Safety Valve: Pats Looking at DBs

Are the Patriots interested in this DB...

The New England Patriots had a trio of veteran defenders in for a look on Monday. Why are the Patriots looking at defensive players? Injuries may be rearing their ugly head for the third year in a row. The team has already lost two members of this year's secondary, and it looks like that trend may not have ended in 2006.

The New England Patriots had tryouts for three veteran safeties on Monday. The team invited Keion Carpenter (Falcons), Brent Alexander (Giants) and Lance Schulters (Dolphins) to Foxboro for auditions.

The auditions could be to replace one of the injured defenders already on the roster who may be having trouble returning to the lineup. Veteran Artrell Hawkins is one such case. Hawkins was sidelined with a thigh injury prior to the game last week. Although there is little information on his injury and he was seen at practice this week. He is listed as questionable on the injury report with a thigh injury. The team's other reserve safety James sanders was injured in the win over the Jets. Sanders wore a red non-contact jersey at practice but was not listed on the injury report.

If the Patriots are looking at safeties other than to replace a player who's hurt,, then of the three DBs who visited, Schulters jumps out as a potential contributor who could add quality depth right away.

Head Coach Bill Belichick has his reservations about signing guys off the street and how to make the decision whether to keep a veteran over a rookie. But that hasn't stopped the Patriots from looking for talented players who could help upgrade the roster. Hawkins for example, was obtained by the Patriots after it became evident that Randall Gay's ankle injury would sideline him for the remained of the 2005 season. Hawkins stepped in to fill the void in the secondary and became the starting SS a week later. Michael Stone, another midseason free agent switched in with Hawkins over the final six weeks of the season.

CLOSER LOOK

Lance Schulters (Dolphins)

Schulters could start for many teams in the league, but at this point he's still on the outside looking in. Having recovered from the same foot injury (Lisfranc) that sidelined Ty Law, Schulters is an 8-year veteran who could add quality depth to a unit that has struggled to field healthy bodies. The Dolphins passed on re-signing Schulters preferring to go with rookie Jason Allen. There is talk in Miami of possibly re-signing Schulters if the team continues to struggle in their pass coverage.

Brent Alexander (Giants)

Alexander is a 12-year veteran who began his career as a cornerback and moved to safety as age caught up with him. Alexander began his career in Arizona (1994-97) before moving on to the Panthers (1998-99), then Steelers (2000-03) and eventually the Giants (2004-05). He announced his retirement this spring, but his agent has since claimed that the veteran would like to return for another season. Alexander has averaged roughly 50 tackles and 4 interceptions per season the last four years. Compare that to The Patriots tandem of FS Eugene Wilson (2003-05) 50 tackles and 3 INTs and Tebucky Jones (2002) 40 tackles and 1 INT and the production is similar.

Keion Carpenter (Falcons)

A former undrafted rookie free agent signed by the Buffalo Bills in 1999. Carpenter earned his way on the Bills roster with solid play eventually becoming their starting free safety. Carpenter joined the Falcons in 2002 as their starting FS until Bryan Scott took over in 2003. Carpenter blew his knee out in 2004 and missed the entire season. He returned to the Falcons in 2005 managing 55 tackles in a reserve role.

Reminder: you can find more articles, interviews, injury reports and background by visiting each player's profile page.

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