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By Tom E. Curran
The Patriots made a fleet of roster moves Saturday in their effort to get down to 53.
Here's the guys they released: WR Sam Aiken, LB Eric Alexander, S Sergio Brown, LB Derrick Burgess, OL George Bussey, TE Carson Butler, RB Thomas Clayton, WR Buddy Farnham, WR Darnell Jenkins, OL Ted Larsen, TE Rob Myers, OL Rich Ohrnberger, WR Rod Owens, QB Zac Robinson, RB Chris Taylor, DB Ross Ventrone, OL Thomas Welch, LB Thomas Williams, CB DeAngelo Willingham, LB Pierre Woods.
They also sent veteran safety Brandon McGowan to injured reserve with a pectoral injury. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Patriots have dealt for Kansas City safety Jarrad Page, a restricted free agent who didn't sign his tender and report to the Chiefs until Friday. And the Eagles announced they've traded linebacker Tracy White to the Pats for a conditional draft choice.
Here's a fleet of ruminations on the moves.
1. The Patriots cleaned house on some of their special-teams staples. Eric Alexander, Pierre Woods and Sam Aiken all getting put out to pasture means the team is going to be looking for new leaders on special teams. The kicking game was really Job One for all of these players. Now Alexander, a real pro, is done here after seven seasons. So is Woods, who, as I mentioned before, seemed like the guy at the office who never really does anything but always seems to be busy making copies or ducking in and out of meetings. Presume that Tyrone McKenzie becomes an Alexandrian-type figure and Rob Ninckovich is your full-time Woods. The newly acquired White -- an eight-year veteran who's also been with the Seahawks, Jaguars and Packers -- played mostly on special teams in Philadelphia, so he may be in this mix, as well.
2. The release of Derrick Burgess was a stunner even though he was stiffish throughout the preseason games he played in. The raves lavished on him less than a year ago by Bill Belichick seemed a little dubious since he never really, ya know, did anything. But he was still a projected starter when they re-signed him and he was getting the reps over Marques Murrell in the preseason games. He didn't look out of shape. He did seem to make some dumb plays, though, when he didn't set the edge and sold out some inside linebackers (Jerod Mayo on Thursday, who looked like he was getting scorched when it was the OLB getting beat). So, apparently, that time spent idling down in Mississippi while the Patriots went through two-a-days did not serve Burgess well in the eyes of the coaching staff and personnel department
3. Ya know, I liked Marques Murrell in every preseason game. He makes some smart plays, gets himself involved in the action, gets a little pressure on the quarterback. I think he's actually a pretty good player and is going to be a very pleasant surprise.
4. I don't know what the hell Matt Slater does, but it must be awesome if he keeps making the team.
5. The young defensive linemen Kyle Love and Brandon Deaderick make the team while Damione Lewis gets lopped. On one hand, the Patriots may not have wanted to take the risk of exposing young defensive linemen to offers from other teams by trying to cut them and get them on the practice squad. Especially when they're so shallow there. On the other hand, maybe the Pats think they can play.
6. Because it seems to me that the offensive linemen they keep selecting cannot play. That line should be a serious, serious concern. The Patriots are at the third spot on their depth chart at left guard, their other two interior offensive linemen - Stephen Neal and Dan Koppen - are annually injured and Matt Light is doing pretty well so far but, man, he's not young now. And now Thomas Welch, Rich Ohrnberger, George Bussey and Ted Larsen, CPA, are all cut (some will be back on the practice squad, but still . . . they've looked like hell).
7. When I did my roster projections Friday, I figured McGowan was headed to IR and kept Sergio Brown on board. The rookie didn't make it but the Patriots did swing a deal (reportedly via ESPN's Adam Schefter) for Jarrad Page. Page is a 6-foot, 225-pound safety, a seventh-round choice out of UCLA in 2006 who has some big-play and big-hit capability. Given McGowan was doing some of the old Big Nickel role as a sub-linebacker, Page will probably be slid into that role.
8. I talked briefly to Derrick Burgess tonight. He said he was "in a way" surprised but that he held "no hard feelings." As for Page, he is a restricted free agent who only signed his tender on Friday, presumably so he could pave the way for the trade he's been seeking since he and his agent felt the team exacerbated an injury in 2009. Whether the Patriots will be immediately in a contract issue with Page is unknown but my guess is they won't. They're not going to deal for a guy they'll immediately be banging their heads against the wall to get to play. But Page is repped by Eugene Parker, agent also to ex-Pat Richard Seymour. He can be a handful to negotiate with (the Patriots can too, it seems).
Tom E. Curran can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Tom on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tomecurran
Tags: New England Patriots, Tom E. Curran