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Stallworth ready to jump into Patriots WR competition

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots have 12 receivers trying out for a half-dozen roster spots, and Donte' Stallworth can't wait to join the competition.

"I love this game. It's going to be a sad day that I have to retire, whenever that is," he said Sunday night after joining his teammates for a non-contact walkthrough. "I like getting out there with the fellas, and everybody has one goal: getting better."

A six-year veteran who signed with New England as a free agent this offseason, Stallworth began training camp on the physically unable to perform list. Stallworth, who spent eight weeks on the Eagles' injury report with a hamstring problem in 2006, is expected to be activated from the PUP for practice on Monday.

"I actually didn't know I was on it until a friend told me," Stallworth said, deferring further comment to coach Bill Belichick.

Stallworth said he spent the time that he wasn't practicing studying his playbook. "(But) there's a difference between studying the playbook and being out there," he said.

"I've got a pretty good hold on the plays. It's just a matter of me being on the field and being able to do everything I can, "he told a cluster of reporters after practice. "I feel pretty good about where I am."

A first-round draft pick, 13th overall, by the Saints in 2002, Stallworth played in New Orleans four years before he was traded to Philadelphia in training camp last year. He caught 38 passes for 725 yards and five touchdowns in 2006, adding six catches for 141 yards and two scores in a pair of playoff games.

In his career, he has 233 career receptions for 3,516 yards and 28 TDs in 68 games.

Stallworth was expected to give the Patriots a deep threat in 2007, a year after they traded contract holdout Deion Branch to Seattle. Reche Caldwell led New England with 61 catches for 760 yards and four TDs, and no other player had more than 49 catches.

But then the Patriots traded for Randy Moss on draft weekend - adding him to their stockpile of pass-catchers. They also brought in Wes Welker and Kelley Washington to go with Caldwell, Troy Brown, Jabar Gaffney and Chad Jackson.

"Competition is always good for everybody," Stallworth said. "We've got a lot of unselfish guys on our team who all want the team to win games.

Stallworth, Jackson and Brown all started training camp on the PUP list.

"I've been in the game for a while, so I understand certain concepts even though this is a new team," Stallworth said. "There's a lot of new guys on the field. Obviously, Troy being on the team, he's a guy you want to talk to."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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