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Patriots notebook

Ellis OK to practice

Depth along line excites veteran

By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / August 21, 2011

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FOXBOROUGH - Shaun Ellis knows the Patriots have a group of talented defensive linemen in camp.

Yesterday, he was finally able to join them, as he was removed from the physically unable to perform list and cleared to practice. He didn’t participate in drills, but ran and stretched with his teammates at the end of the session.

Watching the first two exhibition games was enough to get Ellis excited about the line’s potential.

“Just on names alone, [the defensive line] is good,’’ he said. “We have to go out and put the work in at practice and all of us get out there and play together. I think it’ll jell as good it can.

“Everybody knows when you start a defense, it starts up front, then it goes to the linebackers and secondary. We all have to work hand in hand. I think we have the potential to do great things with this defense.’’

Ellis, who has been recovering from offseason hip surgery, has been learning the playbook, lifting weights, and doing extra conditioning “to get caught up to speed with these guys.’’

The 11-year Jet said there haven’t been any surprises.

“I’ve kind of been through it a little bit,’’ he said. “I was born into this family with [Bill] Parcells and being drafted by him and going through that period my rookie year, and going through it with [Eric] Mangini. So I had to get back into the swing of things.

“It’s definitely a lot different, but it’s a good thing.’’

Haynesworth sighting Albert Haynesworth made an appearance at practice but did not participate in conditioning exercises or team drills. The defensive tackle has not practiced since Aug. 4.

“He’s been day to day, he’s still day to day,’’ said coach Bill Belichick. “When he’s ready, he’ll be out there.’’

Practice lasted about an hour, with the players wearing jerseys, shorts, and helmets.

Haynesworth did not have a helmet, and spent much of the time talking with defensive line coach Pepper Johnson. While the team ran sprints, Haynesworth stayed off to the side talking with owner Robert Kraft.

Childhood dream Safety James Ihedigbo, who signed with the team Friday, used to root for the Patriots while growing up in Massachusetts.

“Yeah, I was born and raised a Pats fan,’’ said the Northampton native. “Went to games when I was in high school at the old Foxboro Stadium. Said, one day I’m going to be playing here. And lo and behold, here I am.’’

Ihedigbo, who played at Amherst High School and UMass, practiced and wore No. 43. He played the previous three seasons with the Jets.

“He played some of the nickel- and dime-type responsibilities on defense, and he’s been good in the kicking game,’’ said Belichick. “We’ll see what he can do.’’

Ellis said Ihedigbo “did a lot of great things for the Jets and I’m glad to have him on our side.’’

Brown signed The Patriots signed linebacker Ricky Brown, who played all five of his seasons with the Raiders after starring at Boston College . . . A number of players were missing from the first practice since Thursday’s exhibition win over the Buccaneers, including Stevan Ridley, Leigh Bodden, Bret Lockett, Darius Butler, Danny Woodhead, Dane Fletcher, and Lee Smith . . . The Patriots return to practice tomorrow.

Monique Walker can be reached at mwalker@globe.com.

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