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Patriots sign three veteran free agents

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The New England Patriots signed three veteran free agents today - punter Scott Player, tight end Marcus Pollard and defensive lineman Kenny Smith. Terms of the agreements were not disclosed.

Scott Player, 38, is a veteran of 10 NFL seasons with the Arizona Cardinals (1998-2006) and Cleveland Browns (2007). The 6-foot-1-inch, 211-pound punter has played in 143 career NFL games, recording 727 punts for 31,345 yards, 64 touchbacks and 185 punts inside the 20-yard line. Player has recorded a career gross average of 43.1 yards per punt and a net average of 35.8 yards per punt. His gross average (43.1 yards) is tied for 24th in NFL history among all punters who have totaled at least 250 punts, while his net average (35.8 yards) is tied for 26th in league annals. Player is the Cardinals' all-time leader in total punts (714), punting yards (30,752) and punts downed inside the 20-yard line (179). He was selected to the Pro Bowl following the 1998 season.

Player attended Florida State and began his professional football career in 1995 with the Birmingham Barracudas of the Canadian Football League. He signed with the NFL's Cardinals as an undrafted free agent in 1996, but was released following that season's training camp. Player spent the spring of 1997 with the World League's Frankfurt Galaxy and was with the New York Giants during the 1997 preseason before being released. In 1998, he re-joined the Cardinals and began a nine-year run in Arizona during which he punted in all but four games and set all of the franchise's major career punting records. Player set career highs in 2004 with 98 punts for a franchise-record 4,230 yards. In 2006, he set a career high for single-season gross average (44.9 yards). Player was released by the Cardinals on Aug. 29, 2007. He signed with Cleveland on Sept. 18, 2007 and punted in three games for the Browns last season before being released on Oct. 8.

Marcus Pollard, 36, is a veteran of 13 NFL seasons with the Indianapolis Colts (1995-2004), Detroit Lions (2005-06) and Seattle Seahawks (2007). The 6-foot-3-inch, 255-pound tight end has played in 191 career games with 133 starts and has caught 349 passes for 4,280 yards (12.3 avg.) and 40 touchdowns. He has recorded eight career 100-yard receiving games and has also recorded 57 career special teams tackles. Last season, Pollard played in 14 games with 10 starts for the Seahawks and led Seattle's tight ends with 28 receptions for 273 yards and two touchdowns. His stint in Seattle came following a two-year tenure with the Lions during which he caught 58 passes for 616 yards and three touchdowns.

Pollard was originally signed by the Colts as an undrafted free agent on Jan. 24, 1995. He began the 1995 season on Indianapolis' practice squad before being signed to the active roster on Oct. 10, 1995. He played in eight games as a rookie before going on to play in all but six games for the Colts over the next nine seasons. He set career highs in all receiving categories in 2001, catching 47 passes for 739 yards and eight touchdowns while starting all 16 games for the first time in his career. His average of 15.7 yards per catch that season led all NFL tight ends with at least 40 receptions. Pollard signed with Detroit as an unrestricted free agent on March 7, 2005, leaving the Colts ranked second among the franchise's tight ends with 263 career receptions, third with 3,391 receiving yards and third with 35 touchdowns. Pollard attended Bradley University, where he did not play college football, but was a two-year starter for the basketball team.

Kenny Smith, 30, is entering his sixth NFL season after spending five seasons with the New Orleans Saints (2001-04) and Oakland Raiders (2005). He was signed by the Patriots as a free agent on June 8, 2007, but was released on Aug. 22, 2007 and spent the remainder of last season out of football. The 6-foot-4-inch, 303-pound defensive lineman has played in 30 career games with 10 starts and has recorded 69 career tackles (56 solo), 4.5 sacks, two passes defensed and two fumble recoveries. The University of Alabama product was originally drafted by the Saints in the third round (81st overall) of the 2001 NFL Draft. He appeared in six games as a rookie for New Orleans and totaled eight tackles (7 solo). In 2002, Smith saw action in nine games with one start and notched 19 tackles (17 solo), including 3.5 sacks, one pass defensed and one fumble recovery. The following season, he set career highs with nine starts in 15 games while compiling 42 tackles (32 solo), including one sack, one pass defensed and one fumble recovery. Smith spent the 2004 season on injured reserve with the Saints, and was signed as an unrestricted free agent by the Oakland Raiders on March 31, 2005. He was subsequently placed on injured reserve by Oakland and missed the entire 2005 season. After spending the 2006 season out of football, Smith was signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a free agent on March 7, 2007 and was released by the Buccaneers on April 30, 2007.

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