Cleaning out the Patriots' notebook

September, 7, 2012
9/07/12
9:25
AM ET
Cleaning out the Patriots' notebook:

1. As noted by columnist Jackie MacMullan in her piece on Wes Welker, there is a good chance we’ll be seeing Welker break the all-time franchise record for receptions Sunday in Tennessee. Welker (554) needs four catches to pass Troy Brown (557) to move into the No. 1 spot, and it seems like that has flown under the radar a bit this week.

2. The contracts signed by running back/fullback Lex Hilliard ($615,000 base salary) and tight end Michael Hoomanawanui ($540,000 base salary) are both one-year deals. Hilliard enters his fourth season in 2012, so he is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. Hoomanawanui, now in his third NFL season, is scheduled for restricted free agency after the season.

3. Brian McIntyre of NFL.com tipped us off to two members of the Patriots’ practice squad who are earning more than the minimum salary – offensive tackle Matt Kopa ($149,940) and center/guard Thomas Austin ($149,940). The Patriots might have had competition to retain both players. Regardless, it’s a reminder that while they are a little thin on the offensive line with just eight players on the 53-man roster, they have potentially capable depth on the practice squad.

4. Patriots linebacker Dane Fletcher underwent surgery on his torn left ACL on Thursday. The long road back begins now for Fletcher, who has struck up a friendship with fellow rehabbing NFL linebacker Lofa Tatupu.

5. ESPN is dispatching television correspondents to five games on Sunday, and Patriots/Titans isn’t one of them. Can't recall too many openers in recent years where the Patriots were not squarely on the national radar across the board. The five games ESPN is sending correspondents -- Redskins/Saints, Bills/Jets, Colts/Bears, 49ers/Packers and Steelers/Broncos.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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