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Brady sees this as land of opportunity

It was not the way the play was drawn up, and the Patriots certainly didn't like the result. Probably only one Patriots player enjoys reliving the moment.

"It was one of the strangest plays in football that anyone has seen," recalled the team's new tight end, Kyle Brady.

Late last season, the Patriots were visiting the Jaguars -- the team for which Brady suited up the last eight seasons -- in a high-stakes game for both clubs. In the second quarter, Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew darted toward the left side of the line, barreling into the back of Brady before falling. When no Patriot touched Jones-Drew to end the play, the diminutive running back got back up and raced 74 yards for a touchdown to give the Jaguars a 7-3 lead.

If there were such a thing as an assist in football, it would have gone to Brady, whose 6-foot-6-inch, 280-pound frame made it challenging for defenders to find the 5-7, 212-pound Jones-Drew.

Surely, the Patriots are hoping for similar results when they run behind Brady, but it's safe to say they'll be demanding some better style points. After all, Brady said the play was a "designed double-team block that got botched from the start."

The fact that the 13-year veteran seldom botches blocks is one of the primary reasons the Patriots signed him to a two-year, $5.1 million contract as part of their free agent shopping spree. Brady, 35, will help fill the void left by Daniel Graham, who agreed to a five-year, $30 million deal ($15 million guaranteed) with the Denver Broncos last night.

The Patriots will rely on Brady, who Bill Belichick said last year was like an extra offensive tackle on the field, to add a physical presence to their running game. It's a role Brady is ready to embrace.

"I think any player, when you go to free agency, the biggest hope is that you find someone who wants them and wants to utilize them," he said. "Next, at the same level, is the chance to win it all, that you'll be right in the hunt come late January."

Naturally, Brady is also interested in catching the ball, although his numbers in that department have dipped in recent seasons (to a career-low 5 catches last season). After Tom Coughlin was replaced as coach by the Jaguars following the 2002 season, Brady felt his opportunity to be a multifaceted tight end was diminished.

"At times it was frustrating," said Brady, who had a career-high 64 catches in 2000 and added 43 in 2002. "Any time you play tight end, you hope to have an opportunity as a pass catcher. I enjoyed that role."

In New England, the Patriots have Benjamin Watson and David Thomas returning at tight end, and both figure to do more catching than Brady. Second-year player Garrett Mills, a fullback/tight end, also could be part of the mix.

Brady was "pleasantly surprised" by the Patriots' aggressive pursuit of him, and the team's offer (including a $2 million signing bonus) stopped him from continuing to his next scheduled destination, Denver. After speaking with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and peeking into the New England playbook, he already sees similarities between the Patriots' offense and the one he played in with the Jets from 1997-98. That came as no surprise, as Belichick was an assistant on that Jets staff under Bill Parcells.

But instead of looking to the past, Brady is looking ahead.

"If I could have ever written a script to have a great option take place and a great opportunity take place, it pretty much came to fruition and came to pass in signing on with the Patriots," he said.

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