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Patriots notebook

Defensive backfield in motion

By Mike Reiss
Globe Staff / March 28, 2009
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Entering the 2008 season, the Patriots employed a 1-2-3 punch at safety with Rodney Harrison, James Sanders, and Brandon Meriweather.

With Harrison an unrestricted free agent, the Patriots could be looking for another option, and they plan to host three highly touted prospects on predraft visits at Gillette Stadium - Patrick Chung (Oregon), William Moore (Missouri), and Louis Delmas (Western Michigan) - according to NFL sources.

All three safeties are projected to be selected in the first two rounds.

Chung (5 feet 11 inches, 207 pounds) is one of the most experienced players in the draft class, with 51 career starts. He is considered a sure tackler, totaling 92 last season after amassing 117 in 2007.

Moore, who has NFL size (6-1, 230), had his best season in 2007 when he was credited with 115 tackles and eight interceptions. Last season, he finished with 70 tackles and one interception.

Delmas (6-0, 202) was a four-year starter, playing in 45 games and totaling a career-high 111 tackles last season. He had 12 interceptions.

The Patriots also have plans to host University of Cincinnati defensive end Connor Barwin.

NFL teams are limited to 30 visits with out-of-town prospects. Occasionally, teams use the visits as smoke screens. Often they serve as final medical checkups before teams set their draft boards.

The Patriots are in position to be a major player in the draft, with six selections among the first 97 - a first-round pick (23d), three second-rounders (34, 47, 58), and two third-rounders (89, 97).

Taylor-made?
Did chairman/CEO Robert Kraft tip the Patriots' hand regarding plans to sign free agent defensive end Jason Taylor?

Kraft shared his thoughts on Taylor possibly joining the Patriots with Yahoo! Sports, saying, "Great player. I'm sure that can happen if he wants it."

The Patriots are Taylor's top choice, according to the report.

The Patriots are familiar with the 34-year-old Taylor, who spent the first 11 years of his career with the AFC East rival Dolphins and created havoc with his pass rush. Taylor spent last season with the Redskins.

A long shot
Tight end Brad Listorti realizes he faces long odds to earn a roster spot, but he's hoping to script an unlikely hometown story - from Milford, Conn., through UMass to the Patriots.

"It's been kind of a wild ride, an unexpected ride," said Listorti, who signed a one-year contract with New England Feb. 18.

The 24-year-old Listorti went undrafted last year and signed with the Falcons. He was released during training camp and spent two stints on the Jets' practice squad. Listorti worked out for the Patriots last season and said he is "happy to be back home." He has Chris Baker, Benjamin Watson, David Thomas, and Tyson DeVree ahead of him on the depth chart.

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

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