Pats ink veteran RB Pass

Short at fullback, the New England Patriots on Thursday welcomed back a familiar face, signing versatile free agent running back Patrick Pass, who has not played in a game since 2007.

Pass, 31, has played tailback and fullback, and contributed on special teams for the Patriots in the past. He is likely to fill the same role in 2009.

Contract details were not yet available, but it is believed that Pass signed a one-year deal for at or near the league minimum salary.

In seven seasons with the Patriots (2000-2006) and New York Giants (2007), Pass carried 128 times for 526 yards and three touchdowns. He also had 66 receptions for 570 yards and four scores. Pass returned kickoffs in New England as well .

The former University of Georgia star, a seventh-round pick of the Patriots in 2000, signed with Houston in 2007 as a free agent, but was cut before the season began. He then signed with the Giants, for one game in 2007, and was out of the NFL in 2008.

Pass has not played in more than three games since 2006. But with the Patriots losing Heath Evans to New Orleans in free agency, there was a need for a veteran back who could play several positions.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com