Patriots make moves to cut roster down

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Patriots make moves to cut roster down

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn
Like every NFL team this time of year, the New England Patriots are trying to find the right pieces to create a championship-caliber squad.

That requires adding talent, and at times, letting some get away.

As the Patriots went about trimming their roster down to the 80 players required by tomorrow, they did a little bit of both.

Of the 11 players released, none of the moves stood out more than the decision to release veteran safety James Sanders.

"Tough release there with James Sanders," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said on his weekly press conference Monday afternoon. "James has been a really good guy to have on this team, a hard working kid. Has developed from the time he came to us, he's been a really solid team player for us. We needed to release some people. He was a tough one."

Sanders, a fourth-round pick of the Patriots in 2005, appeared in 80 games for the Pats (50 starts), totally 301 tackles and eight interceptions. Although the Patriots are relatively thin in the secondary, the Pats surely had to weigh whether Sanders likely reduced role justified the 2.8 million salary he's due to make this season.

While Sanders was the most notable release, the Patriots also released tight end Garrett Mills; long snapper Matt Katula (Belichick said the team will sign another long snapper by Thursday); wide receivers Tyree Barnes and Darnell Jenkins; kick Chris Koepplin; defensive end Clay Nurse; defensive tackle Kade Weston; guard Mark Wetterer; defensive back Malcolm Williams and cornerback Jonathan Wilhite.

The Patriots announced the signing of wide receiver Tiquan Underwood, a seventh-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2009. The former Rutgers star had eight receptions while appearing in 13 games over the past two seasons for the Jaguars who waived him last week.

New England also announced the return of safety Ross Ventrone, who was released earlier this month after spending most of last season on the practice squad.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Jets lose, Patriots guaranteed 1st place in AFC East when Brady returns

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Jets lose, Patriots guaranteed 1st place in AFC East when Brady returns

When Tom Brady returns to the Patriots following his four-game suspension, his team will be in sole possession of first place in the AFC East.

That became the reality as soon as the Jets fell to the Chiefs in Kansas City on Sunday, 24-3. The Jets committed eight turnovers in the loss to fall to 1-2. 

The Bills and Dolphins each won their first games of the season on Sunday, taking down the Cardinals and Browns, respectively. 

With the Patriots record at 3-0 following their win over the Texans on Thursday night, and with all three of their AFC East rivals sitting on just one win thus far, even if Bill Belichick's club was to fall to Rex Ryan and the Bills in Week 4, it would still be alone atop the division.

Surely the Patriots would like to have a zero in the loss column when Brady returns. Regardless, to be in first place when Brady's Deflategate punishment is finished -- and having achieved that mark with two different starting quarterbacks -- has to be a point of pride for the organization . . . and a source of agita for those who doled out the punishment.

Rex Ryan: 'If Belichick's playing quarterback, we're coming after him'

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Rex Ryan: 'If Belichick's playing quarterback, we're coming after him'

Must be Bills week. 

After Rex Ryan's club put together an impressive win at home over the Cardinals, 33-18, it wasn't long before the Bills coach was yapping about the Patriots and their coach Bill Belichick.

Ryan was asked about the quarterback situation in New England since both Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett are dealing with injuries at the moment. Who might the Bills see when they visit Gillette Stadium?

"Look, I can sit back and say I don’t care who plays quarterback, cuz I know (Tom) Brady ain’t," he said. "I don’t care who plays quarterback; Steve Grogan can play quarterback. If Belichick’s playing quarterback, we’re coming after him. I promise you that."

There's no indication yet as to whether or not Garoppolo or Brissett will be unavailable for Week 4. When asked about his level of concern when it came to his quarterbacks, Belichick didn't say much during a conference call on Sunday

Ryan, like the rest of us, will probably have to wait for the Patriots to release an injury report before he learns about the status of either young passer. And until then, he'll have to prepare for both.