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Crowell visits New England

While all the pre-draft talk about filling the need for a bigger wide receiver centered around former Dolphin Oronde Gadsden and former Bear Marcus Robinson, the Patriots quietly flew Lions free agent receiver Germane Crowell into town.

Patriots Football Weekly is reporting that Crowell visited with team officials the week before the draft, but no agreement was reached. New England then selected Texas A&M receiver Bethel Johnson in the second round of the draft, adding to its wide receiver stable. But at 5-11, 201 pounds, Johnson does not fill the need for a bigger receiver.

Crowell, on the other hand, would do exactly that. The 6-3, 222-pound wideout has spent all of his five year career in Detroit, but after catching 81 passes for 1,338 yards in 1999, Crowell has been limited to 24 games and 16 starts over the past three seasons because of injuries.

Crowell caught 27 passes in the first six games of 2000 before breaking a bone in his foot during a non-contact practice drill. He missed seven games with the injury and returned to catch seven passes in the final three weeks.

He caught 22 passes in the first five games of 2001 before suffering a torn patella tendon that landed him on injured reserve. That injury kept him out until Week Seven of the 2002 season. He caught another 22 passes for 201 yards and one touchdown over the final 10 weeks last year, including a season high five catches for 46 yards in a 20-12 Thanksgiving Day loss to the Patriots.

In his career, he has 184 receptions for 2,722 yards with 16 touchdowns and 12 receptions of longer than 40 yards.

If healthy, he could provide another experienced, viable downfield target for quarterback Tom Brady. The Patriots tried to fill the need for a bigger receiver last season when they signed Carolina free agent Donald Hayes. But Hayes was ineffective and struggled to learn the system before being released after the season.

Crowell was drafted in the second round (50th overall) in 1998 out of Virginia.

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