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July 25. 2014 9:14PM

Gronkowski says he’s not back

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was cleared by doctors to play, but he said after training camp Friday that he is not quite at that point just yet.

Gronkowski has participated in individual drills for the past two days and watched from the sidelines during team drills. He also worked with quarterback Tom Brady after practice.

Gronkowski said he does not have a timetable on when he will take part in team drills.

“If it was 100 percent, I’d be doing every single little thing,” he said. “So, no, I’m not 100 percent, I’m working every single day to get to that.”

Gronkowski is working his way back from a torn right ACL he sustained on Dec. 8 against the Cleveland Browns. He also missed part of the season coming back from forearm and back injuries.

The Patriots will have their first practice in pads today, and Gronkowski plans to participate by running routes and working on cutting and planting.

“For the last six months I worked my butt off to be here,” Gronkowski said. “Cutting on it, making it stronger, I’m here and I’m ready.

“Running routes, being in the huddle, catching balls from Tom Brady, it’s a dream come true again. Feels like it got taken away and I feel like I got it back.”

Gronkowski, who is 6-foot-6 and 265 pounds, does not plan to alter how he plays.

“I’m going to go full speed and I’m going to keep smashing and bashing everything I do,” he said.

Gronkowski played 16 games in each of his first two NFL seasons in 2010 and ’11, but a broken forearm limited him to 11 games in 2012 and he played seven games last year.

“I’m preparing myself to my max ability right now and listening to my trainers so I’m ready to go when it comes down to it,” he said.

Last season, Gronkowski had 39 catches for 592 yards with four touchdowns. In four NFL seasons, he has 226 receptions with 3,255 yards with 42 touchdowns. He had 17 TDs in 2011.

Hernandez charges stick

BOSTON (Reuters) — A Massachusetts judge refused to toss out murder and firearms charges against ex-Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez in last summer’s killing of a semiprofessional football player.

Bristol Superior Court Judge Susan Garsh in a ruling late Thursday rejected the defense’s argument that prosecutors lack probable cause to charge Hernandez in the execution-style slaying of Odin Lloyd, 27, near Hernandez’s home in North Attleborough, Mass.

Hernandez, 24, has pleaded not guilty to all charges, including five counts related to illegal firearms possession. His trial is set for Jan. 9.

Hernandez had been a rising star before he lost his $41 million contract with the Pats.

Prosecutors said that Hernandez was at a nightclub with Lloyd in June 2013 when “something happened at the club that caused Hernandez to arm himself,” going outside to get a firearm from his rental car.

Prosecutors argued that Hernandez and two alleged accomplices picked up Lloyd a few days later in the car and drove him to an industrial park. About an hour later, Lloyd was dead, prosecutors say.

Hernandez was seen at his home both before and after Lloyd’s death holding what looked like a firearm and ammunition for a .45 caliber pistol, the kind of weapon used in the crime. A gun was later found at an apartment Hernandez had in Franklin, Mass., according to Garsh’s ruling.

Lloyd was at the apartment one night when Hernandez took two women there after being in a club. Lloyd “observed all that transpired” and “possessed negative personal information about Hernandez,” the ruling said.

Garsh said that the grand jury, which returned six indictments against Hernandez in August 2013, did not need evidence to show probable cause that Hernandez, not the other two men, shot Lloyd.

What the grand jury needed, and did have, was evidence showing that Hernandez “participated in some meaningful way in the commission of the offense” and showed “extreme atrocity or cruelty,” Garsh said.

The judge also said prosecutors were not required by law to have a motive in order to charge him with murder.

Hernandez is also accused in the 2012 killing of two men after a fight over a spilled drink at a Boston nightclub.


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