Veterans on a dozen NFL teams reported to training camp on Wednesday. That list does not include the New England Patriots — whose veterans report on Thursday — but head coach Bill Belichick's press conference to address the Aaron Hernandez situation was arguably the top NFL story of the day.
Belichick opened his 22-minute media session by reading from a prepared statement, which Daniel Kaplan of the SportsBusiness Journal reports was written by Belichick with no outside help.
"I’m going to address the situation involving Aaron Hernandez today. I felt that it was important enough to do that prior to the start of camp," Belichick said. "It’s a sad day, really a sad day on so many levels. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victim and I extend my sympathy really to everyone who has been impacted. A young man lost his life. His family has suffered a tragic loss and there’s no way to understate that. When I was out of the country, I learned about the ongoing criminal investigation that involved one of our players and I and other members of the organization were shocked and disappointed in what we had learned.
"After consultation with ownership, we acted swiftly and decisively. Robert [Kraft] and his family and I, since I got here in 2000, have always emphasized the need for our team and our players and our organization to represent the community the right away both on and off the field. We’ve worked very hard together over the past 14 years to put together a winning team that’s a pillar in the community. I agree 100 percent with the comments that Robert has already made on the situation; I stand behind those as well."
• Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller met with the media where the main topic was the ESPN report that he was facing a four-game suspension for violating an unspecified NFL policy. Miller denied that he uses marijuana, but mostly said that due to the appeals process, he could not address the report.
• Speaking of policies, the NFL and NFLPA met in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday to continue talks towards implementing an hGH program. The two sides issued a joint statement acknowledging progress towards an "effective and fair" program.
• Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery has some bad news for players on his team who are looking for contract extensions: Like fans of the Chicago Cubs, they'll have to wait 'til next year. "Shutdown Corner" looked at the Bears' salary cap situation on Tuesday if you need a primer on who on their roster is due for a new deal.
• On the transaction wire, the big news of the day was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers extending the contract of wide receiver Mike Williams. The Buccaneers also placed kicker Connor Barth on the "Reserve/Non-Football Injury" list and punter/kickoff specialist Michael Koenen was placed on the "Active/Non-Football Injury" list after he cut his foot on the beach. Insert "punters are people, too" joke here. The Buccaneers officially signed Peyton Hillis and guard Jeremy Lewis, while waiving running back Matt Brown and placing running back Jeff Demps on the "Reserve/Did Not Report" list while he continues to compete on the track & field circuit.
• On the rookie signings front, the Atlanta Falcons got first-round cornerback Desmond Trufant and seventh-round quarterback Sean Renfree under contract on the same day that rookies and veterans reported to camp. The Indianapolis Colts signed first-round linebacker Bjoern Werner, so he'll be on the field when their training camp goes into full swing this weekend. That leaves 14 picks on nine teams from the 2013 draft who remain unsigned.
• Former Oakland Raiders and New York Jets wide receiver Chaz Schilens found a spot in training camp, signing a deal with the Detroit Lions.
• In a minor surprise, the St. Louis Rams waived guard Rokevious Watkins, a 2012 fifth-round pick who missed most of his rookie season with an ankle injury. Watkins will have to serve a one-game suspension at the start of the regular season. Two players waived on Tuesday found new NFL homes on Wednesday. The Philadelphia Eagles claimed former Arizona Cardinals running back William Powell, while the Jacksonville Jaguars added safety Ray Polk, an undrafted free agent from Colorado who had been with the Seattle Seahawks. With former Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley now in Jacksonville, expect the Jags to aggressively pursue former 'Hawks when they hit when they're available.
• What's on tap for Thursday, July 25: 14 more teams will see their veterans report to training camp. That group includes the Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders and Philadelphia Eagles.
At that point, 28 of the 32 NFL teams will have their veterans in camp.