Aaron Hernandez pleads not guilty

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FALL RIVER, Mass. — Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez pleaded not guilty to a first-degree murder charge Friday following his indictment in the killing of a friend authorities say was shot five times in an industrial park.

Hernandez  ASSOCIATED PRESS
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Hernandez

He firmly answered “not guilty” to six charges, including murder and weapons and ammunition possession charges.

His attorneys agreed ahead of the hearing that Hernandez, 23, will continue to be held without bail, but reserved the right to request bail later.

The next court hearing was set for Oct. 9.

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.

PATRIOTS: Tight end Rob Gronkowski is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s season opener against the Buffalo Bills as he continues to recover after off-season forearm and back surgeries.

Gronkowski had limited participation in all three of the Patriots’ practices this week, his first sessions since last season.

He is not expected to play Sunday.

EAGLES: One day later, the team said it wanted to move past Thursday’s early-practice scuffle between Riley Cooper and Cary Williams.

Coach Chip Kelly said there have been no repercussions from the fight, and quarterback Michael Vick said the Eagles must focus on Monday’s game against the Washington Redskins.

But there’s still silence from Williams, who again declined comment on Friday.

Kelly said he did not hear what Williams said during the incident but did not feel compelled to talk to him.

NOT BUDGING: Tim Tebow, looking for a job after being released by the New England Patriots, refused to change positions after an NFL team expressed interest in him, according to a report by Peter King of Sports Illustrated.

The report didn’t say which team approached Tebow.

In addition to maintaining a strong desire to remain a quarterback, Tebow also turned down an offer to play in the Canadian Football League.

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