Patriots add familiar faces at wide receiver

When the New England Patriots sought to add receivers through

free agency, the reinforcements they found looked very

familiar.

That’s because both 11-year veteran Jabbar Gaffney and 10-year

veteran Donte’ Stallworth are doing their second tours in

Foxborough.

Then came Brandon Lloyd, a 10-year veteran, who was immersed in

the Patriots offense when he played under Josh McDaniel in Denver

and St. Louis. He’s now been reunited with McDaniel, who returned

to the Patriots last season and is again the offensive

coordinator.

That means the learning curve has not been steep for the three

players who hope to provide depth behind All-Pro Wes Welker and a

host of other veterans at wide receiver.

Still, they don’t take anything for granted, considering how

many other veteran receivers couldn’t master the Patriots’ complex

offensive schemes.

Gaffney caught 85 passes for 1,039 yards and eight touchdowns

for the Patriots (No. 2 in the AP Pro32) in three seasons from

2006-2008 and left the team on good terms.

”In this league, you never know,” Gaffney said. ”Guys leave

and they return.”

Gaffney said he never really forgot the Pats’ system and it came

back to him rather quickly.

”It was just like putting my comfortable shoes back on,” he

said.

In 2007, Stallworth caught 46 passes for 697 yards and three TDs

for the Patriots.

His life took a dark turn in June 2009, when he was found to be

driving drunk when he struck and killed a pedestrian in Florida in

March 2009. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail after the

conviction for manslaughter.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick has been impressed with what he

sees as a dramatic change since Stallworth’s first stint.

”I would say Donte’ has really matured a lot since he was here

in ’07. He’s been a very positive example and influence with what

he does on a daily basis but also some of the things that he’s done

with other players on the team,” he said.

Quarterback Tom Brady said it was fun to be reunited with the

two receivers.

”There is so much familiarity with what they’re capable of and

what they can do,” he said. ”It doesn’t seem like it’s taken long

for them to kind of get re-acclimated to what we do. Both of them

are making a lot of plays out there.”

Lloyd, wearing the No. 85 jersey most recently used by the

receiver then known as Chad Ochocinco, developed into a fan

favorite early in training camp, with several spectacular catches,

earning cheers rivaling those for tight end Rob Gronkowski.

”He knows what he’s doing out there,” Brady said. ”It’s not

like there’s a lot of studying the playbook. He’s been in the

offense now for a bunch of years.”

While Belichick was more cautious, Brady said having trusted

veterans is a shortcut to success.

”You have guys who you play with who you’ve won games with that

you really have a lot of trust in, then you can go out there early

and execute at a relatively high level,” Brady said.

There are 10 receivers in camp, and the Pats will likely keep

six or seven, with the edge for the last couple of spots expected

to go to players with multiple roles, such as special teams ace

Matthew Slater or kick returner/receiver Julian Edelman.

NOTES: Belichick said there is no update on the status of

veteran guard Brian Waters, who has yet to report to camp. . The

Patriots have been drawing record-breaking training camp crowds in

the first week, including one crowd of 13,654.

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