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Patriots notebook: China, cheerleaders, and preseason updates

The China Bowl is out (for now), the preseason schedule is in, and the Patriots Cheerleaders are one step closer to a new squad.

China Bowl Postponed

On second thought...

The New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks won't be playing in China this summer, as originally planned.

That rumor, first reported on Sports Illustrated's web site over the weekend, was confirmed this morning by the National Football League. Citing their intention to focus on the first-ever regular season game in Europe (October 28's Dolphins-Giants tilt in London), NFL officials now say the China Bowl will be played in the summer of 2009.

The change of plans means the first NFL game in China will most likely be played in Beijing's under-construction Olympic stadium, which is being built for next year's Summer Games. The '07 China Bowl would have taken place at the much older, though recently renovated, Workers Stadium, also in Beijing.

2007 Preseason Schedule

Now that the Pats won't be playing the Seahawks in China, they won't be seeing each other in Seattle, either.

The original plan had New England playing five preseason games this year. First, they'd travel to the Pacific Northwest for a game with Seattle leading up to Hall of Fame weekend in early August. A week later, they'd play again in Beijing.

Today's news allowed both teams to cut back to just four exhibition games, all of which were announced on Monday as well.

New England will now start the 2007 preseason at Tampa Bay between August 9 and 13 (exact day and time to be determined). The following week they're back at Gillette to host Vince Young's Tennessee Titans.

On Friday, August 24, the Pats are in Charlotte for a nationally televised game with the Carolina Panthers. CBS will carry that game at 8 p.m. Eastern.

And just like last year, New England ends the preseason with the New York Giants, who will visit Foxboro between August 31 and September 2.

The Patriots and Giants will also meet at the Meadowlands during the regular season, though we don't know the exact day and time of that game just yet. Now that the preseason schedule has been released, however, the regular season schedule shouldn't be far behind.

Stay tuned…

Cheerleader Tryouts

And it won't be long before we know which young ladies will make up the 2007 New England Patriots Cheerleaders.

In March, nearly 300 aspiring cheerleaders came to Gillette Stadium for the first round of auditions. This past weekend, 67 girls were invited back for a semi-final cutdown. Some three-dozen of them made enough of a good impression on the judges to be considered finalists.

For the next two weeks, those young women will practice together as a team. Then, on the weekend of April 14, final cuts will be made. Only 24 of the remaining contestants will make this year's squad.

Two weeks after that, it's off to the Dominican Republic to shoot the Patriots Cheerleaders annual swimsuit calendar.

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