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Former Patriots safety A.J. Howard back with organization as college scout

Among additional moves, Dave Ziegler enters 2021 as director of player personnel.

NFL: AUG 02 Patriots Training Camp Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Former New England Patriots safety A.J. Howard has returned to the organization as a college scout.

That move would be one of several confirmed with the release of the 2021 Patriots media guide on Wednesday.

Howard, 25, entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2018. The 5-foot-11, 200-pound Appalachian State product spent his rookie campaign between the Arizona Cardinals and New York Giants before signing to New England’s practice squad that January on the way to Super Bowl LIII.

A Hamilton, Ga., native, Howard made subsequent stops with the Baltimore Ravens, Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions after being waived by New England at the 53-man roster deadline in August 2019. That preseason saw Howard play 65 snaps on defense and 43 snaps on special teams.

Headlining further changes, the Patriots officially promoted Dave Ziegler to director of player personnel entering his ninth season within the front office. Ziegler, whose previous positions included assistant director of player personnel and pro scouting director, now takes on the title new Houston Texans general manager Nick Caserio held for more than a decade.

Steve Cargile to pro scouting director, Matt Groh to college scouting director, Brian Smith to scouting coordinator, plus Camren Williams and Tucker Ingraham to national scouting roles are also among the elevations.

Elsewhere, entering their first full season with New England are area scouts Matt Evans and Chris Caminiti, pro scouts Sam Fioroni and Josh Hinch, as well as college scout Justin Hickman.

Both Hinch and Hickman most recently worked with the Tampa Bay Vipers of the XFL.