The Patriots acquisition of veteran offensive lineman Bob Hallen seems like a perfect fit. With the departures of Damien Woody and Mike Compton through free agency, the offensive line appeared to be rather thin, especially on the interior. Hallen gives the Patriots a veteran with experience playing all three interior spots.
New England finished 2003 with Dan Koppen at center and Joe Andruzzi and Russ Hochstein at guard. Woody and Compton, in addition to opening the season as starters, both had the ability to play center. Only Hochstein had any experience at that position (and that was limited to the 2003 preseason) on the current roster before Hallen was signed.
The 29-year-old former Falcon and Charger started 44 of his 75 career games, all but three a left guard. But he has spent time at center and right guard while even starting one game at left tackle in 2002 when he was with Atlanta. He did miss most of last season with a torn pectoral muscle, which caused him to be placed on injured reserve for the final 13 games of the year. Otis Smith was coming off a similar injury following the 2002 season and wasn't ready to practice at the start of camp last summer, although Smith's injury took place much later in the year and thus he had less time to recover than Hallen.
Hopefully that injury won't make him a candidate to be the next veteran guard to not make it through training camp. Since Bill Belichick arrived in 2000, he's watched a boatload of offensive linemen retire and/or not make the cut. Lance Scott (2000), Joe Panos (2001), Rich Tylski (2002) and Brandon Stai (2003) all retired while Bill Conaty (injury settlement) and Corbin Lacina (cut) failed to make the 53-man roster. At the very least, Hallen should give the Patriots insurance at all three interior positions.
The Internet rumor mill had been churning with the possibility of the Patriots swapping a draft pick (a third or fourth rounder) for Dallas guard Larry Allen. Ray Faustina floated that on draftwatch.com on May 10 but the deal wouldn't seem to make much sense for the Patriots given Allen's age (33), poor health (knee problems) and trouble dealing with Cowboys coach Bill Parcells.
Parcells had trouble getting Allen motivated to play full games despite the team's 10-6 record and subsequent playoff berth. Why would Bill Belichick subject himself to dealing with a veteran who apparently isn't interested in giving it his all – and giving up a draft pick to get him? While Hallen's resume can't compare to Allen's, the former seems like a much better alternative given his age, salary and flexibility.
On the radar screen?
The Bengals recently released backup quarterback Kurt Kittner after the former Illinois star was put on waivers by Atlanta less than a month ago. The Patriots put in a waiver claim on Kittner when he was originally available, it isn't beyond the realm to believe the team could be interested in signing him to compete with Rohan Davey and Kliff Kingsbury for the right to back up Tom Brady this season.
Attempts to reach Kittner's agent David Dunn were unsuccessful. Davey has enjoyed tremendous success playing in Europe since the Patriots first showed interest in Kittner so perhaps that strong showing has softened any desires the team may have had to acquire his services in the first place.
Rookies on the way
While the Patriots veterans continue along another week of the offseason program, the rookies are getting set to return to Foxborough for the start of their work on May 16. The eight draft picks plus the rookie free agents are expected to hit Gillette Stadium, although players are occasionally delayed depending on the date of their college graduations. The NFL has a rule that states players cannot join their professional teams until after their school's graduation date. It is unknown whether any of the Patriots rookies will be affected by this rule.
We've got Bingo!
Wide receiver Troy Brown's Celebrity Bingo event takes place tomorrow night at Gillette Stadium (6:30 p.m. start). Joining Brown will be fellow receivers David Givens, Deion Branch and David Patten, kicker Adam Vinatieri plus Bruins legend Ray Bourque. For more information, cal (978) 749-6700 or go online at troybrown.meetthepros.com. As part of his publicity campaign for the event, Brown took some swings in the batting cage before the Red Sox 5-3 win over Cleveland at Fenway Park Tuesday night.