In a flurry of activity, the Patriots announced the signing of three rookies Wednesday evening along with the termination of veteran Willie Clay's contract.
Leading the list of signings is second round pick Kevin Faulk. Also signed were third-rounder Tony George and fifth-round selection Derrick Fletcher.
Faulk, 23, was drafted by the Patriots 46th overall in 1999. The Louisiana State product joined the Patriots as the Southeastern Conference's all-time, all-purpose yardage leader with 6,833 yards - fifth in NCAA history. His 4,557 rushing yards (on 856 carries, a 5.3 per yard average) and 46 rushing touchdowns each rank second in SEC history, trailing only Georgia's Herschel Walker. The 5-foot-8-inch, 197-pound running back finished his college career starting 36 of 41 games with 46 touchdowns. He also had 600 yards and four touchdowns on 53 receptions. On special teams, Faulk also shined, averaging 24.8 yards and one touchdown on 34 kickoff returns and a 13.6-yard average on 61 punt returns.
George, 23, was the 91st selection in the draft out of Florida. The 5-foot-11-inch, 200-pound safety recorded 128 tackles (78 solo), including four sacks during his college career. He also had eight interceptions and 18 passes defensed during a career in which he started at both safety and cornerback in the past two years. As a senior, he was voted first-team All-SEC after leading the Gators with four interceptions and totaling 53 tackles from his cornerback position. As a junior, he started all 11 games at safety and finished the year with 65 tackles and three sacks.
Fletcher, 23, was selected 154th overall. He was originally recruited to Baylor as a defensive lineman and played two seasons as a nose tackle before being moved to the offensive line as a junior. In 1997, he started all 11 games at left guard. Last year, he was moved to right tackle. At 6-feet-6-inches and 348 pounds, he anchored one of the best lines in the Big Twelve Conference. He started every game as a senior and led all linemen with 91 total knockdowns.
Clay, 28, originally signed with the Patriots as an unrestricted free agent on March 14, 1996 after four seasons with the Detroit Lions. In his final year with the Lions, Clay led the league with 173 return yards on eight interceptions. In three seasons with the Patriots, he totaled 290 tackles and 13 interceptions while starting at free safety. Last year, he was credited with 103 tackles and three interceptions, third on the team. His seven-year career totals include 81 starts in 1902 games, 472 total tackles and one sack. He also has 24 career interceptions for 405 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
With the roster moves, the Patriots now report 85 players on their training camp roster.