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Coming off a 14-2 season in 2010 during which their young and inexperienced defense proved they could hold their own, the team as a whole now looks to establish themselves as an even more well-rounded, skilled and confident team. The Patriots have won eight of the last ten AFC East titles, but it hasn’t been without struggles against the Dolphins who have always challenged their divisional superior, even when they haven’t challenge many others.
Here are five things to watch keep an eye on in the season opener for the Patriots:
In a somewhat surprising move, the New England Patriots have released corner back Darius Bulter on Tuesday, according to a statement from Butler on his Twitter account.
Its been real New England. I was blessed to have a chance to play and start my NFL career here. But its time to open a new chapter. Thx #patsnation. http://t.co/k54jRgOless than a minute ago via UberSocial for BlackBerry Favorite Retweet ReplyDarius Butler
Butler played two seasons in New England, recording 54 tackles, three interceptions, 14 pass defends and a fumble recovery in 29 games. In 2009, his rookie campaign, Butler set career-highs in tackles (32) and interceptions (3). In 2010, Butler played in 15 games - starting three - and had a lackluster 22 tackles and six pass defends.
Richard Hill at Pats Pulpit reacted to the news about Butler's release, saying the following.
Butler represented one of the last players of the Patriots' opportunistic defense of the mid-decade and wasn't the right piece for the current defense. His athletic skill set never matched the physicality required of the new-image defense that Bill Belichick has been crafting the past couple seasons. Butler should find himself on another team very quickly; unfortunately, it won't be the Patriots.
The NFL's D-Day has come and gone, with ever team making a slew of cuts over the weekend in order to reach the mandatory 53-man roster, including Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.
Brandon Meriweather, Sammy Morris and Brandon Tate were the big names that felt the wrath of Belichick, as all were cut by Saturday's deadline. Yet there were plenty of others who lost their jobs at Gillette Stadium, and here they are.
New England Patriots 2011 Roster Cuts
Landon Cohen (Defensive Lineman), Niko Koutouvides (Linebacker), Brandon Meriweather (Safety), Eric Moore (Defensive End), Sammy Morris (Running Back), Brandon Tate (Wide Receiver), Tiquan Underwood (Wide Receiver), Thomas Austin (Offensive Lineman), Eric Kettani (Running Back), Ross Ventrone (Defensive Back), Markell Carter (Linebacker), Aaron Lavarias (Defensive Lineman), Alex Silvestro (Defensive End), Lee Smith (Tight End), Will Yeatman (Tight End).
Following a big day for roster cuts, the New England Patriots have announced two more roster cuts on Sunday. According to Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston, the Patriots have released offensive tackle Steve Maneri and long snapper James Dearth.
Maneri’s release comes in direct response to the signing of pro bowl guard Brian Waters, who agreed to terms with New England early Sunday morning. Maneri was likely to have backed up right tackle Sebastian Vollmer, had he stayed on the team.
James Dearth joins Matt Katula as long snappers that Patriots have used during the preseason. Dearth was signed a few weeks ago after spending his entire career as the long snapper for the New York Jets. The release of Dearth tells us that Bill Belichick has not seen enough out of the long snapper to promise him a roster spot. The team announced they claimed former Buffalo Bills LS Danny Aiken to take Dearth’s spot on the roster.
After Brandon Meriweather, Brandon Tate and Sammy Morris were sent packing earlier today, the Patriots announced a couple of late roster cuts, a pair of tight ends.
According to ESPN Boston, the Patriots have decided to part ways with rookie Tight Ends Lee Smith and Will Yeatman. Both are eligible for a possible return to the team’s practice squad.
The release of Smith comes to really no surprise, as he progressively lost more and more playing time. The fifth-round pick out of Marshall started out camp very strong, getting a lot of playing time behind Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Smith then fell lower in the team’s depth chart.
Yeatman, whom Smith lost playing time to, was though to be a sure bet to make the team. The undrafted rookie out of Maryland however didn’t apparently convince Bill Belichick enough to allow a third tight end on the roster. Like Smith, Yeatman could rejoin the Patriots practice squad if he clears waivers.
According to Monique Walker of the Boston Globe, the Patriots have informed wide receiver Brandon Tate that they plan to release him before today's roster-cut deadline.
Tate's release comes as to no surprise, as battled several injuries throughout training camp and was unable to show his skill set at wide receiver during the preseason. Already behind Chad Ochocinco, Wes Welker, Deion Branch and Julian Edelman on the wide receiver depth chart; Tate was pushed to strictly special teams duties as the team's kickoff returner. Thanks to the new NFL rule that make kickoff returns more difficult, the Patriots felt as if they didn't need to keep Tate around as a designated kickoff returner.
The former third-round pick out of North Carolina was in competition with fellow wide outs Taylor Price and Matthew Slater for possibly two open roster spots. With Tate gone, Price and Slater are both likely to make the team.
According to Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston, the New England Patriots have informed safety Brandon Meriweather that he will be released. According to sources, Meriweather told his teammates of his expected release.
Meriweather continued to see decreased action in the Patriots defense, as he was even pushed to the second team behind second-year player Sergio Brown. Brown played alongside Patrick Chung as the starting safeties for two of the Pats’ four preseason games. Meriweather didn’t play until the second half of Thursday’s game with the Giants.
Meriweather ran into trouble last offseason, after he was arrested after reportedly being involved in a shooting in Miami, Florida. Even though Meriweather seems to have avoided any further legal trouble, he has obviously fallen out of the good graces of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
With Meriweather gone, the Patriots could look to bring in outside options such as Darren Sharper or Renaldo Hill, whom worked out for the Patriots a few weeks ago. As it stands, the Patriots will use Sergio Brown and Patrick Chung as their starting safeties.
Veteran running back Sammy Morris has been released by the New England Patriots, according to his agent.
Morris’s agent Mark Slough reported the cut via Twitter, saying around 2pm on Saturday:
“In 12 yrs I’ve never had this talk w/ #Patriots RB Sammy Morris…just notified of his release. Sammy is consummate professional & class act.”
Morris has been a member of the Patriots since 2007, and has played in 47 games with the team in four seasons. He has rushed for 2955 career yards. He has spent his entire NFL career within the AFC East. Morris was taken in the fifth round of the draft by the Buffalo Bills in 2000, and spent four years with the Bills and three years with the Miami Dolphins.
This might not be goodbye for the veteran. He lives nearby and if he chooses not to try out for another team, he could help out the Patriots down the road. Says NESN’s Jeff Howe via Twitter:
“Sammy Morris could be a victim of his proximity. Lives in Foxboro area. Knows offense. Could essentially be 54th player on Pats’ roster.”
It’s cut down day for the New England Patriots.
News of cuts is trickling out of Gillette Stadium, with rookies and veterans alike being told there is not a place for them on the final 53 man roster. According to WEEI.com’s It is What It Is and reporter Christopher Price’s Twitter account, here is the list of reported cuts:
Ricky Brown, LB
Jonathan Compas, OL
Darryl Richard, DL
Carson Butler, TE
Buddy Farnham, WR
Mike Berry, OL
Richard Medlin, RB
Corey Woods, OL
Eric Moore, DE
Tiquan Underwood, WR
Alex Silvestro, DL
Markell Carter, DL
Aaron Lavarlas, DL
Landon Cohen, DL
Eric Kettani, RB
Out of these players, Andover native Farnham, Carter, Lavarlas, Kettani, Silvestro, are possibilities for the Patriots’ practice squad. In fact, Price reports that Navy product Kettani was cut with the distinct intention of moving him to the practice squad.
After making a series of cuts on Monday including the release of six-year veteran James Sanders, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots were back at it again on Tuesday with rosters having to be downsized to 80 players by this afternoon.
In in order to accommodate these rules, the Patriots released linebacker Marques Murrell and wide receiver Jeremy Ross. With it, the Patriots now stand at 80 active players on the roster with another roster downsizing deadline vastly approaching.
The release of these two comes to no surprise, as there is easily too much depth at both linebacker and wide receiver for either of these two to make the team. Murrell was competing with the likes of veteran linebacker Tracy White for the final linebacker spot on the roster. In addition to White, the Patriots have Jerod Mayo, Rob Ninkovich, Brandon Spikes, Gary Guyton and Dane Fletcher as the top linebackers on the team.
Ross's release also came to no surprise, as too was battling an uphill slope to make the team. Ross was competing with the likes of Brandon Tate, Taylor Price and Matthew Slater to make one, possibly two open spots for a wide receiver. The Patriots will primarily use Wes Welker, Chad Ochocinco, Deion Branch and Julian Edelman at wide receiver.
In anticipation of the new NFL season, NFL teams must trim their roster size down to a maximum of 80 players from the previously allotted space of 90 players on Tuesday afternoon. The New England Patriots got a bit of a head start on Monday afternoon, as they announced the release of 11 players from the roster.
On Monday, the Patriots parted ways with free safety James Sanders, long snapper Matt Katula, tight end Garrett Mills, cornerback Jonathan Wilhite, defensive lineman Kade Weston, wide receiver Tyree Barnes, wide receiver Darnell Jenkins, cornerback Malcolm Williams, kicker Chris Koepplin, defensive end Clay Nurse, and offensive linemen Mark Wetterer.
Most of the cuts by Bill Belichick and company made perfect since for the exception of Sanders. Sanders has been with the Patriots for six seasons and has been a very effective rotational safety. In his career with the Patriots, Sanders has totaled 300 total tackles and eight interceptions in his six seasons with New England. Sanders will now give way to Sergio Brown and James Ihedigbo as complimentary safeties to Brandon Merriweather and Patrick Chung.
The other notable cuts made by Belichick were Katula and Wilhite. Once considered a lock to make the team, Katula struggled throughout training camp with his long snapping duties and it appeared that Bill Belichick thought that Katula's roster spot could go to better use. Wilhite on the other hand was in a tight battle with Darius Butler for the fifth cornerback slot. Wilhite did have a case for making the roster until he suffered an injury in Saturday night's 34-10 loss to the Detroit Lions.
Malcolm Williams was an unfortunate but necessary cut. Williams was chosen in the seventh round of the 2011 draft by the Patriots in hopes that he could help out on Special Teams.
In additions to the cuts, the Patriots actually signed on three more players on Monday. They agreed to terms with wide receiver/kick returner Tiquan Underwood, safety Ross Ventrone and long snapper James Dearth. They figure to have a tough time making this quickly changing roster.
Bill Belichick will have some big decisions to make this week as the mandatory NFL Roster Cut deadline, where teams must trim their rosters from 90 to 75 players by August 30, is rapidly approaching.