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Patriots.com News Blitz - 5/9/2006

Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe writes that linebacker Freddie Roach was one of 15 undrafted free agents signed by the Patriots yesterday. Roach's agent Mark Slough said the Patriots edged out the Dolphins, among other squads, to sign Roach in what turned out to be a "competitive bidding." Dolphins coach Nick Saban, who unsuccessfully recruited Roach while coaching at Louisiana State, made multiple calls, according to Slough. Roach likely slipped out of the draft because of a slow time in the 40-yard dash (4.8-4.9 range) and injury concerns (elbow, knee). By the sixth round, he said, he was hoping no team selected him because "I wanted to be in New England; they showed the most interest in me from the start."

John Tomase of the Boston Herald reports that the Patriots signed veteran linebackers Barry Gardner and Jeremy Lloyd yesterday to compete for spots on special teams. Terms of the deals were undisclosed. The 29-year-old Gardner, a second-round draft pick out of Northwestern, is entering his eighth season. Lloyd, 25, spent portions of the last three years with the Rams. Of the two, Gardner has far more experience on defense, where Lloyd has yet to record a tackle. The 6-foot-1, 245-pound Gardner has played in 110 career games with 24 starts. He has 186 tackles and two sacks. He's also compiled 92 special teams tackles during a career that's taken him from Philadelphia to Cleveland to the New York Jets, who released him Feb. 22. His best season came in 2000, when he started 13 games and recorded 57 tackles for the Eagles.

Tom Curran of the Providence Journal writes that quarterback Doug Flutie's agent, Kristen Kuliga, said yesterday that the 43-year-old still hasn't decided if he's going to return to the Patriots in 2006 to back up Tom Brady. A decision was reportedly going to be made last week but that's on hold. Flutie currently is out of the country.

Mark Farinella of the Sun Chronicle writes that if the linebacking positions went under-addressed by the Patriots in the recently concluded NFL Draft, they certainly weren't ignored Monday. Two unrestricted free-agent veterans and three undrafted rookies were added to the Patriots' linebacking corps as the team continued to make moves to fill out their training camp roster. The veterans signed were Barry Gardner, most recently of the New York Jets, and Jeremy Loyd, late of the St. Louis Rams. The three rookies that appeared on a list of 15 signings announced Monday were Corey Mays of Notre Dame, Freddie Roach of Alabama and Pierre Woods of Michigan.

The Boston Globe sports writers were asked the question "How would you grade the Patriots' draft?" Jerome Solomon, Ron Borges, Nick Cafardo and Mike Reiss all grade this year's draft around the B/B range. Each writer discusses their reasons for the grade.

Michael Felger of the Boston Herald writes that at the conclusion of last weekend's draft, coach Bill Belichick talked about the competition the Pats have created on the roster this spring. That was once a big buzzword in Foxboro, but such talk died down the past few years as the Patriots built up their championship roster. Now it's back. "We'll just see how the competition plays itself out," Belichick said. "I can't say how that's going to go and wouldn't attempt to do it. I try to create the competition, which I think we have, but how people perform and how well they do or don't do relative to somebody else, that's in the players' control." Felger takes a look at the key battles that start now and will last through training camp this summer.

Eric McHugh of the *Patriot Ledger * takes a look at sixth-round draft pick defensive end Jeremy Mincey. McHugh writes that according Florida head coach Urban Meyer, Mincey has the speed and pass-rushing ability to play outside linebaker in the NFL and should be in the mix to replace Willie McGinest on the Patriots perimeter. McHugh also notes that although the Patriots have not confirmed any of the undrafted free agents they either have signed or have invited to try out at the team's rookie minicamp on May 13-14, various published reports have identified several players. They include: quarterback Corey Bramlet (Wyoming), receivers Erik Davis (Vanderbilt) and Matt Shelton (Notre Dame), offensive linemen Randy Hand (Florida) and Brian Barthelmes (Virginia), linebackers Freddie Roach (Alabama), Corey Mays (Notre Dame) and Pierre Woods (Michigan), safety/linebacker Sam Smith (Delaware State), safeties Kyler Hall (Florida State) and Jarvis Herring (Florida), cornerback Vernell Brown (Florida) and defensive backs Keon Jackson (Toledo) and Gemara Williams (Buffalo).

Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes. Reiss also offers his latest Patriots mailbag.

Tom Curran of the Providence Journal offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes and commentary.

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