Patriots: Comings and Goings Update

Another LB on the Pats list?

<P>The 2005 NFL Draft is ten days away and teams are trying to finalize their last minute preparations. In the middle of all that activity, the Patriots continue to shuffle their roster, host visitors and conduct workouts. Get inside to see who's coming and who's going.</P>

PHOTO: Atlanta Falcons' Chris Draft (54) ties up Minnesota Vikings running back Michael Bennett (23) during the first half in Atlanta on Friday, Aug. 20, 2004. (AP Photo/Ric Feld)

Patriots: Comings And Goings
The Visitors Bureau Getting it's Own Workout
Patriots Insider Staff

The Patriots need at the Linebacker position was obvious to all who saw an upbeat, smiling, but not yet fully recovered Tedy Bruschi throw out the first pitch at Fenway for the Red Sox game. Bruschi, much to his credit, continues to work on getting back into the kind of shape that allowed him to be one of the best in the league last season. Whether or not Bruschi returns to his starting role this season, or maybe takes a season off, is anyone's guess. The team however, is making the kind of moves necessary in case Tedy is not able to return right away.

Visitors

Beisel, A Solid Addition

At the linebacker position, the team has been very active visiting with, talking to, and signing players they have an interest in. The latest signing of Monty Beisel came as a surprise to many in the media, yet it was the kind of signing the team is well known for. Beisel was not a starter in Kansas City until injuries hit their roster. Even then, Beisel moved around from weak side to strong side as the outside backer, while seeing a good deal of time in the middle.

According to Scout.com's Warpath Illustrated, Beisel was not a regular starter. He is the kind of player who starts in a rotation and plays with a passion and aggressiveness of someone trying to prove he deserve a shot to be the starter.

As PI reported earlier, Beisel visited with Green Bay and Pittsburgh, but decided he liked his chances in New England where he would at least have an opportunity to compete. Kansas City made an effort to pursue Beisel, but the addition of Kendrell Bell spelled the end of Beisel's starting role there.

Other Linebackers Out There

Scott Fujita, another Kansas City linebacker thought to potentially be on the Patriots list, agreed to a one-year deal with the Chiefs earlier this week, taking him off the radar.

The other linebackers in the mix include: Jamie Sharper (who was released by the Houston Texans in a salary cap move), Tommy Polley of the Rams, Ronald McKinnon (the longtime starter for the Cardinals), Rob Morris of the Indianapolis Colts, Nate Wayne of the Philadelphia Eagles, and Chris Draft of the Atlanta Falcons.

Sharper agreed to terms with the Seahawks, Polley was signed by Baltimore, McKinnon wasn't considered valuable enough to get in more than a few plays his final game in Arizona, and Morris was part of the porous defense that allowed the Patriots to steamroll the Colts in the playoffs. That leaves Wayne, not currently on the radar, and Draft among the others not listed.

More on Draft's Visit

The Falcons former linebacker, Chris Draft, is scheduled to visit with the Patriots later in the week, according to the Metro West Daily News. Falcons GM Rich McKay recently spoke with the Associated Press about the the team's plans at middle linebacker (Draft's position), and why Atlanta decided to pursue Edgerton Hartwell to improve their defense.

``We said that if we can take any position (in free agency), it would be a 'mike' linebacker. As much Chris did for us last year, we were looking to get a much better player at the position."

Draft was on a defense that went from dead last in 2003 to middle of the pack in 2004, with aspirations to make it into the top-ten or better in 2005. With the addition of Hartwell and the return of Keith Bookings, the Falcons appear to be on their way to building on their momentum, but Draft is not part of that equation.

Draft's agent, Kenneth Landphere, told The Patriot Ledger the Patriots had talked with the Falcons about acquiring Draft via trade. However, his release last week, made that unnecessary. Landphere was quick to point out the positive influence Draft could have in a locker room and how that might translate into a bonus for a team like the Patriots.

"I think more than anything he's perceived as being a consummate professional, someone who's a real student of the game with a high aptitude for the game. He's very cerebral," Landphere said.

According to NFL.com, Draft's numbers from 2003 to 2004 have declined, which could be an indication of the system and his level of involvement in it. In 2004 Draft managed 56 tackles with 1 interception and 1 forced fumble. That was down from his career high of 124 tackles in 2003. He also managed an interception and a forced fumble in 2003.

However Draft's visit goes with the team, the news that he's visiting the Patriots indicates the team is not quite settled on their choices for the 2005 NFL Draft.

Draft Prospects

New England has been busy hosting a number of visitors to Foxboro, as well as traveling to see prospects work out. The majority of the news is about the linebackers the team has been checking out, but there are a number of other positions the team is focusing on, including; quarterback, defensive line, running back and defensive back.

Stories we've been able to bring you on the prospects can be found under their respective bios. Here are some of the more recent ones:

Sione Pouha - Another Visitor
Stefan Lefors and Dan Orlovsky: The Draft, QB's and the Patriots?
Charlie Frye - Small College QB Has Scouts Interested
Marlin Jackson - Draft Prospects: Patriots Looking At DB
Rich Demars - Patriots Host Two More Visitors
Adam Seward - Insiders: Patriots Schedule Another Visitor
Channing Crowder - One on One With Channing, Part 2

In The News

Tom Brady: Brady is expected to the guest host for Saturday Night Live. As first reported on the Tipline, Brady, will be on the Show in the near future.

Tedy Bruschi: Tedy joined fellow teammate Richard Seymour and former Boston greats Bobby Orr and Bill Russell at the Red Sox home opener. In a statement issues by the Red Sox, Bruschi told fans, ``I am feeling pretty good.'' From the ovation the linebacker received, it was apparent Bruschi has the support of the fans of Boston.

Richard Seymour: Joined Bruschi, Russell and Orr to throw out the first pitch in a ceremony at Fenway Park.

Adam Vinatieri: Signed his tender offer, which will pay the all-pro kicker $2.5 million should he not come to terms on a longer term deal. Vinatieri was given the franchise designation (Tagged) by the team when both sides couldn't come to terms on a long-term contract prior to the start of free agency.

David Givens: Givens has yet to receive any serious offers from other teams interested in his services. According to reports, the one team which inquired as to his availability wanted to know if the Patriots were willing to accept something less than the first round draft choice required under NFL Restricted free agency rules. Our understanding is the team continues working toward a deal with the receiver to keep him with the Patriots.

Jed Weaver and Hank Poteat: Have been given their release by the team. Both players joined the Patriots in 2004 when injuries forced New England to find free agents to fill the roster.

White House Visit

The tradition of Superbowl winners visiting the White house continues today as member of the Patriots flew to Washington D.C. to meet the President. This is President George W. Bush's third visit with the same team in four years, as the Patriots have been winners of Superbowls 36, 38 and 39.

Before being honored at the White House, Tom Brady, Tedy Bruschi, David Givens, Deion Branch, Daniel Graham, Dan Koppen, Matt Light and Larry Izzo will travel to the local military hospitals (Bethesda Naval and Walter Reed Army) to meet with some of the patients there.

Izzo who recently returned from a trip to Iraq to honor the late Pat Tillman, continues his tours of military facilities. Izzo has family in the armed forces and has previous mentioned the importance of recognizing those who serve.

 


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