Hernandez overwhelmed by emotion following extension

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Hernandez overwhelmed by emotion following extension

FOXBORO -- Aaron Hernandez was at the Patriots Charitable Foundation's Kickoff Gala Monday night. Just hours removed from finalizing a five-year, 37.5 million dollar contract extension, the 22-year old tight end was, happily, an emotional mess.

His reaction:

"It's a lifelong dream. Still kind of surreal, but taking it in over the next few days, months, years... It's just a blessing. Hopefully, I make the right decisions with it and have a good life.
"As soon as we started talking about my contract I was emotional from that day on. Honestly, it's hard for me here to stay, keeping my mind off it like I said, it's surreal. Probably when I'm done with this conversation I'll have tears in my eyes. But it's real and it's an honor."

Why is it surreal?

AH: "You always dream of it but you never really think it's going to come. When it happens, you know there's a good chance you're set for life as long as you handle it the right way. It's an honor. It seems so surreal like, 'Is it really true?' It's just a dream and knowing I can help my family -- they're the ones that I love -- it's an honor."

Did fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski's contract -- a six-year, 54 million deal -- lead you to think you might be next?

AH: "I knew it was coming, because when Gronk got it, I knew there was a good chance I was next in line. Now that it happened, it's definitely a blessing. Take it in and I'm excited to go on.

"Me and Gronk are very close. Honestly, when he got paid tears came to my eyes because knowing his life is changed forever. Gronk's a great kid he probably doesn't even realize he's set for life. Laughs He lives life, he's such a happy person and he makes everyone around him have a good time just by his presence. I was happy for him.

"Even that day, just knowing there was an opportunity for me to make a good money like him brought tears to my eyes. Now that this day is here that I've been waiting for my whole life, I've been working and going through all my struggles to get here. It's just a blessing."

What did you tell your family?

AH: "I called them and told them what the contract was and the basics about it. They were all crying. I was crying right with them. This is probably one of the best days of my life; I'll remember this day forever. I just hope I keep going, doing the right things, and making the right decisions so I can have a good life and be there to live a good life with my family."

You donated 50,000 to Robert Kraft's foundation. Why?

AH: "It's just He changed my life. Now I basically have a good chance to be set for life, and have a good life. I have a daughter on the way, and a family that I love, and it's just knowing that they're going to be okay because I was happy playing for my 250,000-400,000. Knowing that my kids and my family will be able to have a good life, go to college, it's just an honor that he did that for me, he gave me that opportunity. 50,000 to help his foundation, obviously, it's basically saying thank you and it means a lot to me."

"He changed my life. He personally He's the one who has the final decision. Him saying, 'I want you around here for the next seven years,' since it's a five-year extension, is that he wants me a part of his family. I'm a part of the Patriots family. He set me up for life. He didn't need to give me the amount he gave me. Knowing he thinks I deserve that and he trust me to make the right decisions, it means a lot. It means he trusts my character and the person I am, which means a lot. My mother that's how she raised me. I just feel a lot of respect and I owe it back to them. Not only is it 50,000 that's just the money that doesn't mean much, it's the amount given. all I can do is play my heart out for them and make the right decisions and live like a Patriot."

This deal will take you into the prime of your career. How does this deal impact you as a football player?

AH: "I couldn't be with a better franchise. I know Tom Brady's going to be around for a while. I love the coaches, I'm close to my family, the whole organization is actually an organization. A lot of places are called organizations, but are they really organized? This is a place that not only did it change my future from paying me, but it just changed me as a person. You can't come here and act reckless and do your own stuff, and I was one of the persons that I might have come here and acted the way I wanted to act, but you get changed by Bill Belichick's way, you get changed by the Patriot way. Now that I'm a Patriot I have to start living like one and making the right decisions for them."

Thursday's Patriots-Bills practice report: Garoppolo, Brissett practice again

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Thursday's Patriots-Bills practice report: Garoppolo, Brissett practice again

FOXBORO -- The Patriots held a walkthrough on the field behind Gillette Stadium one day after both Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder) and Jacoby Brissett (thumb) tested their arms during the team's practice in full pads n Wednesday.

Both quarterbacks were back on the field, but for the second consecutive day they were limited, according to the injury report. That injury report was, in fact, unchanged from Wednesday's, meaning tight end Rob Gronkowski (hamstring) and linebacker Dont'a Hightower (knee) were also limited. 

There was one significant alteration to the Bills practice report, however, as tight end Charles Clay (knee) was back on the field Thursday. Receiver Sammy Watkins (foot) remained out. 

Patriots coach Bill Belichick described Watkins' explosive abilities in Buffalo's passing game earlier this week. 

"Watkins is big, he is good after the catch, he’s obviously good on the deep balls," Belichick said. "But he is good on catch-and-run plays. He can take those intermediate routes or crossing routes and turn a 10, 15-yard catch into 40. So, a hard guy to tackle, big, fast, very athletic."

If he can't go, the Bills will have to find other ways to try to manufacture yardage. 

Here's Thursday's practice participation report for the Patriots and Bills.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
QB Jacoby Brissett (right thumb)
OT Marcus Cannon (calf)
G Jonathan Cooper (foot)
LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder)
QB Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder)
TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring)
LB Dont'a Hightower (knee)
CB Eric Rowe (ankle)

BUFFALO BILLS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
OL Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle)
OL Patrick Lewis (knee)
DB Jonathan Meeks (foot)
WR Greg Salas (groin)
WR Sammy Watkins (foot)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
DB Colt Anderson (foot)
TE Charles Clay (knee)
DB Ronald Darby (hamstring)
OL Cordy Glenn (ankle)
QB Cardale Jones (right shoulder)
DB Aaron Williams (ankle)

Blount: Belichick has had my back from the beginning

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Blount: Belichick has had my back from the beginning

FOXBORO -- During the week, there are times when Bill Belichick and LeGarrette Blount will walk out to practice together, chatting, laughing, looking like old pals. On Sundays, Belichick will coach Blount like any other player, calling Blount by the same nickname Blount's teammates use for the 250-pound bruiser: "LG." After Thursday's win over the Texans, Blount ran for over 100 yards and two scores and earned special recognition from the head coach.

From the outside looking in, they are the Patriots version of the Odd Couple. One is a Hall of Fame, old-school, buttoned-up disciplinarian. The other is a care-free 29-year-old who spends chunks of his free time on Snapchat and Instagram, often taking pictures of his sneaker collection.  

But with Belichick, Blount's career has taken off. Undrafted in 2010 due in part to off-the-field issues, Blount bounced from the Titans to the Buccaneers, and in Tampa Bay, he found early success. He ran for over 1,000 yards as a rookie and followed that up by starting all 14 games in which he played during his second season. Having fallen out of favor with the coaching staff in 2012, he was traded to New England for return specialist Jeff Demps the following offseason. 

With the Patriots, Blount ran for 772 yards and a career-high seven scores, setting him up to sign a free-agent deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers before the start of the 2014 campaign. It was a turbulent few months for Blount, who was arrested for marijuana possession, served a one-game suspension, and then walked off the field during a game against the Titans, leading to his release. 

Who was there to scoop him up? Belichick, of course.

The Patriots moved quickly to re-sign Blount to a two-year deal, and Blount was very open about how thankful he was that the Patriots offered him another chance. Though it may seem like a head-scratching match, Blount enjoys playing for Belichick and he appreciates Belichick's frankness. There are no promises made, but expectations are laid out, and the onus is on the player to earn his role. At other stops, Blount felt as though he may have been misled. 

Belichick has leaned on Blount over the course of the first three weeks of this season much in the same way Blount leaned on the Patriots organization when he was looking for another chance to play in 2013 and 2014. With Tom Brady suspended, the Patriots have run the football more than any other team in the NFL, and Blount has recorded more carries than any other back in the league, helping them get out to a 3-0 start. 

On Thursday he was named the AFC's Offensive Player of the Month for posting 298 rushing yards and four touchdowns, and he shed some light on the relationship he shares with his head coach.

"I have a really good relationship with Bill," Blount said. "I love Bill to death. He’s always had my back from the beginning, from the first time I met him. I think he’s probably going to have it forever. We just have a really great relationship. I like everything that he does, I respect him a lot. I think he’s going to go down in history as the best coach to ever coach this game."

And what about having your boss call you by a nickname? 

"Can’t complain if he calls you that," Blount said. "Because what’s LG stand for? Life’s good, right?"

Right now, for both Blount and Belichick, it can't get much better.