Curran: Injury turned Sanders into cap casualty

Curran: Injury turned Sanders into cap casualty
August 29, 2011, 8:54 pm
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By Tom E. Curran Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
Damned if you do. Damned if you don't. James Sanders ended up being a member of the former group on Monday. The safety was released by the Patriots after taking part in just four training camp practices. The reason he was idle so much? He injured his hamstring trying to stay in shape during the NFL lockout. "I wish I would have had a fair shot this camp. I came in hurt and obviously that weighed into it," Sanders told Mike Reiss of "But stuff happens and you have to move on.While Sanders' 2.8 million salary in 2011 couldn't have helped his cause for staying, he had no chance to prove he was worth that dough because he wasn't able to go. Sanders joins Tully Banta-Cain and Ty Warren as 2011 cap casualties. The Patriots' safety depth has been winnowed even more with the release but -- as I pointed out in the past few weeks as media crows circled Brandon Meriweather -- the chance Meriweather would be axed seemed small. Despite a power outage at Gillette that forced the team from the facility, the Patriots got their roster down to 80 players well in advance of Tuesday's 4 p.m. deadline. The other prominent player released Monday was Jonathan Wilhite. The fourth-year corner from Auburn mainly defended the slot receiver in the Patriots defense (the "star" position) but he actually did most of his best work outside. He was fairly effective in 2009 and had 13 starts in 39 games with the team, but he played in only nine games last year after hurting his hamstring and probably is best served with a change of scenery. The team also released tight end Garrett Mills, who they signed last week. The team originally drafted Mills in 2006 but he never played a down in New England. Rookie corner Malcolm Williams, a seventh-rounder out of TCU, was released. So was long-snapper Matt Katula, who was brought induring the 2010 season when 2010 draft pick Jake Ingram got the long-snapping yips. Katula had a bad snap in the Patriots' preseason opener on a field-goal attempt. Wide receivers Tyree Barnes and Darnell Jenkins (a big Quick Slants fan, I salute YOU, Darnell), defensive lineman Kade Weston, defensive end Clay Nurse, offensive lineman Mark Wetterer and kicker Chris Koepplin were shown politely to the door as well. The Patriots brought back safety Ross Ventrone - a lower-budget depth guy who can play special teams and fill in at the back of the defense. They also signed former Jags receiver Tiquan Underwood. Heplayed in 10 games and caught eight passes for 111 yards and returned 24 kicks for 561 yards last season. If he works out, Brandon Tate's time may be nigh.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran