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Patriots.com News Blitz 9/1/04

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Yesterday was the first mandatory cut-down day in the NFL. Rosters were to be trimmed to 65, excluding NFL-Europe exemptions. Because the Patriots have nine players holding such exemptions, only a few moves needed to be made. Most notable was the release of Jim Miller, who, according to Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe, may be re-signed once he is healthy.

Robert Lee of The Providence Journal examines how Miller's release will impact the depth chart. "An important battle is taking place between Rohan Davey and Kliff Kingsbury, who are eyeing the No. 2 quarterback job," writes Lee.

Hector Longo of The Eagle Tribune takes a look at yesterday's transactions, as well as how the Patriots will benefit from the NFL-Europe exemptions (even if only for Thursday night's game against Jacksonville). "Those nine players, who will be welcomed by the regulars wanting little to do with the exhibition finale, are Davey, Chas Gessner, Michael Jennings, Jamil Soriano, David Pruce, Buck Rasmussen, Lawrence Flugence, Earthwind Moreland and Scott Farley," writes Longo.

Cafardo takes a look at the tight end position, where Christian Fauria is wondering if three is a crowd. "The toughest thing for a veteran like Fauria is looking over his shoulder, wondering when some kid is going to take what's been his," writes Cafardo.

According to Alan Greenberg of The Hartford Courant, Fauria's value should not be questioned. "Fauria, whom [Coach Bill] Belichick calls "a pro's pro" because of his upbeat attitude and how hard he works to stay physically and mentally ready, has great hands and seems to be at his best inside the opponent's 20-yard line," writes Greenberg.

In The Boston Herald, Kevin Mannix features linebacker Ted Johnson, who returned from another injury with a solid showing Saturday night in Carolina. "He finished with four unassisted tackles, third-most for the game behind Rodney Harrison's six and Dan Klecko's five, and generated a lot of optimism among Patriot fans," Mannix writes.

For news (or more accurately non-news) on Troy Brown's injury, and an update on Vince Wilfork's role, check out Mannix' notebook.

With the issue of back-up quarterback on the table, Mike Reiss of The MetroWest Daily News tours the league to see how Davey and Kingsbury shape up against other teams' number two signal callers. "Based on the team's first three exhibition games -- in which Davey admittedly "struggled" and Kingsbury did little to inspire -- there's a reason for Patriots fans to be a bit concerned," writes Reiss. "Toss in this statistic -- only 13 QBs started every game last season -- and it's even more unsettling."

In The Woonsocket Call, Michael Parente spotlights third-year wideout Deion Branch, who continues to improve and impress. "As he enters his third season with the New England Patriots, Branch is no longer the shy, quiet kid who used to sit in the back of the room. Now he's the one doing the talking, and after watching him enjoy a breakout season last year, his teammates are listening," writes Parente.

Interestingly, in ESPN.com's NFL Preview, the Patriots are featured as both a team to be hurt by the new emphasis on illegal contact and a team to be helped.

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