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Patriots Notebook: Patriots Add Depth on Front Seven

The newest member of the New England Patriots organization got his first taste of practice with his new team yesterday. Veteran pro-Bowler James Harrison, who signed with the Patriots Tuesday, took about 30 snaps in his first practice with the team.

Harrison took part in his first Patriots practice, wearing his trademark tinted visor and having been given his No. 92 by third-year defensive end Geneo Grissom.

Offensive tackle Nate Solder, who has gone up against Harrison in the past, described his addition as “excellent” because the team has “another tool going against the Jets.”

As for what it’s been like facing the 6-foot, 242-pound Harrison in games, Solder said, “[Harrison is a] strong, physical guy who knows what he’s doing, smart, obviously well-versed with everything that comes on the football field.”

Harrison’s physical makeup was noted by players, with safety Devin McCourty saying, “He’s a well-put-together human being. Scary looking, some would probably say.”

When asked what it means to have Harrison on the team, linebacker Marquis Flowers added, “I know the edge will be set.”

Safety Duron Harmon also had heaps of praise for his new teammate.

“What he has done in the league, just his whole story, undrafted free agent, how he wasn’t the most polished but just kept getting better and better,” Harmon said. “It’s a pleasure to have him here. [We’ll] try to welcome him with open arms and hopefully, he can do some things to help us.”

Harrison, who at 39 is the NFL’s oldest active defensive player, adds experience and physicality.

Trey Flowers reflected on how his veteran presence will help the younger players learn more about the game.

“He’s been doing it a long time,” Flowers said. “Very physical player. Obviously in the weight room, just being able to keep his body strong. [I can learn] a whole lot, whether it’s stopping the run, pass rush, things like that. Anytime you get a vet that’s been doing it a long time, you can learn a lot from him.”

New England is known to make late additions to bolster depleted parts of the roster.

Last year the team added Micheal Floyd to help with the depleted receiving core. The Patriots have been thin at defensive end and outside linebacker all season.

Hunt for the top seed

New England, who won the AFC East for a ninth consecutive season, can wrap up the AFC’s top seed with a win over the Jets this weekend or a loss by the Steelers, who host winless Cleveland.

The Patriots and Steelers are both 12-3 and have wrapped up first-round byes. New England owns the tiebreaker by virtue of its 27-24 win at Pittsburgh on Dec. 17.

Patriots get first round bye

The New England Patriots secured a first-round bye as a result of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 44-33 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. Former Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was the star again for the 49ers, completing 21 of 30 pass attempts for 242 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception.

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