FOXBORO, Mass. (AP) – The New England Patriots opened training camp without five key members of a defensive unit that won three Super Bowls in the past four seasons.

But the Patriots have gained some stability by agreeing to contract extensions with linebacker Mike Vrabel and defensive end Jarvis Green. Both players confirmed Saturday that they have new five-year deals in place.

They didn’t discuss financial terms.

Vrabel, 29, already was signed through the 2007 season.

The new deal apparently replaces the remaining three years on his contract. Green, 26, would have become an unrestricted free agent after the season.

“I was able to come into this situation a couple of years ago from Pittsburgh and I was able to evolve into a player and have them want to keep me,” said Vrabel, who left the Steelers as a free agent in 2001. “I know I’ll end up a Patriot.”

“For me,” said Green, a fourth-round draft pick in 2002, “it means I’m doing something right.”

The signings come during a tumultuous time for the two-time defending Super Bowl champions, whose defense has been wracked by health and money issues.

Both starting inside linebackers – Tedy Bruschi and Ted Johnson – will miss the season. Bruschi is recovering from a stroke he suffered in February. Johnson abruptly retired on the eve of training camp, citing the lingering effects of concussions.

Meanwhile, three-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman Richard Seymour’s contract holdout entered its second day Saturday. Coach Bill Belichick said there was no update.

“You don’t need to ask the (Seymour) questions every day,” Belichick said. “If there is something (new) I will tell you right off the bat … I have no news to report at this time.”

The Patriots are also without cornerback Ty Law and linebacker Roman Phifer, who were released in February. Phifer might re-sign later this summer.

As a goal-line tight end, Vrabel has caught touchdown passes in each of the past two Super Bowls.

He is the first defensive player to score on offense in the Super Bowl since William “Refrigerator” Perry of the Chicago Bears did it against the Patriots in Super Bowl XX.

Despite recording 2.5 sacks in the AFC championship game against Indianapolis two years ago, Green’s profile has been lower than Vrabel’s. That could change if Seymour remains absent. Green has taken Seymour’s place with the first-string defense.

“Richard has his situation,” Green said. “Whatever happens there, I just have to adjust to it.”

At 6-foot-3, 290 pounds, Green is 3 inches shorter and 20 pounds lighter than Seymour.

“We’re different types of players,” Green said. “I know I just can’t sit on the big guys (on the offensive line). I have to move around. That’s my strength – staying active.”

Green had five tackles and a sack in last year’s AFC final in Pittsburgh. He said he wants to build on his strong playoff performances.

“That’s my next goal – try to go out and do that over 16 games and get better,” he said.


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