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Steward brings athleticism and special teams prowess to the Patriots linebacker group. AP Photo/Ron Schwane
The Patriots continued to add depth to their 90 man roster in advance of the draft on Friday with the signings of free agent linebacker Tony Steward and long snapper Christian Yount.

Steward was a sixth round pick of the Bills last spring, but injuries prevented him from making an impact in his rookie season. He missed the first five games of the season recovering from a preseason MCL injury, then returned to play in seven games (appearing almost exclusively on special teams) before suffering a season ending back injury in his first career start against the Texans. His release on Tuesday came as a surprise given the Bills lack of depth at linebacker.

Unfortunately for Steward, injuries have been a consistent presence in his career. He came to Clemson as a highly touted 5 star recruit, but tore each of his ACLs during his Tigers career, failing to crack the starting lineup until a productive 2014 senior season. If healthy, he is an fantastic athlete who brings enough upside and special teams value to be an interesting addition to the wide open competition for depth roles behind starters Dont'a Hightower and Jamie Collins. Steward posted a 4.64 40 time, 34.5" vertical leap and 29 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press at his pro day last spring, numbers made even more impressive by his size (6'1", 241 pounds).

Yount brings veteran competition for second year man Joe Cardona, although Cardona's job is unlikely to be in any real jeopardy. Yount played for Tampa Bay and Cleveland from 2011 to 2014, but spent last year out of football. As ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss astutely noted, Yount was the Browns long snapper in 2013 when current Patriots assistant Mike Lombardi was Cleveland's GM and that familiarity with him likely factored into the signing.

Ned Brady 4/24/2016 01:33:00 PM Edit
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