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Bill Belichick: AFC championship rings 'bittersweet'

Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots received their AFC championship rings Wednesday.

The jewelry was dispensed minus any sense of fervor or uproar.

"Bittersweet," is how Belichick described the moment, on the heels of losing Super Bowl XLVI to the New York Giants. Big Blue received their world championship rings last month in a lavish ceremony. For the Patriots, the handout was a passing moment, tucked into the team's minicamp practice.

"Whatever it was last year, it was," Belichick said. "So it's time to move on."

We will do the same:

After speaking with reporters, Belichick cancelled the team's Thursday practice, per the Boston Herald. It marks the first time he's ever cancelled mandatory practice in New England, according to the newspaper. Following required team meetings, players have a few weeks to decompress before the launch of training camp.

Tight end Jake Ballard made his first appearance at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday. "I talked to him, and we'll move along with his rehab, and see how that goes," Belichick said. "He seems to be doing relatively well for where he was at when he had the surgery."

Ballard is unlikely to play in 2012 because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament, but that didn't stop Belichick from nabbing the role player off waivers from the Giants this week.

Belichick confirmed a report we touched on earlier: He has spoken with New Orleans interim coach Joe Vitt about practicing with the Saints before their preseason opener in August. We'll keep an eye on that development in the coming days.

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