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Patriots.com News Blitz - 12/20/2006

Mike Reiss of The Boston Globe reports that punter Ken Walter was placed on injured reserve yesterday after sustaining a foot injury in the first quarter of the Texans game last weekend. The Patriots are now in search of a punter for the second time this season; Josh Miller was placed on IR before Walter was acquired.

The Providence Journal's Shalise Manza Young explains that Walter was placed on injured reserve, becoming the 13th New England Patriot player to have his season ended by injury. Walter, 34, was signed by New England less than a month ago. He had played in the last four games with the Patriots.

Alan Greenberg of the Hartford Courant reports that the loss of Walter, who averaged 37 yards in four games, means the Patriots need to find someone to hold for rookie kicker Stephen Gostkowski. Quarterback Tom Brady held for one season at Michigan, but it's unlikely the Patriots would want to give those duties to Brady.

The Boston Globe's Patriots Notebook announces that defensive lineman Richard Seymour earned his fifth straight Pro Bowl selection yesterday. Surprisingly, quarterback Tom Brady, cornerback Asante Samuel, nose tackle Vince Wilfork, and defensive end Ty Warren all were edged out in voting, making Seymour the lone Patriots player to be selected. It's possible some Patriots still could be selected as alternates, filling in should those voted to the Pro Bowl be unable to attend. Also included are notes on the Patriots players who'll be free agents after this season, as well as Jaguars and NFL notes.

Shalise Manza Young of The Providence Journal explains that Seymour will be the first Pats defensive player since linebacker Andre Tippett to make five consecutive Pro Bowls. Tippett, a potential Hall of Fame candidate, went to the annual exhibition from 1984-88. Seymour will be making the trip to Hawaii solo as several Patriots widely believed to be potential Pro Bowl selections were snubbed. There still is a chance others will make it, however, as injured players will be replaced and other players inevitably bow out.

Michael Felger of the Boston Herald states that "Seymour is one of the best, if not the best, defensive linemen in football," but still thinks fellow defensive lineman Ty Warren should have also been selected. Felger argues that "Warren has been a consistent force and constant disruption since the first series of the year."

The Boston Herald's Patriots Notebook includes quotes from former Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson. "After (Junior) Seau went down I must have gotten 10 messages from my friends saying, 'You're going to get a call, you're going to get a call.' And I never did," Johnson said yesterday on 890 ESPN radio. "But say he (Bill Belichick) did call, I could go out there right now and do goal-line, short-yardage stuff."

Mike Reiss of The Boston Globe offers a piece on the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are on the rebound entering this week's game against the Patriots. "We're still in position to play our way into the playoffs," Jaguars vice president of player personnel James Harris said yesterday. "That's the thing we have to rally on right now, starting with this game this week." The Pats travel to Jacksonville this weekend, and Jacksonville has been especially strong at home, posting a 6-1 record there.

Michael Felger of the Boston Herald reports that quarterback Vinnie Testaverde's wisdom has been a benefit to Tom Brady this season. "It's been a huge benefit to the team," Brady said yesterday. "Any time you can add a player of his experience and his quality of character, it's only going to help. He has a lot of input. It's really helped." Testaverde is glad to fill a role for the Pats. "My role is just to be a sounding board for anyone in the room who wants it," he said. "To give my advice, whether it's used or not. I know sometimes it matters to hear it from someone who has been in that situation before and knows what you're experiencing. Sometimes if you hear it from someone who has never been in there, it might not mean as much."

Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald explains that Patriots tight end Daniel Graham played the Celtics Paul Pierce in a game of HORSE yesterday. "It was great talking trash with him," said Graham, who didn't start playing football until high school. "Basketball was the sport I played growing up." Kevin Faulk [stats] was also scheduled to play, but the Pats running back canceled after getting banged up in Sunday's win.

Eric McHugh of The Patriot Ledger reports that the Patriots and Jaguars are trending in different directions when it comes to turnovers. The Jags had four giveaways and no takeaways last week against the Titans, and the Patriots had four takeaways and no giveaways against Houston.

Michael Parente of The Woonsocket Call reports that the Jaguars shouldn't be taken lightly - they've beaten their last four opponents in Jacksonville by an average of 28.5 points per game. "I think we all know what kind of football team they are," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. "They do a lot of things well. They're real good on defense -- a real physical team. It'll be a big challenge going down there this week."

Don't forget to check out USA Today's Inside Slant on the Patriots, updated recently.

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