FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The New England Patriots signed free agent cornerback Hank Poteat to the active roster today. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The signing brings the Patriots roster back to the NFL's 53-man limit in advance of their AFC divisional playoff game against Indianapolis this Sunday.
Poteat, 27, is a veteran of three full NFL seasons and has played in 42 career games since being drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the third round (77th overall) of the 2000 NFL Draft. Poteat has appeared in two career playoff games and earned the only starting assignment of his career while playing for the Steelers in a 2002 AFC wild card game. The 5-foot-10-inch, 192-pounder has recorded 76 career punt returns for 788 yards and a touchdown, 45 kickoff returns for 818 yards, 25 special teams tackles and 11 tackles in defensive play. Poteat played in 41 games for the Steelers from 2000-02 and tied for fourth in the AFC and sixth in the NFL with a 13.0-yard punt return average as a rookie in 2000. In a game against Washington on Dec. 16 of that season, the University of Pittsburgh product returned a punt 53 yards for a touchdown, recording the longest punt return for a touchdown by a Steelers player in the history of Three Rivers Stadium. Poteat was waived by the Steelers in the final roster cutdown prior to the 2003 season and signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After playing in one game for Tampa Bay, he was released on Nov. 12, 2003 and then signed with the Carolina Panthers as a free agent prior to the 2004 season. He played in Carolina's first two preseason games before he was released on Aug. 24, 2004.