Number of reasons

Needs will dictate roster turnover

By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / September 4, 2011

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The Patriots completed their reduction of 27 players in five days, meeting the NFL’s 53-man roster deadline yesterday.

Safety Brandon Meriweather was the most notable cut among the 20 roster moves yesterday, ending his time with the team that drafted him in the first round in 2007. The Patriots also released veteran running back Sammy Morris, who spent four seasons with New England.

Running back Kevin Faulk and defensive linemen Ron Brace and Brandon Deaderick were placed on the physically unable to perform list, meaning they will miss the first six games. Rookie offensive lineman Marcus Cannon was put on the reserve/non-football injury list, and offensive lineman Rich Ohrnberger was placed on injured reserve.

The current makeup of the Patriots roster is three quarterbacks, four running backs, six wide receivers, two tight ends, eight offensive linemen, 10 defensive linemen, seven linebackers, six cornerbacks, four safeties, one kicker, one punter, and one long snapper.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick was unavailable for comment yesterday. The Patriots return to practice tomorrow in preparation for the season opener against the Dolphins Sept. 12.

One player who won’t be traveling to Miami is receiver/kick returner Brandon Tate, drafted by the Patriots in the third round in 2009. Changes to the kickoff rules have created more touchbacks, and Tate had to show his value in other ways. He was hurt during training camp and when he finally played in the exhibitions, he didn’t generate much in returns and didn’t factor into the offense.

Receiver Matthew Slater secured a spot for his fourth season, having shown his value on special teams while seeing more snaps with the offense. In the final preseason game against the Giants, Slater had a 64-yard reception in the first quarter.

But roster spots are far from cemented.

In 2010, the Patriots started Week 1 with two quarterbacks, five running backs, six receivers, three tight ends, and nine offensive linemen. The defense included eight linemen, eight linebackers, five cornerbacks, and four safeties. There was one of each specialist. But within two weeks the Patriots were making moves, including trading Laurence Maroney and signing Danny Woodhead.

The Patriots also may have to strengthen a few positions, including along the offensive line. Ryan Wendell missed all four preseason games and the majority of practices with an undisclosed injury and Dan Connolly injured his ankle in the third preseason game.

Yesterday, the Patriots tried out veteran guard Brian Waters, a five-time Pro Bowler with the Chiefs. Waters, 34, was released by Kansas City July 28.

Safety should also be a position of need, and many free agents will be available after yesterday’s leaguewide cuts.

Some players who were waived yesterday may find themselves back with the Patriots on the practice squad if they clear waivers.

Monique Walker can be reached at

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