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Patriots.com News Blitz - 4/17/2008

On Wednesday, Bill Belichick celebrated his 56th birthday - part of it, at least - with the local media. The Pats head coach resurrected a former tradition of holding a pre-NFL Draft press conference.

Belichick answered questions on a number of topics, including how the change from 15 minutes to 10 for teams to make selections in the first round will affect New England's approach. He said it would likely make more of a difference when teams are considering trade offers.

"First-round trades, sometimes there's a little more degree of difficulty in the small moving parts than what there is in some trades in the later rounds," Belichick observed.

"It'll be interesting to see how that goes. I don't think the second round, I don't think [going down to seven minutes] will have much of an impact. The first round, if you're involved in a trade, you're going to have to get it done."

The Patriots own the seventh overall pick in the first round (thanks to a trade with San Francisco), much higher than their spot last year, when the team took Miami Hurricane DB Brandon Meriweather.

After a rookie year in which he played both safety and corner for New England, Meriweather told The Boston Globe that he's focused on improving his overall game, no matter where he's asked to play this season.

"I'm preparing to be a football player ... I'm not trying to go in thinking whether I'm a safety or a corner or whether I'm a kicker or quarterback. I'm just going in to be an athlete. Whatever my team needs, I'll do."

As he does each April, Pats Pro Bowl NT Vince Wilfork will host a Draft Party for family, friends, and fans. The purpose is not only to enjoy watching whom his team will pick, but also to raise money for a cause that's near and dear to Wilfork.

His father died of complications from diabetes, so now he tries to help others who suffer from the condition.

"I saw my father suffer for 12 years," Wilfork said in a press conference at Gillette Stadium Wednesday. "Every year, it went from losing eyesight to hearing to limbs to toes, to every month losing something. It was basically just seeing my father die slowly. That's what it came to. I was 9 or 10 years old and had to carry my father to the bathroom because he was so weak he couldn't walk."

The Hartford Courant has an interesting feature on Wilfork in today's edition.

Finally today, the Sun Chronicle is reporting on the latest construction news around Gillette Stadium, namely the new 500-seat live entertainment venue that will soon open here in Foxborough.

"I think any new facility like this would be a good thing for the public," Warren Scott, president of Boston Eventworks, said in the story. "It's a great opportunity for fans and for talent."

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