The Patriots' struggle to address team depth has taken on another twist as news emerged that linebacker Tedy Bruschi will be sidelined for a month or more. Bruschi broke a bone in his wrist, and reportedly will undergo surgery to repair the injury on Wednesday. The team also made two roster moves Tuesday, signing WR Eddie Berlin and trading OL Ross Tucker to Cleveland for draft pick.
Bruschi “Officially” Has Broken Wrist
In the ongoing saga of Tedy Bruschi’s health status, news emerged late Tuesday that the linebacker was diagnosed with a broken wrist. He will not be available for the preseason games according to head coach Bill Belichick. His status for the season opener is also in doubt.
Bruschi hasn’t been available since the July 31st practice session at Patriots training camp. In his stead, oft-traveled Barry Gardner has filled in at the team’s inside linebacker position alongside fellow inside linebacker Monty Beisel.
Bruschi’s absence highlights the team’s struggle to maintain depth at the position. Although there are 14 linebackers on the roster only Beisel and Mike Vrabel have seen much playing time on the inside. Special team players Don Davis and Eric Alexander have spent time rotating in at the position during camp along with a number of rookies. Free agent Chad Brown played inside last season, but has practiced exclusively at the outside position during this year’s training camp.
Berlin Joins Pats
The Patriots signed free agent WR Eddie Berlin yesterday. Berlin participated in the afternoon practice session with the team. He has been assigned the #81 jersey number.
Berlin, 28, spent four seasons with the Tennessee Titans (2001-04) as a reserve receiver, and one with the Chicago Bears (2005). The 5-foot-11-inch, 195-pound Northern Iowa product was originally drafted by the Titans in the fifth round of the 2001 NFL Draft (159th overall).
With Deion Branch’s continued holdout, and the loss of WR Matt Shelton to the injured reserve list, the Patriots were forced to add another receiver. Belin has a reputation for being a solid contributor, although he only started one game for Tennessee. In his five-year career in the NFL, Berlin has managed 26 catches for 379 yards and two touchdowns, with most of the action coming in 2004. As a return specialist he managed 30 kickoff returns for 586 yards, and seven punt returns for 26 yards.
Tucker Headed To Cleveland
After a disappointing tenure with the Patriots, offensive lineman Ross Tucker was traded to the Cleveland Browns for an undisclosed draft pick late yesterday. The 6-foot-4, 310-pound Princeton product was a former starter for the Bills. He appeared in just one game for the Patriots in 2005.
Line depth was the biggest challenge for Tucker who signed a two-year deal to return to New England in the off-season. The Patriots added rookies Ryan O’Callaghan (5th round) and Dan Stevenson (6th round) in the 2006 NFL Draft. Both rookies have performed well during training camp. In addition to the rookies, the team has other versatile linemen competing for playing time including Billy Yates, Russ Hochstein and Gene Mruczkowski. Tucker will have a better chance to compete for a starting role in Cleveland.