Patriots focus on offense and trades in draft

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“I’m feeling great,” he said. “I’m 100 percent. If we had camp tomorrow, I’d be ready to go.”

Mallett played 11 games as a freshman at Michigan _ Brady’s school _ before transferring to Arkansas when new coach Rich Rodriguez brought in an offense not suited to Mallett, a pocket passer.

At 238 pounds, he’s tough to bring down _ but also not very elusive. And with Brady still at the top of his game, the selection of Mallett seems somewhat curious. Then again, when Brady suffered a season-ending knee injury in the 2008 opener, the Patriots relied on backup Matt Cassel for the rest of the season.

“I don’t think you can have too much depth at that position. We’ve all seen what happens,” Belichick said.

At Arkansas’ pro day in March, Mallett said that he didn’t feel ambushed by questions at the NFL combine in Indianapolis about rumors of drug use.

“It’s in the past and I’m looking in the future,” he said Friday night. “Mislabeled? If that’s what you want to call it, fine. I think I was portrayed in a different light than the people that know me.”

In one season at Michigan and two at Arkansas, Mallett threw for 69 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.

The Patriots had only Brian Hoyer as a backup quarterback last year, so the addition of Mallett could give Belichick an option if Brady, who underwent surgery on Jan. 20 for a stress fracture in his right foot, is injured again.

“I feel good,” Brady said at a promotional appearance in New York on Friday. “I feel like anybody who has had surgery and had to go through rehabilitation. We still got a long time until football season starts, and I’m just working my way back.”

Someday, though, Brady’s career will end. Can Mallett be his successor?

“I don’t know,” Belichick said. “(He’ll) come in and (we’ll) let him compete.”

The running backs of the future could be Vereen, a quicker, third-down style back, and Ridley, a bigger rusher who is most effective running inside.

“They’re very different players,” Belichick said.

Vereen started 19 games in three years, running for 2,834 yards for 29 touchdowns on 556 carries, an average of 5.1 yards per rush.

“I always take pride in myself in being able to do all things that are called on for a running back: catching the ball, pass protection, running the ball,” he said.

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