Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick is always preaching that he will make any move he believes is in the best interests of his team. With that in mind New England announced Monday that it had acquired fourth-year veteran wide receiver Andre' Davis from the Cleveland Browns in exchange for an undisclosed draft selection .
According to a report on ESPN.com the deal involves one of New England's two fifth-round picks in the 2006 draft.
"[The trade] was something that really came down pretty quickly late yesterday afternoon," Belichick said. "So we'll put him into the mix at receiver. He's a guy that we liked in 2002 draft. He's got some size. He's a fast guy. He's had some experience on special teams and conventional offense as well. We'll put him into the mix and see what he can do. Hopefully he'll be able to play against Green Bay on Friday."
"I was very excited," 6-1, 195-pound Davis said of his reaction to the trade news. "This is a chance for me to have a new beginning here in New England now. I am just excited to be able to learn all the plays and get going. It's a great franchise and I think I am going to fit in well. Hopefully, I will be able to get out there and help this team out as soon as possible."
And while the Patriots entered the summer with seemingly solid depth at wide receiver, Davis now joins a mix that has been depleted by injuries. Bethel Johnson is on PUP and has yet to practice. Tim Dwight, P.K. Sam and David Terrell have all also missed significant time to injury.
But Belichick cautioned that Monday's trade was not necessarily a statement as to how he felt about the situation at receiver.
"I was not unhappy with anything," Belichick said. "I think that any time you can improve your team, the competition on your team at any position, you try to do it."
In three seasons with the Browns the former second-round pick (47th overall in 2002) out of Virginia Tech played in 39 games with 19 starts. In that action he recorded 93 receptions for 1.412 yards (15.2 avg.) with 13 touchdowns. His best season came in 2003 when he caught 40 passes for 576 yards with five scores. He caught 16 passes for 416 yards with two scores in seven games last season before ending up on injured reserve with a toe injury.
Davis also brings return ability to the mix in New England, with a 21.3-yard average on 88 career kickoff returns.
"He's been productive as a kickoff returner. He's got good speed. He's made some big plays," Belichick said. "The return ability indicates that he has some run-after-catch ability and ability to make yards with the ball in his hands. He's run a number of reverses for Cleveland over the last couple of years, so those types of plays. He's over 6-feet and runs fast. He's been with some different quarterbacks in different systems. This year he's been more in an offense that we're more familiar with [Browns offensive coordinator] Maurice Carthon and Romeo [Crennel] and what they are doing there."
The hope is that those similarities will help Davis get acclimated to his role in New England, a situation that Belichick compared to the team's addition and evaluation of veteran nose tackle Ted Washington after a trade mid-way through the preseason prior to the 2003 campaign.
"I think I will be able to pick it up pretty well," Davis said. "A lot of the stuff that we have is similar. So I am just going to try to stay in my playbook as much as possible and try and learn it."
Cleveland officials reportedly gave Davis' agent, Kennard McGuire, the right to seek a trade last week and there had been rumors that Seahawks had an interest, but Belichick said Monday's deal didn't involve the agent.
Davis downplayed his displeasure with the Browns while standing in the Gillette Stadium locker room.
"I really didn't want out of Cleveland," Davis said. "That was a business decision that was made by both managements and now I am here with New England and trying to fit in."
With just two preseason games to play Davis also knows he doesn't have time to worry about the past if he hopes to be a contributor in the New England offense in the future.
"It's kind of tough but at the same time I am up for different challenges like this," Davis said. "I am just willing to do what I have to do right now, which is learns the plays and get out there and make sure that my performance is up to par."
WRs getting closer
Belichick said that the situation with Johnson, who currently resides on PUP, continues to improve.
"He's a lot closer," Belichick said. "We're hopeful [he'll be ready to practice] in the very near future. One thing you don't want to do with a player like that is to put him out there and then find out that it's too much and set him back and have to start all over again. We want to make sure that we're confident and that he's confident that he can go out there and not only compete competitively on a given play but on a series of plays through the course of practice."
Johnson agreed with the coach's assessment.
"I am day to day," Johnson said. "It's just a healing thing that you have to do, day-to-day work on trying to get ready to go."
Belichick also said that Terrell is in the day-to-day category.
"He's real close," Belichick said. "I am not sure exactly when that will be, but he is very close to being out there.
Belichick addressed the recent game-night death of San Francisco offensive lineman Thomas Herrion during his Monday morning press conference. While Belichick had to deal with the death of quarterbacks coach Dick Rehbein in 2001, as well as the loss of people with ties to his teams with the Giants and Browns, he's thankful he's never faced that situation with an active player. "It's tough. I hope I don't ever have to experience it. I talked to Mike [Nolan, 49ers Head Coach] and sent our condolences and sympathy to the organization, the player's family and the team."… As of Monday morning linebacker Roman Phifer still has a locker with his name on it at Gillette Stadium. At last check the veteran remained a free agent and had not filed his retirement papers with the league. Questioned about the locker over the weekend, Belichick said, "I wasn't even aware of it, honestly. I wasn't even aware of it. I don't know whether it is or it isn't. If you're asking me to confirm it or deny it, I couldn't even do that. I don't know." … Defensive endTy Warren has returned to the practice field after missing significant practice time with an undisclosed injury but wasn't sure if he'd play on Friday in Green Bay or not. "We'll see," Warren said. "I am practicing, so that is usually the outcome." … NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue was in town to address the team Monday.