Taken separately, the scheduling of a coach’s press conference and the failure to sign an undrafted rookie camp body aren’t worth more than a mention.
Together, they show how aware the Patriots are of appearances in the wake of the Aaron Hernandez case.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick will address the media for the first time since Hernandez’s arrest on murder charges, when he meets with reporters Wednesday at 2 p.m.
Coincidentally, Hernandez will appear at a probable cause hearing the same day.
But Belichick is being careful to try to limit the distraction, with camp opening Friday. He will have talked by then, and he’s putting out a trusted group of captains (Tom Brady, Vince Wilfork, Logan Mankins, Jerod Mayo, Devin McCourty and Matthew Slater) to talk Thursday, hoping to have the discussion finished before players take the field.
But the other bit of non-business might be more telling.
According to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, the Patriots appeared ready to sign former Duke defensive tackle John Drew. He had passed a physical and had a contract in his hand when he was told the team had a change of heart.
It might be that Drew’s past came to light. In 2010, he was arrested with two other students for firing a gun in the air on campus, pleaded guilty and was immediately kicked off the team. He finished his college career at North Carolina Central.
Scheduling a press conference at a convenient time is one thing, but turning camp fodder away at the last minute, perhaps because of the gun charge, shows how sensitive the next few days are going to be there.