FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The New England Patriots announced today that G Stephen Neal has been placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.
Neal, 6-2, 305 pounds, has been with New England since 2001. Since entering the starting lineup at right guard in 2004, Neal has been part of an offensive line that has helped the Patriots' offense finish in the top 10 in total offense five times: 2004 (7), 2005 (7), 2007 (1), 2008 (5) and 2009 (3). He was originally signed by the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2001 out of Cal State-Bakersfield, where he was a championship wrestler. After being waived by the Patriots, he joined the Philadelphia practice squad. Neal was signed to the New England 53-man roster from the Philadelphia practice squad in December, 2001.
Neal started the first eight games of the 2010 season before being inactive in each of the last three games. Last season, Neal was part of an offensive line that allowed just 18 sacks, the fewest by a Patriots squad since the NFL moved to a 16-game schedule in 1978. He contributed to a Patriots offense that set all-time NFL records with 589 points and 75 touchdowns in 2007. In 2004, Neal became a regular starter on an offensive line that paved the way for Corey Dillon to set the Patriots' single-season rushing record with 1,635 yards.