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As trial starts, Aaron Hernandez’s attorney claims ex-Patriot ‘targeted’ by authorities

01.30.15 at 9:15 am ET
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Aaron Hernandez‘s trial began Thursday, with his defense attorney claiming that the former Patriots star is an innocent man “targeted” because of his fame. Meanwhile, the prosecution presented evidence that showed both Hernandez and Odin Lloyd’s DNA on a marijuana cigarette.

Hernandez is charged in the death of Lloyd, who suffered multiple gunshot wounds in 2013 and was found in an industrial park close to where Hernandez resided in North Attleboro. Lloyd was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee.

The District Attorney, Patrick Bomberg, played security video for the jury that first showed Lloyd getting into a rental car that Hernandez was driving and then later footage at Hernandez’s home without Lloyd in the car.

Hernandez’s DNA was found on the shell casing from a bullet that had been under the driver’s seat of the car. According to Bomberg, that type of bullet had been fired from the same weapon as the one at the scene of the crime.

In addition, an image from Hernandez’s surveillance system was presented showing the former tight end standing outside his basement with a gun in his hand.

The defense attorney, Michael Fee, said that Hernandez “was planning a future, not a murder” and that authorities couldn’t come up with a motive for the shooting.

“Aaron never had a chance,” Fee said. “They locked on Aaron and they targeted him.”

If convicted, Hernandez could face life in prison. He also will be put on trial for a separate shooting incident that took place in Boston in 2012 and ended with the death of two men.

Read More: Aaron Hernandez,

What’s on tap for Patriots, Seahawks Friday in Arizona?

01.30.15 at 6:00 am ET
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PHOENIX — Friday is the last day of media availability before the big game on Sunday, although the players’ final access came on Thursday. The real big event on Friday is Roger Goodell’s state of the league address. The Patriots and Seahawks will practice, and the final injury report will be released as well.

Here is the media availability schedule for Friday:

8:30 MT Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll joint press conference
11:30 MT Roger Goodell state of the league address

Here are a few of the bigger stories and audio segments from Thursday:

Making of a coach: How Bill Belichick became the leader he is today. By Ryan Hannable
Bag of tricks: Patriots defense has spent season secretly stashing takeaways. By Chris Price
Tackling subject that could decide Super Bowl 49, YAC-ity YAC. By John Tomase
Dean Blandino admits footballs are not logged: ‘Certainly something that could be a thought’. By Mike Petraglia
Kirk’s showdown with the competition on D&C.
Marshall Faulk joined Middays with MFB.
Herm Edwards joined Dale & Holley.

Read More: 2015 NFL playoffs, Super Bowl XLIX,

Making of a coach: How Bill Belichick became leader he is today

01.30.15 at 1:18 am ET
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There were signs Bill Belichick would become a successful coach one day during his college years at Wesleyan University. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

There were signs Bill Belichick would become a successful coach one day during his college years at Wesleyan University. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Everyone knows the Bill Belichick of today. Twenty seasons as a head coach, 15 of those with New England. Five Super Bowl appearances. Three Super Bowl titles. A very guarded and reserved man at his meetings with the media.

But, what was the coach like 40 years ago, as a 20-year-old college student at Wesleyan University, in Middletown, Connecticut?

The son of a football coach played three sports at Wesleyan — football, lacrosse and squash, and contrary to what some might believe by where he is today, lacrosse was his best sport.

“He was captain of the team. I trusted him,” said his lacrosse coach, Terry Jackson, over the phone this week. “He did a great job of leading us to the ECAC finals in his senior year.”

“The good thing was we play with a rubber ball and you can’t deflate that,” he joked.

The team fell in the ECAC final that year and Belichick had a strong game, but he wasn’t supposed to even play in the game. Earlier in the year he suffered a thumb injury and the school doctors wouldn’t clear him for the game. Belichick took matters into his own hands and went down to the Naval Academy where his dad was the coach and talked with the doctors there. He got himself cleared and played with a soft cast.

“Such a tough kid,” said Jackson.

On the football field, Belichick wasn’t a star. During Belichick’s senior season as a defensive end/outside linebacker, a star freshman came in and Belichick wasn’t going to see much time, so the coaches tried to make him a tight end so he could see at least some time on the field.

Despite his lack of playing time, it was clear he knew the game — an early sign that coaching could one day be in his future.

“He had very, very insightful questions,” John Biddiscombe, his position coach and former Wesleyan athletic director, said via phone. “His question wouldn’t be where do I line up on this defense — I know where to line up — but what happens if they all of a sudden change their defense into the boundary, what do I do then? Kids don’t ask that at that age. They pretty much do what the coaches ask them to do and line up where they are supposed to line up as the playbook says. I was impressed. He was a very respectful, hard worker, easy to get along with. Just a good guy.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2015 NFL playoffs, Bill Belichick, Super Bowl XLIX, Wesleyan University

Live Chat: Talk all things Patriots, NFL with Chris Price Friday at noon

01.29.15 at 11:21 pm ET
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To properly prepare for Super Bowl XLIX, you’re going to want to join Chris Price of WEEI.com Friday at noon for a chat on all things Patriots.

Live Blog Chris Price Live Patriots Chat
 

Bryan Stork (knee) again limited at Patriots practice, Akeem Ayers (ankle) added to injury list

01.29.15 at 9:47 pm ET
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Bryan Stork

Bryan Stork

PHOENIX — The Patriots held their second practice in Arizona of the week Thursday afternoon at the Arizona Cardinals‘ practice facility. Despite showers in the area and an option to go indoors, the team practiced outside in shorts and shells.

It was the same report as yesterday, with the exception of Akeem Ayers being added with a knee injury. He was limited. Rookie center Bryan Stork continues to be limited with his knee injury suffered in the divisional round win against the Ravens. All signs continue to point to him playing Sunday.

The pool report, courtesy of USA Today’s Jarrett Bell, says the team worked on special teams, two-minute offense and two-minute defense against scout teams, and spent more time working on red zone offense plays. There were more situational packages, including a sequence that began with Tom Brady and the offense backed up on their 2-yard line.

Belichick seems to be expecting a lot of noise Sunday night, as they blasted loud music, including Ima Boss, a rap song by Meek Mill, featuring Rick Ross.

Here is the complete practice report:

Limited participation

LB Akeem Ayes (knee)
LB Dont’€™a Hightower (shoulder)
DT Chris Jones (elbow)
DT Sealver Silga (knee)
C Bryan Stork (knee)

Full participation

QB Tom Brady (ankle)

Read More: 2015 NFL playoffs, Patriots practice report, Super Bowl XLIX,

Mike Petraglia, Ryan Hannable talk Tom Brady’s health, fire alarms at Patriots complex

01.29.15 at 8:52 pm ET
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PHOENIX — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Ryan Hannable discuss Day 4 of Patriots Super Bowl week in Arizona. Tom Brady continues to fight off a cold on the practice field while fire alarms continue to go off at the hotel compound the Patriots are staying at for the Super Bowl. Deflategate continues to be a topic of discussion as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell delivers his state of the league speech on Friday.

Read More: Mike Petraglia, New England Patriots, Ryan Hannable, Super Bowl XLIX

Dean Blandino corrects Super Bowl ref Bill Vinovich on exactly how to handle Patriots substitutions

01.29.15 at 8:33 pm ET
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PHOENIX — Thursday provided yet another glimpse into unbelievably bizarre year of the National Football League.

Just over 72 hours before the league’s premiere event, the NFL’s director of officiating, Dean Blandino, publicly corrected his Super Bowl referee, Bill Vinovich, on how to handle the Patriots’ substitutions of reporting eligible and ineligible.

Vinovich is the same referee that handled the Patriots-Ravens divisional game at Gillette on Jan. 10. It was the way Vinovich announced Shane Vereen “ineligible” moments before the snap that caused Ravens coach John Harbaugh to lose his mind when the Patriots started subbing in the second half to a four-offensive linemen set.

Blandino made it very clear that there had been a protocol in place for officials and referees to hand signal to players that a player (in this case No. 34 Vereen) was reporting ineligible because it was required that at least five players on the line of scrimmage could not step forward.

“Bill was involved in the first game, the Baltimore-New England game, when New England first presented that formation when basically a player with an eligible number reporting as ineligible, which is legal. You can do that. The one you see more often is when you see a tackle reporting as eligible receiver.”

Then, unsolicited, Vinovich offered, “And I also made the announcement, ‘Do not cover No. 34.'”

To which Blandino responded, “Which we won’t do on Sunday.”

Apparently that was news to Vinovich. “We won’t?” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Baltimore Ravens, Bill Vinovich, Dean Blandino, New England Patriots

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