BOSTON teams

Vladdy smashes massive 3-run blast out of the stadium vs. Red Sox (0:35)

Mike Reiss ESPN Staff Writer 

Bill Belichick on RB Damien Harris (pictured): "Damien's a player that improved a lot from year one to year two. This year, he's in a little different role; now he has an opportunity to compete for a lead spot and so he has embraced that. ... He's been here since the day after the season was over. He has worked as hard as anyone has in the offseason. I'm sure that'll help his preparation. I've been impressed by the commitment he has shown."

Mike Reiss ESPN Staff Writer 

Top 2020 draft pick Kyle Dugger (second round, No. 37) was critical of himself when assessing his rookie season at safety, calling it "below average." He said he feels more comfortable this year. "It was fun to get the experience and be out there, but it wasn't a great year," Dugger said. "Just looking at the first couple days of (training) camp, it's a big difference. I'm like a completely different player, and that's great to see, and I can feel that as well."

Mike Reiss ESPN Staff Writer 

Tuesday is the first day the Patriots can wear full pads, and big-money free-agent signing Davon Godchaux (2 years, $15 million) is excited about it. "I think that's when the real football comes. That's when you're really going to appreciate a big, disruptive nose tackle," he said. "When the pads come on, you see guys stopping the run, getting after the quarterback. That's when you're gonna appreciate real football."

Mike Reiss ESPN Staff Writer 

Patriots OL Ted Karras smiled as he said it was nice to see everyone's faces in his first in-person interview after Thursday's practice. Karras is one of the most personable players on the team and he enjoys engaging with reporters. "I couldn't build any relationships last year," he said. "Over Zoom, it just wasn't the same."

Mike Reiss ESPN Staff Writer 

Patriots WR Nelson Agholor is in his seventh NFL season, but he keeps a close connection to his high school roots at Berkeley Prep in Tampa on his left wrist. Since his first or second NFL season, Agholor has worn the black "F.A.M.I.L.Y" band given to him by coach Dominick Ciao, which he said means, "Forget about me, I love you."

Mike Reiss ESPN Staff Writer 

OLB Matt Judon signed a four-year, $56 million contract in the offseason, but that didn't stop him from buzzing around on the punt-rush unit in Thursday's practice. He's all-in to help wherever coach Bill Belichick assigns him. "We come in and my name's on a list, then that's what the coach asks me to do," Judon explained. "So, if I got to go play punt return, kickoff return; if they ask me to kick a field goal – I'll be trash – but I'm going to try and do it."

William Weinbaum ESPN 

The Hall of Fame's Board of Directors announced Thursday it has unanimously denied Curt Schilling's request to be removed from the Baseball Writers' Association of America HoF ballot, so he will remain eligible for the 10th and final time in 2022. The Hall also announced the election of HoFers Craig Biggio, Tom Glavine & Ken Griffey Jr. to its Board, newly comprising 17 directors, including six HoF members (others: Cal Ripken Jr., Brooks Robinson & Ozzie Smith).

Mike Reiss ESPN Staff Writer 

Hunter Henry, on his practice battle with safety Adrian Phillips: "I have been going against AP for a long time, dating back to the Chargers days in camp, too. He's a tremendous football player. Super smart. We will continue to battle throughout the summer and training camp. This whole defense as a whole, they throw so many different looks at you, do so many different things that you have to wary of, so every single day you have to put your thinking cap on and be ready to go."

Mike Reiss ESPN Staff Writer 

LB Dont'a Hightower, who returned to the team after opting out in 2020, stressed a message of urgency after the first practice. "Being out here in training camp and knowing what's at stake, and how soon the turnaround is from training camp to preseason, and then to the actual season, kind of lights up a fire under your ass," he said. "There's no time to play around."