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Pats sign seventh-round pick Welch

06.04.10 at 5:04 pm ET
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Thomas Welch.

The Patriots announced Friday afternoon that seventh-round pick Thomas Welch has signed. The third draft pick to ink a deal with New England, the offensive lineman out of Vanderbilt joins third-round selection Taylor Price (who signed May 18) and sixth-round draft choice Ted Larsen (who signed May 25).

Taken in the seventh round with the 208th overall pick, the 6-foot-6, 307-pound Welch is one of the biggest players the Patriots have ever selected. Welch was a two-year starter for the Commodores and was originally a tight end, but made the switch to right tackle. He played 13 games at right tackle for Vandy in 2008 before moving over to the left side in 2009.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick indicated that one of the things that attracted the Patriots to Welch was his toughness. The lineman struggled with an ankle injury through the final month or so of the season, but still managed to keep his game at a high level, something that impressed the New England brass.

“He played a good part of the year on an injured ankle,” Belichick said of Welch, “so he showed a lot of toughness during the season.”

Welch enters a crowded tackle position, but Belichick and the Patriots love versatile offensive linemen, and that could be the rookies’ greatest asset at this point of his career.

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Hartford’s UFL team adds another ex-Patriot

06.04.10 at 12:15 pm ET
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Earlier in the week, we told you about former Patriots wide receiver Robert Ortiz being drafted by the Hartford Colonials of the United Football League. On Thursday, Hartford added another former New England player to the roster with the signing of linebacker Vince Redd as a free agent. Redd, who played five games with the Patriots in 2008 is a 6-foot-6, 260-pounder who was originally signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Liberty on May 2, 2008. He spent the first part of his rookie season on the practice squad before being signed to the 53-man roster. Redd played in five of the final six games and finished with two tackles on defense and six special teams tackles.

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Catching up with ex-Pats’ TE Benjamin Watson

06.03.10 at 8:23 pm ET
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Former Patriots tight end Benjamin Watson is in his first season with Cleveland, and the Georgia product who spent the last six years in New England working with Tom Brady is now trying to build a chemistry with veteran Jake Delhomme, a quarterback who in many ways is Brady’s polar opposite.

In this story, the ever-polite Watson said when asked to compare the two: “They’re two totally different quarterbacks,” he said. “Jake is Jake and Tom is Tom.” The story also talks about how they’ve already spent extra time together in an attempt to try and bolster their professional relationship, but it’s clear that it’s still a work in progress.

“It’s really a matter of day to day short-term goals,” Watson said regarding his chemistry with Delhomme.

Watson clearly No. 1 on the depth chart, but he’s part of a tight end group that includes another former Patriot in Alex Smith. In addition, the Browns also have Robert Royal and Evan Moore at that spot.

“As a group, we can make ourselves as important in this offense as we can,” Watson said. “Playing tight end is kind of like being a utility vehicle. … You have to be good in the running and passing game.”

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Butler welcomes challenges to secondary, Big East stars to division

06.03.10 at 5:21 pm ET
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Darius Butler (No. 28) picks off a pass against Tampa Bay last season. (AP)

A lot has changed since Darius Butler began preparations for his first professional season last year. The 2009 second-round pick out of UConn was thrust into as unclear a secondary as the team has had in years. With nobody knowing who would step up in a group that included free agent acquisitions Leigh Bodden and Shawn Springs — in addition to then second-year men Terrence Wheatley and Jonathan Wilhite — Butler emerged as a key member of the defensive backfield.

Twelve months and a possible starting job later, it is Butler, who started five of his 14 games last season, who could be called on to help bring along first-round pick Devin McCourty. Butler’s priority right now, however, is getting himself set to help the defense as much as he can.

“I wouldn’t say [I’ve taken on] a leadership role,” Butler said. “I’m just trying to take care of myself. I’m still trying to get used to things. It’s only my second year and I’ve got a lot more time to prepare and, you know, I know kind of what’s coming so it’s better for me, so I’m still trying to get myself together.

“I’m just coming out here and trying to compete every day. Nobody’s solidified anything. Leigh probably played the most last year and has the most experience out of all of us. We’re just all here battling for jobs. “

With the departure of Shawn Springs, it appears Butler and former Big East rival McCourty will battle for the No. 2 and nickel spots on the depth chart behind Bodden. So far, Butler’s impressed with what he’s seen out of the Rutgers product and 27th overall pick.

“He’s good,” Butler said of McCourty. “He’s a good player. I saw him play in college, [as] we were in the same conference. He’s a good player, he’s picking up things quick, he’s fast, he learns quick, so he’s good.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Source: WR Owens works out for Patriots

06.03.10 at 12:09 pm ET
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According to a league source, the Patriots had Rod Owens in for a workout Thursday morning. Owens, a 6-foot-1, 186-pound wide receiver, led Florida State with 61 catches for 729 yards and three touchdowns last season. A 23-year-old, he was released late last month by St. Louis.

Described by FSU coach Bobby Bowden as “probably [the] steadiest receiver” on the 2009 Seminole team, Owens started his collegiate career slowly, pulling down a combined 30 catches in his first three collegiate seasons with Florida State. His breakout came last year, a season that included a 9-catch, 199-yard performance in an October win over North Carolina. (Local college football fans might remember him for his effort against Boston College, when he had five catches for 62 yards in an October loss to the Eagles at The Heights.)

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Ex-Pats’ WR selected by Hartford in UFL Draft

06.03.10 at 1:19 am ET
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Robert Ortiz had two brief stints with the Patriots.

A landing spot for several former Patriots, including Jermaine Wiggins and Todd Sauerbrun, the United Football League added another former New Englander to its ranks on Wednesday when wide receiver Robert Ortiz was taken in the seventh round of the annual UFL Draft by the Hartford Colonials.

Ortiz, who turned 27 last week, is a 6-foot-1, 188-pounder out of San Diego State who has bounced around the NFL, a journey that’s twice found him with the Patriots. Initially, he was signed by the Patriots as a free agent on May 13, 2008, but was released by New England on July 26 of that same year. After a brief stint with San Francisco, he was signed a second time by the Patriots as a free agent on May 4, 2009, and made it all the way to the final cuts before being released on Sept. 4, 2009. (In addition to stops in San Francisco and New England, he’s also spent time in training camp with San Diego and Seattle.)

The Hartford franchise also has another connection to the Patriots — former New England tight ends coach Shane Waldron joined the Colonials coaching staff in March. A graduate of Tufts, Waldron spent one year with the Patriots as tight ends coach (2009) after one season as a coaching assistant. In addition, from 2002-2004, he had spent three seasons as a football operations intern/operations assistant with the Patriots.

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Report: ‘Disconnect’ between Brady and Pats on new deal

06.02.10 at 2:50 pm ET
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When it comes to a new deal for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Michael Silver of Yahoo Sports! writes today “there’s a growing sense of disconnect” between the quarterback and the franchise.

Silver says, “three months before the start of the 2010 campaign, and less than two months before training camp, there have been no substantial talks between his agents (Don Yee and Steve Dubin) and the Pats’ front office, and there’s a growing sense of disconnect between the two camps.”

Both sides have maintained mostly radio silence on this issue. Brady, who is in the final year of a five-year contract he signed in 2005, has politely declined to comment when he’s been asked about the contract, and did not address the media after Wednesday’s OTA at Gillette Stadium. Meanwhile, Patriots owner Robert Kraft was vague last week when he was asked about the contract situations that surround Brady and Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins.

“I’m not the one doing it, so I can’t answer that,” Kraft said. “They are two young men who will be on this team and two important people to us for the future.”

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