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Cox, Mercer added to defense

Veteran depth was added to the linebacking corps Tuesday when Head Coach Bill Belichick announced the signing of Bryan Cox.

Cox has played 10 years in the NFL for Miami, Chicago and the New York Jets, where he spent the last three seasons. He is very familiar with Belichick's defense through his time in New York. A starter since he came into the league, Cox will have an immediate impact in the Patriots defense.

Belichick said that Cox will arrive later today and should be on the practice field by Wednesday. The move has long been rumored, and was made now in part because of the unknown status of third-year player Katzenmoyer. Katzenmoyer left camp last Friday after experiencing some pain in his neck in the first practice of camp. He returned to camp but has not resumed practicing with the team.

Belichick said that Cox will work inside along with Ted Johnson and Tedy Bruschi. On third downs Cox will be a pass rusher. He has 51.5 sacks in his career.

In 15 starts with the Jets last season, Cox had 81 tackles, six sacks, three forced fumbles and six passes defensed. He had several conversations with Belichick during the offseason, who earlier this week said Cox was one of the first two free agents brought in for a workout after the 2000 season ended. Cox suffered a broken leg late last season, but the Patriots are confident he is recovered. He'll undergo tests with the medical personnel when he arrives.

New England also signed second-year nose tackle Giradie Mercer and waived wide receiver Dane Looker. Because of the retirement of guard Joe Panos Friday, the Patriots had an open roster spot, but now they are at their roster limit of 87.

Mercer was waived by Philadelphia on Friday after spending 2000 on injured reserved. He was originally signed as a rookie free agent out of Marshall by Carolina. Looker was acquired by New England during training camp last year from St. Louis and made the roster, but he was never active for a game. Belichick said he was talented, but that he was injured too much and had fallen too far behind the rest of the wide receivers on the roster.

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