Patriots sign three to provide options in the front seven


FOXBORO -- The Patriots had three new faces on the practice field Monday, indicating that even though final cuts are coming there's still value in those last few spots on the 90-man roster.

The three rookie free agents are defensive lineman Michael Bart and linebackers Christian Kuntz and Nick Usher. 

Bart, an undrafted rookie out of North Carolina, began his NFL career with the Cardinals. The 6-foot-3, 270-pounder, who had 12.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in college, was released in June.

At 6-foot-2, 228 pounds, Kuntz is a bit undersized to play linebacker in the Patriots defense, but he was productive at Duquesne, contributing to three Northeast Conference championship teams. He was a second-team AP All-America selection each of the last two seasons. 

The Seahawks signed Usher back in the spring out of UTEP, but the 6-foot-3, 235-pounder was released last month. A former defensive lineman, Usher had 179 total tackles and 12 sacks in college. 

When asked about giving the Patriots some added depth in the front-seven, Belichick explained that the signings could prove beneficial in preseason game No. 4 later this week.

"We feel like we’d be able to give them an opportunity to play in the game and take a look at them," Belichick said. "See how it goes."

With just one cut-down date this year, when teams will have their rosters trimmed from a maximum of 90 players to a max of 53 following the final preseason game, Belichick said it will be easier to get an extended look at some bottom-of-the-roster players who would not have had the opportunity in years past when teams went into the preseason finale with 75. 

"You still get a chance to look at those people that you want to look at" with the larger roster, Belichick explained. "Some of them are maybe competing for roster spots, but a lot of them are competing for practice squad spots or eventual practice squad spots. I mean, the roster is going to change here over the course of the season, so it just gives those guys another opportunity."

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