Workouts Could Lead To More Signings

Kicking the tires on street free agents is typical for personnel departments around the league to do on players' off days during the NFL season. That is what New England has been doing the past two weeks. Are they just taking a look or is there more to it?

New England Continues to Evaluate Talent

Teams typically bring in free agents for a workout (tryout) and/or physical on off days to see where they're at. Coaches and personnel evaluators want to get a better look to gauge how well the player is conditioned and to evaluate whether the player might help the team in the future, either as an injury replacement or a developmental player.

The Patriots are no exception to this routine typically using Monday or Tuesday of their workweek to evaluate prospects.

Last week a host of special teams players booked flights to the greater Boston area, to workout for the team. Kickers Mike Nugent and Connor Barth, punter Tim Masthay and long snapper Joe Zelenka visited the Patriots.

Tight end Tony Curtis, linebackers Danny Lansanah, Pago Togafau and Thomas Williams and punter Sam Paulescu also visited the team facility.

This week the Patriots hosted RBs Maurice Hicks, Marcus Mason and Thomas Brown. They also worked out a pair of tight ends Rob Myers and Buck Ortega.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick explained that the parade of free agents through Foxboro was just part of the normal routine at this time of year.

"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."

The coach also said that situations could change from an injury recovery perspective, or other situations. "We just wanted to stay on top of that," The coach continued. "So it's a normal, bye-week kind of thing."

Patriots Director of Pro Personnel Nick Caserio also spoke of being prepared by taking a look at players. Caserio explained that taking a look at players now could be for both reasons, emergency situations or as a way to build the roster for the future.

"There might be some good football players who had been productive that are still out there, so that's part of it," Caserio said in a conference all with New England media members. "The other part of it is that you start to look at players that might be able to go on your practice squad.

"If there's a player that you liked coming out of college or you liked during the preseason, and you see some positive attributes on that particular player, then you want to bring them in, work them out, spend some time with them, have the medical information, and then make a decision on your practice squad."

For the 2009 Patriots, the needs are simple. It boils down to three top needs:

1. Get Tom Brady another target in the passing game to compliment Wes Welker and Randy Moss.

2. Find someone to run the ball until (or if) Sammy Morris and Fred Taylor return from injury.

3. Boost the defensive front. With Richard Seymour gone, Jarvis Green and Ty Warren hurting, the Patriots may need more depth up front.

For now, the Patriots opted to add Rob Myers to the practice squad to address an injury concern there. The move was both a developmental decision as well as a way to added depth at the position. With just Ben Watson and Chris Baker as the only tight ends on the roster, the Patriots could find themselves shorthanded if an injury befalls either starter.

As for the top three needs, The Patriots appear to be wiling to move forward with the players they have at receiver. Rookie Brandon Tate, widely considered a first round talent before his knee injury last year, is learning the ropes. Rookie Julian Edelman also remains an option once the broken bone in his arm heals.

"I think it was good for Brandon to get some experience, whether it was on special teams returning kickoffs, he had a few plays there offensively," Caserio said of the rookie's first game back from PUP. "I think there were some good plays, some bad plays, just like everybody else."

Adam Caplan of Sirius NFL Radio and senior writer for has heard that although there's speculation that Morris or Taylor could land on I/R if the Patriots find a healthy running back they like, Morris isn't expected to be the one. One player being mentioned in the conversation is recently released former Seahawk running back Edgerrin James.

"Morris is not expected to go on IR I'm told," Caplan stated Thursday morning. "James looks slow, however."

Caplan did admit James could land a workout in New England.

As for the defensive line, Patriots coordinator Dean Pees wasn't about to rule out rookie Ron Brace from seeing more playing time. Brace has been inactive in the team's last five games. Pees claims it is not due to performance issues.

I think Ron's working hard and he's learning the system and he's doing a good job in there," said Pees. "I think it's just a matter of us trying to say, 'Who fits the role that we need this week in this particular spot?' So it may not necessarily have anything to do with whether Ron has not done well or has done well."

The Patriots will need to add Brace to the mix this weekend when the Miami Dolphins arrive in Foxboro. Defensive lineman Jarvis Green had knee surgery and is expected to miss a few weeks of playing time, while fellow defensive end Ty Warren is fighting to return from injury himself, missing practice time on Wednesday.

If the Patriots do add a body from their visitor list, it may not be one of those who paraded through Gillette this week, it could be someone who has already been through the facility.

For a more complete list of recent visitors, check the Insider Lounge where Patriots Insiders have been tracking the player sightings and workouts.

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