NFL notes: Aaron Hernandez pleads not guilty to first-degree murder charge
Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez pleaded not guilty to a first-degree murder charge Friday in Fall River, Mass., following his indictment in the killing of a friend authorities say was shot five times in an industrial park.
Hernandez firmly answered "not guilty" to six charges, including murder and weapons and ammunition possession charges.
Defense attorney Charles Rankin said outside the courthouse that Hernandez's legal team is confident the ex-Patriot will be exonerated during a trial. "Not one shred of evidence has been presented yet," he said.
The arraignment "is like the opening kickoff," Rankin said. And, he encouraged people to keep an open mind and let the lawyers and the justice system do their work.
Bristol District Attorney Samuel Sutter said, in fact, a "tremendous amount" of evidence has already been presented. He cited 500 pages of documents released to the press and public, including search and arrest warrants, affidavits and photographs taken from a surveillance system at Hernandez's home.
"I think that evidence speaks for itself," he said.
Sutter said he hopes the case will go to trial within a year but that it can sometimes take two years or more.
A Massachusetts grand jury last month returned the indictment against Hernandez in the death of Odin Lloyd, a 27-year-old semi-professional football player from Boston who was dating the sister of Hernandez's girlfriend.
Around the league
Cowboys • Defensive end Anthony Spencer still hasn't returned from a left knee injury that kept him out all of training camp, and he is listed as doubtful for the season opener against the Giants.
Seahawks • Seattle coach Pete Carroll said starting cornerback Brandon Browner and defensive end Cliff Avril, who both have hamstring injuries, will be game-time decisions for the season opener against Carolina.
Eagles • Before practice Friday, coach Chip Kelly downplayed the scuffle between cornerback Cary Williams and wide receiver Riley Cooper a day earlier, saying it had nothing to do with Cooper's racial slur at a Kenny Chesney concert in June.
Lions • Defensive end Ziggy Ansah practiced Friday and is probable for Detroit's game against Minnesota on Sunday. Ansah, the No. 5 pick in this year's draft out of BYU, has been recovering from a concussion.
Vikings • Defensive tackle Kevin Williams has been ruled out for the season opener Sunday against Detroit. Williams suffered a bone bruise and hyperextension in his knee against San Francisco in the Vikings' third preseason game.
Giants • Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who had surgery to repair a disk in his lower back in June, is listed as questionable for Sunday night's game in Dallas.
Dolphins • Rookie backup cornerbacks Will Davis (a former Utah State star) and Jamar Taylor have been ruled out of Miami's opening game Sunday at Cleveland because of injuries. Third-string quarterback Pat Devlin was also ruled out because of an ankle injury. Starting cornerback Dimitri Patterson is questionable due to an ankle injury.
Browns • Barkevious Mingo's NFL debut has been delayed for at least another week. Cleveland's speedy rookie linebacker will not play in Sunday's season opener against Miami as he continues to recover from a bruised lung sustained in an exhibition game last month.
Jaguars • Coach Gus Bradley listed quarterback Blaine Gabbert as questionable for Sunday's game against Kansas City, adding that the former first-round draft pick probably will be a game-day decision. Gabbert is recovering from a hairline fracture in his right thumb. He missed the final two preseason games because of the injury. Also, starting tight end Marcedes Lewis (left calf) was ruled out following his third consecutive missed practice.
Jets • Santonio Holmes could complete his comeback Sunday. Coach Rex Ryan remains optimistic that the veteran wide receiver, listed as questionable for New York's season opener against Tampa Bay, will make his return from a foot injury that sidelined him most of last year.
Week 1 schedule
Denver 49, Baltimore 27
Atlanta at New Orleans, 11 a.m.
Cincinnati at Chicago, 11 a.m., Ch. 2
New England at Buffalo, 11 a.m.
Tennessee at Pittsburgh, 11 a.m.
Tampa Bay at N.Y. Jets, 11 a.m.
Kansas City at Jacksonville, 11 a.m.
Seattle at Carolina, 11 a.m., Ch. 13
Miami at Cleveland, 11 a.m.
Minnesota at Detroit, 11 a.m.
Oakland at Indianapolis, 11 a.m.
Green Bay at San Francisco,2:25 p.m., Ch. 13
Arizona at St. Louis, 2:25 p.m.
N.Y. Giants at Dallas, 6:30 p.m., Ch. 5
Philadelphia at Washington, 5:10 p.m., ESPN
Houston at San Diego, 8:20 p.m., ESPN