The Patriots, who are thin along the defensive line, had free-agent defensive linemen Le Kevin Smith, Alfonso Boone, Ryan Sims and Atiyyah Ellison in for tryouts.
Smith, 28, was a sixth-round draft pick of the Patriots in 2006. He played in 31 games in three seasons with the Patriots, recording 18 tackles. He was sent to Denver in an August 2009 trade, and started two games for the Broncos at 3-4 defensive end in 2009. After being released during final cuts this season, the 6-foot-3, 308 pound Smith returned for the Broncos for one game before being cut again on Nov. 9.
The 34-year old Boone is a veteran of 11 NFL seasons, the first nine of which he spent as a 4-3 defensive tackle. He joined the Chiefs for two seasons starting in 2007, starting 15 games that season. In 2009, Boone signed with the Chargers as a reserve defensive end in their 3-4 system. The 6-foot-3, 320 pound Boone was released by the Chargers on Oct. 6 and has been out of football since.
Sims, at 6-foot-4 and 315 pounds, has spent all of his career as a 4-3 defensive tackle. Starting 55 of 105 career games, the 30-year old Sims entered the league as the sixth overall pick of the Chiefs in 2002. After five seasons with the Chiefs, Sims has spent the previous four seasons in Tampa Bay, and started 16 games, recording 33 tackles in 2009. He was released by the Buccaneers on Nov. 23 after playing in six games this season, with one start.
Ellison, 29, was a third-round selection of the Panthers in 2005. After spending time in Carolina, Houston, Baltimore, and San Francisco, he made his career debut with the Jaguars in 2009, starting six games. After being released by Jacksonville during final cuts this season, the 6-foot-3, 315 pound Ellison spent Week 7 as an inactive with the Chiefs in their 3-4 defense before being cut on Oct. 27.