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Will Torry Holt make Patriots roster?

8/10/2010

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- In sweatpants and a winter skullcap, New England Patriots receiver Torry Holt watched Tuesday morning's practice against the New Orleans Saints.

He missed Monday's practice, too, for undisclosed reasons.

Holt also might be looking in from afar when it comes to New England's final roster.

On the all-time leaderboard, Holt's 920 receptions rank 11th, and his 13,382 yards rank 10th. But the most significant number to him over the next month will be how many receivers the Patriots choose to keep.

Holt seems to rank sixth -- at best.

"However many we feel is best for the club," Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio replied when I asked how many receiver slots were available. "We've kept five. We've kept seven. It all depends."

Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Julian Edelman are back. Brandon Tate was a third-round draft choice last year. Injuries wiped out most of Tate's rookie season, but he has elicited praise from Tom Brady over the offseason. Taylor Price was a third-round pick in April.

Those are five receivers right there. When you consider keeping a sixth or seventh, he better add something beyond his listed position. Sam Aiken, for example, made 11 tackles and forced a fumble on special teams last year.

"You look at your club and you figure out the offensive or defensive component and then a special teams component," Caserio said. "The receivers are competing with the secondary players or the linebackers for a particular spot. We talk about 'the more you can do,' and that's important."

Holt doesn't play special teams, but the seven-time Pro Bowler can add leadership and be a mentor for the young receivers. Whether that's enough to make the cut is the issue.

The Patriots tried to make it work with faded veteran Joey Galloway last year, but cut him a few weeks into the season because it was a disaster. Holt's coming off career-lows with 51 receptions and 722 yards for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"He's got a lot of experience," said Caserio, a former receivers coach for the Patriots. "He hasn't been out there for a few days, but he's smart. He's a very instinctive receiver. He has good hands. He's a good route runner. When he's been out there, when he's had his opportunities, he's made some plays.

"I think his value comes into play off the field as well. He does a nice job working with our younger receivers. Torry's been a really productive player in this league. He's done things on the field that are good and behind the scenes, some of the things that you don't see, I think he's been invaluable from that perspective."