Curran: Tire-kicking time for Patriots, rest of NFL

Curran: Tire-kicking time for Patriots, rest of NFL
August 15, 2011, 2:43 am
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By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
On August 30, more than 450 players will be released across the NFL as teams cut down from 90 players to 75. That's a lot of names for NFL personnel men to wade through but wade they will. Through every one of them. One team's trash, another team's treasure and all that. Between now and then, it's vital that front offices get versed on the players currently "unattached." The ones who have been proven players in the league but aren't signed currently because of age, injury or having not found the right opportunity. On Monday, the Patriots will host three veteran players for workouts that fall into this category. Wideout T.J. Houshmandzadeh and safeties Darren Sharper and Renaldo Hill. Sharper is 35 and two seasons removed from a spectacular season of playmaking with the Saints when he was an NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidate with nine picks and three TD returns. He played in eight games for the Saints last year. Housmandzadeh will be 34 in September. He's a precise route-runner with good hands and would be depth for a player like Deion Branch. Hill is 32 and, like Sharper, is a free safety. He had 67 tackles with Denver last year. Unlike the mass of mostly young players who will be released league-wide on the 30th, these veterans would be "plug-and-play" type replacements that - most likely - would be summoned if a veteran goes down at some point in the season.Understand that there's every possibility the Patriots could go bring one of them in this week and put him on the roster. But more likely, these workouts are a matter of finding out if all parts are in working order and that nobody is woefully out of shape. Personnel men don't want to be walking into the head coach's office on the Monday after the season opener saying they have no idea who can come in and replace awideout who suffered a high ankle sprain in the third quarter. The idea that Bill Belichick is writing up pink slips for safeties tonight because he's having some 30-something safeties work out on Monday is a little simplistic. This isn't a matter of turning up the heat on players on August 15 after one preseason game. It's making sure that you know what's out there if worse comes to worse with injuries or performance. Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran