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Patriots release little-used WR Gabriel

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (Dec. 12, 2006) -- The New England Patriots released Doug Gabriel from their struggling corps of wide receivers after he caught only one pass in the past four games.

The team also made three practice-squad moves, signing defensive back Justin Phinisee and safety Guss Scott and releasing cornerback James Patrick.

Gabriel was obtained from Oakland on Sept. 2 after the Patriots lost their top two wide receivers from last season. David Givens signed as a free agent with Tennessee and Deion Branch was traded to Seattle.

Gabriel didn't start the first three games, then started five of the next six before playing sparingly as a backup in the next four. His season took a drastic downturn in the ninth game after he lost a fumble in a 17-14 loss to the New York Jets. He had 24 catches in the Patriots' first nine games, but only one in the past four. He finished with 25 catches for 344 yards and three touchdowns.

His release leaves the Patriots with four wide receivers -- Reche Caldwell, Troy Brown, Chad Jackson and Jabar Gaffney. Jackson has been hampered most of the season by a hamstring injury.

Phinisee, whom Tampa Bay selected in the seventh round of the 2006 NFL Draft, was released from Kansas City's practice squad Nov. 7. Scott, a third-round pick of the Patriots in 2004, played five games for Houston before being released Nov. 21. The Jets signed him two days later then released him Nov. 29.

The Patriots had signed Patrick to their practice squad Nov. 1 after he was released by Tampa Bay.

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