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Patriots sign OL Donald Thomas to the 53-Man Roster; Release OL Thomas Welch

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The New England Patriots have announced today that OL Donald Thomas has been signed to the 53-man roster. Terms of the contract were not announced.

In addition, the Patriots released OL Thomas Welch from the 530man roster, signed TE Garrett Mills and LB Jeff Tarpinian to the practice squad and released LB Aaron Lavarias from the practice squad.

Thomas, 6-4, 310 pounds, is a veteran of three NFL seasons with the Miami Dolphins (2008-2009) and the Detroit Lions (2010). He originally entered the NFL as a sixth-round draft pick out of Connecticut in 2008 by Miami. After starting at right guard in the first game of the year as a rookie, he was forced to finish the season on injured reserve due to a foot injury suffered in that game. Thomas started in 12 of 16 games for the Dolphins at right guard in 2009. He was released by Miami prior to the start of the 2010 season and signed with Detroit on November 23, 2010 but was inactive for the final six games of the season. Thomas was released by Detroit on Sept. 3, 2011.

Mills, 6-1, 235 pounds, originally entered the NFL as a fourth-round draft pick of the Patriots in the 2006 NFL Draft out of Tulsa and spent the majority of his rookie season with New England on the injured reserve list. Mills is a veteran of five NFL seasons and has played with New England (2006), Minnesota (2007-09), Philadelphia (2010) and Cincinnati (2010). He was re-signed by the Patriots on August 21, 2011 and then released on August 29, 2011.

Tarpinian, 6-3, 238 pounds, was signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Iowa on July 27, 2011. He was released on September 12, 2011. Tarpinian began his college career at Iowa as a defensive back before moving to linebacker during the spring of 2007. He was a top special teams player as well as a starter at linebacker during his career and recorded 97 total tackles, two sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

Lavarias, 6-2, 255 pounds, was signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Idaho on July 27, 2011. He was named second team All-WAC as a senior in 2010 after finishing with 52 total tackles and 10.0 sacks.

Welch, 6-7, 310 pounds, was originally selected by the Patriots in the seventh round (208th overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft out of Vanderbilt. After being released by the Patriots on Sept. 4, 2010 be was signed to the Minnesota practice squad on Sept. 6, 2010. He was signed to the Minnesota 53-man roster on Dec. 14 but was inactive for the final three games of the season. Welch was released by Minnesota on September. 3, 2011 and then was signed to the Patriots practice squad before being signed to the 53-man roster on September 12, 2011 prior to the season-opener at Miami. Welch played on special teams against the Dolphins.

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