- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 10, 2009

FOXBOROUGH, MASS. (AP) - One of the newest Patriots belongs to an elite group whose biggest name is Tom Brady.

Its seven members are the only current New England players who were on all three of the team’s Super Bowl winners. The newcomer, Patrick Pass, contributed the least of the seven to the championship teams.

But last Wednesday, after two years of focusing on personal issues, Pass picked up the telephone and called the only NFL coach he’d ever played for. He asked Bill Belichick if he could come in for a workout.

The chat was brief. The answer was yes. His signing was announced the next day.

“It was surprising, but Bill, he’s one of the guys that I respect a great deal. He’s not going to tell you anything that he doesn’t believe is true,” Pass said Tuesday. “If he thought that I couldn’t play this game, he would have never given me a shot.”

Now Pass is the only fullback on New England’s depth chart.

“I’m still a Patriot at heart,” he said. “This is where I started and this is where I’m going to end.”

A seventh-round draft choice out of Georgia in 2000, Pass rushed for just 526 yards and caught 66 passes in seven seasons. He became a free agent after the 2006 season, was cut by Houston in training camp in 2007 and spent one week with the New York Giants in November of that season _ before they beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

“I didn’t (get a ring) but if I did it would have been four for me,” Pass said. “Congratulations to them, and it’s a new year, 2009.”

It’s also a new start for someone who started only 11 of his 78 NFL games but contributed as a running back, blocking back and special teams player.

Pass, 32, remained in the area in North Providence, R.I., while out of football in 2007 and 2008 and even attended some Patriots home games.

“It was different sitting in the family section,” he said, “but I had a great time.”

It’s much too early to tell if he’ll be with the Patriots for the season opener in three months. But after a two-year absence, he’s excited to be back.

He’s confident that he can still play. He got his weight down from the career-high 245 pounds he carried at Houston’s camp, dealt with his personal issues and decided to try again. He even checked with some former teammates.

“I texted a couple of my guys like Kevin (Faulk), Deion Branch and I asked them, `I’m thinking about playing football again, what do you think?’” Pass said. “They were like, `I don’t understand why you stopped playing in the beginning.’

“It was like an extra fire that was lit when they told me that because I knew deep down inside I could still play this game.”

Pass participated Tuesday in his third practice with the Patriots on the final day of voluntary organized team activities. The mandatory three-day minicamp starts Wednesday.

Heath Evans was the Patriots primary blocking back but signed after last season with New Orleans.

Pass is already familiar with the offense. He also remained friendly with Faulk and defensive lineman Jarvis Green.

Faulk, Brady, Richard Seymour, Tedy Bruschi, Matt Light and Stephen Neal are the other six Patriots who have been with the team since the 2001 season, when New England beat St. Louis for the franchise’s first Super Bowl victory.

“It’s like coming home again,” Pass said.

Training camp in Houston was difficult as he tried to combine his personal and professional lives.

“Mentally and emotionally, I wasn’t ready,” Pass said. “I wasn’t into the game because I was still dealing with some personal issues and I was like, `Just let me make it through what I’m going through right now.’

“Let me nip this in the bud and I can concentrate on football.”

He’s doing that now.

“I feel good. I lost a lot of weight,” Pass said. “I’m slim and trim and running around like a young kid again.”

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