Pats continue to kick the tires on free agents
|11.02.09 at 8:54 pm ET|
Over the last 10 days or so, a steady stream of free agents have passed through Gillette Stadium.
The Patriots have held workouts for several different free agents, including veteran long snapper Joe Zelenka, kickers Mike Nugent and Connor Barth and punter Tim Masthay. On Monday, a report indicated that running backs Maurice Hicks, Marcus Mason and Thomas Brown, as well as tight ends Rob Myers and Buck Ortega had either come in for a workout or were going to work out for New England.
It’s not an indication of how the organization might feel about any of the players they currently have on their roster. Instead, both coach Bill Belichick and director of player personnel Nick Caserio said on Monday that inviting a group of available free agents in for workouts at this time of the season is pretty much par for the course, especially during the bye week.
“We worked out, I think about 11 or 12 guys last week because the, you know, bye week. Just getting caught up on some guys,” Belichick told WEEI. “Both workouts, physicals, just seeing where people are.
“There are obviously some changes from where guys were in September when they’re released by teams or maybe they just had injury situations and we just wanted to stay on top of that. So it’s a normal, bye-week kind of thing.”
Caserio said the goal in working out and evaluating players at this time of season is a twofold. Some of it is to make sure there are players available in case of emergency (a sudden injury to a specialist, for example), as well as players who might be out there who could have a long-term impact to your squad, either younger players or those who still have practice squad eligibility.
“It’s commonplace throughout the league,” Caserio said. “Some are a little bit more on an emergency basis. For example, if you have an injury in the course of a game, then you have to act swiftly. Then also it’s just maintaining that list of players who could be candidates to either sign to your roster at some point or to put on the practice squad for a myriad of reasons.”
One example of a last-season workout of a free agent bearing fruit came in the latter stages of the 2003 season, where long snapper Lonie Paxton suffered a knee injury. The Patriots went out and picked up veteran Brian Kinchen. He struggled, but eventually delivered down the stretch, including Super Bowl XXXVIII, where he successful delivered the snap on Adam Vinatieri’s game-winning field goal.
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