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Patriots notebook

First-round pick Solder is signed

By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / August 5, 2011

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FOXBOROUGH - For the last week, the Patriots have been motoring through transactions at warp speed.

All the while, rookie offensive tackle Nate Solder was waiting for the call to let him know his contract was completed. He got that call yesterday. The Patriots signed their first-round pick (17th overall) to a four-year deal worth $8.54 million, which includes a $4.7 million signing bonus.

Solder then participated in his first practice.

“It was great,’’ he said. “It’s been a while, so I was happy to be out there. There’s great players out here, so it’s a challenge definitely.’’

Solder will wear No. 77, and at 6 feet 8 inches, 319 pounds, will be hard to miss. When he was unable to practice, Solder said he was trying to absorb as much as possible from his fellow offensive linemen.

Among the things that coach Bill Belichick likes about Solder was his size, speed, and strength.

Solder moved from Colorado about a month ago, and while waiting for a contract, he said his biggest responsibility was to “stay in shape and study what I had been taught on the plays beforehand.’’

Solder said he’s also looking forward to learning from offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia.

“Dante’s going to be a huge part of me getting ready and getting better, and all of those coaches are going to help me,’’ said Solder.

Ellis in for a look A defensive lineman continues to be on the Patriots’ wish list, as they worked out former Jet Shaun Ellis, according to a league source.

Last night, Raheem Brock, who worked out for the Patriots on Wednesday, agreed to a deal with the Seahawks, according to a league source. Matt Roth, who was also brought in to work out earlier in the week, appears to be getting interest from other teams. It’s unclear if the Patriots are continuing conversations with him.

Ellis is an unrestricted free agent who turned down a one-year contract at the veteran minimum from the Jets this week. He is in his 12th season.

In order to get Belichick from the Jets in 2000, the Patriots had to forfeit a first-round pick. The Jets used that pick on Ellis.

As speculation continues about a shift in defense for the Patriots, Belichick diminished the importance of defining it as a 3-4 or a 4-3.

“I think, honestly, that’s something that’s a media fabrication,’’ Belichick said. “There are a lot of different alignments out there, you see 4-3 teams use odd spacing, you see 3-4 teams use even spacing. You have 11 players. You can put them in various positions. Whether you want to put it in the pregame depth chart as one thing or another, I think is a little bit overrated.

Join us Signed free agents were able to return to the field yesterday for the start of the league year.

For the Patriots, that meant Kyle Arrington, Logan Mankins, Kyle Arrington, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and Sammy Morris were able to finally suit up.

Drop zone It wasn’t a good day for the Patriots receivers. There were quite a few drops, including four by Chad Ochocinco, two coming without defenders on the field . . . Safety Brandon Meriweather appeared to injure himself, leaving during a drill. He returned but his left calf was taped . . . Rookie running back Shane Vereen was not seen at practice after leaving Wednesday’s session with an apparent injury. Other players not seen included running back Eric Kettani and offensive lineman Ryan Wendell . . . Players not in pads and watching practice included Ras-I Dowling, Kevin Faulk, Josh Barrett, Marcus Cannon, Brandon Deaderick, Kyle Hix, Matt Light, Myron Pryor, and Ron Brace . . . Long snapper Matt Katula praticed in pads for the first time.

Greg A. Bedard of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Monique Walker can be reached at mwalker@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @monwalker.

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