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Opportunity For The Rookies

Willie McGinest was a fixture on the Patriots defense for over a decade, but now he's gone. Ted Johnson and Tedy Bruschi were fixtures the year before, but they were out of action at the start of the season. The transition from experienced vet to inexperienced newcomer is part of every team's annual adjustment period. Some teams handle the adjustment well, some do not. Transitions are supposed to be easier for veterans, yet the Patriots crop of rookies appear ready and eager for the challenge.

Apparently, college linebackers rarely make a good impression on the Patriots. The team has drafted only five players at that position -- none above the fifth round -- since coach Bill Belichick and vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli came on board in 2000.Despite losing starter Willie McGinest in free agency, the Patriots again waited until Day 2 of this year's draft to address the...

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