The Patriots let go of 16 players and placed rookie running back Walter Williams on injured reserved in order to get down to the league-mandated 53-man roster Sunday.
Veterans Marty Moore, Rob Holmberg, Tony Simmons and Johnny McWilliams headed the list of those released. Moore, who just resigned with the team earlier in the week, posted nine tackles in the team's final preseason game despite his limited practice time, but apparently it wasn't enough.
Holmberg was a solid special teams player last season, but with the depth at linebacker improved with the additions of Bryan Cox and Roman Phifer, along with the solid play of rookie T.J. Turner, Holmberg became expendable. Also cut with Moore and Holmberg from the linebacking corps was second-year player Matt Chatham.
The release of Simmons was not a surprise after he saw very little time at wide receiver in the preseason. Simmons was hoping to use a strong summer in NFL Europe to kick-start his once-promising career. Curtis Jackson and Sean Morey were also let go. New England kept all four veteran receivers [Bert Emanuel, Charles Johnson, David Patten and Torrance Small] signed in the off season. Jackson was impressive in preseason play, but the spot was too crowded. Morey, thought to be competing more for a role in the kicking game, led the Patriots with six special teams tackles and blocked a punt in the preseason opener, but it wasn't enough.
McWilliams was signed from Minnesota in effort to boost production from the tight end spot. Slowed by a hamstring injury at the start of training camp, he couldn't beat out Rod Rutledge and Jermaine Wiggins, who will be the only two tight ends on the roster. Second-year player Chris Eitzmann was also waived.
Let go from the offensive line were Sale Isaia, Josh Rawlings and rookie Drew Inzer. Garrett Johnson, who began camp as the first-string nose tackle was waived, as were second-year man David Nugent and veteran cornerback Kato Serwanga.
The final two cuts were first-year punter Brad Costello and sixth-round pick Owen Pochman. The two young kickers were hoping to unseat Lee Johnson and Adam Vinatieri respectively, but the veterans held on to their jobs.
"This is probably the toughest day of the year for me because there are a large number of guys that we have spent a significant amount of time with," Head Coach Bill Belichick said. "These are guy who have worked hard; guys that have given us really everything that could.
"It is a tough decision and it is a close decision. If circumstances were a little bit different it could have easily gone a different way so it is tough to tell those players when they have worked so hard and done so many of the right things that they have just come up a little bit short."
Because Williams was put on injured reserve, he can't practice with the team for the season. His injury was not known. The team can still bring back some of the players let go for the practice squad. Among those who could be practice squad candidates are Pochman, Inzer and Morey, who has spent parts of the last two seasons there. Many of those let go are not eligible for the practice squad because of the amount of playing time they have.
Matt Chatham LB
Brad Costello P
Chris Eitzmann TE
Rob Holmberg LB
Drew Inzer OL
Sale Isaia G
Curtis Jackson WR
Garrett Johnson NT
Johnny McWilliams TE
Marty Moore LB
Sean Morey WR/DB
David Nugent DE
Owen Pochman K
Josh Rawlings G
Kato Serwanga CB
Tony Simmons WR