Bill Belichick said during a conference call on Sunday there could be some cuts made before Tuesday's deadline in order to trim his roster to 75 players. Just a few hours later, the team released three veterans on the defensive side of the ball.
Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran has confirmed that defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, defensive end Will Smith and linebacker James Anderson have all been cut.
Kelly restructured his contract in the offseason after suffering a season-ending knee injury against the Bengals last season. He appeared to be healthy and perform well in his preseason opportunities, but obviously has been deemed expendable.
Kelly's release could be a signal that the Patriots are comfortable with their depth at the defensive tackle position, injury-laden as it has been. Vince Wilfork appears to have recovered well from the torn Achilles that ended his 2013 season; Dominique Easley seems to be progressing each week as he comes back from ACL surgery last fall; Chris Jones(ankle) and Sealver Siliga (wrist) have missed time lately due to injury, but indications are that those ailments could be overcome relatively soon. Rookie sixth-round pick Zach Moore has shown some marked improvement in his short time with the team and could factor into the mix at defensive tackle, as could second-year grinder Joe Vellano.
Smith was signed to a veteran minimum deal this offseason and seemed to be in contention to serve as the team's third pass-rusher to help spell Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich, but he showed up only rarely with positive moments in camp.
Anderson figured to be a contributor, especially in the team's nickel defense, as a solid coverage linebacker signed this offseason. His release could be a positive sign for younger 'backers Darius Fleming, Ja'Gared Davis and James Morris, who have impressed at different points in the last few weeks.
Adam Schefter of ESPN.com was the first to report the roster moves.