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Patriots have steady hand at the draft

FOXBOROUGH -- As in the past, Bill Belichick won't hesitate to move -- up or down -- in the NFL Draft, but the Patriots coach said yesterday that a trade involving the team's first pick (No. 32 overall) is unlikely.

"Where we're at, I don't see a lot of movement for us, so I think we better be ready to pick at 32," Belichick said at the team's predraft news conference at Gillette Stadium yesterday. "I think the opportunities to trade or move in the first day are limited."

It's not like last year, said Belichick, "when we had two first-round picks, and it seemed like there was going to be a lot more opportunity to either move both of them or move one of them and there was certainly a lot of conversation going on."

The Patriots elected to hold both of last year's picks, taking Vince Wilfork with the 21st pick and Ben Watson with the 32d. They did move a second-round choice to Cincinnati to acquire Corey Dillon a few days before the draft.

But they have fewer options this year, with a single pick in each of the first three rounds, the first two being the last pick of the round, thanks to their Super Bowl victory. The team's third-round selection (100th overall) is a compensatory pick awarded by the league for free agent losses and by rule cannot be traded.

The Patriots exchanged their original third-round pick with Arizona for cornerback Duane Starks.

Without multiple picks, Belichick said, it is doubtful that the Patriots would move any higher than 20th in Saturday's first round, meaning the team's evaluation of players involved limited looks at the top 15 players in the draft.

"Realistically, there are probably 15, maybe 20 players that almost certainly would be off the board when we picked," Belichick said. "Not that we haven't scouted those players, but we have put a lot less time and energy into them compared to the other players who we think are more than likely to be in our range."

Belichick wouldn't say whether Tedy Bruschi's health affected the team's draft preparation. Bruschi, who suffered a stroke in February, has not given the team permission to discuss his status.

"I think that Tedy has made a number of comments about his situation, and I would just defer to him on any of those," Belichick said. "I don't have anything to add."

As he enters his sixth draft as Patriots coach, Belichick prefers to focus on the bigger picture.

"This is the time of year when we're building our team, just like everybody else," Belichick said. "We're going to add some players; we're going to sign some. We're in the 60s now [in roster size]. We're going to end up in the 80s.

"There are going to be more players added to the roster at every position, and those players will have an opportunity to compete on the field in minicamp, passing camp, training camp to show what they can do. That's the way it is. That'll happen at every position, so I wouldn't read too much into anybody, because there are going to be people added at every position from now until June. And I'm sure there will be some changes after that, like there always are."

Despite the signing of receivers Tim Dwight and David Terrell, Belichick said, the door remains open for the possible re-signing of Troy Brown.

"He currently isn't with any other team, so that would be a possibility," Belichick said.

According to Belichick, there has been discussion between the Patriots and Brown, but he did not divulge details of those talks. . . .
Seats for individual games will go on sale May 21 at 10 a.m., when a few thousand tickets are released through Ticketmaster. They may be ordered online at or by phone (617-931-2222 or 508-931-2222). Visa is the only accepted method of payment, and tickets will not be sold at Gillette Stadium.

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