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Is Marques Murrell the latest member of the Pats’ shadow roster?

09.13.10 at 8:46 pm ET
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Rams Patriots Football

Marques Murrell gets after St. Louis quarterback Keith Null earlier in the preseason. (AP)

FOXBORO — Outside linebacker Marques Murrell was cut by the Patriots today, as New England made room on the roster for offensive lineman Quinn Ojinnaka. But when the media made its way into the locker room for media availability, Murrell still had a locker. In addition, it was clear that the locker was essentially untouched — Murrell had a lot of his personal gear left.

So what gives?

“We just had to make room,” shrugged Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Monday when asked about the move. “[Murrell] played in the game [Sunday], so obviously we feel comfortable playing him, but we just had to make room.”

It’s unlikely that Murrell, who is signed through 2011, was just late to clean his stuff out of his locker. The move is a strong indication that the outside linebacker is the latest member of the Patriots’ shadow roster. An unofficial designation that’s common around the league, it’s for players who do not have practice squad eligibility, but need to be rotated off the roster because of a personnel glitch.

However, both the team and player have an understanding that he won’t be out of work for long, and they inevitably find their way back — occasionally because of injury — because they represent an excellent value.

Over the years, Patriots’ shadow roster players have included tight end Marcellus Rivers (who was signed, released and re-signed all within a month in 2007), safety Ray Ventrone, cornerback Hank Poteat and linebacker Chad Brown, all of whom were signed and released and returned on multiple occasions.

Probably the textbook shadow roster player for the Belichick-Era Patriots was offensive lineman Gene Mruczkowski — he was cut and re-signed by New England a dozen times between 2003 and 2007. An interior lineman, Mruczkowski’s biggest season in New England was 2004, when he played in 13 games, including Super Bowl XXXIX.

It’s unlikely Murrell is going to leave that kind of a legacy — considering New England’s lack of depth outside, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him back in the locker room sooner rather than later.

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