They had until 4 p.m. Eastern to activate cornerback Aqib Talib, which they did. Talib was given a roster exemption by the NFL this past week as he returned from a league-imposed suspension and was working with New England for the first time since being traded on Nov. 1. To make room on the roster, the team let loose second-year defensive back Malcolm Williams.
The surprise came at wide receiver, where veteran Deion Branch was also released. He developed a hamstring problem during Thursday's practice, so, it's possible that played a role in the decision. New England then promoted wide receiver Greg Salas from the practice squad to take Branch's place, while also cutting Jarred Fayson from the p-squad.
With Wes Welker ailing this past week with an ankle issue, New England's receiving corps was in rough shape after Branch was limited. It seems the club felt it was more advantageous to have a healthy Salas suit up than risk keeping Branch around. That might be an indication of just how bad Branch's injury is. Welker was listed as QUESTIONABLE on the final injury report of the week, as was Branch.
Talib, meantime, will certainly be a player to watch Sunday against the Colts. Will he start? If so, where? And how much of an impact will he have in his Patriots debut?
How do you feel about Branch being cut by New England for the second time this season? Let us know with a comment below.