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Patriots Sign DE Mark Anderson to Bolster Pass Rush

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After working out a number of free agent defensive ends and outside linebackers this week (Matt Roth, Raheem Brock — who re-signed with Seattle, Shaun Ellis, and Quentin Moses), the Patriots agreed to terms with former Bears and Texans defensive end Mark Anderson Friday morning. Specific terms of the deal were not announced, and Anderson will take Tully Banta-Cain’s number 95.

Anderson (6’4″, 255 lbs.) is a pure pass rusher who brings a lot to the table. He burst onto the scene in his 2006 rookie season with Chicago and helped lead his team to Super Bowl XLI after being taken late in the 5th round. He was an immediate contributor to a strong defense and led all rookies in sacks with 12, while also forcing four fumbles.

Since then, however, Anderson has struggled to replicate the success of his freshman campaign, combining for only 9.5 sacks over the next three seasons. Last year, he was cut by the Bears after only four games in which he registered only eight tackles and no sacks. He was quickly picked up by the Texans and was able to turn things around a bit in a sub-rusher role, logging four sacks in 11 games.

Anderson looks to be another typical Patriots signing — a player with loads of talent whose career has tapered off a bit and can be signed on the cheap. Anderson is no Osi Umenyiora, but he is a solid signing where the Patriots need help the most, as Eric Moore and Jermaine Cunningham (combined three sacks in 2010) are currently getting the bulk of the reps in the first line in training camp. Anderson is only 28 years old, and his success has come in the 4-3 formation, which the Pats are likely to use much more of with the Vince Wilfork – Albert Haynesworth combination inside.

While terms of the deal were not released, it is unlikely that Anderson cost the Patriots very much, and the team may not be done shopping in the pass rushing department. Fans should not expect a big splash signing or trade, but another signing like Anderson would not be surprising as the Pats look to round out their defense for the 2011-12 campaign.

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