Patriots place LB Tarpinian on IR, sign WR Underwood

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Patriots place LB Tarpinian on IR, sign WR Underwood

The Patriots made a few roster moves on Thursday, the biggest of which was placing linebacker Jeff Tarpinian on injured reserve due to a head injury, effectively ending his season.

The Patriots signed wide receiver Tiquan Underwood to the 53-man roster. Underwood has had a couple stints on the Patriots this season, but has not played in a regular season game.

Tarpinian was signed to the Patriots practice squad as an undrafted free agent on Sept. 14, 2011 and was eventually activated to the Patriots' 53-man roster a week after.

Serving primarily as a special teamer, Tarpinian made one start at linebacker for the Pats in a Week 8 game against the Jets, a 37-16 Patriots win. He made four tackles in that game.

Tarpinian finished the season with seven defensive tackles and four defensive tackles. He was considered one of the better special teamers, and a player that Bill Belichick saw significant improvement in over the weeks.

"Jeff did a good job for us," Belichick said. "We really felt like he was coming along. Unfortunately, last week he had this thing come up, so we'll just have to see how it all works out. In the meantime, hes not going to be able to participate for awhile. He was a young player doing well, playing on defense a little bit. I think he was starting to develop a role there and he certainly was improving in the kicking game.

"He was giving us a solid player in all four phases the big four: kickoff, kickoff return, punt and punt return. He was giving us solid play in all four phases of special teams that he was involved in, so Im disappointed for him and disappointed for us, but we have to move on."

Belichick would not elaborate on the "head injury" when asked if it was concussion related. He did, however, talk about a linebacker who should see more time now that Tarpinian is on the IR.

"Fortunately, we were able to bring Niko Koutouvides in and he really has helped us both on defense and in the kicking game, in practice and in the games," Belichick said. "Hes a solid, veteran guy that was here for us, fortunately, in preseason, so the recall and the assignments and all of that come back pretty quickly to him."

The Patriots also signed Ross Ventrone (yes, again) to the practice squad, releasing Josh Victorian (yes, again) to open up the spot.

Patriots players got a refresher on NFL social media policy because of Brown

Patriots players got a refresher on NFL social media policy because of Brown

FOXBORO -- Antonio Brown's live stream of coach Mike Tomlin's postgame speech on Sunday had a ripple effect that traveled all the way to New England: Just in case Patriots players weren't familiar with the league's social-media policy, they were reminded of it this week. 

"We were reminded of that," receiver Chris Hogan said. "I’m not sure what the timing is, but obviously, I don’t think we’ll see guys doing that in the locker room."

Players are prohibited from using social media in the locker room until media outlets have been given an opportunity to talk to players following games. Brown's Facebook Live video, which garnered national attention almost as soon as it went online, was shot well before the visitor's locker room at Arrowhead Stadium opened following Pittsburgh's win over Kansas City.

"We have a team policy on that," special teams captain Matthew Slater said. "Strictly enforced. We go from there."

Of course part of the reason the video became as widely disseminated as it did was because it caught Tomlin calling the Patriots "a--holes."

"I have a lot of respect for Coach Tomlin," Slater said when asked about Tomlin's speech. "I appreciate the way he prepares his team. I’ve had a good working relationship with him over the years, and it will continue to be that way."

Both Slater and Hogan insisted that their focus will be trained solely on preparing for what Tomlin and his players will do when they arrive to Gillette Stadium Sunday night -- not what they say leading up to kickoff.

"You come in here, you're automatically bought into what we preach here, what coach [Bill] Belichick preaches," Hogan said. "It's football. We're 100 percent football here. It's not about anything outside. Between the media or whatever it is outside of football, whatever we're doing. When we come here, it's 100 percent football. That's all we're focused on is the opponent we're playing that week."

Whether Goodell visits Foxboro or not, Patriots players say they don't care

Whether Goodell visits Foxboro or not, Patriots players say they don't care

FOXBORO -- Roger Goodell will reportedly be in Atlanta for the NFC Championship Game this weekend and therefore will miss the AFC title game between the Patriots and Steelers at Gillette Stadium on Sunday. His absence will mean he hasn't been to a Patriots game in more than two years, when he was present for the AFC title game in 2015 -- the birth of Deflategate. 

It's news that broke on Tuesday and sent some Patriots fans into an uproar. Patriots players, though, sound like they're having a hard time caring one way or the other.

"He’s the commissioner, so obviously whatever he wants to do, he can do," Tom Brady told WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Monday. "If he wants to come, that would be -- yeah, he can come."

In the Patriots locker room on Tuesday, others struck a similar tone.

"I could not care less," said Patriots receiver Chris Hogan. "I'm focused on Pittsburgh and their defense and studying them as much as I can this week, watching them as much as I can so that I can go out there on Sunday and be prepared."

Special teams captain Matthew Slater was similarly disinterested in the discussion.

"The game's going to be played," he said. "Whoever's in attendance is in attendance. We'll just worry about trying to play well."