PUTTING THE PAST BEHIND HIM
Despite an impressive start during the spring camps, rookie TE Aaron Hernandez hadn't been available to the media since getting drafted in the fourth round in April. He changed that on the second day on the team's mandatory three-day mini-camp.
Hernandez was asked several questions about his reported failed drug tests at Florida, but as he did through a released statement several weeks ago, he chose to move forward.
"That's in the past. I'm just worried about the future and the present. I keep coming out grinding every day and worry about the future," Hernandez said when asked about his off-field issues.
When a follow-up question asked if he needed to sell the Patriots on his character before getting drafted, the former Florida star stuck with his familiar refrain.
"That's just the past. People think what they want. I just want to become the best player I can be," he said.
Like any young receiver, he's also expressed gratitude to be catching passes from Tom Brady.
"It's an honor. You don't even dream, coming from Connecticut, playing with a quarterback like that," Hernandez said. "He's like a movie star out there. I just catch balls from him and try not to think about that."
The Patriots made a number of minor roster moves June 11, releasing P David King, WR Bryan Anderson and QB Mike Teel while subsequently signing RB Thomas Clayton. King and Anderson were both undrafted rookies, while New England had been claimed off waivers from the Seahawks on May 24.
Clayton (5-11, 222) is a former 2007 sixth-round pick of San Francisco out of Kansas State. He spent his rookie season on the practice squad, serving a similar role in 2008 before signing to the 49ers active roster for the final two games of the year. He spent all of 2009 on injured reserve.
ROOKIE GETTING UP TO SPEED
WR Taylor Price finally joined his teammates on the practice field for the start of mandatory minicamp June 15. The rookie wideout was forced to skip OTAs as he waited for his graduating class on Ohio University to finish due to an NFL rule that prohibits rookies from joining their teams until that occurs.
The late start has Price doing some catch-up work.
"I don't know as much as I should know, but I'm getting there," the third-round pick said following his second mini-camp practice. When I got out here it was all about lining up right and knowing what I'm doing so I can play fluid and play fast. I got in here a few days ago and we had back-to-back sessions so I could know what I'm doing. The playbook comes first so that's what I was focused on."
First impressions of the 6-0, 205-pounder have been positive. He displayed soft hands and quick feet during drills and showcased his athleticism while making a difficult catch look easy when he reached high to snare an errant toss from Tom Brady.
"After the ball is snapped, it's just football," said Price.
TRAINING CAMP DATES
New England will open training camp 2010 to the public at Gillette Stadium beginning on July 29. Veterans are due to report to Foxborough July 28, rookies July 25.
NEW GUY GETS THE NOD
P Zoltan Mesko, a fifth-round pick in April, inked a reported four-year deal with the Patriots June 16. The 6-5, 231 pounder is the only punter on the New England roster. He became the fifth of the Patriots' dozen draft picks to sign a contract with the team.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Growing up, I was taught a man's word is his bond. Obviously this isn't the case with the Patriots." -- OG Logan Mankins on his dissatisfaction with contract negotiations in New England and his desire to be traded.
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