BY SAM HOLLINGSWORTH
The Patriots are one of the NFL's more successful teams at finding productive roles for veteran front-seven defensive players who didn't do much the season before.
Andre Carter is an example. A seventh-overall pick by the San Francisco 49ers in 2001, Carter played for both the 49ers and Redskins before being released by Washington and inking a one-year deal with New England last offseason.
The result was Carter's first-ever Pro Bowl campaign (despite a late season-ending injury) that included a franchise record-breaking game vs. the Jets (four sacks) and a team-high 10 sacks overall (tying Mark Anderson).
The Patriots hope linebacker Bobby Carpenter (pictured) can have a similar rebirth.
The former 2006 first-round draft pick out of Ohio State, signed this year by the Pats in early April, also has similar expectations. And he's fit in perfectly thus far.
"It's been exciting," Carpenter said during minicamp last week, according to the team's website. "We have a great team atmosphere and I was very pleased with how great the locker room was. We've got a tremendous group of players here and not only that, but they're great people. So it's been easy to get acclimated."
And while there is still plenty of time before the season begins, coach Bill Belichick has liked what he he's seen out of Carpenter.
"It's been good," Belichick told reporters last week. "Bobby has been here all spring. He's worked hard. [He is a] good athlete; runs well, smart guy, has some experience. He's fit in well."
Playing a variety of positions throughout his career also makes Carpenter, who spent time with the Cowboys, Dolphins and Lions, the versatile type of player Belichick loves to use in his system.
"He's done some different things in his career — played inside, played outside, played in sub, played in the kicking game," Belichick said. "He's a very versatile player and he's smart, so learning really hasn't been a problem for him. He's been able to handle multiple responsibilities so far.
"He's done a nice job. We've asked him to do some different things and he mentally, physically and experience-wise has looked pretty comfortable doing those. I think he's in good position to go to camp and we'll see what happens in training camp."
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