By Danny Cox
The final cuts for all teams took place on Saturday as all had to be down to the league-mandated 53-man roster, and that means a lot of movement will take place this week. Teams will pick up recently released players as others land on Injured Reserve or the practice squad, and all of that is exactly what the New England Patriots were doing on Monday to prepare for Thursday’s season opener.
Patriots bring back running back Brandon Bolden and sign Willie Beavers
Just a couple of days ago, the Patriots ended up releasing running back Brandon Bolden in the final cuts, but he didn’t stay available for long. On Monday, the 27-year-old was re-signed by New England to continue his stint with the team, which started way back in May of 2012 when he signed as an unrestricted free agent.
Bolden has played in 67 regular season games for the Patriots with six starts, but the majority of his action is on special teams.
On Monday, the Patriots also signed former Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman Willie Beavers, who was released on Saturday as well. Beavers played in just two games during his rookie season in 2016, but could make a good addition in a reserve role or even on the practice squad.
Practice squad moves
If Beavers ends up on the practice squad, he will be joined by recently signed defensive end Angelo Blackson and wide receiver Demarcus Ayers. Blackson and Ayers were cut on Saturday by the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans, respectively. Both players were signed by the Patriots as defensive lineman Darius Kilgo was released.
The Patriots also came to injury settlements with defensive lineman Corey Vereen and Woodrow Hamilton, which signaled their releases from the team.
Linebacker Sean McClellin place on Injured Reserve
This isn’t much of a shock for those who have been following along as McClellin missed most of the preseason with an undisclosed injury. Monday, the team made it official that he would not be playing at all in the early part of the 2017-2018 season, and it really is quite a loss as he was very important in a number of defensive schemes and on special teams.
McClellin played in 14 games for the Patriots, which includes four starts. It is possible that he could return later this season as he was not placed on season-ending IR, but the short-term variety.
Due to landing on Injured Reserve, McClellin’s roster spot opened up and was quickly filled by the Patriots as they used it to re-sign Bolden.
With two big-time punt returners out, Patrick Chung is ready if needed
The Patriots have been bitten by the injury bug early this year, and losing Julian Edelman and Cyrus Jones to season-ending injuries in the preseason really hurt. With two of their top punt return options gone for the year, names such as Danny Amendola and Phillip Dorsett have both popped up as possible options, but Patrick Chung isn’t ruling himself out.
“I’ll go back there,” Chung said. “When they put you somewhere, they have confidence you can do a great job. So if they put me there, I’m ready to go.”
Chung has had his chance a couple of times in the past, but he has returned punts in a regular season game only twice. Still, injuries may cause the Patriots to look in unexpected directions, and it seems as if Chung is ready to step up.