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Report: Patriots claim offensive lineman Chris Barker off waivers from Dolphins

09.01.13 at 2:53 pm ET
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The Patriots have claimed offensive lineman Chris Barker off waivers from the Dolphins, according to Reno Gazette-Journal. Barker, an undrafted free agent out of Nevada, is a 6-foot-4, 305-pounder who started 40 games at guard for the Wolfpack over the last four seasons.

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Patriots add center Braxston Cave

09.01.13 at 2:28 pm ET
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The Patriots have added center Braxston Cave to the 53-man roster. The Notre Dame product alerted the world to the news via his Twitter account on Sunday,

The 6-foot-3, 303-pounder played in 48 games with Notre Dame — 35 starts — but was undrafted this past spring. He signed as an undrafted free agent with the Browns, but was waived by Cleveland on Aug. 30. He figures to serve as the primary backup to starting center Ryan Wendell.

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Patriots claim defensive tackle A.J. Francis

09.01.13 at 2:07 pm ET
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Defensive tackle A.J. Francis was been claimed by the Patriots.

A 6-foot-5, 316-pounder out of Maryland who was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Dolphins this spring, Francis earned all-ACC honorable mention in 2012, and was a four-year starter for the Terps.

Francis, who was named to SI’s “Twitter 100″ for his always interesting account, figures to be able to offer some depth behind starting defensive tackles Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly — after the series of cuts the Patriots made on Saturday, they were left with only rookie Joe Vellano as a backup DT.

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Ten thoughts on Patriots moves on cutdown Saturday

09.01.13 at 12:21 am ET
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Ten thoughts on the series of moves the Patriots made on Saturday, and what it means for the future of the franchise.

1. Farewell to Tim Tebow. The departure of Tebow after two-plus months in Foxboro marks the end of a tumultuous stretch, as the quarterback never really seemed to get all the way up to speed in the offense, while his unique skill set and running style also never really clicked with the New England offense. He did have a very enjoyable final act, tossing a pair of touchdowns to his BFF Quentin Sims in the preseason finale against the Giants. In his success, it was nice to see his New England teammates rooting so hard for him — Ryan Mallett in particular reacted as if the Patriots had just won the Super Bowl. (Tebow offered a pleasant parting thought regarding his time with the Patriots via Twitter, saying he was thankful for the chance to play for such a ‘€œclassy’€ organization.) The Patriots will now go with two quarterbacks for the fourth time in five years, as Mallett will serve as the lone backup for Tom Brady.

2. Zoltan says goodbye. While the Tebow release is certainly garnering bigger headlines nationally, the decision to move on from veteran punter Zoltan Mesko is perhaps the biggest overall surprise of cutdown weekend for the Patriots. The immensely likeable punter was not only one of the best young punters in the league, but a tireless advocate for various charities in the Boston area. A genuinely nice guy, he’€™ll be missed in the locker room. But from a practical perspective, it does make sense. Mesko had a sizable cap hit, and was set to be a free agent at year’€™s end. In contrast, rookie Ryan Allen had punted well over the summer, and the two two-time Ray Guy award winner was considered one of the top punting prospects coming out of college this spring. Bottom line? Mesko is probably the better punter at this moment — and certainly has an established history as the holder for kicker Stephen Gostkowski — Allen offers a higher ceiling down the road for considerably less money. The sad truth to the NFL is that it’€™s a business, and while Mesko will ultimately find a job somewhere else, he will be missed in New England.

3. A full-house backfield. While there was some belief that the Patriots would go with four backs and choose between LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden, instead, counting fullback James Develin, they’€™ll carry six backs into the start of the 2013 season: Develin, Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Blount, Bolden and Leon Washington. It’€™s a diverse group — Ridley will serve as the lead back, a between the tackles presence who will get the bulk of the carries. He’€™ll be backed up by the Blount/Bolden combo, while Vereen will serve as the primary third-down option out of the backfield in the mold of Kevin Faulk and Danny Woodhead. Washington figures to serve as a backup to Vereen, and Develin’€™s positional versatility figures to come in handy as a combo fullback and tight end. As the 2013 season dawns, the Patriots haven’€™t seen this depth and versatility from a backfield since 2008 (the last time they had a fulltime fullback on the roster in Heath Evans).

4. Rob Gronkowski‘€™s availability. The decision not to place the big tight end on the reserve/physically unable to perform list is a sign that the Patriots believe he could be ready within the first six weeks of the regular season. While it’€™s my belief that he won’€™t necessarily be a tremendously impactful player over the first month-plus of the 2013 season — he still needs to add weight and get back into football shape, two things that won’€™t happen overnight — just the idea that he might be available will force defensive coordinators to have to account for his presence, and take time and energy away from something else the should be devoting their efforts toward.

5. Adrian Wilson moves to injured reserve. This was an interesting decision, one that could be viewed on a number of levels. As colleague Mike Reiss indicated, Wilson was not given the short-term IR designation that might allow him to come back at some point in the 2013. Instead, he’€™ll be on the shelf for the entire 2013 season. It’€™s debatable how much he could offer in 2014 — by that point, he’€™d be 34 years old. In the short term, this opens up more playing time opportunities for the likes of Steve Gregory, who figures to slide into a part-time safety role along with rookie Duron Harmon. For the short-term, the New England secondary will now look almost exactly like the group that ended the 2013, with the addition of rookies Harmon and Logan Ryan.
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Now that Saturday cuts have been announced, here’s a 51-player roster reset for Patriots

08.31.13 at 7:17 pm ET
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Now that the latest cuts come down, here’s a look at the current Patriots active roster. With 51 players, the team does have room to make two more additions. (And it’s worth adding once again that in the past, plenty of moves have been made between the final cuts and opening day. Bottom line? Expect a fluid situation between now and Sept. 8 when the Patriots meet the Bills.)

OFFENSE (25)

Quarterbacks (2): Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett

Running backs (6): Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Leon Washington, LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Bolden, James Develin

Wide receivers (6): Danny Amendola, Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce, Kenbrell Thompkins, Julian Edelman, Matthew Slater

Tight ends (3): Rob Gronkowski, Michael Hoomanawanui, Zach Sudfeld

Offensive linemen (8): Nate Solder, Logan Mankins, Ryan Wendell, Dan Connolly, Sebastian Vollmer, Will Svitek, Marcus Cannon, Josh Kline

SPECIAL TEAMS (3)

Specialists (3): Ryan Allen, Stephen Gostkowski, Danny Aiken

DEFENSE (23)

Defensive linemen (7): Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly, Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Michael Buchanan, Jake Bequette, Joe Vellano

Linebackers (6): Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, Dont’€™a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Dane Fletcher, Steve Beauharnais

Cornerbacks (5): Aqib Talib, Kyle Arrington, Alfonzo Dennard, Logan Ryan, Marquice Cole

Safeties (5): Devin McCourty, Steve Gregory, Duron Harmon, Tavon Wilson, Nate Ebner

Patriots officially announce release of 13 players and move of Adrian Wilson to injured reserve

08.31.13 at 6:17 pm ET
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The Patriots have announced the following roster moves Saturday afternoon:

The team released five veteran players: defensive linemen Jermaine Cunnngham and Justin Francis, punter Zoltan Mesko, linebacker Jeff Tarpinian and quarterback Tim Tebow. In addition, one first-year player was cut: defensive lineman Marcus Forston. The team also announced the release of six rookie free agents: linebacker Ja’€™Gared Davis, safety Kanorris Davis, defensive back Justin Green, offensive lineman Chris McDonald, defensive back Stephon Morris, wide receiver Quentin Sims and running back George Winn. And safety Adrian Wilson was placed on injured reserve:

Here’s a portion of the press release from the team on the moves:

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Poll: Was cutting Tim Tebow the right move?

08.31.13 at 5:03 pm ET
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The Patriots ended the Tim Tebow experiment several hours before the 6 p.m. ET deadline to set the 53-man roster as they cut him on Saturday. Tebow finished 11-of-30 for 145 yards, two touchdowns passes, two interceptions and a 47.2 quarterback rating.

If he clears waivers, he will become a free agent and eligible to sign anyway. Tebow has played in the regular season for Denver and the New York Jets.

He was drafted by then-Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels late in the first round of the 2010 draft out of Florida with the 25th overall pick.

On Saturday evening, he thanked the Patriots for giving him a chance to make the team.

“First and foremost, I just want to thank the Patriots for giving me an opportunity. I’m very thankful. It’s such an honor to be a Patriot and play for coach [Bill Belichick] and coach McDaniels, and learn under [Tom Brady] and be a part of this great franchise and very successful franchise. I found out first hand; lost to them several times.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to working hard every single day and getting a lot better and learning under some great people. That’s all I got. Thank you all so much and God bless. I’m sure we’ll be talking more soon.”

Did the Patriots do the right thing in releasing Tim Tebow?

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