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Patriots.com News Blitz 8/17/04

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The good news kept rolling in yesterday for the defending Super Bowl Champions. Following Sunday's return of starting left tackle Matt Light, Monday was the first practice of the year for right tackle Tom Ashworth. "Ashworth suited up in helmet and pads while putting in work with the first team during the indoor morning session," reports Marc Carig of The Boston Globe. "He engaged in full contact with defensive linemen, sharing first-team reps with Adrian Klemm."

In addition to Ashworth's return, the Patriots finally reached an agreement with first-round draft pick holdout Ben Watson, who will now be very busy trying to catch up to his teammates, while also getting acclimated to life in the NFL. "Watson's morning included an unexpected wakeup call at 6:30 from a local radio station seeking an interview, a call from the team after it heard him deny that a deal was in place, the signing of his first contract, and a conditioning test that he passed in time for 8:45 practice," writes Michael Smith of The Boston Globe.

Smith also takes a look back at a trade the Patriots made in the first round of the 2003 draft. At the time, many fans were disappointed that the team did not use both first-round picks that year. However, their ability to be patient and trade one pick for a 2004 pick means the trade netted the Patriots Ty Warren and Vince Wilfork, both of whom should see serious time this season. "Looking back at the first round of the 2003 draft, it appears that the Patriots will end up looking pretty good," says Smith.

Michael Felger takes on the Watson story in today's Boston Herald, reporting that with "his prodigious physical gifts (receiver speed to go along with a 6-foot-3, 253-pound frame), Watson will most certainly have a place in the offense once he gets up to speed."

Felger writes about the continuing impact of another former Georgia Bulldog, Richard Seymour, in today's notebook.

One of the hottest position battles going on in camp is at the wide receiver position, where it looks like ten players are competing for five or six roster spots. Tom Curran of The Providence Journal looks at Chas Gessner, the former Brown standout who spent last year on the Patriots practice squad. "I'm so hungry," Gessner told Curran. "I've been waiting so long and working so hard for this, and I won't stop until I get it. I'll jump at every opportunity I can get."

For more news on Watson, you can check out articles by Alan Greenberg of The Hartford Courant, Michael Parente of The Woonsocket Call, or Howard Ulman of The Union Leader.

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