Patriots notebook

Help is added at linebacker

Burgess acquired from Baltimore

By Christopher L. Gasper
Globe Staff / September 23, 2009

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With linebacker Jerod Mayo out with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee, the Patriots made a trade yesterday to boost their depth, acquiring inside linebacker Prescott Burgess from the Baltimore Ravens for a conditional seventh-round pick.

The 6-foot-3-inch, 247-pound Burgess was a sixth-round draft pick of the Ravens in 2007. He played in eight games as a rookie before being placed on injured reserve with a hip injury. He didn’t play last season after he was put on IR before the start of the season with a shoulder injury.

To make room for Burgess on the 53-man roster, the Patriots released center Ryan Wendell.

Burgess, 25, played in both of Baltimore’s first two games and was credited with two tackles, both on special teams.

Baltimore used Burgess at outside linebacker as well last week against San Diego, and that’s where he played in college at Michigan, where he was a teammate of Pierre Woods.

Bringing aboard Burgess might give the Patriots the flexibility to return Adalius Thomas to outside linebacker. With Mayo out, the Patriots have used Gary Guyton and Thomas inside. Behind those two is only Eric Alexander, who is primarily a special teams player.

Defensive coordinator Dean Pees said that Guyton, who has taken over for Mayo in the middle, did a solid job against the Jets Sunday.

“I thought Gary did a good job of being in there for the first time, playing inside,’’ said Pees. “It’s a little bit new, but at the same time, he has practiced there and he played there some in the preseason. Overall, I thought he did OK. There are certainly some things he can improve on, too, to get better. But overall he got the calls in, and ran the defense, and I thought he did OK.’’

If Burgess can’t contribute on the field, he could provide the Patriots with useful intelligence.

With the Ravens on the schedule following this Sunday’s game against Atlanta, the Patriots could pump Burgess for information on Baltimore’s defense, the same style of play Rex Ryan and the Jets used to hold the Patriots without a touchdown.

In good hands
The Patriots have dressed only four wide receivers in each of their first two games. Each time the fourth receiver was special teams captain Sam Aiken. The lack of personnel could be playing a part in the inconsistency of the offense in the first two games.

However, coach Bill Belichick said that was not the case.

“I definitely would say that we’ve been able to run our offense the last two weeks,’’ said Belichick. “Would we like to have more depth at positions? Sure, but you can’t have depth at every position, so whichever one you decide to have depth at, that means you have a little bit less depth somewhere else. That’s kind of the reality of those 45-man game-day rosters on a week-to-week basis.’’

Director of player personnel Nick Caserio, who also works with the wide receivers, said the team has “the utmost confidence’’ in Aiken as a receiver.

“During the course of the week, he practices and takes repetitions, so Sam is prepared,’’ said Caserio. “He’s ready to go. So, if there’s an opportunity for us to put him in the game, or if we feel we need to put him in the game for a handful of plays - or however many plays it might be - we have the utmost confidence in Sam and what he’s able to do offensively.’’

Nothing pressing
The Patriots started Sunday’s game by sacking Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez and forcing a fumble, but that pressure wasn’t there throughout the game. They sacked Sanchez one other time, a coverage sack that Ty Warren gobbled up.

A hit by Tully Banta-Cain was really the only other disruptive rush.

“That definitely could have been better,’’ said Warren.

Pees said the lack of a pass rush was somewhat a function of the game plan.

“We can always improve in the rush, but some of it was designed by game plan to play some coverage and some of it was designed to put some pressure on him,’’ said Pees. “We didn’t always get there like we wanted to, but we need to improve in the rush part of it and the coverage part of it.

Lofty position
It is not common to see a team’s director of player personnel in the coaches’ booth working with the offensive staff, but that has been Caserio’s role this season. He was the team’s wide receivers coach during the record-setting 2007 season and has a great knowledge of the offense, which allows him to help quarterbacks coach Bill O’Brien coordinate it.

“I’d say it’s probably pretty similar to some of the things I’ve done in the past as far as being up in the press box and communicating with Billy or the rest of the offensive coaching staff during the game as to what we’re seeing, what defenses are being played and the different personnel groupings,’’ said Caserio.

“So, from a game day perspective, some of the responsibilities are similar to what I’ve had in the past. Whether it’s when I was downstairs coaching the receivers on a full-time basis or even when I was on the road doing some scouting but would still be at the game on Sunday.’’

Being with the team, Caserio is not able to go on the road and scout as much, but he said he is able to do a lot of scouting work via video and that he remains in constant dialogue with director of college scouting Jon Robinson and director of pro personnel Jason Licht.

Christopher L. Gasper can be reached at

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