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Patriots rookie long snapper may not get NFL clearance from Navy

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Patriots fifth-round pick Joe Cardona is waiting to see if the Navy will allow him to play in the NFL.

Joe Cardona became the first Navy Midshipman to be selected in the NFL Draft in 20 years when the New England Patriots took the long snapper in the fifth round on Saturday.

Whether he gets an opportunity to play for the Patriots is still up in the air, though. It's up to the Navy to decide if Cardona will be cleared to play in the NFL and even if he gets that green light, it's still possible that he could be called back to duty.

Cardona spoke with Patriots reporters, including Adam Kurkjian of the Boston Herald, about the possibility that the Navy would keep him from playing for the team that selected him 166th overall.

"The decision is out of my hands," said Cardona, who doesn't have an exact timeframe for when he'll find out. "Right now I'm prepared to be the best football player I can be for the New England Patriots and the best naval officer I can be. Whatever duty I'm doing at the time, I'm doing it. I'm just prepared to do my best."

The last Navy player to be selected in the NFL Draft was tight end Kevin Hickman, taken in the sixth round of the 1995 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions. He appeared in 13 games over four years with the team, but never recorded a stat.

Former Army linebacker Caleb Campbell was selected in the seventh round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Lions, but was called to duty before he could sign a contract with the team. It wasn't until two years later that Campbell rejoined the Lions and played in three games for the team in 2010.