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Patriots sign former Vikings 4th round pick to practice squad

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The Patriots are looking for help on the offensive line.

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NFL: Minnesota Vikings-Training Camp Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots have signed former Minnesota Vikings 2016 fourth round OL Willie Beavers to the practice squad and have released LB Trevor Bates.

Beavers did not make the Vikings initial roster in his rookie season, a big red flag for a fourth round pick, but signed with the practice squad and was promoted back to the active roster by the end of September. He received poor grades from Pro Football Focus as one of the worst tackle prospects coming out of college.

He was always going to be a work in progress, though, so the Patriots will see if offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia can mold him into a contributor.

Bates offers versatility on the edge and at linebacker, along with special teams experience, but the Patriots acquired Marquis Flowers, pushing Bates even further down the depth chart. When Shea McClellin returns from the injured reserve in the middle of the year, Bates won’t have a role in New England, so perhaps the Patriots are letting him find an opportunity elsewhere- or maybe he’ll be back with the Patriots at some future point.

OT Cameron Fleming also returned to practice, while DT Vincent Valentine remained absent.