Patriots talk playoffs

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Patriots talk playoffs

FOXBORO -- Patriots players have talked plenty about the rest and relaxation this bye-week will bring, but there's still was a buzz in the air. It's January -- this weekend off isn't the space occupied between Dallas and Pittsburgh, it's the narrow gate waiting to swing wide on New England's playoff hopes.

Surprising to no one, this was the only thing being talked about in the locker room on Wednesday. Here's a variety of Q&A with a variety of Patriots.

Q: A ROOKIE ASKS YOU ABOUT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN REGULAR SEASON FOOTBALL AND POSTSEASON FOOTBALL. WHAT DO YOU TELL HIM?
Vince Wilfork: The speed of the game gets faster and gets more intense, gets more physical. Every play is a Got to have it play. Every play is a Have to win play. I think thats the mentality that you have to have when it comes to the postseason because everyones fighting for the same goal the loser goes home and the winner goes on. I mean from every aspect from the public to the teams, the coaching, the game plans, the players, everything its just taken to a whole other level, so we know our game has to step up.

Q: YOU ALWAYS TALK ABOUT STARTING 0-0 IN THE PLAYOFFS. IS THERE HOPE FOR BEGINNING AGAIN WITH BETTER, FASTER STARTS?

VW: ...One thing that I will tell you is that this team will no matter what the outcome may be this team will play their butts off for a full game and thats all you can ask at the end of the day. The passion for the game, we have it. The love for the game, we have it. We have guys that love to play football and we have guys that love to be here. When you have those qualities you can win with guys like that. So, we have a bunch of guys in that locker room like that, so Im very excited about this postseason.

Q: DO YOU PUT PRESSURE ON YOURSELF BECAUSE YOU'VE NOT WON A PLAYOFF GAME?

Jerod Mayo: I wouldnt be human if I didnt think about it. I think about it all the time. But at the end of the day, what can you do? After you lose a playoff game, you have to wait another whole year. So now the opportunity is here; you just have to take advantage of it. Im working hard, the team is working hard and were just making those sacrifices to hopefully get a victory.

Q: IS THE KEY TO PLAYOFF SUCCESS FINDING SOME SORT OF SPARK?

JM: Its all about getting hot at the right time. If you get hot at the right time, that team usually goes on to win. Were playing good football right now, but at the same time, we havent put together a four-quarter game. Weve been burying ourselves a little bit in the first and second quarters. I think if we can ever put together four quarters, we have a good shot at winning.

Q: DO YOU GET TO ENJOY WILD CARD WEEKEND AS A FAN? OR IS THIS JUST TWO DAYS OF STUDYING?

Rob Gronkowski: Both. Im a football fan, so Im definitely watching football as fan. At the same time, youre watching it, watching your opponents, watching the game to see who youre going to be playing and see if you can pick up anything while watching the game.

Q: WHAT CAN YOU PICK UP FROM WATCHING THE GAMES AS THEY UNFOLD ON TV?

RG: You just watch their defenses and everything, see what theyre doing, see players, get familiar with players out there and everything. We have to watch two games because we dont know who were going to playing. Basically just pick up what kind of defense theyre running and stuff like that.

Q: THERE'S A LOT ON YOUR RESUME TO BE PROUD OF THIS SEASON. WHAT STANDS OUT?

RG: I dont even care about that anymore. Its a one-game season now. All that kind of stuff, whatever we did, our records, our win-loss column, that doesnt matter anymore. Thats all in the past. Its a one-game season now and thats all were worried about.

Q: ANY LESSONS FROM LAST YEAR HELP ON THE ROAD AHEAD?

Matthew Slater: I think we just have to have a sense of urgency and it starts today. It goes to the details and the way we prepare because this time of year, the mistakes will kill you and end your season. The urgency and the way we prepare has to be there not to say it wasnt there last year, but we have to make sure we have urgency and attention to detail because in the end, thats the difference between winning and losing.

Andrew Benintendi leads Red Sox past Nationals in 8-1 win

Andrew Benintendi leads Red Sox past Nationals in 8-1 win

Andrew Benintendi excelled in his early-game action against Nationals starter Joe Ross in the Red Sox' 8-1 win. Benintendi finished the contest 2 of 2 with a triple and two RBIs. Dustin Pedroia helped Benintendi at the top of the lineup. Pedroia was 2 of 2 with a double and two RBIs.

Kyle Kendrick got the Red Sox pitching staff off to a strong start in his four-inning appearance. The 32-year-old righty had six strikeouts and allowed five hits with one earned run. Kendricks performance should ease some anxiety in Boston, as Drew Pomeranz headed to the disabled list.

Reliever Ben Taylor, 24, pitched the final two innings for the Sox, and had four strikouts with three hits allowed and no runs.

Chris Sale will pitch Friday for the Red Sox at 4:05 a.m against the Nationals.

Hernandez's fiancee: I learned to keep my mouth shut and not ask questions

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Hernandez's fiancee: I learned to keep my mouth shut and not ask questions

BOSTON -- Former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez's fiancee testified in his double-murder trial Thursday that she learned to keep her mouth shut and "not to ask any questions" in certain situations.

Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez testified against Hernandez under a grant of immunity from prosecutors. She and Hernandez have a 4-year-old daughter. She said she took Hernandez's last name in 2015.

Hernandez is accused of fatally shooting two men in Boston in July 2012 after an encounter at a Boston nightclub. He is also charged with witness intimidation in the shooting of Alexander Bradley, allegedly to silence him about the killings.

Jenkins-Hernandez repeatedly said she could not recall details about conversations with Hernandez after the 2012 killings and after Bradley's shooting in 2013.

She said she didn't ask Hernandez for details about Bradley's shooting, even though Hernandez and Bradley were close friends.

"[Bradley] was not my friend . . . Yes, it's a sad situation [but] why should I press about something like that?" she said.

Jenkins-Hernandez also said she did not recall getting a call from Hernandez at 2:37 a.m. on July 16, 2012, minutes after prosecutors say Hernandez shot Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado as they sat in a car at a stop light in Boston. Prosecutors said phone records show a 17-second call from Hernandez to her at that time.

Hernandez has denied shooting the men. His lawyer told the jury during opening statements that Bradley shot the men over a drug deal.

Bradley testified he saw Hernandez shoot the men. He also said Hernandez shot him in the face months later after he made a remark about the Boston shootings.

Hernandez is already serving a life sentence after being convicted in the 2013 killing of a man who was dating the sister of Jenkins-Hernandez.