Patriots sign safety Stone

Updated: September 28, 2005, 12:53 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

New England Patriots: With Rodney Harrison out for the rest of the year because of the knee injury sustained on Sunday, the New England Patriots bolstered their safety corps by signing free agent Michael Stone, ESPN.com has confirmed.

A four-year veteran, Stone was one of the safety candidates who auditioned Tuesday for team coaches and personnel officials, and he apparently was the most impressive of the group. Stone signed a one-year contract and, while financial details were not available, the deal is likely for the league minimum.

Stone, 27, was in training camp with the St. Louis Rams this summer, but was released in the final cutdown to the regular-season roster. He is a versatile defensive back, one with good size (6-feet, 201 pounds), who can play safety and cornerback.

The former University of Memphis standout was a second-round choice of the Arizona Cardinals in the 2001 draft. He missed the 2003 season with an injury and, in his three other years in Arizona, appeared in 37 games with five starts.

The Patriots placed Harrison on injured reserve Tuesday and also waived linebacker Wesley Mallard.

-- Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com senior NFL writer

Atlanta Falcons: Free agent wide receiver Jerome Pathon, released by the Seattle Seahawks in the final roster reduction to the regular-season limit, has agreed to contract terms with the Falcons, and will sign a one-year deal on Wednesday, ESPN.com has confirmed.

The seven-year veteran flew to Atlanta on Tuesday evening and is expected to be on the practice field Wednesday, as the Falcons begin preparations for Sunday's home game with the Minnesota Vikings. ESPN.com first reported last Friday, in a "Tip Sheet" item, that Pathon had worked out for Falcons officials last week, and that the team was serious about adding him to its young wide receiver corps.

Pathon, 29, has appeared in 93 regular-season games and has 259 catches for 3,332 yards and 15 touchdowns in stints with Indianapolis and New Orleans. He signed with Seattle this summer, after being released by the Saints, but did not make the roster. Pathon will become the most experienced wide receiver on the Atlanta roster, certainly a key to the team's interest in him. The other five Falcons wide receivers have averaged 69.8 catches for their careers. The trio of former first-rounders Michael Jenkins and Roddy White, and first-year player Romby Bryant has just 15 aggregate receptions.

A former University of Washington standout, Pathon was the Colts' second-round pick in the 1998 draft. After his release, Pathon worked out for Kansas City, Indianapolis and Green Bay, but none of those teams offered him a contract. Atlanta will have to make a roster move to create an opening for Pathon, once he officially signs.

-- L.P.

Detroit Lions: Starting right cornerback Fernando Bryant, who suffered a dislocated left clavicle in the Detroit Lions' lopsided loss to the Chicago Bears on Sept. 18, was placed on injured reserve Tuesday, a move that sidelines him for the rest of the 2005 season.

ESPN.com reported last week that Bryant likely would miss the balance of the season. The Lions signed wide receiver Scottie Vines to the roster to fill Bryant's spot.

The injury occurred when Bryant collided with Lions safety Kenoy Kennedy on a 28-yard touchdown catch by Chicago wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad in the second quarter of a 38-6 loss. At the time, coach Steve Mariucci conceded that the injury was "pretty severe" and that recovery would be "a lengthy process."

The Lions, who had a bye last week, will move fourth-year veteran Andre Goodman into Bryant's spot in the starting lineup. In 2004, Goodman, a third-round draft choice in 2002, started four games and has 13 starts for his career.

-- L.P.

San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers placed wide receiver Rashaun Woods on injured reserve with a thumb injury, ending a second straight disappointing season for the team's former No. 1 draft pick.

Woods, who was inactive the first three games this season, injured ligaments in his left thumb late last week. He practiced despite the injury, but further tests determined that he needed surgery, which he underwent Monday.

Woods was the 31st overall pick in 2004, parlaying his stellar college career at Oklahoma State into a high draft selection and the accompanying $3.85 million in guaranteed money from the 49ers.

But he has struggled from the start in the NFL. He missed three weeks of his first training camp with a hamstring injury, and he never caught up to his teammates during San Francisco's 2-14 season. Woods caught only seven passes for 160 yards and a touchdown last season.

He missed time in training camp this year with a strained quadriceps muscle and fell behind undrafted free agent Otis Amey on the depth chart.

Down a cornerback: Starting cornerback Ahmed Plummer will miss up to six weeks after surgery to remove a bone chip on his left ankle.

"I could go through the whole season shooting it up, but I don't feel comfortable with that," Plummer told the San Jose Mercury News. "It's my ankle. That's what I do for a living. I use my ankle to run, to cut, to do different things. And I don't want to do any more damage than I have done to it."

Tennessee Titans: The Titans promoted quarterback Matt Mauck to the active roster from their practice squad to avoid losing him.

Mauck, available to any team wanting to sign him to its roster, had been at the airport Monday preparing to fly to New York where the Jets were scrounging for healthy quarterbacks after losing both Chad Pennington and Jay Fiedler for the season.

But the Titans called and let Mauck know they wanted to keep him to themselves. The move will give the Titans three quarterbacks on the roster with Steve McNair and Billy Volek.

The Titans had signed Mauck to their practice squad after he was released by the Denver Broncos at the end of the preseason. The Broncos drafted him in the seventh round in 2004 after he left college a year early.

Mauck spent three seasons as a catcher in the Chicago Cubs' minor league system but enrolled at LSU in 2000 after never getting out of Single-A. He redshirted his first season, played three games as a backup in 2001 and broke his foot as the Tigers' starter.

As a senior in 2003, Mauck threw for 2,825 yards and a school-record 28 touchdowns to help LSU win 13 games and share the national title with Southern California -- the Tigers' first since 1958.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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