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Andrews and Stevenson sign, gear up for Pats training-camp

The season's first two rookie deals are in the books for the Patriots, with sixth and seventh-round draft picks from Notre Dame and Baylor hoping to make the grade.



Willie Andrews– The New England Patriots selectedWillie Andrews** 229th overall in the seventh-round of the 2006 NFL draft. He signed a four-year deal with the Patriots on July 11. Andrews is one of only three defensive players taken by the Patriots and the lone draft pick from Baylor in this year's draft.

Born and raised in Texas, Andrews was a running back and kick returner for Longview High School. He was an outstanding special teams contributor for the Baylor Bears, returning eleven kickoffs for 265 yards (24.1 avg) and 27 punts for 274 yards (10.1 avg) last year. If mini-camp was any indicator, it looks as though he's come to New England to continue showcasing his kick return talent.

Andrews set Baylor career records for total kick returns (164), total kick return yards (2,596), kickoff returns (67), kickoff return yards (1,647) and punt return yards (949). He also started every game last season at strong safety, ranking fourth on the team with 59 tackles. Andrews finished his career with 2,654 all-purpose yards, landing himself the No.8 spot on Baylor's all-time list… By the way, he's the first player in Baylor history to grace the all-time all-purpose list with fewer than 10 total rushing or receiving yards.

He's said he'd be willing to play offense if Coach Belichick thought it would help the team but Andrews appears to have the makings of a high-quality NFL return specialist. The Patriots former kick returners, Tim Dwight and Bethel Johnson, both left this offseason, so Andrews should get a chance to earn the spot during the Patriots training-camp beginning July 28.

Dan Stevenson – Signed yesterday, Patriots sixth-round pick Dan Stevenson was taken 205th overall in the 2006 NFL draft. He hails from Illinois, attended Barrington High School, and was rated the top offensive lineman in the Midwest by the Chicago Sun-Times before attending Notre Dame. Aside from sitting out a few games due to minor leg injuries in 2003, Stevenson started in every game the Fighting Irish played over the last three seasons.

Named the team's top lineman in 2005 when he received the Guardian of the Year Award, Stevenson led the offensive line that helped quarterback Brady Quinn burn his name into the top of Notre Dame's single-season record books under categories that include: passing attempts (450), completions (292), passing yards (3,919) and passing yards per game (326.6). He also had 78 key blocks/knockdowns and was credited with eight touchdown-resulting blocks last season.

Stevenson was a right guard in college, but played a lot of center at the Patriots rookie mini-camp. His experience in college and versatility on the offensive line should put him in position to earn a roster spot.

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