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Stai retires

For the third year in a row, a Patriots offensive lineman has retired during training camp. This time it was guard Brenden Stai.

Two years ago it was Joe Panos. Last year it was Rich Tylski. This year it was Brenden Stai. What do the three veteran right guards have in common?

All three are Patriots offensive lineman who retired during training camp. Stai became the third Patriots lineman in as many years to walk away from football.

Head Coach Bill Belichick walked in 10 minutes late for his daily press conference and apologized for his tardiness saying that "something popped up."

"Unfortunately for us, Brenden Stai retired this morning," Belichick said. "It took me by surprise. It was a personal decision. I don't have an explanation for it. We'll move on."

Stai signed with the Patriots on July 28 and started the team's preseason opener against the Giants at right guard in place of the injured Joe Andruzzi.

Belichick indicated that Stai's play was fine in the game, meaning that playing beneath his standard wasn't likely a factor in the decision.

Stai brought plenty of starting experience to the Patriots, who once again need insurance for Andruzzi, who is trying to come back from microfracture surgery on his knee.

Andruzzi was in and out of the lineup last year with his knee injury that eventually required surgery. He also spent time on injured reserve in 2000 and played much of the 2001 season on an injured knee.

Russ Hochstein started camp working at right guard with the first unit, but dropped to the second team when Stai was signed.

Veteran Bill Conaty also has experience at guard and could get some snaps at that spot now that Stai is gone.

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