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Paul's Calls: Moves leave roster at 81

The Patriots had to deal with the aftereffects of Hurricane Irene on Monday but the loss of power that forced them to relocate from Gillette Stadium did not prevent the team from being active.

Bill Belichick announced several transactions, signing a pair of players while releasing 11, including veteran starting safety James Sanders, slot corner Jonathan Wilhite and long snapper Matt Katula.

Also looking for work at this time are wide receivers Tyree Barnes and Darnell Jenkins, tight end Garrett Mills, kicker Chris Koepplin, defensive linemen Clay Nurse and Kade Weston, offensive lineman Mark Wetterer and defensive back Malcolm Williams. Joining the team are wide receiver Tiquan Underwood and safety Ross Ventrone, who returns after being cut earlier in camp.

The Sanders move was far and away the biggest. Reports swirled during the afternoon indicated the veteran had been informed of his release and the classy seventh-year veteran even posted a message on Twitter thanking New England for treating him well during his time with the team. Speaking on a conference call, Belichick had nothing but praise for the former fourth-round pick out of Fresno State.

"Tough release with James Sanders," Belichick said. "James has been a really good guy to have on this team, a hard-working kid. He's been a really solid team player for us. He was a tough one."

Sanders told ESPNBoston's Mike Reiss that he was "shocked" by the move.

"It wasn't one of the things I was expecting to hear today. It didn't cross my mind," Sanders said, who added that he wasn't given a reason for the move.

Sanders was limited throughout the summer with a hamstring problem he said he suffered while training prior to the start of training camp. He only recently returned to the field before starting Saturday night's loss in Detroit.

"I wish I would have had a fair shot this camp. I came in hurt and obviously that weighed into it," Sanders said. "But stuff happens and you have to move on."

Moving on with him will be Wilhite. The fourth-year corner has had a tough time staying healthy and didn't get many reps with the primary units this summer, which was a tell-tale sign the veteran out of Auburn was on his way out.

"He's been with us three years and played very capably," Belichick said of Wilhite. "We just felt like there were other players ahead of him."

The move could be good news for cornerback Darius Butler, who appeared to be in a battle with Wilhite for a roster spot. He's played ahead of Wilhite from the start of camp and that continued through Saturday night. It also could be an indication that rookie corner Ras-I Dowling is healthy after not yet appearing in a preseason game.

Belichick said Katula's release will not mean double duty for linebacker Rob Ninkovich, who has spent much of the summer working on his snapping in practice.

"I think we'll have a snapper on our roster at some point and time, certainly soon," the coach said. "Rob snapped in the game, snapped in practice and if it comes to it, we'll be confident in that. But we expect a snapper on the roster by Thursday."

Underwood, a wide receiver out of Rutgers who played alongside talented Tennessee Titans wideout Kenny Britt, as well as Patriots corner Devin McCourty while in college, was previously with Jacksonville. Belichick said Underwood has not had a lot of playing time in the NFL. He has just eight receptions in 13 games with the Jaguars over two seasons.

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