Ihedigbo living 'childhood dream' as Patriot

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Ihedigbo living 'childhood dream' as Patriot

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com Staff Reporter Follow @mary_paoletti

FOXBORO -- James Ihedigbo hopes Patriots fans welcome him, a former Jet, with open arms.

Here, he's home and he couldn't be happier.

"It's exciting," Ihedigbo said after Saturday's practice, his first with New England.

"It's a childhood dream to come back and play for the same team you grew up watching. I'm just excited for the opportunity. ...I was born and raised a Pats fan. I watched the games when I was in high school, at the old Foxboro Stadium, and said 'one day I'm going to be playing here.' Lo and behold, here I am."

Of course, his days in New England at Amherset Regional High School and UMass give him no advantage at Gillette; he's on foreign ground as much as, say, new Patriot Shaun Ellis. The fact the two played together with the Jets -- that there's a familiar face already under Belichick's reign -- is comforting to Ihedigbo.

"He's a great guy, great teammate," Ihedigbo said of Ellis. "Kind of mentor for me at the old place I was playing at, and he's been the same way here. He's a good friend."

Ihedigbo joined New York as an undrafted free agent in 2007. He had three sacks as a backup in the secondary and 27 special teams tackles last season. The Patriots will be happy for the help. Despite this weekend's return of safety James Sanders, there's little depth at the position. Behind Patrick Chung, Brandon Meriweather's consistency is suspect and Sergio Brown's is unproven.

What will New England get from Ihedigbo? Belichick gave no definitive answer.

"He's played defense, hes played safety, hes played there for the Jets he played some of the nickel and dime type responsibilities on defense, and he's been good in the kicking game. Well see what he can do."

Unsurprisingly, Ihedigbo says he's prepared to do whatever he needs to. There are certain fundamentals he has confidence about that transcend positioning.

"Wherever they need me to play, I'm just going to go out and bring my intensity, my energy," he said. "The way this game is designed to be played is to be fast and physical... being able to get off blocks, get to the ball. I want to bring whatever I can to help this team."

To give fans a better reference point for style: "I definitely model my game after Rodney Harrison," Ihedigbo said. "Physical player, knew what he was supposed to do at all times, was a leader, and played the game very physically."

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Ohio State LB on Belichick: 'When you first meet him, you're scared'

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Ohio State LB on Belichick: 'When you first meet him, you're scared'

Even for some of the nation's top athletes, confident 20-somethings with the rest of their (perhaps very lucrative) lives ahead of them, there's a feeling you just can't shake when Bill Belichick walks into the room. 

"When you first meet him, you're scared," said Ohio State linebacker Raekwon McMillan, per WBZ. "He's quizzing you. It's like a little test. But after you get done with the test, the quiz or whatever, drawing up the defense, it's pretty cool. They're real down to earth people. Really cool."

Belichick was spotted at Ohio State's pro day getting a closer look at McMillan and his teammates on Thursday. He then headed off to Ann Arbor, Michigan for the Wolverines showcase Friday.

During various scouting trips across the country, the Patriots appear to be showing significant interest in the incoming class of linebackers. Belichick spent some extra time with Vanderbilt's Zach Cunningham -- who's projected to be a first-rounder -- at his pro day. The team reportedly scheduled a meeting with a speedy linebacker from Cincinnati. And Matt Patricia caught up with Notre Dame linebacker James Onwualu once his workouts finished up on Thursday. 

As for McMillan, the 6-2, 240-pounder was a second-team All-American and a first-team All-Big Ten choice. He's instinctive, but there's some question as to whether or not he has the strength to hold up inside at the next level.

PODCAST: Dan Wetzel on the Aaron Hernandez double-murder trial

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PODCAST: Dan Wetzel on the Aaron Hernandez double-murder trial

Tom E. Curran has Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports as a guest to discuss the Aaron Hernandez double homicide trial. Wetzel has been in the courtroom, and wrote this piece about the day Hernandez’s former friend Alexander Bradley testified in court. 

After speaking with Wetzel, Curran has Tim Rohan of MMQB.com on to discuss his day with ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

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