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Meet the Rookies - OL Corey Hilliard

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It's a superstition with no apparent explanation.

Almost every offensive lineman tapes either his ankles and/or wrists before games or practices. But Corey Hilliard's routine is different.

New England's rookie sixth-round draft pick waits until after warm-ups at practice to get his mitts taped.

"But on game days, I always get taped up before warm-ups," he revealed recently. Exactly why remains a mystery. It's just something Hilliard likes to do.

The other pre-game habit he confesses to is listening to music – all kinds of music. He ticks off genre after genre when asked to list his favorites.

"Rap, country, alternative, R&B…I have a little playlist for every game. I used to keep the same one for a while, but now I like to switch it up."

As for artists, Tupac Shakur, Brad Paisley, Linkin Park, and Usher are among those you'll find on Hilliard's iPod. His diverse musical taste may stem from his having grown up in New Orleans, a city known for its eclectic, yet unique music scene.

Living down south may also explain Hilliard's laid-back personality.

"I'm not an intense person off the field," he admitted. "I just like to take things as they come and enjoy life."

About an hour northeast of New Orleans lies Kiln, Mississippi, hometown of Green Bay Packer legend Brett Favre.

"He was my favorite player, as a kid," Hilliard acknowledged. "I just loved watching him play."

So, what does Hilliard think about the possibility that he could be blocking for another Super Bowl MVP quarterback here in New England?

"Every time I think about it," he paused before continuing, "It hasn't hit me yet. I could be blocking for [Tom Brady]…it's just so surreal."

If he wants to earn his living blocking for Brady, the self-described fun-loving Hilliard will have to improve significantly upon his performance in rookie mini camp this past weekend. Though noted for his size and strength, the 6-5, 308-pound lineman had trouble with his conditioning during his first professional practice.

That may have been an aberration, however. Hilliard's position coach at Oklahoma State, Joe Wickline, believes his former player has what it takes to play at this level.

"He's all business once the ball is snapped," Wickline professed. "He's physical, he understands the grind and loves the grind. Seriously, he'll light you up with the best of them."

Hilliard's next chance to prove himself will be in three weeks, when New England holds its full-squad mini camp the first week of June.

But coming back from adverse situations is nothing new to Hilliard. When Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans two years ago, it also wiped out the Hilliard family home.

To learn more about Hilliard and what inspires him to succeed, check out his in-depth player profile in this month's Patriots Football Weekly.

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