By: Derek Havens
Another NFL cut down day has come and gone. The Patriots, once again, did not disappoint with a few more surprise transactions on Friday. After cutting 22 players and placing running back, returner Jeff Demps on injured reserve, New England’s roster stand at 52 players, which means they still have room to sign an additional player. For a list of all transactions, click here.
Here are a few thoughts on Friday’s roster moves:
– The Patriots made their first surprise cut with the release of backup QB Brian Hoyer earlier Friday afternoon. The move, which I noted may happen in my final roster projection, did surprise many as only two signal callers remain on New England’s roster. With Mallett still progressing, Hoyer’s spot was too valuable for Belichick not to have depth at another position. Strictly a numbers game in my opinion.
Explosive return man and running back Jeff Demps was placed on IR Friday night, ending his 2012 season. (FILE:USPresswire)
– Deion Branch was another cut that caught Patriots Nation by surprise. The 33-year-old receiver had a solid year last season registering 51 catches for 702 yards and 5 touchdowns. He also averaged 13.8 per reception which is a great year for any wideout. I thought he was a lock for the 53-man roster, but it still wouldn’t surprise me if either he or Gaffney was back sometime in the near future.
– Jeff Demps being placed on the team’s injured reserve list was announced shortly after the 9 p.m Friday deadline. Under the new IR rule, the player has to be on the roster Friday until after 4 p.m September 4 in order to be brought back later in the season. If I interpreted the rule correctly, we will not see Demps this season. He did injure his knee, leg during Wednesday night’s pre-season finale against the New York Giants, but it did not appear to be season threatening.
– Eric Kettani’s release means the Patriots are planning on not carrying a fullback for the upcoming season. This could change, but both Brandon Bolden and Aaron Hernandez could take over the duty if need be. Not to mention tight ends Daniel Fells or Visanthe Shiancoe. I expect Kettani to land on the team’s practice squad, but it was clear coming into Friday he did not do enough to earn a spot on the 53-man roster.
– The only Patriots draft pick released was Jeremy Ebert. After cutting ties with Donte Stallworth, Jabar Gaffney and Deion Branch, I thought Ebert had a chance for a couple of hours. In all likelihood, I expect Ebert to return to the team’s practice squad as he needs more time to develop. After all, I expect the team to bring back a veteran receiver very soon.
– James Ihedigbo being cut didn’t surprise me. He wasn’t terrible last season and played great on special teams, but rookie Nate Ebner made an impact this pre-season and seems to be around the ball constantly. He has made a much smoother transition to NFL defensive back than first thought. He has looked fluid, seems to know his responsibilities and doesn’t look lost on the field.
– Defensive lineman Marcus Forston might be the biggest surprise to land on the 53-man roster. He flashed at times, but didn’t nearly stand out as much as fellow rookie defensive lineman Justin Francis, who also made the team. Both should offer some depth along the line and Belichick was probably afraid of losing them if he tried to sneak the two onto the practice squad.
– All and all, the Patriots roster is still in a state of flux. As WEEI.com’s Christopher Price points out, last year the Patriots picked up Brian Waters, Danny Aiken, A.J. Edds and Dan Gronkowski between final cuts and start of regular season last year. Expect more moves in the coming days.
For Patriots updates in an instant, follow me on Twitter: @PatriotsHaven!
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