Patriots Notebook

Light agrees to two-year deal

Longtime tackle decides to remain in New England

With proper study, Leigh Bodden thinks the Patriots will be ready for the Jets’ receivers. With proper study, Leigh Bodden thinks the Patriots will be ready for the Jets’ receivers. (Robert E. Klein/For The Globe)
By Greg A. Bedard and Shalise Manza Young
Globe Staff / August 1, 2011

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FOXBOROUGH - Matt Light will be staying with the Patriots as he and the team agreed to a two-year contract last night, league sources confirmed. The financial terms of the deal were not immediately known.

Light, 33, had been an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career, and when the Patriots drafted Colorado tackle Nate Solder with the 17th overall pick in April’s draft, it appeared Light’s days in New England had come to an end.

But late last week, news came that the Patriots and Light were working on a deal that would keep him with the team that drafted him in 2001 as a second-rounder out of Purdue. Light started 12 games at left tackle in his rookie season and has remained there since.

Solder remains unsigned, and the Patriots likely thought it unwise to start a rookie who missed spring camps because of the lockout.

On Friday, quarterback Tom Brady stumped for Light, who has served as his blindside protector for nearly his entire career.

“Matt’s one of my favorite players that I’ve ever played with,’’ Brady said. “He’s a great guy, great for this team, great for the community . . . Matt’s performance speaks for itself.’’

Light started all 16 games last year and was selected to the Pro Bowl for the third time. He also serves as the Patriots’ lead player representative with the NFL Players’ Association.

Spikes looks forward The first 14 months of Brandon Spikes’s career as an NFL linebacker were rocky, to say the least.

There was the online sex video that surfaced during Patriots’ training camp last year, and then he was suspended for the final four games of his rookie season for violating the league’s policy on banned substances (he tested positive for an attention-deficit disorder drug that included amphetamines).

But before his suspension, Spikes had four games of 10-plus tackles, part of the 71 tackles he recorded in 12 games, as well as an interception at home against the Jets.

Sitting at home for four weeks - he was not allowed to go to the team facility during the punishment - bothered Spikes.

Yesterday, however, he said he is committed to getting better as a player and a person. If the full-pads afternoon practice the Patriots held behind Gillette Stadium is any indication, he’s certainly taken a step forward as a player.

Spikes was all over the field, batting down a pass from Ryan Mallett in seven-on-seven work, and knocking tight end Aaron Hernandez back in 11-on-11. He also gave Patrick Chung a chest bump when the safety hit receiver Chad Ochocinco.

With New England expected to show more of a 4-3 look this season, Spikes may thrive as the middle linebacker.

His comments yesterday about his suspension were his first on the matter, and he believes the abrupt stop in the season stunted his growth. Coach Bill Belichick had Gary Guyton start over Spikes in the playoff game with the Jets.

“I think [it hurt] a lot,’’ Spikes said. “I just want to learn from that and be a better man, don’t do the same thing twice, and just try to get better as a man and as a player. That’s my ambition.’’

Spikes worked out in Florida for much of the offseason, and will improve by “just attacking my weaknesses, pretty much. All the stuff I need improvement in, I just try to focus on that.’’

Running low Director of player personnel Nick Caserio met with media and gave some positive news on the status of running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

“I think with a lot of players, conversations are ongoing,’’ Caserio said. “We’ve had discussions with multiple players, whether it be the rookies, whether it be some of our free agents.

Caserio said the team is having discussions with the agent for Green-Ellis, a restricted free agent who received a second-round tender from the team before the lockout. The Patriots could be trying to reach a multiyear deal with Green-Ellis, a former undrafted rookie who rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season.

“I would think that at some point during the week, I think he’s going to be here,’’ Caserio said.

Without Green-Ellis or Kevin Faulk and Sammy Morris, who can’t practice until Thursday, or unsigned draft pick Shane Vereen, the Patriots are low on running backs in camp. Yesterday, reserve safety Ross Ventrone got some carries with the third-string offense in one drill.

Cannon progressing Caserio shed light on Marcus Cannon’s situation. The rookie has been undergoing treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and has yet to participate in practice; the team placed him on the reserve/non-football injury list. He has been on the field as an observer since signing his contract.

“I think he’s still kind of going through his process,’’ Caserio said of the offensive lineman. “He looks great. He’s done everything he’s been asked to do to this point. I think we’re all optimistic. I don’t think we’re going to rush into anything.’’

Caserio added that Cannon has been in good spirits, and that it’s good to have him at the facility and around the team. In terms of his recovery, “things look promising.’’

How now? The Jets re-signed their top receiver, Santonio Holmes, last week, and yesterday signed Plaxico Burress, who scored the winning touchdown against the Patriots for the Giants in Super Bowl XLII. He has been out of the NFL since a 2008 incident in which he shot himself in the leg at a nightclub; he was imprisoned for felony weapon possession. Cornerback Leigh Bodden was asked if he believes Burress can help the Jets. “He hasn’t played for a few years,’’ he said. “I mean, he’s a good player, but you just never know how they’re going to use him, what he’s going to be lacking or not lacking. So it’s just going to be film study, when they play the preseason games and things like that, to get to know how they’re going to use him.’’ . . . The Patriots will not practice today. They will resume practicing tomorrow, at a time to be announced.

Greg A. Bedard can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @greg_a_bedard. Shalise Manza Young can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung

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