While there aren't too many people on the planet who could realistically fill the hole vacated by Ted Washington, the Patriots reportedly hosted one of the few candidates on Tuesday. According to a report in today's Boston Herald veteran free agent defensive tackle Keith Traylor, a former teammate of Washington's with the Bears, met with Patriots coaches and had a physical at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday.
The 6-2, 340-pound Traylor is a 12-year NFL veteran who has spent time with the Broncos, Packers, Chiefs and most recently the Bears. He started 10 games last season in Chicago, but missed six games due to an arthroscopic procedure on his right knee. In 10 games Traylor totaled 18 tackles, one forced fumble and three passes defensed.
A former inside linebacker who grew into his role along the defensive line, Traylor like Washington specializes in stopping the run. Over his 12 seasons he has started 107 of 171 games played. His career totals include 427 tackles, 13 sacks, two interceptions, 11 forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and 26 passes defensed. Since becoming a regular starter with the Broncos in 1997 Traylor averaged 43 tackles and one sack per season from his spot on the interior defensive line.
With the loss of Washington to the Oakland through free agency earlier this offseason the Patriots are essentially back to where there started before they acquired the behemoth nose tackle via trade from the Bears last August. The front line of Bill Belichick and Romeo Crennel's preferred 3-4 front is limited to the likes of Richard Seymour, Jarvis Green, Ty Warren, Dan Klecko and recently signed restricted free agent Rodney Bailey. No one in that group has proven to be a worthy candidate to take over the nose spot in the 3-4, the main reason New England sent a fourth-round pick to Chicago to acquire Washington last training camp in the first place.
Originally drafted by Denver in the third round of the 1991 NFL draft out of Central (Okla.) State, the 34-year-old Traylor has been a relatively durable player over most of his career. Before missing six games in Chicago with the knee injury in 2003 he had not missed more than one game in any season dating back to 1995. He played in every game in 1997, 2000 and 2001, including starts in all 16 contests in 1997 and 2000. He missed just a single contest in the 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2002 seasons.
Efforts to reach Traylor's agent, Steve Weinberg, Wednesday morning were unsuccessful.