While Patriots players were meeting with the media for the final time Thursday before Sunday’s Super Bowl, former teammate Aaron Hernandez was sitting in a Bristol County (Mass.) courtroom, listening to opening statements in his murder trial.
PHOENIX — While Patriots players were meeting with the media for the final time Thursday before Sunday’s Super Bowl, former teammate Aaron Hernandez was sitting in a Bristol County (Mass.) courtroom, listening to opening statements in his murder trial.
Even though Hernandez hasn’t played in either of the past two seasons, Patriots safety Devin McCourty said he still thinks about the team’s former tight end.
“I’m sure today we will be, just because with the news of the trial starting,” McCourty said, when asked by a New York reporter if he or any of his teammates will be thinking about Hernandez and the trial. “It’s kind of hard for you not to think about it, he was a former teammate of ours. But yeah, I think people think about it.”
Hernandez spent three seasons (2010-12) with the Patriots, appearing in 38 games. The most recent Super Bowl touchdown pass thrown by Tom Brady went to Hernandez, who caught a 12-yarder in the game against the New York Giants three years ago. Hernandez was the Patriots’ leading receiver in Super Bowl XLVI, catching eight passes for 67 yards and the touchdown.
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Now he’s facing murder charges in two separate cases.
Backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo doesn’t often get the chance to showcase his mobility.
He flashed his ability to avoid the rush in the Patriots’ regular-season finale against the Bills when he relieved starter Tom Brady in the second half, but other than that his time has been spent on the sideline backing up No. 12.
As the Patriots start to put the finishing touches on their preparations for Sunday’s game against the Seahawks, Garoppolo has impressed his teammates in mimicking Russell Wilson in practice.
Garoppolo’s not quite as fast as the elusive Wilson, but he’s making the Patriots’ defense sweat.
“He’s given us a great look,” defensive tackle Vince Wilfork said. “I tell you what, he had a lot of defensive linemen tired yesterday. I can tell you that, running around trying to tackle him.
“He has done a great job for us all year. The scout team I think they get overshadowed by the guys who play. But our scout team, they’ve done an amazing job this year of giving us those looks and having us practice well. So, I think a lot of credit has to go to them.”
Cornerback Kyle Arrington also joked he’s lost some weight the past couple of days chasing the Eastern Illinois product around the field.
Garoppolo isn’t the only one with a commendable effort.
Not only will the Patriots defense have its hands full with Wilson, but also in tackling Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch.
Jonas Gray and James White have been doing their best to challenge the Patriots in the open field, earning the praise from fellow running back LeGarrette Blount.
“I feel like the guys have been giving the defense a real good look,” Blount said. “They practice hard every day. Jonas, James, all those guys, they gave them a really good look, so I feel like they’ll be good come Sunday.”
Down to business
After three lengthy sessions with the media during Super Bowl week, Patriots players concluded their availability for the week and are looking forward to finally being able to focus on Sunday’s game against the Seahawks.
“That is the biggest thing I am looking forward to because I am answering the same questions all day long,” cornerback Brandon Browner said. “I am just ready to play the game.”
Questions this week have ranged from thought-provoking to, well, not so much. At least they’ve generated some good one-liners.
Dont’a Hightower was asked if the team would be ready to play Sunday.
“I hope so, it’s the damn Super Bowl,” Hightower quipped.