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Robert Kraft sympathetic to Brian Waters' situation

The curious case of Brian Waters officially has dragged into the regular season. The New England Patriots' veteran guard has failed to report to the team after coach Bill Belichick explained that Waters was excused from organized team activities and minicamp. His No. 54 was given to rookie Dont'a Hightower and his locker nameplate was taken down, The Boston Globe reported.

The 35-year old Waters signed with the Patriots last year and has a year left on his deal. He is married with five children who reside in Texas. Leaving them, reportedly, has been a regular issue. Owner Bob Kraft did not take a hard stance on Waters in an interview with The Boston Herald.

"I've learned, I don't sit in judgment of anyone until I find myself walking in their shoes. I don't know what's going on in his private life, what the different concerns are," Kraft said. "Surely, we would have like to have had him. I'm still not giving up hope that maybe he still wants to come back.

"But, you know, it's a rigorous, strenuous ... he came in last year right before the start of the season and performed beautifully. We'll see what happens."

The Patriots could use a lineman to perform beautifully after quarterback Tom Brady was banged around in the preseason. The offense, perhaps, has the most weapons at Brady's disposal as at any time during his career. Receiver Brandon Lloyd was signed to stretch the field. Wes Welker continues to work the slot alongside tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez -- who both recently signed lucrative extensions.

The question is can the line keep Brady clean? The first test is at 1 p.m. ET in Nashville against the Tennessee Titans.

Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland

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