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Patriots release five players, including Jeremy Ebert and Brad Herman 04.29.13 at 5:08 pm ET
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The Patriots announced Monday afternoon they have released wide receiver Jeremy Ebert, fullback Tony Fiammetta, tight end Brad Herman, defensive lineman Tracy Robertson and defensive back Malcolm Williams.

Here’s a portion of the press release that was issued by the team on the moves:
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Revisiting Patriots’ rookies: Measuring overall impact of this year’s group 01.22.13 at 9:04 pm ET
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This year’€™s group of Patriots’€™ rookies collectively made more of an impact in their first season than any other group of first-year players since the 2003 class. (While the 2010 draft class will likely have a greater long-term impact, the 2012 and 2003 groups were asked to do more in their first full season in the NFL — for more on that breakdown, check out the comparison I did on each draft class here.) With their first season now done, let’€™s take a player-by-player look at how each one of them did.

Chandler Jones: The 6-foot-5, 220-pound defensive end — the first of two first-round picks made by the Patriots last spring — started out on a great note. With eight games in the books, the Syracuse product was leading the team with six sacks (including two in a loss to the Seahawks) and 11 quarterback hits. He also had three forced fumbles (including one in the first quarter of his first game as a professional), and was named AFC Rookie of the Month and NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for September. (We wrote about him as a possible candidate for the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year award because of his fast start.) But over the last eight regular-season games, Jones had no sacks, no forced fumbles and one quarterback hit. A sizable portion of that was likely due to an ankle injury he suffered in November that left him on the shelf for a stretch, and probably caused a dip in his play when he did return. (While he wasn’€™t overwhelming statistically in the regular-season finale against Miami, he did play very well against the Dolphins, looking aggressive while doing a good job setting the edge.) He indicated Monday that he could be facing offseason surgery for his ankle issues.

Dont’€™a Hightower: After being slowed by a hamstring problem in September and October, the Alabama product became a steady and dependable member of New England defense, and ended his rookie season with 75 tackles (51 solo), four sacks, nine quarterback hits and three passes defensed. He managed to grow into a complimentary piece at linebacker, alongside veterans Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes. No reason to think that the 6-foot-2, 270-pound defender won’€™t be a consistent presence at linebacker for the Patriots for years to come.

Tavon Wilson: The 6-foot, 210-pounder out of Illinois started strong, with four interceptions in his first 10 games, as well as a 10-tackle performance in an October win over Denver that likely marked the high-water mark of the season for the defensive back, who certainly surpassed the expectations of many who initially called him a second-round reach. However, the acquisition of Aqib Talib affected his playing time maybe more than anyone else — the trade for Talib meant the Patriots moved Devin McCourty from corner to safety, and left Wilson on the sidelines. (Wilson was still part of an occasional rotation in sub packages, but his overall snap count drastically decreased.) Overall, he finished the regular-season with 48 tackles (32 solo), but one of the most impressive things you can say about Wilson and what he brought to the field was a nose for the ball: in addition to his four picks, he had six passes defensed and a pair of fumble recoveries.

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Brad Herman embraces opportunity with Patriots, but realizes he has a long way to go 05.12.12 at 3:28 pm ET
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FOXBORO — With a 6-foot-five, 253-pound frame, undrafted rookie tight end Brad Herman unquestionably has the physical tools to translate his game to the NFL level. Saturday afternoon, while meeting with the media at Gillette Stadium for the first time as a member of the Patriots, the Iowa product emphasized maturity and an awareness that school is out and it’s time to get to work.

“They make it clear that this is a business and you should treat it like a business, both from their standpoint and our standpoint,” Herman said. “We have full-time jobs here. You don’t have to worry about school or putting to much on younger kids. Now, we’re adults. This is our job, so you’re going to have a more complex playbook.”

Herman comes to the Patriots under the tutelage of Hawkeye coach Kirk Ferentz, who served under Bill Belichick from 1993-95 as an offensive line coach with the Browns. His understanding of the shrewd lifestyle of the NFL was matched by the personal growth he said he needs as a player to make the Patriots squad, especially with the roster already rife with talented tight ends.

“I can develop in all areas — that’s the important thing,” Herman said. “Compared to these guys, I’m nothing. I’m just trying to learn from them, get better, and get to the level that the coaches want me at, and what I need to be at to play to my best abilities.

“You’re at the same level as they are,” he continued. “They are just men, like you, at the end of the day just trying to have a job. That’s how you have to treat it. You can’t be star struck.”

Herman’s numbers improved vastly his last year at Iowa. In 12 games last season, he had eight catches for 92 yards and a touchdown. Ferentz ran a pro-style offense at Iowa which benefited Herman, but nevertheless, the intricacies of the pro game are something he hopes to adapt to with time, all while proving to the coaching staff he belongs.

“Some things I’m used to as far as the coaching technique,” Herman said. “Ferentz and Belichick are tied into each other, I know that. It helps, but overall I really don’t know much at this point. It’s still a huge learning curve.

“You go out there and try to establish yourself,” he said. “Do what you can to help the team, give your full effort and it’s up to the coaches to decide. If they think you’re good enough then you make the team, if not, try your luck elsewhere.”

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A closer look at the seven rookies the Patriots signed on Thursday 05.10.12 at 7:58 pm ET
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The Patriots announced the addition of seven rookie free agents on Thursday who will take part in rookie minicamp this weekend at Gillette Stadium. Here’s a thumbnail look at each one of them:

Running back Brandon Bolden, Mississippi: The 5-foot-11, 215-pound Bolden finished his collegiate career ranked second in school history in both total touchdowns scored (33) and rushing touchdowns (27), third in all-purpose yards (3,681) and fourth in rushing yards (2,604).

Defensive lineman Marcus Forston, Miami: The 6-foot-3, 300-pound Forston was injury-free during his freshman season at Miami, finishing with 17 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and three quarterback sacks. After that, it was all downhill. His 2009 season was cut short due to an ankle injury, while his 2011 season, which began with a four-game suspension due to NCAA infractions, ended after he underwent surgery for a torn MCL. He also had shoulder surgery prior to the start of the 2010 season, but he still played in 13 games with 12 starts that year, and registered 37 total tackles, 3.0 sacks and one interception.

Defensive lineman Justin Francis, Rutgers: The 6-foot-3, 270-pounder posted very good numbers over the course of his college career (106 tackles, 22 tackles for loss and 12 sacks), culminating with 60 total tackles, 5.5 sacks, one fumble recovery, one interception and five passes defensed as a senior.

Tight end Brad Herman, Iowa: The 6-foot-5, 253-pounder had his best season as a senior, finishing with eight catches for 92 yards and a touchdown in 12 games (including three starts). He’€™s described by Pro Football Weekly as having ‘€œintriguing measurables, good straight-line speed and outstanding leaping ability.’€
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Read More: Brad Herman, Brandon Bolden, Jeremiah Warren, Justin Francis
Patriots sign Iowa TE Brad Herman as an undrafted free agent 04.28.12 at 9:19 pm ET
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Iowa tight end Brad Herman has agreed to sign with Patriots as an undrafted free agent, per a league source. The 6-foot-5, 253-pounder had his best season as a senior, finishing with eight catches for 92 yards and a touchdown in 12 games (including three starts). He’s described by Pro Football Weekly as having “intriguing measurables, good straight-line speed and outstanding leaping ability.” To this point, he’s the second Iowa player who has signed with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent, joining teammate Markus Zusevics.

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