FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The New England Patriots made a series of roster moves today in anticipation of tomorrow's mandatory NFL roster limit of 80 players. In addition, the Patriots signed WR Tiquan Underwood and S Ross Ventrone.
The team released veterans LS Matt Katula, TE Garrett Mills, S James Sanders, CB Jonathan Wilhite and DL Kade Weston; first-year players WR Tyree Barnes and WR Darnell Jenkins; 2011 seventh-round draft pick DB Malcolm Williams and rookie free agents K Chris Koepplin, DE Clay Nurse and OL Mark Wetterer.
Underwood, 6-1, 183 pounds, is a veteran of two NFL seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was released by Jacksonville on August 25, 2011. Underwood originally entered the NFL as a seventh round draft choice (253rd overall) by Jacksonville in the 2009 NFL Draft out of Rutgers. After beginning his rookie season on the practice squad, he joined the 53-man roster and appeared in three games, mainly on special teams. Last season, he played in 10 games and caught eight passes for 111 yards and returned 24 kicks for 561 yards, including a career-long of 53 yards in the season-opener vs. Denver (9/12).
Ventrone, 5-8, 190 pounds, was originally signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Villanova on April 29, 2010. He was waived by the Patriots on Sept. 4, 2010 and then signed to the practice squad on Oct. 19, 2010 where he finished the season. Ventrone went to camp with the Patriots in 2011 before being released on August 10.
Katula, 6-6, 265 pounds, is a veteran of six NFL seasons with the Baltimore Ravens (2005-09) and the Patriots in 2010. He originally was signed by Baltimore as a rookie free agent out of Wisconsin on April 25, 2005. Katula went to training camp with Baltimore in 2010 but was waived on Aug. 14, 2010 and was out of football until joining the Patriots on Nov. 10. He has played in 88 NFL regular-season games and seven postseason games.
Mills, 6-1, 235 pounds, originally entered the NFL as a fourth-round draft pick of the Patriots in the 2006 NFL Draft out of Tulsa and spent the majority of his rookie season with New England on the injured reserve list. Mills is a veteran of five NFL seasons and has played with New England (2006), Minnesota (2007-09), Philadelphia (2010) and Cincinnati (2010). He was re-signed by the Patriots on August 21, 2011.
Sanders, 5-10, 210 pounds, is a veteran of six NFL seasons with the Patriots after joining the team as a fourth round draft pick (133rd overall) out of Fresno State in 2005. Sanders has played in 84 regular season games with 50 starts and has accumulated 300 total tackles, eight interceptions, 19 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He has also played in 10 postseason games with seven starts.
Wilhite, 5-11, 185 pounds, is a veteran of three NFL seasons with the Patriots after joining the team as a fourth round draft pick (129th overall) out of Auburn in 2008. He has played in 39 career regular-season games with 13 starts and has accumulated 89 total tackles, three interceptions and eight special teams tackles. Wilhite was limited to nine games last season due to a hamstring injury.
Weston, 6-5, 315 pounds, was drafted by the Patriots in the seventh round (248th overall) out of Georgia in the 2010 NFL Draft. He spent his rookie season on injured reserve with an abdomen injury.
Barnes, 6-0, 196 pounds, was originally signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent on May 4, 2009 from Navy and was placed on the reserve military list on July 23, 2009 before being re-instated for the 2011 training camp.
Jenkins, 5-10, 191 pounds, was originally signed by Houston as a rookie agent out of Miami in 2008. He spent the majority of his rookie season on the Houston practice squad before being signed to the active roster for the final two games of the season. Jenkins was waived by Houston following training camp in 2009 and spent time on the practice squads of both Houston and Cleveland before joining the New England practice squad. Jenkins went to training camp with the Patriots in 2010 and before joining the practice squad again in 2010.
2011 DRAFT PICKS
Williams, a defensive back from Texas Christian University, was selected by the Patriots in the seventh round of the 2011 NFL Draft with the 219th selection overall. Williams, 5-11, 200 pounds, originally signed with Oklahoma but ended up at Trinity Community College before going to Texas Christian University for the 2009 and 2010 seasons. He contributed at safety and special teams at Texas Christian.
2011 ROOKIE FREE AGNETS
Koepplin, 6-3, 210 pounds, joined the Patriots as a rookie free agent on July 27 from UMass. He played two seasons at UMass in 2006 and 2007 after transferring from Nassau Community College. At UMass, he became the career record holder in PAT percentage (98.0) and was second in field goal percentage (71.0). Koepplin played for the Manchester Wolves of the Arena Football 2 League in 2008 and 2009.
Nurse, 6-3, 260 pounds, was originally signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Illinois on July 27, 2011. He played and started in all 13 games as a senior in 2010, finishing with 23 total tackles. As a junior in 2009, Nurse recorded four sacks in a win over Minnesota.
Wetterer, 6-5, 319 pounds, was originally signed by Cincinnati as a rookie free agent on July 26, 2011 out of Louisville. He was waived by Cincinnati on Aug. 8, 2011 and claimed off waivers by New England on August 10, 2011. The 22-year old Wetterer started in 28 games at Louisville and was named a 2010 First-Team All-Big East player