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Patriots notebook

Kraft says franchise possible for London

By Christopher L. Gasper
Globe Staff / October 24, 2009

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LONDON - The Patriots will play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tomorrow at Wembley Stadium, but if owner Robert Kraft is correct, in a decade the team could be traveling to play a London-based NFL team.

For the third straight season, the NFL is playing one regular-season game in London.

“I really believe it would be the right thing to do sometime in the next decade, that there should be a franchise here,’’ said Kraft. “We have great support here and in Germany. We look forward to seeing what happens.’’

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a radio interview yesterday that if the NFL did put a team in Europe, London would probably be the site.

“It’s probably too early to say that definitively, but it’s possible,’’ Goodell said.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was asked if he could see himself playing for an NFL team based in London or Paris.

“That would be challenging,’’ he said. “Whatever the league needs to do, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.’’

A more realistic scenario is that the league would add additional regular-season games in London, particularly if the season is expanded from 16 to 18 games. Kraft called that a real possibility.

Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo said he’d support an additional regular-season game in London.

“I think it would be great, just to get the exposure of the game out there,’’ said Mayo. “Make it a global sport, kind of like soccer is.’’

Virtual home game
NFL Europe may be a memory, but its legacy lives on with offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer, who grew up in Dusseldorf, Germany, and was a regular at Rhein Fire home games.

“It was great,’’ Vollmer said. “Most of the coaches [on my youth team] came from NFL Europe, so it was great for me. Just to get the sport more well-known, where I was from with the Rhein Fire and Dusseldorf, they had a great following. There was big interest.’’

As the only European player on the Patriots and Bucs, Vollmer is honored to play at Wembley Stadium.

“You hear the name, you never picture yourself playing in the stadium,’’ he said. “I think it’s going to be a great experience.’’

Into the ’pool
In the past, Kraft has been named as a possible buyer for the English Premier League team Liverpool. Kraft owns the New England Revolution of Major League Soccer and Revolution coach Steve Nicol used to play for Liverpool.

Kraft came very close to buying the club in 2005. Kraft told The Times of London in June that the lack of a salary cap in the English Premier League and high-level European club soccer ultimately stopped him.

Kraft didn’t close the door on owning an English soccer club. “I love what you call English football. I love American football more . . . Maybe one day.’’

Ins and outs
Running backs Sammy Morris (knee) and Fred Taylor (ankle surgery), left tackle Matt Light (knee), and wide receiver Julian Edelman (forearm) have been downgraded to out for tomorrow’s game. Morris’s injury is not believed to be season-ending; Light will sit out his second straight game; and Edelman appeared to injure his forearm last Sunday.

The Patriots did get some good news on the injury front as cornerback Darius Butler, who didn’t practice Wednesday or Thursday because of an ankle injury, participated on a limited basis at the Brit Oval cricket ground. Butler is questionable for tomorrow’s game, along with cornerback Shawn Springs (knee) and backup center Dan Connolly (knee), who was added to the injury report.

Active participants?
The presence of tackle Mark LeVoir and wide receiver Brandon Tate is an indication that one or both could be activated for the game. Tate returned kickoffs during practice, and, with Light out, it would make sense to activate LeVoir as the third tackle behind Nick Kaczur and Vollmer.

LeVoir, coming back from a shoulder injury, is on the physically unable to perform list. Tate, recovering from anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligament tears in his right knee, is on the non-football injury list.

Both players started practicing this week and have to be activated or reserved for the season by Nov. 10. The Patriots have two roster spots open after releasing wide receiver Joey Galloway and tight end Michael Matthews this week.

Dressed down
Brady was asked about his surgically repaired left knee by the British media and said it feels great.

“I’ve been really fortunate this year to not have any setbacks with my knee or any other part of my body, so it feels great,’’ he said. “Hopefully it stays that way.’’

Brady took some good-natured ribbing from wide receiver Wes Welker for wearing a suit on the overnight plane ride to London while most of the players donned sweats. Welker joked that Brady looked like he was headed for the London Stock Exchange.

“I don’t take fashion advice from Wes. Believe me, he should have no concerns about what I’m wearing. I’m approaching it as a usual trip,’’ said Brady. “I’ve always done it. I think it looks great for the team to look nice and professional. Hopefully, I try to set the tone for the other guys, but none of them really took my cue.’’

Albert R. Breer of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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