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Lack of deals not a good sign as camp nears

J.R. Redmond four years ago stands as the only Patriots rookie during Robert Kraft's tenure of ownership to report late for training camp because of prolonged contract negotiations. With the opening of camp now just a day away, that impressive mark is being threatened.

As of yesterday evening, indications were that New England still had not agreed to terms with its second first-round pick, Benjamin Watson, third-round pick Guss Scott, and its second fourth-rounder, Cedric Cobbs.

It's worth noting that Watson is represented by Tom Condon, Scott and Cobbs by Drew Rosenhaus. Condon and Rosenhaus are two of the top (some may say tougher) negotiators.

Efforts to reach Condon, who, among his numerous high-profile clients, also represents top pick Eli Manning, were unsuccessful. Jason Rosenhaus of Rosenhaus Sports Representation said, "At this point, there's a good line of communication, and we have an excellent relationship with management there, so we'll continue working to try and get this thing done."

A bit of good news for the Patriots: Once signed, Watson should be ready to go. He suffered a strained left Achilles' on the first day of the team's three-day minicamp in June, sat out the remainder of the camp, and wore a stabilizing boot on his lower left leg for several weeks. After an MRI revealed the strain, noted Birmingham, Ala., orthopedist James Andrews reviewed the results as a precaution. Apparently a month of rest did him well.

Tender treatment
Exclusive-rights free agents Tom Ashworth and David Givens will sign their one-year tenders today, in time for tomorrow afternoon's first practice.

Ashworth, a former undrafted free agent and last year's starting right tackle, and Givens, a seventh-round pick two years ago who emerged last year as a clutch receiver, each will play for the third-year minimum of $380,000. Both will be restricted free agents next offseason unless they agree to extensions.

The Patriots and Ashworth's agent, Tom Mills, never engaged in serious discussions, while the team and Givens's agent, Brad Blank, held several, though little progress was made toward a long-term deal. (The players had been participating in team activities under the protection of standard offseason workout agreements made between the team and rookies or exclusive-rights free agents who aren't under contract, guaranteeing their salaries in the event of injury.)

"We took a shot and it didn't work out," Blank said. "We're going to try again if not sooner than this time next year. Every football negotiation I've been involved in is something of a gamble. I don't like to gamble, but on the other hand, I'd gamble on David Givens any day."

"We're not disappointed," Mills said. "[Last weekend] another starting right tackle [Jacksonville's Maurice Williams] signed an extension, and that deal speaks well for what starters are supposed to get paid. It's further evidence that if Tom continues to play at the level he did last year, he's going to be taken care of."

Since Ashworth and Givens weren't this offseason, and should they remain key contributors, the Patriots will almost be forced to place at least the mid-level tender (worth about $1.4 million this year), which comes with first-round pick compensation, or risk losing Ashworth for nothing and Givens for a seventh rounder.

Temporary moves
A team source confirmed a report that Rosevelt Colvin, Matt Light, and Lonie Paxton all have been placed on the pre-camp, active physically unable to perform list, meaning they haven't been cleared for full-contact practices. The move does not affect the players' status for the regular season, however, and may only be temporary for Colvin and Light, who are recovering from a hip injury and appendectomy, respectively. Colvin and Light may be only weeks from returning to the field, and Light is said to have been stronger than he was last season coming out of offseason workouts. Elsewhere on the injury front, another team source indicated Eugene Wilson (groin) still may not be ready for contact, either. Also, according to the source, Jarvis Green (foot) is not yet fully recovered and isn't expected to be in full pads for the early part of camp . . . The Patriots announced the signing of tight end Zeron Flemister. They've had their eye on the former Redskin for at least the past four months; he was at Gillette Stadium for a tryout April 1. Terms were not disclosed, though Flemister likely signed for a year at minimum salary ($535,000). New England now has six tight ends on the roster heading into camp: Daniel Graham, Christian Fauria, Andy Mignery, Matt Cercone, Watson, and Flemister. The Patriots have signed two (Cercone) within a week, perhaps in anticipation of a late arrival by Watson. Flemister, 27, spent four seasons with Washington, catching 38 passes for 439 yards and 4 touchdowns in 48 games. He started a career-high nine games last year.

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