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Patriots release six players

The Patriots announced six early cuts prior to tomorrow's mandatory cut-down to the 53-man roster.

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - In anticipation of tomorrow's mandatory NFL cut to the 53-man roster, the New England Patriots released six players today: seventh-year LB Vinny Ciurciu, first-year WR Robert Ortiz, third-year S Roderick Rogers, fifth-year QB Andrew Walter, second-year DL Stephen Williams and sixth-year G Billy Yates.

Ciurciu, 6-0, 240 pounds, signed with New England as a free agent on May 4, 2009 as a veteran of six NFL seasons with Tampa Bay (2003), Carolina (2003-06) and Minnesota (2007-8). He was originally signed by Carolina as a rookie free agent in 2003 out of Boston College. He spent his rookie season on the practice squad and 53-man roster of both Tampa Bay and Carolina before developing into a standout special teams player. Ciurciu has played in 84 NFL games and has 44 total tackles and 74 special teams tackles.

Ortiz, 6-1, 195 pounds, re-signed with New England on August 26, 2009 after spending part of the 2009 off-season with the team. He originally was signed by the San Diego Chargers as a rookie free agent out of San Diego State in 2006. Ortiz was waived by San Diego prior to the start of the 2006 season. He went to training camp with Seattle in 2007 but was waived prior to the start of the regular season. Ortiz signed with New England in the 2008 off-season but was waived prior to the start of training camp before signing with San Francisco, who released him prior to the start of the regular season.

Rogers, 6-2, 187 pounds, was originally signed by the Denver Broncos as a rookie free agent out of Wisconsin in 2007. He spent the majority of his rookie season on the Denver practice squad before being signed to the 53-man roster for the final two games of the year. Rogers began the 2008 season on the Denver practice squad before joining the 53-man roster in early November. He played in three games in 2008, including a starting assignment at free safety against Oakland (11/23). Rogers was waived by Denver on November 25 and then finished the 2008 season on the Minnesota practice squad. He was released by the Vikings on June 1, 2009 and was signed by New England on August 18, 2009.

Walter, 6-6, 230 pounds, spent the last four seasons with Oakland after joining the Raiders as a third-round pick out of Arizona State in 2005. Walter has started nine of 15 games and completed 174 of 333 passes for 1,919 yards and three touchdowns. After spending his rookie season as the third quarterback in 2005, Walter saw significant action in 2006. He started eight of 12 games and completed 147 of 276 passes for 1,677 yards and three touchdowns. Walter was waived by Oakland on July 30, 2009 and signed by New England on August 3, 2009.

Williams, 6-2, 300 pounds, was signed by New England on May 4, 2009. He was originally signed by Kansas City as a rookie free agent out of Northwest Missouri State in 2006. As a rookie, he spent time on the Kansas City practice squad and 53-man roster, seeing action in 11 games. He went to training camp with Carolina in 2007 and 2008 but did not make the 53-man roster.

Yates, 6-2, 305 pounds, has spent the last five seasons with the Patriots (2004-08) and has played in 25 career games with 10 starts. In 2008, Yates started the first seven games of the season at right guard. He was originally signed by the Miami Dolphins as a rookie free agent prior to the 2003 season out of Texas A &M.

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