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Mike Ruth, the New England Patriots' second-round draft choice,...

SMITHFIELD, R.I. -- Mike Ruth, the New England Patriots' second-round draft choice, practiced with the club for the first time Tuesday after missing the first 17 days of training camp.

Ruth, a former Boston College nose tackle, signed a four-year contract late Monday.

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The contract is reported to be worth $935,000.

New England's first-round draft pick, running back Reggie Dupard of Southern Methodist, and free agent veterans center Pete Brock and linebacker Steve Nelson have yet to sign.

New England, which hosts the Washington Redskins in a preseason game Sunday at Sullivan Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., now has 96 players on the roster and must pare it to 60 by Aug. 19.

Ruth, who is 6-foot-2 and 266 pounds, won the Outland Trophy awarded to the nation's top college interior lineman last season. He runs the 40 in 4.85 seconds, can bench press 580 pounds and has a verical jump of 32 inches.

Also, veteran offensive tackle Art Plunkett was scheduled to undergo arthroscopic surgery Wednesday in Boston for a torn cartilage in his left knee damaged in Saturday's 21-16 victory over St. Louis in the Hall of Fame game.

The Patriots also Tuesday cut 12 players, including kicker Don McAulay, a 12th-round pick from Syracuse.

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Also cut were wide receivers George Barnwell, Allan Thomas and Matt Hoffman, linebacker Lazarus Chavez, guard Joe Cappuccio, safety Guy Carbone, tight end Greg Roth, cornerback Darrell Woods, kicker Paul Drain, nose tackle Lawrence Jackson and running back Lando Wyner.

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