Patriots anxious as they await season-opener

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Patriots anxious as they await season-opener

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn FOXBORO With the season opener just a couple days away, these are anxious times for the New England Patriots -- and it's not just the players, either.

Anxiousness. Butterflies. Whatever you want to call it, both players and coaches alike are feeling it.

"Once the game starts, like the players say, after that first kickoff, you're into the game," said Pats coach Bill Belichick.

The Patriots don't have much of a choice if they want to get off to a good start for the 2011 season which begins at Miami on Monday night.

"We're the only game on TV," said Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo. "So it's going to be a big game for us and a chance to showcase our skills and what we've done (in the preseason). We've worked hard. Hopefully it pans out in the game for us."

Dealing with Dolphins receiver Brandon Marshall will be challenging for the Pats. Miami beefing up its line on both sides of the ball will likely cause some problems as well.

But there's an even bigger foe for New England to be concerned with -- the unknown.

"There's a lot of things going into this game, your'e just not sure about," Belichick said. "Your team, their team, the matchups and all that. There's more of a comfort level when you have more evidence. But it's exciting."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL


Tom Brady delivered a video message last week at the funeral of Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken, a Maine native and former UConn track athlete killed in Somalia on May 5.

Bill Speros of The Boston Herald, in a column this Memorial Day weekend, wrote about Milliken and Brady's message.   

Milliken ran track at Cheverus High School in Falmouth, Maine, and at UConn, where he graduated in 2001. Milliken lived in Virginia Beach, Va., with his wife, Erin, and two children.  He other Navy SEALs participated in a training exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011 where he met and posed for pictures with Brady.

Speros wrote that at Milliken’s funeral in Virginia Beach, Va., Brady's video offered condolences and thanked Milliken’s family for its sacrifice and spoke of how Milliken was considered a “glue guy” by UConn track coach Greg Roy.

Milliken had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning four Bronze Star Medals and was based in Virginia since 2004.  He was killed in a nighttime firefight with Al-Shabaab militants near Barij, about 40 miles from the Somali capital of Mogadishu. He was 38.

The Pentagon said Milliken was the first American serviceman killed in combat in Somalia since the "Black Hawk Down" battle that killed 18 Americans in 1993. 

In a statement to the Herald, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said: “It was an honor to host Kyle and his team for an exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011. It gave new meaning to the stadium being known as home of the Patriots. We were deeply saddened to hear of Kyle’s death earlier this month.

“As Memorial Day weekend approaches, we are reminded of the sacrifices made by patriots like Kyle and so many others who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend and protect our rights as Americans. Our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt appreciation are extended to the Milliken family and the many families who will be remembering lives lost this Memorial Day weekend.”