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Patriots release 11 players; Place Brandon LaFell on PUP

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The New England Patriots announced today that they have released 11 players and placed WR Brandon LaFell on the Reserve/P.U.P. list to reach the 53-man limit.

The Patriots cut seven veterans: TE Asante Cleveland, LB Darius Fleming, RB Jonas Gray, CB Robert McClain, DL Zach Moore, WR Jalen Saunders and WR Reggie Wayne.

The Patriots released one first-year player: DB Daxton Swanson

The Patriots released three rookies: DB Justin Coleman, LB Xzavier Dickson and S Brandon King.

Cleveland, 23, was acquired by the Patriots in a trade with San Francisco in exchange for OL Jordan Devey on Aug. 18, 2015. He was originally signed by San Francisco as a rookie free agent out of Miami (Fla.) on May 12, 2014. The 6-foot-5, 250-pounder, spent the first two weeks of the regular season on the team's practice squad before being signed to the 53-man roster on Sept. 20 and making his NFL debut at Arizona on Sept. 21. He spent the next eight weeks on the team's practice squad before being signed to the 53-man roster on Nov. 27. Cleveland played in the team's final five regular-season games, but did not record any catches.

Fleming, 26, was originally signed by New England as a free agent on May 16, 2014. The 6-foot-2, 255-pounder, was drafted by San Francisco in the fifth round (165th overall) of the 2012 NFL Draft out of Notre Dame. He spent the 2012 and 2013 seasons on injured reserve with a knee injury and was released by the 49ers on May 12, 2014. Fleming made the New England 53-man roster out of training camp last season but was inactive for the season-opener at Miami (9/7). He was released on Sept. 13 and signed to the practice squad on Sept. 16 before re-joining the 53-man roster on Nov. 29. Fleming played in five games and three postseason games for the Patriots last season.

Gray, 25, split time in 2014 between the New England practice squad and 53-man roster. The 5-foot-10, 225-pounder, played in eight games with three starts and finished with 89 rushing attempts for 412 yards with five touchdowns. He earned AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors after rushing for 201 yards and four touchdowns in a win at Indianapolis on Nov. 16. Gray originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent by Miami out of Notre Dame in 2012 but spent the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list. Gray spent the 2014 season on the Baltimore practice squad.

McClain, 27, a veteran of four NFL seasons with the Carolina Panthers (2010), Jacksonville Jaguars (2011) and the Atlanta Falcons (2012-14), was signed by the Patriots as an unrestricted free agent from Atlanta on March 18, 2015. The 5-foot-9, 195-pounder, has played in 63 NFL games with 17 starts and has tallied 202 total tackles, three interceptions, 21 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. He has also played in two postseason games in 2012 with Atlanta where he finished with one assisted tackle. Last season with the Falcons, he played in 16 games with six starts and registered 60 total tackles, one sack, two interceptions and five passes defensed.

Moore, 25, originally entered the NFL as a sixth-round draft pick (198th overall) by the Patriots out Concordia-St. Paul. The 6-foot-6, 280-pounder, played in eight regular-season games last season and finished with four total tackles, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

Saunders, 22, was acquired by the Patriots in a trade with New Orleans on Sept. 1, 2015. He originally entered the NFL as a fourth-round draft pick (104th overall) of the New York Jets out of Oklahoma in 2014. The 5-foot-9, 165-pounder, played in three games for the Jets before being released on Sept. 29, 2014. While with the Jets, Saunders returned six punts for 26 yards. He then spent time on the practice squads of Arizona and Seattle before being signed by New Orleans to the 53-man roster on Nov. 19, 2014. He played in six games for the Saints and caught one pass for seven yards and returned nine punts for 99 yards and three kickoffs for 139 yards, including a 99-yard effort on his first career return.

Wayne, 36, a veteran of 14 NFL seasons with the Indianapolis Colts (2001-14), was signed by the Patriots on Aug. 25, 2015. The 6-foot, 203-pounder, originally entered the NFL as a first-round draft pick (30th overall) by Indianapolis out of Miami (Fla.) in the 2001 NFL Draft. Wayne sits seventh in NFL history with 1,070 receptions and eighth with 14,345 receiving yards. He is one of six players in NFL history to post four career 100-plus reception seasons (2007, 2009-2010, 2012) and became the 11th NFL player with back-to-back 100-plus receptions seasons (2009-10). He also owns the NFL record of 82 consecutive games with three or more receptions.

Swanson, 24, was signed to the Patriots practice squad on Sept 1, 2014, and released from the practice squad on Sept. 3, 2014, before being re-signed on Sept. 17. He was originally signed by the Patriots as a free agent on May 22, 2014. Swanson entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with the Indianapolis Colts on April 30, 2013, out of Sam Houston State. The 5-foot-11, 191-pounder was released by the Colts on Oct. 29, 2013 and was signed to the San Francisco 49ers practice squad on Nov. 18, 2013. He was released by San Francisco on May 12, 2014.

Coleman, 22, originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with the Minnesota Vikings out of Tennessee on May 6, 2015. The 5-foot-11, 185-pounder, was released by Minnesota on Aug. 30, 2015. He started 25 games over his final two college seasons and finished tied for fourth in the SEC with four interceptions in 2014.

Dickson, 22, was drafted by the Patriots in the seventh round (253rd overall) out of Alabama in the 2015 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-3, 255-pounder, played in 47 games in college and finished with 91 total tackles.

King, 22, was signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Auburn on May 8, 2015. He played two seasons at Auburn after transferring from Highland Community College. The 6-foot-2, 213-pounder, began his tenure at Auburn as a safety in 2013 and then started the 2014 campaign at safety before being moved to defensive end to bolster the pass rush.

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