FOXBOROUGH, Mass.- The New England Patriots signed cornerback Earthwind Moreland from the practice squad today. Additionally, the team placed offensive tackle Tom Ashworth on the reserve/injured list with a back injury.
Moreland, 27, is in his third NFL season and is a veteran of two NFL Europe League campaigns (2002 and 2004). The 5-foot-10-inch, 182-pounder was signed by the Patriots on Aug. 5, 2004 and played in all four of the team's preseason games before being released on Sept. 3, 2004. He was signed to the practice squad on Sept. 22, and joins New England's 53-man roster today.
Moreland spent the spring of 2004 with NFL Europe's Rhein Fire, starting at cornerback in all 10 contests and leading the team with 10 pass deflections. He also started every game for the Fire in 2002, earning all-NFL Europe League honors that season. The Georgia Southern product was originally signed by the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent on April 16, 2000. His previous NFL experience has come with the Browns (2 games in 2001) and the New York Jets (1 game in 2000). He has also been a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New Orleans Saints and Jacksonville Jaguars but did not see regular-season action with those teams.
Ashworth, 27, has started 19 of 23 career games at right tackle, including the first six games of the 2004 campaign. The 6-foot-6-inch, 305-pound product of the University of Colorado broke into the Patriots starting lineup last season and started the final 13 regular-season games and all three playoff contests. He originally joined the Patriots as a member of the practice squad on Sept. 4, 2001. The Centennial, Colo., native joined New England's active roster in 2002, and played in one game that season while being listed among the day-of-game inactives 15 times. He was first signed by the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted free agent on April 27, 2001.
The Patriots downgraded the status of wide receiver Deion Branch from doubtful to out for Sunday's game against the St. Louis Rams.