of person. There was 81, the jersey I wanted when I came here, but [Randy] Moss had it so it actually worked out perfectly.”

Told that Ocho was willing to let him drive his Prius for the number, Hernandez seemed ‘€” well ‘€” underwhelmed.

“Maybe the Lambo,” referring to Ocho’s famous matte black Lamborghini.

So, Hernandez gets a new number, the No. 81, which belonged to Randy Moss at this time last year. Jeremy Ross had it at the start of camp this year but that lasted all of two days.

“No, I wasn’€™t giving up 85 unless I could get a decent number,” Hernandez said.

As for the important stuff, Hernandez said that his hip, injured last December against Green Bay, has healed nicely from surgery in February and is ready for the NFL rigors.

“I’€™m doing good,” Hernandez said, adding that the coaching staff was sure to take it slow in the first couple of days to make sure he was ready. “I feel good. I feel ready to play. Just taking it slow. Making sure I’€™m healthy because of the lockout. They weren’€™t keeping an eye on me, so they didn’€™t really know where I was at. But I feel good, I’€™m ready to go.

Hernandez believes there will be no long-term effects of the hip injury. In other words, he’s ready to go full speed.

“Yeah, I’€™m not a doctor but I hope so,” he said.

Read More: 2011 training camp, Aaron Hernandez, Chad Ochocinco, Jeremy Ross

Colts sign Peyton Manning to extension

07.30.11 at 4:09 pm ET
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Peyton Manning finally got his new deal on Saturday, as Colts owner Jim Irsay tweeted: OFFICIAL—-WE HAVE A DEAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Irsay also tweeted the terms of the deal, which will pay the four-time NFL MVP $90 million over five years. The owner noted that the contract was “cap friendly” and will pay Manning $69 million in the deal’s first three years.

The $18 million a year is equal to what reigning MVP Tom Brady makes and puts him next to the Patriots quarterback as the two highest-paid players in the league. An 11-time Pro Bowler, Manning is set to enter his 14th season since being drafted first overall by the Colts in the 1998 draft.

Read More: 2011 NFL Signings, Jim Irsay, Peyton Manning,

Report: Saints agree to terms with Mark Ingram

07.30.11 at 4:04 pm ET
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The Saints and Mark Ingram, the 28th pick in the 2011 draft, have agreed to terms on a deal, according to a tweet from Adam Schefter. Ingram enjoyed a three-year career with the University of Alabama, skipping his senior season to declare for the draft. As a sophomore, Ingram won the Heisman Trophy over Stanford running back Toby Gerhart and Texas quarterback Colt McCoy.

The cover athlete of NCAA Football ’12 rushed for a school-record 1,658 yards and 17 touchdowns, leading Alabama to a BCS national championship. In the title game against against Texas, he tallied 116 yards and a pair of scores on 22 attempts. An injury-plagued junior year, in which he compiled only 875 yards in 11 games, hurt his draft stock. However, he was still widely considered a first-round talent at the time he declared for the draft.

Nineteen of the 32 first-round selections in the 2011 draft have now agreed to terms with their respective teams, according to

Read More: 2011 NFL Signings, Mark Ingram, new orleans saints,

Report: Ty Warren to visit Broncos

07.30.11 at 3:57 pm ET
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According to a report in the Denver Post, former Patriots defensive end Ty Warren will visit the Broncos Saturday night.

With the Broncos switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3, so too would Warren. The former 13th overall pick played five-technique in the Patriots’ 3-4 but would likely move inside to play the three-technique in Denver if he were to sign.

Warren had played his entire career with the Patriots, winning two Super Bowls, before being released by the team Friday. He reportedly failed his conditioning test due to a hamstring issue.

Read More: 2011 NFL Signings, Ty Warren,

Why Kevin Faulk decided he wasn’t done with football or the Patriots

07.30.11 at 3:57 pm ET
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FOXBORO — After signing a new contract to return to the Patriots for a 13th season, veteran running back Kevin Faulk said Bill Belichick was the biggest reason he was motivated to rehab his knee following surgery and come back to the team.

“Honestly speaking, before the lockout started, Bill called me and told me, ‘Hey Kevin, I want you on my team in 2011.’ That was motivation enough for me to go out and rehab my butt off and get ready for the season, whenever it may be and whenever it may come,” Faulk said Saturday at Gillette Stadium. “So, that was pretty much enough for me.”

Faulk tore the ACL in his right knee during a Week 2 loss to the Jets last season at the New Meadowlands Stadium. He had reconstructive surgery in October, ending his 2010 season. Faulk, who turned 35 on June 5, is the longest-tenured Patriot on the roster, entering his 13th season. Last season, Faulk was limited to just two games due to an injury. He had eight rushing attempts for 45 yards and caught six passes for 62 yards.

The versatile Faulk has filled numerous roles since joining the team in 1999 as a second-round pick (46th overall) out of LSU. He is the Patriots’ all-time leader in all-purpose yards (12,247) and kickoff return yards (4,098) and is the Patriots’€™ all-time leading return specialist, totaling 5,030 combined return yards (4,098 kick return yards and 932 punt return yards).

He was asked several questions at noontime press conference at Gillette Stadium about why and how he rehabbed and decided to come back to the Patriots.

Q: When did you decide that you wanted to come back for another year and was retirement a real consideration this offseason?

KF: The day I got hurt. That was it.

Q: So you knew that wasn’€™t going to be the last thing you did playing football?

KF: That was my mindset, but at the same time I knew I had to make the football team.

Q: Did you watch any of the draft as the Patriots were drafting running backs and did that give you a little more motivation?

KF: Of course I watched the draft and while they were drafting running backs. It didn’€™t faze me or anything because that’€™s what this team does; they build a championship team and whatever they have to do, that’€™s what they’€™re going to do. And I’€™m a competitor. That’€™s why I play this game. I want to compete with the best in the NFL. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 training camp, Danny Woodhead, Kevin Faulk, New England Patriots

A touchy, feely Chad Ochocinco actually promises he won’t talk much

07.30.11 at 1:49 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Chad Ochocinco had his smile, talked again about landing in heaven and even gave a group hug at the end after he saw reporters and photographers jostling for position in his post-practice interview. But the star wide receiver said Saturday he is planning on toning it down a lot from his previous days in Cincinnati.

“I’€™m going to always be me,” Ochocinco said. “I’€™ll always be me. But there’€™s a certain way that the Patriots do it, and I’€™ve always been a chameleon, so I’€™m going to blend in and do it the Patriots way, which is win, you know? I think Bill, we had our talk, and without him having to even say anything, [I know] there’€™s no need for me to do some of the stuff I did before.’€

After finishing his first practice in pads, Ochocinco paid thanks to Patriots owner Robert Kraft and coach Bill Belichick.

“It’€™s exactly what I thought it was, me being able to come here,” Ochocinco said. “The first meeting, as soon as I got here, was with Mr. Kraft. Unbelievable. Unbelievable. He welcomed me with open arms. I talked with coach Belichick, and he did the same. We had our normal talk, our normal chat. Other than that, I’€™m ready to rock and roll.’€

Read More: 2011 training camp, Chad Ochocinco, Cincinnati Bengals, Marvin Lewis

Quick notes from Patriots’ Saturday morning practice session

07.30.11 at 12:59 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” The Patriots had a spirited 2½-hour practice session Saturday morning, their first padded session of the 2011 training camp. After two days in jerseys, shells and shorts, there was some real hitting, with the first collision coming at approximately 9:20 when running back Danny Woodhead met linebacker Brandon Spikes for a satisfying pop that brought cheers from the fans in attendance.

‘€¢There were still several missing bodies, many of them with what can be best terms as ‘€œexcused absences’€ because of new contracts: The following players were not spotted on the field: Ras-I Dowling, Kyle Arrington, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Sammy Morris, Eric Kettani, Nate Solder, Myron Pryor, Albert Haynesworth, Kevin Faulk, Ron Brace and Shane Vereen. In addition, the following players spent the session on the exercise bikes and in sweats on the sidelines: James Sanders, Eric Berry, Matt Katula, Josh Barrett, Brandon Deaderick and Marcus Cannon.

‘€¢ After officially signing his franchise tender on Saturday morning, offensive lineman Logan Mankins watched practice from the sidelines in a t-shirt and shorts. (Because of the new CBA transition rules, he cannot practice until Aug. 4 or the start of the league year.) The same holds true for Arrington, who also officially re-signed Saturday morning. Green-Ellis has yet to sign his restricted free agent tender, while three rookies ‘€” Solder, Dowling, and Vereen ‘€” remain unsigned and out of practice.

‘€¢ There was some extended work in 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 drills. In 11-on-11s, a pass from quarterback Tom Brady intended for wide receiver Taylor Price was intercepted by cornerback Devin McCourty (the two rebounded on the next play for a sweet connection down the seam), while McCourty picked off rookie quarterback Ryan Mallett in 11-on-11 action as well. Jonathan Wilhite and Pat Chung dropped some interception chances. (After Chung’€™s drop, he sprinted to the sidelines and dropped down for pushups.) And during 7-on-7 work, linebacker Rob Ninkovich snared a pass from quarterback Jonathan Crompton. (It was a rough practice for Crompton, who also lost the handle on a center/quarterback exchange and dropped the ball. He ran a penalty lap.)

‘€¢ There were also a number of dropped passes throughout the practice, including two each from wide receivers Darnell Jenkins and Matthew Slater. And late in practice, during what’€™s commonly referred to as an ‘€œopportunity session’€ for inexperienced players, a small fight erupted between a group of reserve offensive and defensive linemen, a dustup that included defensive lineman Marlon Favorite.

‘€¢ There was some good time given over to special teams work, including field goals. However, the final kick of the session went to Wes Welker, who drilled one through the uprights to wrap-up practice.

‘€¢ The big show after practice involved new wide receiver Chad Ochocinco, who held court in a six-minute session with reporters and asked them all for a group hug once things were done. Several other players did speak briefly with the media, including defensive lineman Mike Wright and tight end Aaron Hernandez.

Read More: 2011 training camp, Patriots camp,
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