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New England Patriots Links 3/20/12 - Ras-I Dowling Eager to Return; Pats Continue Bargain Shopping Spree

Paul Perillo catches up with Ras-I Dowling after he addressed 500 students at the Foxborough Charter School yesterday. Dowling is eager to return.

"It’s a good way to get ready," Dowling said of his role in kicking off the school’s rally. "It’s a great opportunity for me to go back and give back to the kids the way I had the opportunity to listen to others when I was growing up in Virginia."

"I’m just trying to get better every day," Dowling said. "You can never stop working hard around here. It was great to be around such a great group of guys last year, and going through the experience of the Super Bowl was great. But it was also frustrating to not be able to be a part of it. Of course you want the chance to get out there and help your teammates win."

"Obviously you keep track of the moves the team is making and how they will help the team," Dowling said of the offseason activity. "I’m just going to keep working to get ready and am looking forward to being part of it."

Greg A. Bedard gives his thoughts on the Patriots individual signings, "which as a group I like because they're all good football players who at the minimum will increase competition and depth":

WR Brandon Lloyd: Smart pickup because the Patriots now have an X receiver who can a) catch and b) knows the offense. He's tremendous in the air and gives the Patriots a legit receiver to take some shots with. I'm not worried much about his baggage, at least in the first year, because of the presence of offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. And the Patriots, with Tom Brady and a solid core, can put up with just about anything.

WR Donte Stallworth: A solid player with much to prove, and he'll have to do that in camp.

WR Anthony Gonzalez: Good ballplayer who has had a terrible run with injuries the past three years. He'll have to prove he can stay healthy. He can't be counted on.

TE Daniel Fells: Patriots desperately needed depth, especially behind Aaron Hernandez. He's missed time his first two seasons and the offense struggles too much when he's out. Fells is an easy plug-and-play guy at the Patriots "F" position, which is a TE/WR hybrid.

G/T Robert Gallery: Long coveted by Bill Belichick, the 6-7, 325-pounder gives the Patriots a veteran presence they lack and allows Marcus Cannon to develop at a slower pace. Gallery can play guard and tackle so he's good to have on Sundays with the 46-man roster.

DE/DT Jonathan Fanene: Good, versatile player that can do a lot of things on the line. He can be stout against the run when needed, and he also has terrific feet to rush the passer.

DE/LB Trevor Scott: He is likely to give the Patriots protection at both hybrid end behind Andre Carter when he's healthy (and perhaps Mark Anderson) and behind Rob Ninkovich, who played way too many snaps at times last year.

S Steve Gregory: Can play a bunch of different positions in the secondary. He can start next to Patrick Chung if need be, but the Patriots will probably be hoping to use him in different packages. They also need depth because Patrick Chung gets beat as well. The Patriots just need a bunch of alternatives at safety because it takes a lot to get through a season.

CB Marquice Cole: A really good special teams player who gives the Patriots better depth at cornerback, where they've been thin.