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Patriots notebook

Texas A&M QB to pay a visit

McGee would be more insurance

By Mike Reiss
Globe Staff / April 1, 2009
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The Patriots proved last season how important it is to have insurance at quarterback, and as part of their preparations for the NFL draft, they are closely perusing more possibilities to bolster their ranks.

Texas A&M quarterback Stephen McGee is scheduled to meet with the Patriots on one of the team's allotted 30 predraft visits, according to a league source.

McGee is considered a mid-round prospect, and his trip to New England appears to highlight one of the main reasons NFL teams invest in predraft visits: for final medical checkups. McGee injured his throwing shoulder early last season and was limited to three starts. Because of that, and a scheme change at Texas A&M last season, he is one of the more challenging prospects for scouts and coaches to evaluate.

The Patriots currently have three quarterbacks on the roster - Tom Brady, Kevin O'Connell, and Matt Gutierrez - and it would not be surprising if they look to add a fourth option.

While the team drafted O'Connell in the third round last year, and he served as the No. 2 quarterback last season and is considered a rising talent, it is considered good business to draft and develop quarterbacks.

In addition to McGee, the Patriots also have plans to host Penn State offensive guard Rich Ohrnberger and Louisville defensive tackle Adrian Grady, NFL sources said. Both are considered mid- to late-round prospects, which illustrates that the Patriots are hosting more than just first- and second-round prospects.

Whose call is it?
If free agent Jason Taylor wants to play for the Patriots, the team apparently has a standing offer to him. Owner Robert Kraft told Yahoo! Sports last week that he thinks Taylor is a "great player" and that if Taylor wanted to join the Patriots, "I'm sure that can happen if he wants it." After presenting a $10,000 check from NFL Charities to Patriots left tackle Matt Light for the Light Foundation yesterday, Kraft didn't back away from those remarks when asked if it was up to Taylor regarding him joining the Patriots. "I'm a great fan of his, he's a special guy," Kraft said. "I think that's true." Over the weekend, Taylor told reporters in South Florida that he was flattered by Kraft's comments, and that he was still leaving the option open of returning to the Dolphins. Taylor mentioned that he has spoken to Dolphins coach Tony Sparano at length, presumably about that possibility.

It's all good
Brady's presence on the first day of the offseason program, and his continued progress in his recovery from a left knee injury, was welcome news to at least one teammate. "It is great to have him back," Light said. "When you lose someone who is such a pivotal part of your team, not just your offense - a guy who always brings a lot of energy, a guy who is up to any challenge - it makes all of us better." . . . Kraft shared his thoughts on his mind-set at this time of year: "We're especially looking forward to the draft. I think our personnel people and Bill [ Belichick] have improved our team with the free agents they picked up, but of course, this is a time to be excited. We never know what is going to happen once the season starts. But we're very optimistic about this upcoming season." . . . "Monday Night Football" might not have the cachet it once did, but Light said it was still an honor to be selected to open the season against the Bills on Monday night, Sept. 14. "You're always amped up for the first game of the regular season, so 'Monday Night Football' will put a little extra twist on it." . . . Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia is scheduled to be on the Florida campus this morning to privately work out draft-eligible offensive linemen Jason Watkins and Phil Trautwein, according to NFL sources.

Mike Reiss can be reached at mreiss@globe.com.

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