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Russ, Merkerson released

The Patriots announced that they have released linebacker Bernard Russ off the 53-man roster and terminated the practice squad contract of linebacker Ron Merkerson on Monday. That leaves both the 53-man and practice squad rosters with openings.

Russ, 26, played in six games this year with all of his action relegated to special teams. He was sidelined with a knee injury at Kansas City, forcing him out of the next two games. He spent almost all of last season on the Patriots injured reserve list after breaking his jaw in the season opener.

Merkerson, 24, was the Patriots 1998 fifth round draft pick and also spent the season on injured reserve after a preseason leg injury. He was released by the Patriots Sept. 20 of this season and re-signed to the practice squad on Oct. 27.

Ted Johnson's return to the lineup enabled the Patriots to trim their surplus of linebackers and Russ and Merkerson were deemed expendable. A published report indicated that the team might elevate wide receiver Sean Morey or linebacker Marc Megna off the practice squad. Their also could be a possibility that the Patriots are interested in signing a player off another team's practice squad, in which case that player would have to be put in the 53-man roster.

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