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Patriots release four players

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots released four players today: second-year nose tackle Steve Fifita, first-year offensive lineman Jimmy Martin, fourth-year cornerback Jeff Shoate and rookie tight end Jonathan Stupar. Following today's transactions, the Patriots report 71 players on their active roster. The NFL's regular-season 53-man active roster limit goes into effect at 4:00 p.m. EDT tomorrow.

Fifita, 26, was signed by the Patriots as a free agent on May 5, 2008. The 6-foot-1-inch, 312-pound nose tackle has played in 13 career games with one start, all with the Miami Dolphins in 2007. Fifita was originally signed by Miami as an undrafted rookie free agent on April 5, 2006.

Martin, 25, was signed by the Patriots as a free agent on Feb. 5, 2008. The 6-foot-5-inch, 306-pound offensive lineman has not appeared in an NFL game. Martin was originally drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the seventh round (226th overall) of the 2006 NFL Draft.

Shoate, 27, was signed by the Patriots as a free agent on Aug. 9, 2008. The 5-foot-10-inch, 180-pound cornerback has played in 14 career games, all with the Denver Broncos (seven games in 2004, seven games in 2007). Shoate was originally drafted by Denver in the fifth round (152nd overall) of the 2004 NFL Draft.

Stupar, 24, was signed by the Patriots as an undrafted rookie free agent on May 2, 2008. The 6-foot-3-inch, 254-pound tight end attended the University of Virginia, where he played for four seasons from 2004-07.

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